The swirl of Independent Baseball franchises coming and going is keeping the wheel spinning as we slide into the weekend. This is what we can tell fans.
The Northern League, as we have been reporting for weeks, seems to be completely disappearing some 18 years after it truly launched modern-day Independent Baseball, and at the same time it is becoming more and more difficult to understand how either the Golden or United League can operate with any significant zest in 2011. Perhaps those two could combine, but the geography would be very scary.
These are primary reasons we reach these conclusions:
NORTHERN LEAGUE: The four franchises remaining after half the league joined the American Association have now applied to join the Frontier League. Applied does not mean they are being admitted, of course, with stories continuing to fly out of mainstream media in the Chicago area about the financial woes still being faced by Joliet and Schaumburg. Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee indicated the four teams (Lake County at Zion, IL and Rockford are the others) applied individually, according to The Joliet Tribune. Asked how long a decision would take, Lee said: "I just think you've got to move in a prudent fashion, but sometimes that prudent fashion is not fast enough for some people." To complicate the matter more, The Joliet Herald News is reporting the Windy City franchise (Crestwood, IL) is demanding compensation for territorial infringement if Joliet is admitted to the league.
GOLDEN LEAGUE: After losing Tucson to Triple-A for at least a year and with Tijuana, St. George, UT, Yuma, AZ, Chico, CA and Orange County (Fullerton, CA) all facing stadium or ownership issues, Victoria, British Columbia, has announced it is ceasing operations. This only leaves Edmonton, BC, Maui, HA and Calgary, Alberta somewhat certain for 2011. The most positive step we have seen over recent weeks for the league was Calgary's appointment of 26-year-old Patrick Haas as general manager.
UNITED LEAGUE: With six teams in the past, that number is down to five after Potter County Commissioners (Amarillo, TX) awarded a stadium lease to Southern Independent Baseball to operate an American Association team in the city starting in 2011. Amarillo has been the leader in United League attendance. Theoretically, Amarillo becomes the 15th team in the American Association although this corner expects that number to somehow drop to 14, its size after the four teams joined out of the Northern League.
The new Pecos League in Texas and New Mexico appears virtually certain to be added to the Independent Baseball landscape next season. BallparkBiz.com reported Friday the Pecos, which will a largely be for younger professional aspirants, has formally launched with eight teams although two of those will be travel squads. The other six are Las Cruces, White Sands and Clovis in New Mexico and Roswell, Del Rio and Alpine in Western Texas. Las Cruces and Alpine were part of the now departed Continental League in 2010.
The good news for Indy fans is that the Atlantic and Can-Am leagues appear to be pretty solid in addition to the strengthening of both the American Association and the Frontier League. Those four circuits will have about 44 franchises among them and at least the Atlantic and the Association have new organizations lined up for one year from now.
Friday, November 12, 2010
NEWS REMAINS DIM FOR THREE INDY LEAGUES BUT PECOS LEAGUE LAUNCHES
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.