While C. C. Sabathia is commanding so much attention, your persistent servant has been looking for Independent Baseball nuggets along The Strip here in Las Vegas.
It has not been easy, even with a number of Independent people--especially at leadership levels--in attendance at both the Hilton (minor league and trade show) end of the city and the Bellagio, where the major leaguers are keeping the lobby packed.
Part of the problem is that in the eyes of Minor League Baseball, which runs the huge trade show, Independents are not welcome. That message has been delivered in definitive fashion over recent weeks. This deprives the vendors of much of their December business from the Independents, and makes for some uneasy times for a lot of people. It is a free world, of course, so the non-affiliated people here still can roam the hallways, where a great deal of the behind-the-scenes planning goes on.
The Golden League, mostly because of its western base of operation, held both front office and ownership meetings in the city. Emerging from that scene is the following:
--Next season's All-Star Game, the second half of a home and home matchup with the United League, if the latter is in business, will be staged in beautiful St. George, UT. The date appears to be July 14. Another format will have to be devised if the UL is not active.
--The Golden League's Arizona Winter League, a pay-for-play operation, is miles ahead of the signings pace of its first two seasons with 173 players in the fold and others on a waiting list. The expanded league (eight teams) probably still will accept a few pitchers.
--GBL officials still hope to add a 10th team for the regular summer league, possibly by the end of the month, with a Mexican city possibly in the mix.
--League newcomer Tucson, AZ probably will announce its field manager next week.
Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein is once again at the forefront of the Scout of the Year reception scheduled tonight (Wednesday). Klein seems immune from any of the Minor League Baseball/Independent Baseball flap, largely, I would think, because he has been general manager of various major league teams.
Other Indy people I have seen or know are in Las Vegas include Can-Am League and American Association leaders Miles Wolff and Dan Moushon, who still have affiliated ties with Burlington, NC; Brockton, MA (Can-Am) Owner Van Schley, who lives in California; multi-team investor Mike Veeck; representatives of the American Association's Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs, and the leadership of the newly-named American Defenders of New Hampshire (Nashua), including Buddy Lewis, Dan Duquette and Terry Allvord. The Nashua group has a presence in the trade show because its Nokona Sports, important financial backers, are hustling the promotion of their two military baseball teams and a new Latin baseball club, with all of those teams available to be booked most anywhere.
We will be watching, with everyone else in baseball, to see if any former Indy players are selected in Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
AMID SOME UNEASYNESS, THE INDEPENDENT LEAGUES STILL HAVE A PRESENCE IN LAS VEGAS.
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.