Monday, September 29, 2008

Rapidz: Hall of Shame

Congratulations, Rob Hall, you're No. 1.

In five short months, you topped Horn Chen and the Glieberguys as the worst sports owner in Ottawa history. There is no all-things-considered, no sympathetic ear for pulling the chute on the Ottawa Rapidz after a single season.

The record will show that you and fellow/former Zipperhead Rick Anderson bought the team and acted like overgrown brats with a new toy, not as keepers of a quasi-public trust. You rejected advice from people whose track record, unlike yours, actually suggests they know their ass from second base when it comes to baseball. Worst of all, you toyed with the hearts of the fans. They honestly believed that a new team would rise from the ashes of the Lynx's Long Goodbye. They feel like fools now, and honestly, that sucks.

Now you're going to take your ball and go home. This is how it works in business, huh? Be that as it may, it's a lousy way as far as the business of coming across as human being is concerned. Please, go stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself, after what you have done, how is anyone in Ottawa ever going to trust another owner? All hope is not lost yet — last fall and winter is proof of such — but the window of opportunity is closing very quickly.

You have left Ottawa high and dry. The Can-Am League has assured itself stability in Nashua with the American Defenders of New Hampshire, there's no urgency to make sure there's an eighth franchise. They can run a road team next year if needed.

There would be sympathy for your situation if you had just manned up and said, "We tried, but we couldn't make a go of this ... we hope someone else will for the 2009 season." This is a business. Independent-league teams have start-up costs. Many flame out in a trice.

That would have left people with a small window of hope. Instead, you turtled. You resorted to a blame game. Forgive me for expressing a heartfelt opinion, since that's just not done in Ottawa, but there is next-to-no reason that anyone should buy your contention that you were "told by the city in a meeting early this month that rent at the stadium would jump from its present $108,000 per season to in the area of $1 million once the current lease with the city expires following the 2009 season."

No one is calling you a liar. It's just that anyone who caught the Rapidz' act and has a fully functioning brain knows better. You ran through any bit of public trust that you might have accidentally had, which makes it hard to believe anything that comes out your cakehole.

Best wishes on making a clean break. The least you can do is apologize to each and every Ottawa ball fan who is heartbroken.

(The Nashua Telegraph, unlike any Ottawa media outlet, is covering the Can-Am League meets in Brockton, Mass. Let's see what they have on this tomorrow.)

Ottawa Rapidz strike out (Don Campbell, Ottawa Citizen)


Von Allan said...

Two thoughts: while disappointing, this is nothing like losing the Rough Riders. Nothing like it. That was a devastating announcement.

Is there any truth to the rent increase claim?

sager said...

The rent increase to $1-million per year doesn't pass anyone's sniff test, that's just an opinion.

The city might have wanted more than $108 Gs, but 10 times as much? In the words of GOB Bluth, Come on!

Von Allan said...

While I would tend to agree, I would love to see an official "nay" or "yay" from the City. One would think they would give a very strong denial in the next 24 hours if it's not true.

Really good piece on Ron Lancaster, by the by.

Tyler King said...

To continue on the franchise striking out theme...

And my baseball broadcasting career is... outta here!

GoGades said...

My goodness, what is it about Ottawa that seems to attract every cornflake and/or scumbag owner out there ? Even The Sainted Melnyk came across as less than honourable recently with his backstabbing of his World Junior 'partner. Jeff Hunt is the lone bright light.

At least it didn't take long with these 2 clowns, with their early decision to rename the team to the cheezy RapidZ name, something smelled fishy right away. I'm not surprised the wheels came off early.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I guess, although I feel bad for the Ottawa baseball community (which to be frank, is a sport I'm not much interested in)

Tyler King said...

Can't Miles Wolff take it over again?

GoGades said...

Just finished the more detailed article on the Citizen website.

As expected the $1M/y rent figure is taken completely out of context and is clearly being used as a lame excuse. $1M/y would be for year round rent and by the sounds of it, complete run of the place for other events.

Wolff does not seem to close the door on 2009 and beyond, however. He got this thing off the ground pretty quickly last year, maybe he can pull it off again.

I'm so tired of Ottawa getting embarrassed like this.

Anonymous said...

say what you want about rag tag owners, but Ray Pecor did nothing but add a touch of class to this bunch! Granted, it didn't work out the way we wanted, but no one can ever say anything about the way he operated the baseball team!

Tyler King said...

"I'm so tired of Ottawa getting embarrassed like this."

Yeah, that's the Senators' job!

Sorry, I had to.

sager said...

He meant the ones on Parliament Hill, so relax, everybody.

Jordie Dwyer said...

Wow...and I thought Edmonton was the only minor league baseball place to attract flaky ownership!!
Sheesh, makes the guy here (okay, so technically he's in California) look like he's running a real team.
Best of luck to ya in Ottawa...we know how it feels.

Anonymous said...

Are we surprised by any of this?
These are the same people who callously canned the manager when he on a leave of absence to be by the side of his seriously ill wife.
Boy, that took serious stones to do that.
Perhaps, though, it is for the best.
When they announced the new management team that was supposedly in place for next year, it smelled like a dog and pony show.
I hope somebody representing the city will pipe up and explain the municipality's side of the story.
Some clarification from the city is in order.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

That's too bad: it was really great to hear about baseball coming back to Ottawa despite the odds, and it's a shame to see it end this way.

I wonder if this might have an impact on the MLS bid: yes, it's a vastly different league and ownership situation, but now more professional franchises than just the RoughRiders/Renegades and the Lynx have failed in Ottawa, and that might raise some questions about the viability of the market (especially for the American owners/league execs who might not be overly familiar with what happened in each case: not all of those failures were due to poor fan support, but that distinction might not be perceived, as a franchise failure always appears to reflect poorly on a city).

Hopefully, Ottawa will eventually get another Can-Am team: the league has a lot of potential, and it's too bad it didn't get a better chance in Ottawa.

sager said...

The MLS bid is almost completely unrelated.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

You're right, it's tangential. There isn't necessarily a crossover between the fan groups, and this sounds like more of an ownership problem than a fan base one anyway.
I only brought it up because expansion committees do sometimes take into account how other teams have fared in a market, and Ottawa's now lost three franchises in a pretty short span of time, which may not be the best advertisement for the city as a home to another expansion team. It probably won't come into play in any case: it's just how I think, and league owners and executives may look at the situation differently.

sager said...

Four if you count the Ottawa Rebel!

Mikey said...

What will I miss more? Baseball in Ottawa or the half price beer after every Rapidz (sic) home run?

Sadly, the former.

To Syracuse (no longer Jays) and Burlington (great) I go...

Dennis Prouse said...

I would like to believe that the Can-Am League would work to put another team in Ottawa for 2009. After all, as we saw this season, this looks like a pretty promising market.

Having said that, $1.4 million is a LOT of money to lose in one year on an independent league team. Now, could strong, competent ownership have cut that amount in half? Perhaps, but the basic point still remains - it's not easy to find sports loving rich guys who don't mind losing money on a hobby. This is the problem the CFL faced in Ottawa with its first ownership group -- that consortium had been hoodwinked, err, convinced by the League that the salary cap was real, and that they could break even running a CFL franchise here. When they realized that was a fairy tale, they started bolting, as none of them were so wealthy that they could afford to bleed a few hundred grand each per year on the team.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for good news out of the Can-Am League meetings.

sager said...

It's complicated. There's still another year on the sublease from the Lynx. A new owner would also have to deal with many of the same suppliers who have been burned by the Rapidz.

It is a reprise of the Rough Riders' last seasons. People's emotions have been toyed with and twisted to the extent the club has become radioactive to all but the biggest diehard fans.

Give Anderson and Hall credit. In Montreal, it took Claude Brochu more than 15 years to kill baseball and salt the earth so nothing would ever grow again. Anderson and Hall did it in 5 months.

Anonymous said...

sager, why didnt you write this:

"You cannot spell Rot in hell, you baseball-killer without R-o-b H-a-l-l."

Anonymous said...

did the old owners have an explanation of why they left or didnt they pretty much just leave without mentioning, you guys should thankk the rapidz for at least putting baseball here for another season, and remember they saved pecor and bostwick from getting insulted like this by coming here this year if you're looking for someone to blame point the finger at the lynx not the rapidz

sager said...


You're so full of crap your eyes are brown.

Since your comment gives every indication that you were born yesterday, I'll fill you in on the FACTS.

FACT. Ray Pecor and Kyle Bostwick, who in their weakest moments are still more of a man than you could ever be, went to the city in April 2007 and offered to drop an $11-million lawsuit brought against the city for selling off parking out from under him. In exchange, the city would drop their claim of $2.77 million for a promisory note he signed when he bought the team in 2000. (This blog, Sept. 26. 2007).

FACT. Pecor and Bostwick were accompanied by the Can-Am League at those meetings. They were saying, "Here's someone who can hold up our end of the lease, which is to provide a team to play here." They were thinking of the fans they were leaving behind.

FACT. The city, in its infinite wisdom, dragged its feet on finalizing such an agreement.

FACT. The Lynx could not say they were leaving without hurting their case, because -- as the party line went -- they had 2 years left on their lease.

FACT. The Lynx offered to make this a turnkey operation, turning over nearly $1 million in assets to the new owners.

FACT. Your attitude is every reason why they leave.

FACT. Anderson and Hall, after all the work that was done, after all the sweat equity people such as Miles Wolff and Carl Kiiffner poured into this, started off with a ton of goodwill. They ran through it in no time flat.

FACT. You need to learn to think for yourself, instead of towing the party line.

Pecor and Bostwick weren't insulted because they are gentlemen. And this isn't an insult to Hall, who deserve far, far worse, but hey, I'm a Christian.

Anonymous said...

Actually im not full of crap I worked for the lynx,so i know alot more about them than you do trrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuusssssssssssstttt me on that one but you believe what you want to believe

sager said...

Doing what for the Lynx, sweeping up in the bleachers?

Same rule as with the person who said I had to be "on drugs" for finding fault with the poor handling of Ed Nottle's firing: Your opinion has no weight behind it if there's no name put to it.

That's not believing what I want to believe. That's just a good policy for determining what's bonafide and what's BS from someone with an agenda and/or ax to grind.

Anonymous said...

First things first, Lynx Stadium didnt have any bleachers. so no I didnt sweap them, secondly like I said before you should thank the owners of the rapidz for being here for another year rather than call him selfish for not wanting to lose another million dollars, at least th epeople who worked for the rapidz still have jobs with zip.

sager said...

The Can-Am League is here next season.

The Rapidz owners are not. Thanking them for their time is like thanking the airline that lost your luggage.

You are arguing a nothing point and it's best you move on, unless you'd like nut up and your super-secret identity.