All posts by IndyBallIsland

28. Baseball fan. I prefer indy ball and the minors over the majors. If it's summer, you can find me at a ballpark. The Washington Wild Things and the Pittsburgh Pirates are my "hometown" teams, but I'm always up for taking a baseball road trip! Follow me on Twitter: @kmthomp29

The Texas (Chinese) AirHogs

airhogs

Last season, the Texas AirHogs were the last place team in the American Association (except for the Salina – Pecos owned – travel team). This year, the team is going to have a MUCH different look.

The AirHogs are going to be used as the training ground for the Chinese National team (known as the Beijing Shougang Eagles) and have even been granted roster exemptions for the 2018 season. The team is using this experience (the first time a national team has played professional baseball in the United States) to prepare for the 2020 olympic games and beyond.

30 members of the Chinese National team will be in Texas, with 13 of them on the active roster each night. The AirHogs will then be able to swap up to seven players each night. Roster rules for adding/releasing players will not apply here.

This definitely gives the AirHogs an advantage as they will essentially have a fresh team every day. In the middle of a season with so many straight games, double headers and long travel, this is going to be an advantage that every team in the American Association is going to wish that they had.

AirHogs manager John McLaren, who has also managed the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, led Team China in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic. He is familiar with the players and how best to work the roster to his advantage.

The addition of the Chinese National team is also going to completely change how the team plays on the field as well. As the American Association Daily pointed out, baseball in Asia usually focuses on basic fundamentals including bunting and hitting to move runners over. Home runs aren’t nearly as expected as they are here in America.

This tactic is one that is primarly used with another American Association team, the Gary SouthShore RailCats. The RailCats have been consistently one of the top teams in the league year in and year out while adopting this small-ball mentality. It appears as though they’re going to have some stiff competition now from a team that, for the most part, has been playing this way with each other for many years.

The addition of the Chinese National team will surely make the American Association interesting to watch this year. Not only will it bring media attention, but it may end up changing the entire dynamic of the league.

The team, now often called The AirHogs – powered by Beijing Shougang Eagles, starts their season tonight (5/18) at home against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.

Read the team’s official press release about this agreement HERE.

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National Urban Professional Baseball League

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A LOT of players and readers have been asking me for information on the National Urban Professional Baseball League (NUPBL).

Many articles have been appearing about this new indy league starting this summer… (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…). You can read all of these articles on their “Press Release” page on the official website.

It does appear that some players (I’ll assume they’re players in this league as there are no rosters) have been out in the community, and the league is trying to reach out to surrounding communities… That is always a plus.

The NUPBL claims to be a “rebirth” of the Negro leagues because African Americans have been “limited” in their opportunities to play baseball, while then stating in the next sentence that they are in “NO WAY” limited to only African American players.

To me, this is just sending a ton of mixed signals to what this league is trying to do.

I’ve reached out to the league multiple times, as I’ve also stated in my article back in November, but they have failed to respond to my questions – even the biggest scams in recent history had enough respect to email me back and give me BS answers. This league has decided to just ignore it.

That’s fine, but I can’t ignore reporting about them.

The only information I know about this league is what is provided on their official website, that just so happens to be full of grammatical errors and stock photographs.

Their “About Us” page states:

Vision
Promote Diversity in Baseball
Develop Economic, Social and Educational Programs
Promote Entrepreneurship
Mission Statement
Inspire individuals to use their God given talent and abilities
to reach their personal and professional goals
The creation of this professional Baseball League is designed to provide family entertainment.This league will be dedicated to the generations of baseball players who were denied the opportunity to play baseball because of factors other than their ability to play the game of baseball.
African American baseball players has been limited in their opportunity to participate in the game of baseball
“America’s Pastime”
on the high school, college and the professional baseball level.While this league in “NO WAY” will be limited to only African America players. We will seek out the best baseball players from across the United State and the World regardless of their ethnic back round.

The league in its initial conception will consist of four teams with plans for future expansion.

Play a seventy two game schedule between
May thru August in addition to play-offs

Team (s) will consist of
Team manager
Coaches
24 players per team
Targeted ages for the team will be players 17 years old and older (that have completed or will be completing their H.S. eligibility).
The players in this league will be paid
Scheduled to start in May 2018

We will form the teams by selecting players (not withstanding their racial back round) from across the United State and the World by way of open try-outs to be held at a number of sites (see tryouts).
After the teams are formed the players that will makeup these teams will actively take part in pre-planned promotion activities.

The names of the teams in this league will reflect that of past Negro League players i.e. Rube Foster All-Stars, Satchel Paige All-Stars, and Josh Gibson All-Stars etc. To honor the history and memories of past African America baseball players (the same as the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, MO).

The main page states that games will be played at Wooten Legion Field in Laurel, Mississippi and USA Stadium in Millington, Tennessee.
Opening day is May 25th…
Will the players be paid? Will there be housing provided? Are stats going to be available?
There are no answers for that.
But… if you’ve paid more money for Season Tickets than I’ve ever paid for any another indy league, you can get free game day meals! The stock photos look delicious!
I’m not trying to make this league a joke, but it’s really hard to see this league as anything other than another fly-by-night, one and done league. Everything about this suggests the league is trying to take advantage of players.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope I can do an update in a couple months and say how successful this league is… that the players are taken care of, the fields are playable, players will be paid, and statistics will be posted.
I just don’t want players to get scammed again. I’ve seen it WAY too many times over the last few years. I care about players. I just want them to do their research and know what they’re getting into. I try to do as much research for them as possible, but some times, I just can’t get straight answers.

*Update* apparently the city in Tennessee has backed out. All games will happen in Mississippi.

I’ve also been told that the league does not want to give me any information.