The swollen Mississippi River has Modern Woodmen Park surrounded.
Yet the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits remained dry despite floodwaters that crested around 19 feet (roughly three feet shy of the record) this morning and has the city of Davenport packing sandbags and planning routes around the worst flooding to hit the area in nearly seven years. City-funded floodwalls were built beyond the outfield walls as part of a $10 million ballpark renovation project in 2004. Previous storms had left the stadium underwater—a 2001 flood left the team to play a significant portion of its schedule at a local community college.
"We’re a little bit of an island right now," said first-year Quad Cities general manager Kirk Goodman, who has experience in natural disasters after five years as GM for Double-A Jacksonville. "I’m used to watching hurricane forecasts . . . This is something that will go in my memoirs." [...] Continue Reading »
Check another team off the list of available Triple-A affiliates.
In a move that can hardly be considered a surprise, Rochester (International) and the Twins extended their player development contract two years to run through the 2010 season. The organizations have been affiliated since the 2003 season.
“We feel very fortunate to have a working agreement with such an outstanding, well thought of organization,” Red Wings chief operating officer Naomi Silver said in a statement. “The similar values that our teams share make this a relationship that works very well for us, and that our fans enjoy very, very much. We are proud to be extending our working agreement with them.”
Coupled with the Rays and Durham (International) signing on for another two years, the number of available Triple-A teams has been reduced to 11 (that number is more likely around five if you include the Indians’ likely move to Columbus, the Mets’ likely move to Syracuse and the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals and Mariners extending strong relationships with their respective affiliates). [...] Continue Reading »
This is why you have to love minor league baseball. In no other venue can you write in the same story about Jackie Robinson and Negro League tributes as well as a professional pillow fight league.
Below are a few events to keep an eye on this week:
• JACKIE ROBINSON DAY (BIRMINGHAM BARONS)
My father grew up in Manhattan as a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. He put me to bed as a child with tales of Jackie Robinson stealing home and tried to teach me on the diamond the art of the fadeaway slide. So I certainly hold a little special sentiment for Jackie Robinson Day celebrations. More than 330 major league players and on-field staff are expected to wear Robinson’s retired No. 42 today, and a variety of ceremonies are scheduled in honor of the 61st anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier. The Mets announced the new Citi Field will open next year with a Jackie Robinson Rotunda, styled after the entranceway to Ebbets Field, greeting fans as they step off the subway. An eight-foot statue of Robinson’s No. 42 will be included in the Rotunda.
The Barons are hosting a "Tribute to Negro Leagues Baseball" night in honor of Robinson’s legacy. The team will honor a dozen local former Negro League players in a ceremony prior to the game and will pay tribute to the area’s rich baseball history—the Birmingham Black Barons was one of the premier teams and played host to such greats as Willie Mays and Satchel Paige.
The Barons will wear throwback Birmingham Black Barons caps during the game.
"It’s a big deal for us because of the heritage we have in the city and because the Black Barons are a huge part of Birmingham’s baseball history," team spokesman Justin Firesheets said. [...] Continue Reading »
Opening Day in Buffalo was missing a regular tradition this year. Sure, fried bologna sandwiches were a hit as always at the concession stands and Buster the mascot was as entertaining as ever.
However, unlike the four previous times that Buffalo’s player development contract with the Cleveland Indians had expired, no announcement of a new deal was announced as part of the season-opening festivities.
In fact, the Indians announced that no decision will be forthcoming until after the season—an indication that rumors circulating that the Indians will begin 2009 in Columbus’ brand-new ballpark (pictured at right) may be accurate.
Major league teams cannot negotiate with unattached affiliates until after the season and, according to the Professional Baseball Agreement teams are forbidden from discussing pending PDCs. The Bisons e-mailed a release that will serve as their only comment on the lack of a deal with the Indians—they also attached sections of the PBA regarding player development contracts.
"Our Player Development Contract with the Cleveland Indians is in effect through this season and we are looking forward to working with them to provide our fans with another competitive team to cheer for," the release stated. "The Bisons remain committed to providing our fans with the best possible sports and family entertainment experience at every event this season and for many seasons to come.
"We recognize that having a strong Major League partner is important to our success and we will address our future Major League affiliation at the completion of this season, in accordance with the timetable set forth in the Professional Baseball Agreement." [...] Continue Reading »
The Pirates and Triple-A Indianapolis agreed yesterday to extend their player development contract four years through the 2012 season, bringing the number of International League clubs whose contracts expire after this season down to six.
Six affiliates have extended their PDCs since we first ran the chart in late February, including Indianapolis, Triple-A Fresno, Triple-A Tucson, Triple-A Colorado Springs, Double-A Binghamton and Double-A Montgomery.
Below is a league-by-league update on teams’ PDCs (deals expiring after the 2008 season are in bold).
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (Triple-A)
PDCs expiring after 2008 season: 6.
Buffalo Bisons – Indians (PDC expires after 2008 season)
Charlotte Knights – White Sox (2010)
Columbus Clippers – Nationals (2008)
Durham Bulls – Rays (2008)
Gwinnett County – Braves (owned by Atlanta)
Indianapolis Indians – Pirates (2012)
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Phillies (2008)
Louisville Bats – Reds (2010)
Norfolk Tides – Orioles (2010)
Pawtucket Red Sox – Red Sox (2010)
Rochester Red Wings – Twins (2008)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees – Yankees (2010)
Syracuse Chiefs – Blue Jays (2008)
Toledo Mud Hens – Tigers (2010)
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (Triple-A)
PDCs expiring after 2008 season: 7.
Albuquerque Isotopes – Marlins (2008)
Colorado Springs Sky Sox – Rockies (2010)
Fresno Grizzlies – Giants (2010)
Iowa Cubs – Cubs (2012)
Las Vegas 51s – Dodgers (2008)
Memphis Redbirds – Cardinals (2008)
Nashville Sounds – Brewers (2010)
New Orleans Zephyrs – Mets (2008)
Oklahoma RedHawks – Rangers (2010)
Omaha Royals – Royals (2008)
Portland Beavers – Padres (2008)
Round Rock Express – Astros (2010)
Sacramento River Cats – Athletics (2010)
Salt Lake Bees – Angels (2012)
Tacoma Rainiers – Mariners (2008)
Tucson Sidewinders – Diamondbacks (2010) [...] Continue Reading »
The Reds’ exodus from its longtime Florida spring training home to Arizona was finalized on Monday evening, when the city of Goodyear agreed to finance a $33 million ballpark project.
The Reds will begin play in the Phoenix suburb in 2010. They will share the ballpark with the Indians, who just completed their final spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., but each team will have its own clubhouse and practice fields. The cost of the entire complex is estimated at $108 million.
The Reds certainly gave their best effort to stay in Sarasota, but once voters rejected a $54 million referendum to renovate 20-year-old Ed Smith Stadium, the Reds had little choice but accept a sweetheart of a deal in Goodyear. The Reds will pay $500,000 in annual rental fees for the new state-of-the-art complex, which will be a significant upgrade from the Reds’ aging complex in Sarasota. The Goodyear complex will feature six practice fields, team office space and a brand new ballpark (that they’ll share with the Indians).
"Even if the voters in Florida approved the $54 million, there’s really no comparison to a brand new facility," John Allen, who represented the Reds in negotiations with the city of Goodyear, told the Dayton Daily News. "What we’re getting in Arizona is better than what we had or would have in Florida." [...] Continue Reading »
The Fresno Grizzlies are taking an unusual tactic to attract fans to the ballpark for Opening Day this weekend: blackmail.
If the Fresno followers ever want to again see Parker, the beloved orange-and-green bear-like creature that has become a staple a Chukchansi Park, then they’d better come up out in force on Friday night. Or something like that.
As part of a strategy to make Parker the fluffy face of the organization, they launced a promotion on Monday in which Parker walked out of work, exiling himself to the top of a local building unless Opening Night against Tucson is a sellout.
He even left a note.
"Friends," Parker printed on Grizzlier letterhead quite nicely for a three-fingered beast. "I’m going to the top of 1060 Fulton and I’m not coming back until we pack the park on Opening Day."
(Think of the children, Parker. The children.) [...] Continue Reading »
The drought in North Carolina ended just in time for the baseball season.
After seeing barely a drop of precipitation over the winter, high Class A Kinston was inundated last week and had all three games of its opening series against Winston-Salem postponed.
Apparently the K-Tribe’s front office went a little stir crazy after being cooped up all weekend, as they have promised to give away $5,000 to a fan in attendance if Tuesday’s home game is rained out (Monday is an off-day).
Kinston GM Shari Massengill issued a tongue-in-cheek release on Monday stating that play-by-play announcer Chris Hemeyer volunteered to take the five grand out of his annual salary if the heavens open again on Tuesday.
"She’s very generous," Hemeyer said, noting that they did check the weather report before issuing the guarantee (overcast skies, 20 percent chance of precipitation). "There is truth to the (promotion). Someone is going to win five thousand dollars if we don’t play tomorrow . . . I hope it’s not (my salary). I hope that’s just an empty threat."
The Indians’ Opening Day game was postponed after a city-wide power outage darkened Grainger Stadium with Kinston leading Winston-Salem, 3-0, in the bottom of the third inning. The Indians had the bases loaded when the power went out.
Front-office officials decided to try and brighten moods.
"You can’ help Mother Nature when half the city goes out with a power outage," Hemeyer said. "We were all just sitting around the office, pretty bummed out and dowin the dumps. We thought, ‘let’s do something that will put a positive, or more fun, spin on this situation.’ We thought that this might make it more fun. We’re putting our money our mouth is . . . or I guess my money."
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