Sadly, those of us who live and breathe baseball do not have any more Independent games until next season. The Somerset (NJ) Patroits hoisted the final postseason championship flag when they won their record fifth Atlantic League title, and became the first team in the league's 12-year history to triumph in back-to-back seasons.
New York Yankees fans might see an omen as the major league postseason gets under way in that onetime bullpen ace Sparky Lyle manages the Patriots and Jeff Nettles, the son of longtime third base standout Graig Nettles, was the championship series MVP. Time will tell.
While the games always are the enjoyable part, the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of the eight Indy leagues carry serious impact. Which teams are solid, and unquestionably safe for 2010? Which ones need a new infusion of investor money or a better stadium lease? Which teams will not see a new season?
All indications are this is going to be an uneasy offseason in too many locations. American Association ownership was meeting on this very day and again Wednesday, with one question certain to be the fate of the Fort Worth Cats, a success at the gate but with top-heavy costs because of the acreage surrounding LaGrave Field which owner Carl Bell must resolve. Reports that the United League covets the territory seem to be true, but that is not a solution. Besides, the American Association does not want to give up on Fort Worth.
Can-Am League owners will huddle next week, and while we expect they will find Brockton, MA once again in safe territory, this circuit still needs a replacement for the American Defenders of New Hampshire (Nashua) to maintain is six-team operational base. Don't be shocked if new ownership is introduced in two other existing cities, although that could come somewhat later.
These are just a few of the headaches to key leagues where we feel confident of understand some of the big issues. The three-year-old Continental League still is in need of solidifying itself, and it bears watching to see whether the United League, which almost did not survive league-wide ownership issues one year ago, can progress with what the league has been saying is a major new facility in the busy Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Enter the four-team Florida Winter League. Hit or miss? We will see.
Independent Baseball provided some great entertainment and missed a third consecutive eight million fan season by a whisker, and it probably will do the same or even better next summer when the economy may be more stable. But that is many headlines--and headaches--down the road.