Tag Archives: Can-Am

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.”

image2.jpeg

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.

 

Advertisements

The End of Indy Ball?

The “Save America’s Pastime Act” had no cosponsors and was never heard or voted on; however, it is now law.

Thanks to the Federal Spending Bill being passed, minor league baseball (especially independent baseball) may be completely changed.

The provision in the bill states that:

[A]ny employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the off season) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.

This is a win for Major League baseball since they will not have to pay overtime to any of their players, including minor league players on their affiliated teams. It essentially kills the lawsuit that some former minor league players filed claiming that they should be paid overtime under minimum wage laws.

This law will only require a slight raise (with no overtime) to the lowest affiliated levels and will not affect the majority of teams or players.

But… this isn’t the case for independent baseball. These leagues are ran without financial help from a major league organization. They are small businesses ran on small salaries aided by the hopes and dreams of baseball players who just want a chance to keep playing and be seen by a “higher” level.

For most players, the money really doesn’t matter. It’s that chance to chase their dreams, and they are okay with the small pay they receive. It’s not always right and conditions are often rough, but it’s what they willingly choose to do.

People will look at some of the lower levels of professional baseball (including the Pecos and Empire leagues) and see their demise as a good thing, but it will still have a huge impact on so many people.

Every summer, these players join leagues that play in small towns all across America where families can enjoy a night at the ballpark without breaking the bank or traveling all the way to a major league park. Seasonal workers get a little extra money during those summer months, and college kids can get valuable experience through internships.

Sadly, those nights in most towns may be about to end.

If teams have to pay all players 40 hours a week at minimum wage, there may be BIG problems in independent baseball. Federal minimum wage at 40 hours would result in players being paid at least $290 a week or $1,160 a month.

Last season, the longest running independent league, the Frontier League, paid players a minimum of $600 a month (and a maximum of $1,600) with a total team salary for the season set at $75,000.

The higher leagues: the Can-Am, the American Association, and the Atlantic League, all have yearly salaries of $102,000, $115,000 and $225,000-$275,000 (based on the team) respectively.

This won’t really affect the Atlantic League, but will cause an impact on the American Association and the Can-Am.

And as it currently stands, it could cripple the Frontier League and all lower indy leagues: the Pacific Association, United Shore League, Pecos League, and the Empire League.

If teams are forced to pay all players a weekly salary of at least $1,160 a month, the whole landscape of indy ball will be disrupted.

Mike Shapiro, the president of the San Rafael Pacifics in the Pacific Association, was quoted as saying: “If that is the case, it puts us out of business. It would be the ruination of at least lower level independent leagues like ours. We’re struggling enough with worker’s comp . . . It’s the end of independent ball, certainly at the lower levels.”

He definitely isn’t the only one worried about the upcoming season. Many managers and owners that I talked to off the record are also concerned.

This could very well be the end of independent baseball as we know it.

“I tell you who gets hurt the worst, it’s not only the players, where we are the last stop,” Shapiro said. “They lose out because they don’t have the opportunity. The other who loses out is these communities with 1,000 seat ballparks. It’s a cheap night out for local families.”

There is hope that indy ball can continue operating as a seasonal business with the players being seasonal employees and exempt from all minimum wage laws, hopefully including this new one.

Only time will tell if indy stadiums are going to be forced to go dark.