Barring an unexpected miracle, the South Coast League has likely played its last game.
The league has unpaid vendors in most of its cities. The water and electricity has been turned off at Macon’s Luther Williams Field while the city awaits payment of its utility bills. The league recently announced that it would scale back from six teams to four for the 2008 season, but even that schedule was thrown into doubt with the surprise resignation on Tuesday of the league’s chief executive officer, Jamie Toole.
Toole told the Macon Telegraph that he was resigning because the league needed a fresh approach to deal with mounting financial problems. But his resignation came as a surprise to chief development officer J.D. Hardin, who now has become the de-facto head of the league thanks to the departures of Toole and chief operating officer Chris Allen.
"I’m kind of the last man standing," Hardin said. "That’s a lot to take in for someone, especially for someone who just started in baseball last year."
Hardin said that the league’s primary owners, the Ferro investment group, based out of Joliet, Ill., will make a decision about the league’s future later this week. Peter Ferro is also the chairman for the Joliet Jackhammers. A call to the group was not immediately returned. [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America editor in chief John Manuel arrived in the newsroom on Tuesday morning slightly irked that his pre-dawn wake-up call to the Red Sox Opening Day tilt in Japan was for naught. Instead of seeing Manny Ramirez rally Boston past the Athletics, an error message ran across John’s DirecTV-powered screen.
Turns out he was not alone.
Much of Red Sox Nation missed their team’s season debut because of a faulty transponder that affected DirecTV and NESN broadcasts. And as expected, The Nation responded passionately.
Here’s a sampling of coverage from yesterday’s blackout:
A "Kegs and Eggs with the Red Sox" party was spoiled at a pub in Milford, Mass., when their ESPN2 feed went dark. Roughly 50 people rolled out of bed early for the event at Elisha’s Restaurant.
"Instead, customers at Elisha’s sipped coffee or beer and ate Dice-K Omelets and breakfast sandwiches while watching either error messages or, on one TV, ESPN," the Nashua Telegraph reported.
The Portsmouth Herald recounts locals’ failed attempts to watch the game, including Scott Campbell, who went to bed early and awoke in the morning only find to find a dark screen.
"I thought I was in the Twilight Zone," he said.
Campbell then went on to blow the incident completely out of proportion.
"I put (the Red Sox opener) a notch below the Super Bowl, the Barack Obama inaugural speech, the lunar landing. That’s the way I felt," said Campbell. "This was something I looked forward to all winter. It was like torture. I knew it was there, I just couldn’t see it."
(By the way, what’s so hard about getting up at 6 a.m.? My 2-year-old wakes me up at 6:10 sharp every morning demanding porridge and The Wiggles.) [...] Continue Reading »
It turns out 5 a.m. was not early enough for some Red Sox fans in Lowell.
Nearly 400 fans packed a local pub for a viewing party hosted by the Spinners for Boston’s Opening Day tilt against the Athletics in Japan. Doors were scheduled to open at 5 a.m., but the owners of Hookslide Kelly’s brought several Red Sox-clad guests in out of the cold at 4.
The lure of a free Jonathan Papelbon bobblehead, and a free breakfast sandwich, to the first 100 fans was too much for some fans who braved sub-freezing temperatures. The giveaways were gone by 5:30.
"It blew away our expectations," media relations manager Jon Boswell said. "It’s a testament to the passion of Red Sox Nation."
Sox fans came ready to cheer, Boswell said, but the bar erupted in groans with news of J.D. Drew’s back injury, and grew uneasy during Daisuke Matsuzaka’s slow start. But chants and cheers filled the room as the Red Sox rallied to win.
"It had a playoff atmosphere atmosphere," Boswell said.
The Spinners also raised over $2,000 for the Joann Weber Charitable Fund, named after Lowell owner Drew Weber’s wife who passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer last year. The big prize: a pair of Opening Day tickets to see the Red Sox get their World Series rings.
“With so many former Spinners receiving World Series rings, we feel it is only fitting to send a pair of dedicated fans to the game to see it,” Spinners vice president and general manager Tim Bawmann said in a release.
The Batavia City Council passed on Monday two five-year leases that will likely keep the Muckdogs in town, the Buffalo News reported on its Website. The article also mentions that the community-owned New York-Penn League team will likely be operated next season by Triple-A Rochester.
Neither Batavia GM Dave Wellenzohn nor NYP League president Ben Hayes would comment on the situation when I contacted them on Friday. I’ll update as I get more information today.
If incoming South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa ever had any doubts about the big shoes he has to fill in succeeding John Henry Moss, they were erased when the two sat together at a league playoff game in West Virginia last summer.
"The number of people coming up and asking him for autographs was just amazing," said Krupa, who served as Minor League Baseball’s director of business and finance since 1997. "I assume it is similar in other cities . . . It’s incredibly humbling. You have a legend, and a couple of times people have introduced me as ‘the guy who is replacing John.’ I would say, ‘hold on. No way I’m replacing John. I’m following John."
The league honored Moss’ 50 years of service at the Winter Meetings but decided that it would only be fitting to allow fans a chance to say goodbye as well. This season, each of the Sally League’s 16 clubs will hold a farewell ceremony for Moss, in which they will retire the number 50 and unveil a cast bronze plaque in his honor to be displayed at their ballpark.
The league is also changing the color of its logo to gold in honor of Moss’ 50 years as president.
"You find yourself in awe of the things he has accomplished," Krupa said. "The conversations he had with (former MLB commissioner) Happy Chandler about forming the league and getting the assistance of (former Brooklyn Dodgers president) Branch Rickey . . . This man gave his life to the league. He and his wife Elaine didn’t have any kids, so the league was their kids. They nurtured it and helped it grow."
Dates for the Moss Farewell Tour:
April 18-19: Rome;
May 10: Kannapolis;
May 17: Columbus
May 23: Eastlake
May 30: Hagerstown
June 7: Asheville
June 13: Charleston
June 17: Greensboro
June 20: Lexington
June 27: Hickory
July 8: Lakewood
July 10: Salisbury
July 17: Greenville
July 19: Augusta
July 26: Savannah
Aug. 2: Charleston
Great read in this morning’s USA Today on the increasing popularity of all-you-can-eat ticket packages at major league ballparks and whether teams should be concerned about such a promotion’s potential health risk to its fan base. The paper reports that at least 13 major league teams offer such a package, with prices ranging from $30-$200.
The number of teams offering similar packages would certainly increase if minor league teams were included (it certainly sounds like a promotion originating in the minors). Staten Island Yankees GM Jane Rogers noted in a conversation a couple weeks ago that they are increasing the number of all-you-can-eat dates this season after the promotion proved so successful last year.
"If you have a family, it’s best to get the package," Rogers said of the deal that gives fans unlimited passes to the team’s Pinstripe Pavilion.
As a small sampling, five of the 14 International League teams offer all-you-can-eat packages.
Buffalo offers a six-game package for $126, noting on its Website that "the more you eat, the better the deal gets."
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