Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cleaning Out The Sports Desk Drawer...

OK, I'll admit I stole that headline from somewhere, but with the baseball world slowing to a crawl, I don't really have a unified theme to write about. So instead of a meal, I'm serving up appetizers (or leftovers):

  • Crustacean Nation — That's the tagline for the newest professional baseball team in the Greater DC area, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. I'm not sure if I like it because it's reminiscent of the World Champion Boston Red Sox, or because the marketing folks are being clever and tapping into the psyche of the numerous N.E. transplants in the area.
  • Nationals Ballpark — Speaking of marketing, it's almost comical that the Lerners haven't sold the sponsorship for what's usually considered the crown jewel for a franchise. Some folks are applauding this, naively thinking this is a magnanimous gesture, but the real reason is more likely that they have a price tag in mind and nobody's come close.
  • Barry Lamar Bonds — Some folks think his indictment has effectively banned him from the Hall of Fame, but I strongly suspect that when the Mitchell Report is released, we're going to see that The Asterisk will be but one of dozens who were taking performance-enhancing substances. Unlike Mark McGwire, Bonds had all five tools and was a first-ballot HOFer prior to taking after the 1998 season. Like Pete Rose, the voters will punish him, ignoring their role in looking the other way, by postponing his induction until after his death.
  • Alex Rodriguez — Is anyone really surprised by this? The advice from Warren Buffett to eschew Boras and negotiate directly makes for a cute story, but let's face it: The Yankees didn't want to lose him and A-Rod didn't want to go. Neither party had the negotiating advantage, so the real winner is this saga is the Texas Rangers, who no longer have to pay part of his salary.
  • Mike Lowell — The ripple effect, presumably, is that once A-Rod is off the market, the BoSox will give in and offer a fourth guaranteed year. Don't count on it. In the Theo era, the only free agent that was not going to be let go was Jason Varitek. Between the options of moving Kevin Youkilis across the diamond, and trading Coco Crisp, Epstein is not as limited as most people think.
  • Fan Voting on Postseason Awards — Is there anything dumber? Will high school never end? One need look no further than the nominees for the 2007 [Cola deleted] Clutch Performer of The Year award as evidence: Ryan Howard, Jake Peavy, J.J. Putz, Aramis Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira. Four of the six nominees' teams failed to make the playoffs, and the two that did were swept out in the first round. This is "clutch" how?

That's all for now, kids.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What the flux?

Within three days of my last post, the North Shore Spirit website went dead. A week later, the Nashua Pride announced yet again that they'd be back in 2008. The following week: The New Haven County Cutters closed its doors quickly and quietly, just like every other Jonathan Fleisig-associated venture.

In years past, I'd written about the pattern of one team in, one team out for the NeL/CanAm league, but the past three years have seen much more change (hence the headline):

2008 North Shore & New Haven out
2007 Atlantic City & Grays in
2006 Nashua and Sussex in, Elmira and Grays out

This kind of instability cannot bode well for the future. Commissioner Miles Wolff is, as always, sunny and optimistic, confident he can achieve the stability of the Atlantic League, the Road Warriors not withstanding. But it's hard to ignore that the CanAm League seems to be dependent now on failure for its future markets.

Nashua and Atlantic City "dropped down." Sussex and New Haven took over when the affiliates left town. Ottawa is next up, having lost the Lynx after a 15-year run. The Plymouth Eels are insistent that they're not the next Danbury Coyotes.

Considering the southern drift of the Atlantic League, Uncle Miles must be targeting either the Bridgeport Bluefish or the Connecticut Defenders or both for his next magic act. The Bluefish were the worst in attendance in the AtL, but have a relatively new ballpark (that's another subject for another day, but let's face it: the CanAm has but one state-of-the art stadium that's built to last -- sorry Worcester, you're a glorified h.s. field). The Defenders' affiliation with San Francisco ends after 2008, but the stadium is leased through 2012 and it's also relatively new.

With the Indys semi-officially meeting this week at the "Fun Is Good" conference in Charleston, SC, perhaps there will be some news on this front later this week.