On Sept. 13, the sunsoaked afternoon that Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff came to Ottawa to make his pitch for his independent baseball circuit settling in this city, a series of city councillors came into a meeting room, in pairs, in threes, to listen to the man make his pitch.
Some were skeptical, with good reason, that a team could rises from the ashes of the Lynx-cum-Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. At the end of one session, though, councillor Rob Jellett stood up, slapped his hands on his thighs in a no-BS way, and said, "I just want to say that I am a baseball fan; I believe in baseball."
It seems like a small thing, but that moment was something to cling to across these past 10 weeks. Heavens knows one would take whatever he could get while Wolff, another man with a baseball-loving boy who would prefer his name not be used and Carl Kiiffner worked tirelessly to plow through a snowbank of legalities, technicalities and some hard heads down at City Hall to keep baseball alive in the nation's capital.
It seemed to make too much sense not to let the Can-Am League in, yet it seemed like a longshot for so, so long. More than once it seemed like it wouldn't happen, but somehow, some way, opinions shifted.
Anyway, it's all happening: The welcome news, first reported at Ottawa Lynx Blog, is that the city has given its blessing to the Can-Am League negotiating an agreement to play at the Coventry Rd. ballpark next season. Forgive the excessive emotional attachment.
Lord knows that us diehards fell prey to some moments of weakness. Sometimes we sprayed invective like a skunk more than once over the politics-as-usual that seemed to be scuttling the process. But we meant well.
It has taken months, but it looks like it's a lock. Much of that was Wolff, who simply won people over with his belief in this city. Another big part of it was an advocate working behind the scenes -- call him Deep Fly -- who would not give up, all because he has a young son who wants to see baseball in the summer. Neither would Carl.
Their energy prevailed and it led to people with the right amount of pull, including but not limited to councillors Jellett, Rainer Bloess and Bob Monette, working for what was right. They didn't have to lift a finger for us; it's three years till the next election and there was probably no political hay to be made by catering to a small, scattered constituency of baseball nuts, but they did. You know you guys are the champs.
Who knows what tipped it in our favour. What is known is that common sense prevailed in Ottawa with regard to a sports facility, and that alone is often reason to celebrate. The departing Lynx brass, general manager Kyle Bostwick and owner Ray Pecor, probably deserve a ton of credit for remembering the fans they are leaving behind, no doubt with heavy hearts.
Of course, it would have best for the Triple-A Lynx to stay, or to have been able to give a proper farewell, but this is making the best of the situation. It's hardly a fait accompli that independent baseball is going to survive, let alone thrive in this market. The upshot is that the people in this area who have the baseball bug will have some new friends to make at the ballpark out on Coventry Rd., starting next May. Christmas has come early, and it's going to come again around May 22, 2008.
Baseball a go for Lynx Stadium (Sun Media)
Ottawa won't be without pro baseball come spring (Laura Drake, Don Campbell and Darren Desaulniers, Ottawa Citizen)
That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.