The truth is that neither the Reds nor Giants wanted to be here.
A few weeks ago, a Giants official gave me the read-between-the lines message of he being too busy dealing with San Francisco media, so I should not call him and stick to getting my quotes/info from the Defenders. Call it creating distance, call it confidence that they'd be elsewhere, but the Giants were dead set against coming back here.
Defenders GM Charlie Dowd told me he felt his team was never in a position of leverage, something Carolina Mudcats GM Joe Kremer felt his team had going for him. He said that both teams "wanted" to be in Carolina. This is why the whole process took so long -- Carolina was making sure it made the choice it wanted. In essence, the Defenders had to wait until a decision was made for them, and even after that happened, they didn't know which way Carolina had decided to go until hours after it announced it had called a press conference.
Before anyone thinks about doing damage to themselves over the apparent lack of love, the Marlins wanted to be here, but never imagined the Dodgers would leave Jacksonville, Fla. That simple move changed everything. The Dodgers went to Chattanooga, the Marlins left Carolina, the Dodgers' move forced out the Reds, who as we know, decided upon Carolina.
What made Carolina so attractive?
For the Giants, it's closer to Augusta and not Norwich.
For the Reds, its the Southern League and they had been in Chattanooga 21 years, being familiar means something. Plus, both teams wanted the weather and away from the uncertainty here.
Speaking of that, the rumors are getting stronger that the team will be sold within the next year and moved to Richmond, Va. Is that a done deal? No. Would I bet against it? No.
What can be done? First people need to go to Defenders games. If ownership and the Eastern League feel this team can't grow and sustain that growth -- I'm not talking the nice bumps the last two years brought, but double that immediately -- then it's as close to a foregone conclusion. I've asked Lou DiBella several times in the past about selling the team. He's never said it wasn't an option, but he's also said it's not an option he wants to consider.
Getting back to the matter at hand, the Mudcats GM told me both teams wanted to be there. Charlie Dowd said that the Giants and Defenders never expressed a "definitive" desire to go separate ways. That's because both knew they are the red-headed stepchildren in this bi-annual dance. No one wanted the Giants and no one available wanted Norwich.
All along, the Giants were trying to, as a common phrase in politics these days goes, put lipstick on a pig in its presentation to Carolina. Carolina felt the Giants would do well there. Just not as well as the Reds. Once the Reds made their call, the final pieces fell into place.
At that point, neither had a choice.
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