Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Now why would that be?

Perhaps it's just a small item to those who aren't familiar with independent baseball, but the Appalachian League will be operating with just nine teams in 2007. Appy League president Lee Landers was quoted as saying:

Without a doubt, this has been a very unfortunate sequence of events that has left Pulaski without a team for the upcoming season. Since they returned to the league in 1997, they have made over $1.6 million worth of improvements to their ballpark and have met every requirement that has been set before them. Everyone associated with our league has spent countless hours trying to find a solution for this dilemma

Everything, except—oh, I don't know—perhaps creating an independent team in Pulaski?!

Dial back the clock to before 1993 (when the modern indy era began), and you'll see that independents were often the 8th and 10th team in the lower minors. The 1983 Utica Blue Sox (NY-Penn League champs), the 1987 Salt Lake City Trappers (winners of 29 straight, an all-time baseball record) and the 1970s Portland Mavericks (even at AAA) were all examples of famous independent teams that were born or operated for that reason.

If anything, affiliated baseball could have used this as a means of tweaking the indys: sign away the best players, especially from the nearby Frontier League, and operate the team as a co-op. Perhaps even target the players in the fledgling independent leagues like the South Coast League. God forbid you use this as a PR opportunity: Out of the goodness of our hearts, the league is paying for a team so that Pulaski can have baseball in 2007.

Perhaps, deep down, they may realize (or fear) that either:
1. Folks would not notice
2. Folks would not care
Even worse, there's the risk that motivated 22-to-24-year-olds will beat the pants off the more talented, but less experienced 18-to-20-year-olds.

Conspiracy theory aside, the real reason may be more simple: at 901 fans a game last year, there's no economic incentive whatsoever to salvage baseball in Pulaski in 2007.