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The Biz of Baseball :: Business of Sports Network
Indy Ball News: Cracker-Cats to Capitals PDF Print E-mail
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Independent League News
Written by Devon Teeple   
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 01:17

Edmonton CapitalsThe Golden Baseball League is truly maintaining its position as one of the frontrunners for promoting Canadian independent baseball. With the Victoria Seals becoming the most recent team from Canada joining the league, another franchise located in Canada has gone through some changes. The team formerly known as the Edmonton Cracker-Cats is now the Edmonton Capitals.

After three years of affiliation with the Northern League, the Cats journey to the Golden Baseball League began in 2007, with a “refusal” to part with a $500,000 letter of credit, or $1,000,000 million dollar bond (depending on which report you believe) and was subsequently forced out of the league. According to Ball Park Digest, the basics of the deal are as follows; “the Northern League constitution says every team must put up letters of credit, with the commissioner having the discretion to return them after a certain amount of time (say, three years). When the two Alberta teams (the other team was the Calgary Vipers) were asked to put up the letters of credit, we're guessing they demanded that every other team do so as well per the league bylaws, but not every team has done so (and, indeed, at least one of the other teams is in no financial position to do so).” Northern League Commissioner Clark C. Griffith insisted that the team was not forced out, “We were not pushing them out of the league. We very much wanted them back."

In October of 2007, it was officially announced that the Edmonton Cracker-Cats joined the GBL. The addition of the Cats thrilled the likes of GBL CEO David Kaval, “Edmonton is a tremendous baseball market with a first class Triple-A ballpark," “With a tradition of championship ballclub’s and strong fan and business partner support, Edmonton is a very impressive addition to the GBL." 2008 turned out to be a very good year for the Cats, winning the North Division in their first season and setting a single-game attendance record of nearly 9,000 while facing their cross-province rival, the Calgary Vipers. Their season ended unceremoniously, losing to those same Vipers in the first ever North Division Championship Series three games to zero.  The 2009 season is almost underway but the Edmonton franchise is already in a league of its own.

Daryl Katz and the Rexall Sports Corporation purchased the Edmonton franchise for a reported $400,000. Dan Orlich and partner Erika Cruise, the Florida-based owners of the Cracker-Cats sold the team for an amount that is minimal to Katz, who is the owner of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Katz, who reached billionaire status through pharmaceuticals, has now turned Edmonton into a 12-month sports operator with hockey teams in the NHL, WHL, and now a minor league baseball franchise in the city. According to Oilers President Patrick LaForge, his expectation was to extend his core-operating base, “We have a really strong set of core skills, we have great relationships with national sponsors," LaForge said. "We have a very highly organized and well-tuned ticket marketing and selling organization that extended into the (WHL) Edmonton Oil Kings. "Our thought was that we can continue to extend those skills. LaForge wanted a franchise that could define a hardworking city, with hardworking fan base that would appreciate having a team of this caliber. “We finally have a pro sports team in this city that we can call the Capitals. We live in the provincial capital, the oil capital of Canada and the name symbolizes all that makes this city stand out above the rest. This franchise will be dedicated to filling a void here in our city for family focused, safe and affordable entertainment in the form of a terrific sports entertainment package.”

How did the Cats become the Capitals, a ‘Re-name the Team’ contest, of course. The contest received well over 2,000 entries, with the winning name being drawn from a pool of other contestants. What else has been adjusted before their May 21, 2009 home opener against the Victoria? Company restructuring that will reestablish their head office and procedures. Jordi Weidman transitions from a communications role with the Oil Kings, to Director of Business Operations. Craig Tkachuk combines the role of General Manager of Telus Field and Edmonton Oilers Director of Facilities & Development and Sean Price who formerly held the position of V.P. Ticket Sales for the Oilers, is now the V.P. of the Capitals and Oil Kings.

With a name change comes a new logo and new uniforms, and if you are Oilers fan, you can see the similarities. "One of the most exciting aspects of launching a new brand is to give it an identity and see that identity come to life." said LaForge. "You can tell this team belongs in the Oilers' family and the kids will have fun with a new character that will really make its mark on the Edmonton sports scene." Below you will find the details of the three different uniforms to be worn by the Capitals this season.

Home White Uniforms

  • The new Edmonton Capitals uniform features the Edmonton Capitals word mark emblazoned on the front chest.
  • The font is Interceptor capitalizing the first initial 'C' and the last initial 'S'
  • The primary color for the word mark is Edmonton Oilers blue with white and Edmonton Oilers vintage orange trim.
  • A player number appears on the front of the jersey on the torso below the word mark. Those are also blue with white and orange trim.
  • The primary logo becomes the shoulder patch of the jersey.
  • The sleeves will have a three tone trim with 1/8" blue/orange/blue.
  • The players name bars on the back of the jersey are in a slightly modified block lettering in a solid blue color.

Road Grey Uniforms

  • The road grey jerseys feature the word mark 'EDMONTON' across the front chest in the Interceptor font.
  • The initials 'E' and 'N' in Edmonton are both capitalized.
  • The EDMONTON word mark is in Edmonton Oilers blue with white and Edmonton Oilers vintage orange trim.
  • The same shoulder patch and trim from the home white jersey appears on the sleeve of the grey jerseys as well.
  • There are no name bars on the road uniforms.

Alternate Blue Uniforms

  • The Edmonton Capitals alternate third jerseys are a solid blue featuring the word mark Edmonton CAPS in vintage orange.
  • The word CAPS has blue and white trim.
  • The sleeves feature a tri-color white/ orange/white trim and the same secondary logo shoulder patch as the home and away jerseys.

Ball Caps

  • Dark navy blue with an orange, staggered EC on the front

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Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class.
 
Devon is the founder of The GM's Perspective, is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels. Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be reached  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

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Play Clock in Baseball? The SEC to Add Two PDF Print E-mail
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NCAA Baseball
Written by Devon Teeple   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 22:33

SECBaseball is a game with no time limits. The only one of the four major professional sports that can say that.

In recent years, MLB has made a conscious effort on speeding up the game (to varying degrees of success), making it more fan friendly, as noted by MLB's official rules:

Rule 6.02 principally involves the batter's movement around the plate. Umpires will now quickly ask batters to move from the on-deck circle to the batter's box, will not grant time to a batter once the pitcher delivers the baseball, and will demand that the batter not linger outside the box in between pitches.

As far as Rule 8.04 is concerned, that one involves a prompt delivery of the ball to the plate by the pitcher. The plate umpire will actively encourage the pitcher to take his place on the rubber, warn a pitcher for his first violation of exceeding the 12-second limit between pitches, and call a ball for each subsequent violation by the same pitcher.

The SEC, arguably the most dominant conference in college baseball, has once again taken on an innovator role in college baseball, and will be experimenting with some very entertaining rule alterations for the 2010 season.

The SEC tournament will introduce a 20-second and a 90-second play clock, as well as tournament format changes.

To be politically correct, let us start with the lesser of the two evils.

Beginning in 2010 SEC Tournament play will have the same format as the Big 12 and ACC, where teams are to be placed in two pools and the winner of each pool will play for the tournament title.

The College World Series tournament format is once again, in play, however, there are slight alterations.

Games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will begin at 9:30 am central, instead of the customary 10:00 am start time, while breaks between games will be reduced to 30 minutes, down from the typical 45-50 minutes.

According to a report by The Birmingham News, a 20-second clock and a 90-second clock are to be initiated during the 2010 SEC tournament, not during regular season play.

SEC Associate commissioner, Charles Bloom, commented on the recent changes.

“It wasn’t just when the games ended. We weren’t hitting any of our published game times all day,” Bloom said in the report. “The clock also lends itself to a bigger issue, and that’s making college baseball more manageable to television.”

Additional details were released from the report;

The 20-seond play clock begins;

  • With no runners are on base
  • A ball is called if the ball is not pitched within 20 seconds
  • A strike is called on the batter, if he is not ready 5 seconds before time expires

The 90-second play clock begins;

  • When the last out is made, and ends when the pitcher begins his windup
  • Batting team is penalized a strike if they are not ready in 90 seconds
  • Fielding team is penalized a ball if they are not ready in 90 seconds
  • Half-inning clock is extended to 105 seconds for televised games
  • Play begins whether the network is ready or not.

This is not something new to college baseball. The Missouri Valley Conference carried out a trial run of these exact same rules during the 1990 and 1991 season.

Game times played out to an average of two hours and 37 minutes. A time that pales in comparison to the average game times of the SEC tournament this past season.  Times ran a staggering three hours and 20 minutes.

Baseball is a game based on tradition, history, and carries a tremendous amount of pride with that. Introducing a game-clock, in my opinion is walking a very dangerous line, something that can change the game completely.

We all know that baseball is a business, and the length of games disrupts regularly scheduled programming, and upsets the fans, the schools and conveners’ when games run into the wee hours of the night, sometimes, past 1am.

Consequently, that is what is great about baseball. It is a game not bound by the rules of other sports.

A team consists of nine players, but the outcome is determined through multiple one on one battles, battles, that do take more time than usual.

Rules are meant to be broken, unfortunately, multiple tweaks and revisions can change it completely.

North Carolina coach Mike Fox, insists these changes are not necessary and the variation is minimal at best.

"My initial take on it is, I hope the ACC doesn't do it,'' Fox said. "I don't see the point in it. Everybody seems to be caught up on the fact that the length of our games is an issue. I just don't see that. I don't know why that's such an issue.

"I just don't see that it's necessary. If you shorten the game by six minutes, so what?''


Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class.

He is the founder of The GM's Perspective, is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels. Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
Cheney Stadium Renovation Renderings Released PDF Print E-mail
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Ballpark Renderings
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 00:42

Cheney - ExteriorThe Tacoma Rainers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, is about to see a much needed upgrade to their home, Cheney Stadium.

In Tuesday’s Tacoma City Council study session, the Cheney Stadium Advisory Panel, with its chosen design team, Mortenson, Populous, and Belay, revealed details of Cheney Stadium’s first full renovation in 51 years. The $30 million, multi-party funded project is set to be completed by opening day of 2011.

The design team was unanimously chosen by a panel which included members from the City of Tacoma, the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, and the Cheney Foundation. They unveiled the preliminary design for renovation of Cheney Stadium subject to contract approval by the council.  Council is set to make a final decision on Tuesday, March 9th.

“This project goes so far beyond the Tacoma Rainiers,” Rainiers Team President Aaron Artman said.  “A renovated Cheney Stadium will become a landmark and source of pride for the community.  It speaks to a ton of hard work and a deep partnership between the Cheney Foundation, The City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the team.”

As part of the project, the Rainiers entered into a 30-year lease with the city of Tacoma.  Steve Patterson of Pro-Sports Consulting and formerly president of the Portland Trailblazers, was instrumental in advising the Rainiers on lease and financing.

The renovation is scheduled to break ground immediately following the 2010 baseball season.  It includes something for everyone with plans for a redesigned, covered concourse, a right field grass berm with an attached children’s play area, new bleachers beyond the left field wall, 300 club seats behind home plate, a 5000 square foot club/restaurant, and 16 luxury suites.

“That’s the beauty of this venue.  We’re able to offer fans new and improved amenities, from luxury suites and new club to more concessions and restrooms,” Artman added.  “At the same time, coming to a game will remain very affordable so everybody in the community can experience what is sure to be one of the crown jewels of stadiums in the country.”

Renovations will also include a new outfield fence line with inset bullpens, improved dugouts for home and away with tunnels and clubhouses directly behind each dugout.  The home team will be switching dugouts in 2011 and gaining a brand new clubhouse.

"After seeing the plans and renderings of the renovated Cheney Stadium, the Mariners are excited for fans of the Rainiers, who will enjoy the new facilities.  It is great that the park will remain on its long-time site as the home of Triple-A baseball in Tacoma,” said Chuck Armstrong, Mariners President and COO.

The multi-level structure will be built on top of the existing seating bowl, which will be resealed and reinforced.  The new structure will be independent from the existing structure; a purposeful choice made by the panel and the design team to maximize sustainability.

“What you saw today is the beginning of a new era for Triple-A Baseball in our region,” said Mike Combs, Director of Tacoma’s Public Assembly Facilities.  “The legacy that Ben Cheney started over 51 years ago continues today.”

Below is a list of upgrades and additions through the Cheney Renovation.

  • Unique Northwest design featuring wood and glass
  • New, redesigned, festive hardscape
  • Brand new and expanded restrooms
  • Concession stands with more points of sale
  • New disabled seating and access
  • New ballpark entries
  • New bleachers beyond left field wall
  • Right field grass berm
  • Right field children’s play area
  • New outfield wall with inset bullpens
  • Renovated dugouts
  • New clubhouses directly behind dugouts
  • 300 new “dugout club” seats behind home plate
  • Private club for these seats on mezzanine level
  • 16 luxury suites
  • 5000 square foot club/restaurant
  • Upgraded field lighting

SELECT ANY OF THE IMAGES BELOW TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW

Cheney - Exterior Cheney - Club
Cheney - Exterior (Aerial) Cheney - Exterior (3rd base side)

Cheney - Interior view,  3rd base

Cheney - Suite

ALL IMAGES COURTESY POPULOUS


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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The Washington Times Sports Section Dies PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 17:37

The Washington Times

12/31 UPDATE: Tim Lemke is already blogging. See TimLemkeSports.com. First story is on AT&T dropping Tiger Woods.


It’s becoming an all too commonplace matter to report on: the death of entire newspapers, or as is the case with the news today, whole sections being dropped from a daily. There had been word that the Washington Times sports section was going to be folded, but it was believed to be happening in February. Today, that news came early.

First, Redskins beat writer Ryan O'Halloran wrote via Twitter: “Newsroom meeting for TWT at 3:30. Wonder what THAT'S about?” An hour later, the WaTimes Sports Twitter account used tongue-in-cheek to tweet the bad news,“It's official @TWTSports got Mike Leach'd”

I have always loved the Washington Times sports section as it added another view outside of the Washington Post into DC sports. It also has had a fully dedicated staff writer for sports business beginning with Eric Fisher, who went to the SportsBusiness Journal, and then with Tim Lemke, who has become someone I read daily, and was kind enough to feature me in several articles, including not one, but two business of sports conversations. Through Tim, I was happy to say that I not only had a respectable sports business reporter in the DC area to read, but someone that would turn into a good friend (see Tim’s farewell post on the Washington Times).

Besides Tim, I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Goessling at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indianapolis just a few short weeks ago. There was Thom Loverro, who along with Fisher, chronicled much of the relocation of the Expos to DC, before Lemke picked up the flag and covered the business of that historic move that would become the Nationals… Mark Zuckerman… Dick Heller… and that was just the baseball coverage.

The bottom line is, well… the bottom line. There has been a parade of sports writers that have dropped to the wayside over the last few years, some of which have not returned to writing given the limited number of openings in  paid journalism these days. I am happy to hear that Lemke already has plans to blog while looking for a new place to land. Look for stories pointing to his work shortly.

To all of the 25-member Washington Times sports section, the best of luck. May 2010 end better than 2009 did for you.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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An Interview with Former MLB All-Star Morgan Ensberg on Blogging, Social Media PDF Print E-mail
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The Biz of Baseball - Interviews
Written by Matthew Coller   
Sunday, 06 June 2010 22:45

Morgan EnsbergIn a recent guest column for ESPN, former Major League Baseball All-Star Morgan Ensberg said his dream wasn’t to be a ballplayer, it was to be a husband and father. He achieved his goal while spending eight seasons in the big leagues. After Ensberg retired in 2009, he set out to become baseball’s new best analyst. But, it turned out that analyst jobs are tough to get, so Ensberg did the next best thing: he started a blog.

The first post on “Morgan Ensberg’s IQ” came on Feb. 26, was entitled “Hey Yo!” The post reads, “I am Morgan Ensberg and this is a blog that teaches you about baseball. Not crap, but solid fundamentally based strategy and teaching. Each week I will teach you something about the game either at the professional or amateur level.”

Ensberg’s original goal of teaching readers about the game has taken all sorts of twists and turns. He’s featured posts on steroids, leadership, Sabermetrics and perhaps most intriguingly, the media. Posts are written from behind the eyes of a big league ballplayer, they are often biased, at times condescending, but always strikingly honest and interesting. Ensberg’s blog lays the cards on the table and if you don’t agree with his take, he’ll battle you like your comment was 3-2 count.

Though the rudimentary presentation lets readers know Ensberg is new to the blog game, his site offers something rarely found outside of the occasional 140 characters: The opportunity to get to know and interact with a professional athlete. Some posts have near 200 comments, many of them are back-n-forths between Ensberg and readers. But what prompted Ensberg to want to communicate with baseball fans?

Biz of Baseball decided to chat with Morgan Ensberg about his experiences blogging and the relationships between players, fans and the media.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE THE INTERVIEW MORGAN ENSBERG

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