Sunday, May 31, 2009

Now what?

First let me start by saying it's nice to hear large crowds made their way to Dodd Stadium this weekend. The weather was nice, and mixed with some good promotions and a first-place team, it's hard to justify not going.

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed or commented on my column in Sunday's paper. It had to get out there and people had to know the conditions in which their team is being taken from them.

Despite over 14,00 fans this weekend, the fans are still the primary reason this is happening. There has to be more support. Not just for three days, but for five months. This was a good start.

My gut feeling is that Lou DiBella sells the team soon to a group comprised of Richmond Baseball and any one of the other groups looking into the situation. I think Ripken Baseball makes the most sense, but we'll see.

Will Norwich see pro ball again? I'd like to think so. I'd like to think some of the struggling Penn League teams will think Dodd is a better place than where they are at now. It may take until 2011 to happen. I also think that MiLB knows this whole process is such a disaster because of Joe McEacharn's mismanagement that getting a team here -- even by the same tactics in which it's trying to remove the current one -- may be the closest way to make amends. Will it? Not entirely. Understand that were this a Penn League team at Dodd, the season hasn't begun yet. That's a lot of baseball to have missed. so it's a tradeoff: shorter season or no season.

For now, enjoy what you have.

Friday, May 29, 2009


The second link also contains the audio of the press conference in Richmond.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What a mess!

Yes, the sale of the team to Bryan Bostic's group as originally planned is dead. But this is far from over.

EL presidente Joe McEacharn held a press conference in Richmond, Va. today proclaiming the new attempt to bring local and non-local parties together. There's no guarantee that a sale will happen, something McEacharn acknowledged today. He also tried blowing smoke you-know-where by saying people need to look at the teams not being mentioned. Right. Because the Rock Cats are leaving.

Could the Ryan-Sanders group do this? Yes. They have deep pockets and can move quickly. The spokesman for Richmond Baseball LC -- which has bumbled everything -- said the plan is to pair with other parties to make this happen by Aug. 1. He also said he was the head of the group, not Bostic. He also told others that money was the reason, but denied comment to me. Whatever. Richmond Baseball's handling of this entire process speaks volumes.

More than that, the EL's inability to do this the right way: from forcing Lou DiBella out against his will (read tomorrow's Bulletin) to plotting this entire move and damaging not just the team but the market shows how ruthless the league is when it wants its way.

Check out the audio of the press conference on Thanks to my friend Wes McElroy at 910 AM in Richmond for providing and allowing the use of that file.

In the end, this deal has to get done because of all the damage done. I know that DiBella is disappointed that more people aren't supporting the team. All I can tell those who don't want to lose this team is go to games; rally other fans. Consider this a second-chance to try and change the outcome. Maybe Erie goes if attendance surges here.

McEacharn wants to get rid of DiBella and Norwich. He's willing to play dirty if he has to -- and he has. He's also played ignorant as he failed to see that Bostic had money. He didn't care. He hitched his wagon to a pipe dream on the mere hope of getting the team out of here and into Richmond.

Right now, he's left holding the pipe and scrambling to make this happen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The latest

It appears Bostic added Ryan-Sanders Baseball as a partner to get around the territorial position issue. What this means is if Ryan was going this road alone he would have needed to speak to Lou DiBella. He hasn't. So he becomes a partner and Ryan-Sanders only has to be satisfied with what they hear from Richmond tomorrow. That's right -- Reid and Reece Ryan are en route to Richmond -- to meet with the Mayor, EL president Joe McEacharn and tour The Diamond, among other things on the schedule.

Expect the sale of the Defenders to come through next week.

Radio again

I'll be on Richmond's 910AM at 4:10 today discussing the Defenders. Hopefully their streaming audio works today.

On the Express?

Thanks to Bryan Bostic's empty pockets, minor league baseball needed to find another suitor for the Defenders (or the Sea Wolves) to bring it to Richmond, Va. It's found a possible fit with Nolan Ryan.

Ryan-Sanders Baseball, which owns two teams in Texas, is going to explore the Richmond market and talk to the folks involved down there.

This is funny because no one has spoken to Lou DiBella. And for Ryan-Sanders to speak to anyone in Richmond either they've been granted rights to explore a territory or Minor League Baseball/Eastern League is ignoring the rules.

Expect Ryan-Sanders to form a partnership with Bostic's Richmond Baseball LC and serve as majority owners.

the sense is MiLB and the EL are panicking.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just a quick note

John Smoltz will pitch for Portland against the Defenders at Dodd Stadium a week from Sunday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holy C%@$

The police K-9 dog left a gift in right field before the game. Supposedly it couldn't be removed. I hate to be the right fielder.

D.A.R.E Day

It's a nice day at Dodd Stadium with great weather and roughly 4,000 fans -- mostly kids as part of D.A.R.E. Day.

The team heads into play 1/2 game out of first. A win against the B-Mets Eric Brown (who went to the same college as me) and a win by Portland will thrust the Defenders into first place. There were there briefly on Saturday, but here's a chance to get an extended stay.

Nothing new on the relocation situation for now. I am sure there will be more soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


For those who will be at the game tomorrow morning -- see you there. I am sure we'll have plenty to discuss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Into the blog mailbag...

Mdeep04 asks: If this deal doesn't go through does this mean.
A- AA baseball again next year
B- They attempt to do this deal again next year
C- Lou Dibella still not continue next year but that means that Giants AA has no place to go.

A. It doesn't mean necessarily that there's AA ball here next year. It means that Bryan Bostic won't own the team. Lou DiBella could move the team and take on Richmond-area partners, he could form a partnership with Bostic/others, another ownership group (there were a few Minor League Baseball ignored) could step up and make this happen quickly, Erie could be relocated (easily because its ownership has teams throughout the country) or there are no teams moving.

B. Could this be re-tried next year? Yes. But the circumstances will have to change. However, I don't see that happening. All of the sale talk may have done irreparable harm to the city-team relationship and the Defenders and or DiBella may have to go. The problem with it being just DiBella and not the team is there has been essentially no outcry to keep the team.

If people demonstrated a desire to keep THIS team in town, things could change. But people are going to want to see sustained support -- something that hasn't happened in a decade.

C. One way or another, the team will have a home in 2010.

Greg asks: What's the vibe in Richmond?

The people are split between wanting and team and not. Those who don't think it might be worth waiting a few years for a better situation, i.e. building a new stadium. The others don't want the plan Bostic is pushing. It's the same as me asking all of you to build me a house. Then I'm going to charge you to come in and sit. I'll charge you again if you want food. Meanwhile, he makes all the money.

A funny side note. Bostic was supposed to come on the radio after me today on Richmond's 910 AM. He canceled saying he had a funeral to attend. Sounds like he knows his deal is dead.

Listen in

I will be on Fox Sports Radio's Richmond affiliate 910 AM at 3:25 p.m. to discuss the Defenders-Richmond drama.

I've been hearing that the media player on their site isn't working too well, so folks may not be able to hear any of this.

Survey says...

May 31. That is the drop-dead date by which this deal, as presently proposed, needs to be completed or it's not happening.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trouble in Richmond?

Richmond, Va. Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the findings of a study Monday to explore the feasibility of a development that includes an 8,500-seat baseball stadium to house the Connecticut Defenders should the sale and relocation of the team be completed.

In the study performed by Davenport and Co., it was determined that project financing is “highly unlikely” unless the city provides credit support. Because of the city’s credit rating, the amount financed would decrease by an estimated $20 million to $60 million. But that is something Jones is unwilling to give a thumbs up to at the present.

Without the financial backing of the city, the project which was to rely heavily upon a sales tax increase is in serious doubt. With the city’s backing, the hike would be 2.1 percent.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Before I forget

Oakland returned Ben Copeland to San Francisco. It remains to be seen where he will be assigned.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Study hard

I've been told there will be significant movement early next week as a city commissioned a study to investigate the potential impact of a new stadium in Richmond.

What I'm hearing is that it's not good news if you are Bryan Bostic.

Where does that leave the Defenders? My guess is probably still gone but to a different ownership group. Likely, it will be one of the groups MiLB didn't want to look at/consider the first time through this process.

Joe McEacharn has said everything needs to be done by Aug. 1 in order to get the 2010 season logistics squared away. That leaves very little time.

The big question is...

Does this sale take place. It's look less and less likely by the day. It may be that Bryan Bostic and Richmond Baseball LC have been able to clear everything between them and the Defenders except for dollars. And without those dollars -- bye bye deal.

That's not even mentioning the battles that still have to be waged in city and state government. A call for a referendum has been made in Richmond, but it's token. It has no influence on what happens. If the Mayor says it's good to go and there's a team that's it.

Bostic's group gave Richmond until Aug. 1 to the Mayor's office OK the development plan that includes the new stadium they want. But his group received a deadline that same day to have the team purchased and approved to relocate, which is really a non issue once the purchase is done.

However, this has been dragging on for months with a whole lot of "we're close" talk coming from Richmond.

What I think we're seeing is EL President Joe McEacharn going to Virginia this week to help drum up more support (dollars) but making it look like his baseball's herald there as an all-is-good sign. But it clearly isn't.

Minor League Baseball and the Eastern League forced this sale process to happen and it may blow up in their faces. If so, someone besides Bostic takes the fall. That's McEacharn. It rolls down hill, if you know what I mean, and McEacharn is standing at the foot of the hill.

So what happens if this does come apart in the next week, which is when Lou DiBella says this will be settled one way or another? Does the team stay and Bostic or someone else try to buy and move the Erie SeaWolves? Maybe. The more likely scenario is another Richmond ownership group emerges, probably one that the taxpayers of Richmond take to more kindly than Bostic and co. If not, DiBella may have to remain as owner and move the team to Richmond. I can't imagine MiLB would say no provided Richmond-area partners came on board.

It's just hard to imagine the team staying after everything its been through in recent months, with the proposed sale being out there for several months. Plus, with attendance being what it's been -- despite increases the last two years -- and a loss of advertising, the team may never recover if it stayed.

If I'm a proponent of the Defenders staying, then I go to as many games as possible and bring a friend to every game I attend.

Who's to say right now? What we do know is McEacharn and Bostic are still saying the deal is almost done. DiBella says it isn't.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This that and the other

Raise your hand if you thought the Defenders would be 1/2 game out of first on May 14.

That's what I thought.

But they are because they are getting timely hitting to go with the always strong pitching. But you know Steve Decker is nowhere near happy.

Check out the front page of tomorrow's Bulletin. Some interesting stuff regarding the sale of the team. We'll discuss more in this blog sometime around midday. Maybe sooner. Sorry, but a man's gotta sleep :)

Here's something I came across on Twitter and think is hilarious and one of the better MLB-related team ads.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Alderson fantastic

Six 2/3 of no-hit, 10-K baseball. That's what Tim Alderson did in his Double-A debut Sunday against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. I don't care who you ask, that exceeded everyone's expectations.

There was a lot in his favor, such as facing new batters he had never seen and just being generally a good pitcher. But the 'Cats have some decent bats and he made them look bad.

If he stays here the whole season -- which we learned last year is asking A LOT -- Defenders fans could be in for a treat. Now, Madison Bumgarner, who is widely considered to be better than Alderson, takes the hill tomorrow at New Britain.

What are the odds the bats come to life soon? Now, that would make for an interesting summer at Dodd Stadium.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Garrett Broshuis is out of extended Spring Training in in San Jose.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Odds and ends

We can start with Greg's questions in my last post. No, nothing new with the sale. As much as I believe it will happen, I also believe that each day longer this takes that the odds of a collapse increases. What kind of odds do I give it? 90 percent of going through.

For those who are holding out hope that the Defenders/AA ball stays here, if the sale falls apart, the team ain't going anywhere any time soon. My sources tell me that Eastern League President Joe McEachern as well as some higher ups in Minor League Baseball are the driving forces behind the sale. So much so that there might have been a blind eye or two turned away from some tampering months ago. Needless to say, this all comes down to money and Richmond would make more than Norwich. Should this sale not happen, don't be surprised if there are changes on the executive level around the minor league baseball community.

However...don't count on this falling apart. Pieces are still moving slowly such as Richmond ownership getting a two-year lease to play at the Diamond until a new stadium is built.

Regarding a short-season A team coming in, Lou DiBella has told me he wants nothing to do with making any sort of inquiries that might be seen as tampering or put the chances of a team relocating at risk.

DiBella has been pretty upset -- and I believe genuinely so -- over the way everything has played out. At the end of the day, he feels the fans are going to get the shaft because MiLB won't guarantee a team relocates should the Defenders leave.

What else do I have for you...

Simon Klink is back in school at Purdue, where he played college ball.

I don't want to say this is for certain, but after just a few games that I've covered I don't feel as if the clubhouse has meshed as well as it had in years past. Maybe, considering the past results, this is a good thing.

Nothing new pitchers arriving. Steve Decker said the Giants told him nothing as of yesterday afternoon. "Deck" is a lot more forthcoming than his predecessors, so my guess is this is a waiting game. However, pitching isn't the team's big concern. They need to hit, which is as slow developing as the Earth's plates shifting into the next expected land formation (200 million years from now, give or take a century or five).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Guess where I am...

Dodd Stadium!

I can't tell you how great it feels to be back here even with 34 people in the stands.

It's a chilly night and the threat of rain is defintely keeping folks away. Not to mention the typical early season drought.

Let's see how this game goes.