Today is not a day to lash out and make it about what's wrong with Ottawa.
The demise of the Ottawa Voyageurs was beyond everyone's control, locally. The Atlantic City Surf folded over the weekend. That was that. Once that domino toppled, it left the league with seven teams, one of which was a ward of the league. A baseball league cannot run with an odd number of teams, since everyone plays almost every day.
Today, if you're so inclined to see history as a straight line, is the end of a long slide down that probably began in the mid-'90s when Major League Baseball set out to destroy the Expos. The trickle-down was felt by the Lynx, just two hours away in Ottawa. The record should show there were people who raged against the dying of the light.
This is not directly tied to the Zipperheads' lawsuit against the City of Ottawa and Can-Am commish Miles Wolff. The league, as best is my understanding, could not afford to have two franchises under league control.
It sounds like the other Can-Am owners basically said no to a league-controlled team in Ottawa. If that's the case, it's a final irony that former MLB executive Dan Duquette, who has a stake in the American Defenders of New Hampshire, was party to driving the final nail into the coffin of pro ball in Ottawa (no matter what true believers say). Duquette was GM of the Montreal Expos when the Triple-A Lynx came into being as its top farm club in 1993.
It probably was a bit inevitable, but people like friends Carl Kiiffner and Bruce Murdock went the extra mile for this nevertheless. Their voices probably won't be heard. Save for Don Campbell at the Ottawa Citizen, whose baseball bona fides are beyond reproach, and for Chris Stevenson noting this is the loss a cheap night out for families during the summer months, the knee-jerkers in the local media probably won't have much of a heart for those who cared. It's another story about a sports team in Ottawa going under, which usually means the opportunity for drive-by journalism.
Please know this has little to do with the litany of failed franchises, pending litigation, or whatever there is in the Canadian sports psyche which makes us reject so-called American sports like a bad transplant. It was the economy, stupid.
In the long run, it speaks to not having a summer team in Ottawa as an alternative to all-hockey, all-the-time sportsgeist. It speaks to what was lost for ball fans east of Toronto once MLB put the screws to the 'Spos 15 years ago. It speaks to the changing nature of following baseball as a Canadian. The self-described dinosaur with his newspaper might have hearing this from an "Internet geek," but there have never been more Canadians playing at a high level of baseball, and following them has never been more accessible. There's a trade-off, but all it takes is a high-speed connection to keep up with Canadian ballplayers such as Jason Bay, Rich Harden, Phillippe Aumont, Brett Lawrie, Joey Votto, Russell Martin and Alex Périard as opposed to watching half-talented imports ply their dubious craft on a local diamond.
Most of all, it speaks to the economic realities that all of us are facing across North America. Hockey lost two ECHL teams this winter, it's naive to think this could not happen in minor-league baseball, especially indy ball.
Please know that Wolff and many others went all out for ball fans in Ottawa. Please know there are ball fans in Ottawa. The bat was taken out of their hands.
Voyageurs strike out? (Chris Stevenson, Sun Media)
Ball team striking out in Ottawa; Can-Am league expected to shut down Voyageurs (Derek Puddicombe, Sun Media)
Pro baseball may have struck out again in Ottawa (Krystle Chow, Ottawa Business Journal)
Atlantic City Surf ceases operations (ballparkdigest.com; fist bump to Pete Toms for the link)