Okay, here is my take on the announcement of the formation of the North American League, which was announced Thursday night after the Independent Baseball Insider column had been distributed to subscribers.
I always applaud efforts to keep professional baseball in markets that could go dark because I know what it can mean to local fans. So, I wish the North American League the very best. As a longtime public relations man myself, I also tip my cap to much of the positive spin put into the release, which came out of the Golden League.
I had pinpointed in the Insider the importance of Monday's Frontier League meeting and continue to do so, unless the determined officials in Joliet, IL back off of their pledge that "we want to be in the Frontier League". Without Joliet, the NAL would only have three former Northern League teams. Surprisingly, The Joliet Herald News is completely silent on the subject so far, not even mentioning the formation of the NAL, as best I can tell.
One scenario, I suppose, could be that Joliet would play in the NAL for a year while the Frontier League can make appropriate adjustments to take the JackHammers in in a more orderly manner in 2012.
The reason for this is that while the NAL release says this combined effort of the previous Northern, United and Golden Leagues "will have 16-20 teams" that number seems somewhat high, unless Joliet, Laredo, TX, Yuma, AZ, Tijuana (Mexico) and wild cards such as Omaha, NE come together very quickly. Even holdovers such as Schaumburg, IL, Chico, CA and Orange County (Fullerton, CA) still seem to have some unresolved roadblocks.
The other challenge for many of the operators in the '11 version of the NAL will be coming out with a nice bottom line once they have taken on some trips to play outside of their division since several of the teams the circuit is planning on have not been strong attendance locales in recent years. The banner of the North American League, no matter how good, is not likely to erase these headaches overnight.
Time will tell how it all plays out, and I will be among those cheering the loudest for a successful launch and a long term triumph.
Friday, November 19, 2010
EFFORTS OF NEW NORTH AMERICAN LEAGUE APPLAUDED, BUT...
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.