It was a good call to save the best for last at the Ottawa Rapids press conference today: Ed Nottle, the manager, had his say after everyone else and at the risk of overselling it, he killed.
Nottle, with his decade-and-a-half of managing in independent ball, has his sales pitch down for being the skipped of an independent team. He charmed the hell out of pretty much everyone gathered in the clubhouse. He riffed on his age— "don't tell anyone I'm 68; I'm 35 and by the end of this year, in this ballpark, I'll be 25" — and his existence as a baseball lifer, nearly 30 years as a manager in affiliated and independent baseball.
"Life in the minors is 90% disappointments. Once in a while, you get the other 10%. This is that 10%." He'll be good copy, to say the least... at one point he poked fun at himself, realizing he knew how old he was when he pulled out a newspaper clipping from a game against the old Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs his playing days and realized the opposing second baseman that day was Sparky Anderson, who's only looked octogenerian since the mid-'80s.
Buttering up the city is hackneyed, but it worked today. People, including us so-called objective journalists, want this to work. It's burned in memory how low people felt after the final Lynx game last September (full disclosure: I took the easy way out and went on the next-to-last day, and got rewarded with a 13-inning game), and who wants to go through that again?
The feeling in the room resembled what it must be like for an up-and-coming band the day after they play Letterman for the first time, or an author has her/his first book published.
The best parts of the day: Can-Am commissioner Miles Wolff took the time to acknowledge Carl Kiiffner and Bruce Murdock (heretofore known as Deep Fly). These guys went the extra 10 miles, just based on the fact they thought their sons should have a baseball team in their hometown. God knows how they must have felt at some of the low points over the past five months of back-and-forth between the city, the Lynx and Wolff that Mayor Lare captured perfectly when he said, "A great lawyer can stretch something out for a very long time ... and both sides were blessed with great lawyers in this event" but here's hoping today makes it worthwhile.
As for the name (Rapids/Rapides) and logo, which is over at the unofficial Ottawa Rapids blog: Thumbs-up on this end. Most of the people I've talked to today says it has the potential to grow on people; plus it's it's an easy French/English translation. It's also true to Ottawa-Gatineau's geography and history to the spirit of a newish league, where it's supposed to feel a little gimmicky. Most of the people I've shared it with say at the worst, it should grow on them over time.
Last but not least, it was a huge thrill — as a fan — to chat with the great Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet, who now calls games for the Québec Capitales, the Rapids' ready-made rivals. It was also a reminder that the Ford C. Frick Award for the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be handed out on Tuesday, with Dave Van Horne and Tom Cheek in the final list of 10.
Carl has more — a lot more over at the UORB and some footage that he and Zak Kiiffner shot will be up on YouTube.
By the way, it's exactly 14 weeks to Opening Day.
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