While more needs to be clarified, it appears both the Atlantic League and the Can-Am League will have the much-needed even number of franchises again next summer without resorting to a travel team to fill out the schedule.
The Atlantic has announced its schedule, which once again includes Newark, NJ, now that a contingent named the Bases Loaded Group has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Bears and pay off some debts. And the Can-Am has a media conference scheduled for Wednesday (November 19) in Ottawa, Canada, with every indication the Rapidz will play for a second season. Commissioner Miles Wolff will attend, and presumably will have something to say about who will foot the bill.
It is our hope to sort out as much of the total 2009 Independent Baseball lineup as possible by the time we finish our Independent Baseball Insider column next Thursday, although one would have to believe the status of the United League will remain unclear and the Golden, Continental and perhaps even the Northern League will not have placed a final stamp on their rosters of cities and produced schedules.
NEARLY 100 PLAYERS HAVE BEEN SET FREE
Our master list of former Independent players tied to major league organizations undergoes changes almost daily, with one version of that roster at present totaling exactly 250. That includes 23 players we show on major league rosters.
But nearly 40 per cent--98, by our calculations--are in no man's land these days now that the 30 organizations have conducted most of their annual trimming down of those they have under control.
Many of these released players will get an opportunity with another major league organization, and some will even end up with non-roster invitations to big league spring training camps. This will represent a fresh start and hopes of joining a system which will provide them with a major league opportunity. We can point out about 10 cases from '08 which resulted with a player appearing in regular season major league box scores for the first time.
Some will end up back in Independent leagues to continue perfecting their skills. Unfortunately, some of the 98 will not be heard from again on professional diamonds.
Names on the "released" list which many fans will recognize include Eliezer Alfonzo, Bobby Brownlie, Jay Gibbons, John Lindsey, Brian Mazone, Jason Phillips, Bret Prinz, Dan Reichart and Joe Valentine, the latter both signed out of the Atlantic League and released twice this summer.
TEAMMATES STEP UP; SO CAN YOU
Greg Montalbano told The Boston Globe recently "I am a tumor machine. I make tumors. I have no idea why".
Montalbano's story, unlike too many others that are not so widely told, was of special interest in New England in that he once was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year by the Boston Red Sox. Boston drafted him in the fifth round of the free agent selections in 1999.
Montalbano, 31, who last pitched in the Can-Am League for his hometown of Worcester, MA in 2005 and 2006, has fought one form of cancer or another since 1996. He is currently facing an experimental clinical trial cancer treatment.
Many friends and former teammates of the Northeastern University Hall of Fame lefty, including Ben Beck, who reached out to this typist, are getting together for "Monty Madness: The First Annual Corntoss for a Cure" in Brockton, MA Sunday afternoon, November 23. The fundraiser will be held at the Shaw's Center, which is connected to Campanelli Stadium, better known as the home of the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League.
Open to the public, the first 128 two-person teams may sign up at $100 per team to compete for cash prizes while everyone else pays $25 to watch the fun and support the cause. Beck encourages signing up via www.PayPal.com which has an account linked to his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be reached via telephone at 617 270-5066.