Sunday, July 15, 2007


Sun Media's "Minor Disaster" report on minor league baseball's slow slide to oblivion in Canada makes a passing reference to the Blue Jays possibly moving to their Double-A team to Ottawa when/if the Lynx pull up stakes. With a couple exceptions, that's about the only thing of value for an informed observer.

Chris Stevenson did a great job capturing original Lynx owner Howard Darwin's bittersweet sentiments during yesterday's XV Anniversary celebration at the Stadium. Our man Carl Kiifner of Ottawa Lynx Blog was quoted not once, not twice, but thrice in a couple of other articles.

The Lynx are dying a slow death. It's old hat. Move on, already.

Instead, why can't someone try to capture the real burn for a baseball fan in Canada -- that what's happening in this sports-illiterate country is 180 degrees removed from the baseball boom happening south of the border. The Americans get it with minor-league ball. Independent leagues and team are springing up. Triple-A attendance is up. There are people with money willing to take a risk on investing in a team. That doesn't happen in Canada and it sucks, but it's not the be-all end-all.

An afternoon or a night at a minor-league ballpark provides plenty of good old-fashioned visceral experience and at a reasonable price. It's something one gets to experience for herself or himself. In the larger picture, more people than ever before believe you get that from PVRed episodes of Lost or by playing video games to all hours, and vote with their wallets accordingly. (Yesterday, not long after the Lynx had lost by a fat pile of runs in front of an announced crowd of 1,826, I happened by an EB Games -- the first time I'd ever set foot in a video game store. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, but the place was packed.)

That's really what's happening. Sports operations who depend on having people in the stands for revenue and credibility are going to be affected further over the next few years.

The Americans get minor-league ball, but thy have issues. The same writer who batted out the "Minor Disaster" masterpiece also had an article today about investors in Wichita, Kansas trying to get a team in the independent Northern League. Wichita, a good-sized city of almost 600,000 people, is losing a Double-A team whose parent club, Kansas City, is only a few hours away. So it's not like the struggles of minor-league teams is even a Canadian problem. You see the irony?

Triple-A is almost certainly leaving Ottawa, but it's not a death, it's hopefully a rebirth. It's too bad the typical defeatist Canadian attitude has sway on people's judgment.

It's not a disaster for a Canadian baseball fan when you can sort through scores every night to see how Canadians such as Jason Bay, Erik Bedard, Justin Morneau and Joey Votto, who grew up in era when there good Jays and Expos teams and thriving Triple-A teams, are doing. It's not a disaster when there are more more young Canadian men down in the U.S. on baseball scholarships than on hockey scholarships (and the numbers of young Canadian women playing NCAA softball probably compares favourably with the number playing NCAA D-1 hockey).

It's just that being a baseball fan in Canada won't feel complete without access to minor-league baseball. The upshot is there are enough people in Ottawa who believe in baseball, in spite of everything.

Carl is now on record saying a future Ottawa club "would have to be affiliated with Toronto." Three months ago, one of The Tao of Stieb authors left a comment theorizing that Rogers Communications could move the Jays' short-season Single-A team in the New York-Penn League here, "extend the brand into this market" and give this city "a team that starts playing at the beginning of June, which is just about the time that people in Ottawa start wanting to go out to the ballpark."

Indie-league ball, the Can-Am League, has less appeal than being aligned with the Jays, but it does bear study since Montreal and Quebec are going to be in the Can-Am League. The upshot is greater minds who have followed baseball from an Ottawa vantage point for some time believe there's a future here.

One Lynx roster move: Anderson Garcia has been returned by the Philadelphia Phillies. Clay Condrey is back up with the big club; Jason Anderson is headed down to the R-Phils.

Tides 6, Lynx 1 (boxscore, play-by-play): The Lynx scored two runs in the last three games of this series and both came in on bases-loaded walks.

Bubba Nelson was allowed to start the seventh with his pitch count in the 90s and the Lynx down by only two. It was probably a good percentage move, but Norfolk scored three and got out of town with the series win.

Two of the principals from Canada's 2006 World Baseball Classic win over the States helped the Tides today -- Adam Stern was 1-for-4 and Steve Green, who got the final out in that game 16 months ago, finished up with two innings of shutout relief. How many people would even make that connection?

The Lynx are off to Pawtucket, where tomorrow they'll be the set decoration as the Red Sox Nation losers get ready to analyze Clay Buchholz's big Triple-A debut to death. Eude Brito (1-5, 7.71, 1.93 WHIP) goes the Lynx.

A "Great, Eh" Performance (March 8, 2006)
Stop Lamenting The Lynx Already... Say Hello To The Capital Bandits (Sept. 6, 2006)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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