Wooden's World of Baseball

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The End of The Can-Am League?

Ever since my beloved North Shore Spirit went belly-up, the news from the old Northeast League has been almost always bad...

  • The American Defenders, nee Nashua Pride, are locked out Holman Stadium for lack of payments; the team blames the rain, instead of the apathy of the "fans" in Southern N.H.
  • Ottawa, despite having a NA-quality stadium, can't make a go of it as the city tries to raise the rent ten-fold
  • Atlantic City, like Nashua, having "dropped down" from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am League decide to cease operations when the city both refuses to make repairs to their stadium or extend the lease
But the news that the Brockton Rox have locked its doors and sent everyone home was shocking. Now it's very tempting to say that there is no need to worry, they'll just renegotiate themselves out the Shaw Center, but the common thread in all these stories is that municipalities are taking the short-term, show-me-the-money view.

Miles Wolff, the Godfather of Independent Baseball, has made it no secret that he wants more of a toehold in Canada than just his Quebec Capitales. There is interest in reopening the doors in Ottawa but one has to wonder if it'll take waiving the franchise fee.

But I can't see the Can-Am surviving without Brockton. Without the Rox, it's a four-team league across two states and a Canadian province. I've studied independent baseball and going below six teams is usually the death of a league, never mind being so far flung.

Even with the Rox, the Ottawa deal is just a proposal. Fans of the New Haven County Cutters frequently cite the speed (sloppiness) with which the team was relocated from Pittsfield to New Haven in the '03-'04 offseason. Then again, with an ownership group that's more competent than Jonathan Fleisig, it may be possible.

Even though I'm no longer the fan of the Can-Am that I used to be, I'll still light a candle for them because they're responsible for reigniting my passion for going to the game. And it would be a shame for the 4th-oldest independent league to die after surviving 15 seasons