Tag Archives: baseball

Dominican Republic Team Out of the Can-Am League

can-am

Earlier this week, the Can-Am League issued a press release stating that the Dominican Republic team would not be playing their remaining games on the schedule.  The Hollywood Stars, owned by the Pecos League, will play out the rest of the games.

This isn’t a huge loss for the league as the Dominican Republic team failed to win any of their nine games that they had played. Last year, the team went 2-15.

Below is the Can-Am’s official press release:

 

HOLLYWOOD STARS TO REPLACE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TEAM

Durham, N.C. — Due to transportation issues, the Dominican Republic team, which finished its games against the Can-Am League’s American clubs Sunday, has been replaced on the schedule by the Hollywood Stars. The Stars competed in the independent Pecos League in 2017.

The Dominican Republic team had been scheduled to play at Ottawa June 19-21, at Trois-Rivières June 22-24, and at Québec June 26-28. All dates and times will remain the same for games against Hollywood.

After the news was made official, a representative of the Dominican Republic team emailed me to tell me that the transportation issue was really just a way for the league to make an excuse not to have them play the remainder of their schedule. They stated that the bus was cancelled by the league, without warning, leaving the Dominicans stranded in New Jersey after having to check out of their hotel.

I reached out to the Can-Am commissioner, Miles Wolff, for his response on Tuesday (6/19), and he told me that:

The Dominican team was scheduled to leave NJ yesterday at 11 a.m. on a bus that the league had hired.   No players were there to meet the bus.  Canadian visas had not been acquired.  Although the DR organizers stated that the team would be ready today, the uncertainty over whether we would have a team to make the trip to Canada caused the league to cancel the Canadian portion of the series.

After Wolff’s email response to me, he went on record with the Ottawa Sun to discuss the issue further, stating:

“I cancelled it,” Champions owner Miles Wolff said. “The decision was mine, not theirs. Their bus was supposed to leave New Jersey at 11 (Monday morning). The team wasn’t ready to leave. They said, ‘Oh, we’re going to leave at 3 the next morning.’ Canadian visas hadn’t been applied for. There was huge uncertainty.

“The team wasn’t very good. They hadn’t gotten their U.S. visas, so they were using a lot of players out of New York City. Last year, they were only 2-16 in the league and they said, ‘OK, we understand the league is strong. We’re going to have a good team for you this year. We want to really do it right.’ It turned out to be worse than last year. The last straw was them cancelling the bus that was supposed to leave. We needed to make sure a team was going to be here.”

The Dominican team representative assured me that they had players in place to play and did everything the league asked of them.  The representative also told me that the bus situation and time of departure was supposed to be set by them, and not the league.  Wolff has been on the record multiple times stating that the Dominican team cancelled the bus, which caused him to cancel the series; however, I have seen an email where he has admitted to cancelling the bus himself because the representative was trying to “force things.”

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The Hollywood Stars team, which was the Canadian version of the Salina team that just finished their partial schedule, was already in place and ready to take over and play. It does appear that having two different Salina teams (one in Canada and one in the States) shows that this may have been in the works for weeks without the Dominican team’s knowledge.

Since first publishing this article, I’ve been informed by a member of the Salina team that many members were supposed to play in both Canada and the United States. Others were scheduled to return to their original team. Some members of the Canadian Salina team were on their way back to their Pecos League team or on their way to join the Salina team in New Jersey, but were then told they needed to stay. A lot of players had to figure out a way to cancel plans or make other arrangements to stay or return to Canada to form the Hollywood Stars team.

So even if the Can-Am had this planned for weeks, they did not let the Pecos League know about it either.

Understandably, the Dominican Republic team is angry and upset about how the league has handled this entire situation.

Regardless of what exactly happened, the Can-Am bringing in poorly performing teams from outside the league has given them a bad look in recent years.

So far this season, the Salina Stockade (a Pecos League team) is 3-7, the new Hollywood Stars team (basically the Canadian roster of the Stockade) lost their first game and the Dominican team went 0-9.  Last year, there were two foreign teams playing a partial schedule: the Cuban National Team which went 5-16, and that same Dominican team which went 2-15.

The Can-Am has been doing this for years – relying on travel teams or other teams outside of the league to fill their schedule – but these teams are rarely competitive which makes for some long games for both players and fans.

In a way, it almost seems like a publicity stunt that does the exact opposite of what one is supposed to do.  These teams rarely bring in droves and droves of fans (the Dominican team was an exception), but it also appears that it has alienated a lot of fans from the six “core” teams in the league who see it as a joke and are frustrated with seeing such poor play.

Did the Can-Am really believe that the Dominican Republic team couldn’t continue on to the Canadian leg of the schedule? What really happened with the bus situation? Did the poor performance of the team lead to the switch?

Remember, there are always three sides to the story. I gave you the Can-Am League’s and the Dominican Republic team’s… I’ll leave it up to the reader to figure out the third side.

 

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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.