Tag Archives: Road Warriors

Frontier League Teams Up In The Air For Next Season

The end of the regular season for the Frontier League is just the beginning of some difficult decisions for various teams and cities.

frontier

News has gotten out that The Traverse City Beach Bums are looking to sell and possibly become a team in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league, next year.

The Traverse Ticker reported that an official announcement may be coming this month once the season ends, but everyone with the team is being quiet for now.

“At this time we’re not ready to make an announcement about anything in reference to that,” says Joe Chamberlin, who is slated to become CEO of the Grand Rapids area-based team at the end of the 2018 season. “We’ve known [Beach Bums owners] John and Leslye Wuerfel for many years.”

Beach Bums Chief Financial Officer and General Manager Leslye Wuerfel did not respond to requests for comment on a possible sale.

Read the full article here: Beach Bums Sale Could Be Coming Soon. 

Another team that may be heading in the same direction is the Normal CornBelters.

Last year, the CornBelters discussed moving to the Northwoods League or the Prospects League, but ultimately returned for another season in the Frontier.

Now, they’re still open about leaving the Frontier League and are looking at all their options.

The Pantagraph reported:

As the CornBelters closed their ninth Frontier League season Sunday, team president Steve Malliet sees his franchise in much the same position it was a year ago.In other words, the Belters may have played their final Frontier League game.

“Just like last year, we always take a look at our options at the end of the year to see what we think is best for the organization moving forward,” Malliet said.

Read the full article here: Belters’ Chirino says farewell to Frontier League career

And finally, baseball in Joliet may be coming to an end.

In July, The Herald News reported that the city of Joliet was looking to expand the use of the stadium beyond baseball and it seems as if they were keeping their options open.

The Slammers, who are in a one-year lease with the city that ends this month, said that they need an agreement soon to stay in the Frontier League.

The Slammers’ attorney, Michael Hansen, spoke this week with both the full City Council and the council’s Stadium Committee, noting the team needs to assure the Frontier League that it has a place to play next year.

“We have obligations in the league to let them know that we will field a team by mid-September,” Hansen said. “Time is of the essence.”

As of July when the issue was first brought to attention, it sounded as if the Slammers would be coming back.

Council member Michael Turk, a member of the Stadium Committee who has been asking the staff for status updates on lease negotiations, said he believes the plan is to renew with the Slammers.

“I haven’t heard that we are looking at anybody but the Slammers,” Turk said.

But the city and Slammers so far have not begun negotiations, he said.

“Once we see what they’re looking at, and they see what we’re looking at, I expect it will go pretty quickly,” he said.

Read the full article here: Joliet Slammers prod city on lease negotiations 

Even with the Slammers in the playoffs for the third consecutive season, it appears as though no agreement has been reached (at least not one that has been officially released to the press).

With three teams (so far) that may not be returning for the 2019 season, the Frontier League could possibly be in for changes that affect play for next summer and beyond.

If an odd number of teams leave, will the Road Warriors/Frontier Greys team be back in action?

Will there be any new teams planning to join the league in the upcoming seasons?

Once the playoffs come to an end, I’m sure answers – and probably more questions – will arise.

UPDATE (9/18) The Joliet Slammers and the city of Joliet have agreed on a new five-year lease. Read all the information HERE.

Advertisements

Two Days with the Black Sox

There’s the minor league grind.

Then there’s the indy ball grind.

And then… on a whole other level… you have the Black Sox grind.

20180505_182201.jpg

I was fortunate enough to experience this first hand when I was invited to spend two days with the “Road Warrior” Black Sox.

The team, who is currently in the middle of their spring training schedule, played two exhibition games in Washington, PA (practically my “hometown”) this week.

Snapchat-1258712810.jpg

I’ve known Joe Torre, the Black Sox owner/manager, for many years thanks to this website and the fact that we generally run around with the same circles in baseball. He told me that he would love for me to come out, support the guys, and get the full Black Sox experience. The full experience, as it turns out, allowed me to be in the clubhouse and in the dugout during the games.

And what an experience it was.

Snapchat-2030392559.jpg

As we said our “see you laters” after the game yesterday, Joe turned to me and said, “Are you finally sold yet?”

I was always sold on the Black Sox idea. Their “change the culture” mentality is something that I want to see happen in indy ball. But I’ll admit that before the past two days, I had bought the product but still kept the tag and receipt. Now, I’m completely in. The tag and receipt have been thrown in the trash, and I’m not looking back now.

2018-05-04-08-03-24-497.jpg

If you’ve never read my previous post(s) or heard of the Black Sox, let me try to sum up who they are…

When you think of the Black Sox, think of a good old fashion barnstorming baseball team. The  team is made up of unsigned players who travel around the country playing various indy ball teams during their spring trainings.  Their hopes are that a manager somewhere along the way will like what they see and want to sign them for the upcoming season.

The Black Sox like to say “we are not for everyone” and that is absolutely true. The barnstorming life is brutal. Some times they are given a hotel to stay at when they’re in town, but other times they have to find their own place to stay, whether it’s with a host family, a friend they know, or paying out-of-pocket for a hotel room. The guys then drive themselves from city to city with their cars filled to the max with people and bags.

The guys played two morning games in Washington, PA (May 3rd and 4th) and then, when their game ended after 1 PM on Friday, they drove straight to Florence, KY (over a 4 hour drive) to play ANOTHER game starting at 7.

20180504_112753.jpg

They are the true definition of baseball grinders, but of course, it’s been that way for most of them their entire careers.

I could tell you their stories, everyone in indy ball has one, but they know that’s not important.  Failed draft picks, injuries, small town colleges, scammed indy leagues, near meaningless stats from low-level indy leagues… every guy has had something lead them to this team. No one is going to care about your story here.

The players all play with a chip on their shoulder and have an “us against the world” mentality. When you realize just how cutthroat indy ball is,  you can’t blame them. The Black Sox have an “NWO” wrestling theme. They want to come in, be the renegade group, take over, and succeed. They want to “change the culture” of what independent baseball is all about.

20180503_184359.png

In the highly competitive world that they’re in, it would be easy for the guys to care more about themselves than the team.  Essentially they ARE competing against each other for a job. But the guys know that they can’t think like that. You have to be a TEAM and put the team first before your own individual stats. Playing as a team will eventually bring the individual notoriety if you deserve it.

After spending the last two days with the team, I can honestly say that the majority of the guys understand that. They’re sold and have already thrown away the tag and receipt.  There are still a few that bought in, but aren’t completely sold yet. And the truth is, they’ll either figure it out, or they’ll eventually fail… at least in this system.

 

These past days have been an eye-opening experience to say the least. I’m sure on the first day, most guys had no idea why I was in the clubhouse and dugout. The few guys that I’ve known over the years welcomed me in with open arms, but the others were apprehensive. I was a bit apprehensive on that first day too. I layed low in the manager’s office in the clubhouse pregame and was more a fly on the wall in the dugout than a part of the team.

Snapchat-1192599898.jpg

But by the second day, I definitely felt like I belonged just a bit more. I started talking to the guys and got to know a little bit more of their stories. I could see the passion in their eyes when they talked about the game. I was standing on the railing with them and cheering for their victories, however small they were, during the game.

Snapchat-631823047.jpg Snapchat-468727837

Over the last three years, I’ve watched this team from the other side of the wall. The last two years were rough to say the least. They couldn’t compete, and they knew it. This year, however, I was able to see a team that was very much improved from the last few years. They came in and were competitive. They lost both games, 6-5 and 5-3, but they competed and really, that was a win itself. Players proved that they belonged on that field. They put themselves in a position to be seen, and that’s all they can ask for at this point.

Seeing them leave it all out on the field, coming in the dugout and the clubhouse giving each other advice, putting in extra work after games, watching video… that’s what sold me.

Guys, thank you for letting me into your world for the last few days, even though I know some of you probably didn’t think I should be there.

Please know that you guys have my utmost respect. It may have only been two days, but I want you guys to succeed more than most people ever will. You give it everything you have just for that chance to keep playing.

I see that. I believe in you.