Monday, May 03, 2010

Ottawa Fat Cats' elephant in the room: rainouts

Namely, what if it rains and wipes out one of their scheduled doubleheaders?

That consideration seems to be another the big brains have overlooked. It might also be reassuring if, with less than two weeks to go before the opener -- some Intercounty Baseball League teams are already playing games -- the fledging outfit had announced the signing of more than a whole one player signing on its website, although the league lists 15 under contract. No word on what level most of the players will come from, but the National Capital Baseball League (an "adult amateur league") has posted a message that the Capital City Cubs have folded, which is surely a coincidence. Way to beat the bushes, fellas.

Seriously, though, what if it rains? There were two postponements out of three scheduled games last weekend:
"There were 31 postponements in the 2009 regular season.

So it’s swell that the Fat Cats, taking Oshawa’s lost place in the loop, are paying the bus fare for other teams to travel to the nation’s capital.

It will probably save the Panthers around $1,500, (Kitchener Panthers president Bill ) Pegg guesses. It’s also fine that the Cats will put other teams up for a night in a hotel. But there will still be little wiggle room for delays when the Panthers make their lone weekend visit to Ottawa on June 5-6 for a Saturday double-header and a Sunday matinee.

" 'Most of these players work,' Pegg said. 'And we’re not the only team like that. You can't say to a guy, "Do you want to take off at noon on Tuesday and Thursday because we’re going to Ottawa." I don’t think so.'
" ... 'Most of the teams are on record as saying going to Ottawa during the week for playoffs just isn’t going to happen,' Pegg added.

"That means Ottawa needs the coveted fan-friendly weekend dates in a series. That’s another issue.

"So the IBL better pray for sunshine and clear skies, whenever the Fat Cats play.

"Otherwise, scheduling could get messy."
One almost wonders at the chutzpah of the Ottawa operators, making a nice, community-run Southern Ontario league re-arrange everything for them. What is their contingency for rainouts? Are we that arrogant in Ottawa to not realize we're tampering with almost a century of tradition?

Why are they charging 12 bucks a game and putting together a team of neighbourhood players who were hitherto playing in the NCBL, an "adult amateur league?" Enquiring minds are wondering.

Since the future of the Ottawa baseball stadium is hanging in the balance, these are questions the Ottawa media must begin asking this week, instead of rehashing ill-informed Expos-Jays comparisons about a baseball team in Toronto. Not next week.

(Speaking of: FYI, Mark Sutcliffe, it was not an "ESPN blogger" who said the Blue Jays should be moved to Caracas. Rob Neyer -- he has a name, you know -- was referring to that idiot in Chicago. Good luck with your next marathon, though.)

Panthers still wary of Fat Cats’ entry into IBL (Jeff Hicks, Waterloo Region Record)


Anonymous said...

i googled Fat Cats the other day and this was all i could find on this 'organization"

Is this real baseball or a bunch of guys getting together (who I'm sure can play baseball) and playing baseball on the weekend?

I think they start this weekend, is their roster a mystery?

You ask about the Ottawa media, why would the Ottawa media care about a bunch of guys playing baseball on weekend?

Was it not a few years back A.J. Burnett pitched a rehab game in Ottawa, that's baseball, is this a bunch of guys (weekend warriors) playing baseball at what appears to be prices that are beyond any reality?

Is it possible this group will start the season (will they fold this week) or fold during the season?

Who are the money people behind this team? And again will they finish what they start? And didn't the last team that played there walk away from their debts?

And does anyone in this city really care to begin with>

Anonymous said...

I made the previous post, but i had one most "question" or issue to raise.

This group such as it is does have a website. That appears to be the only method of information you can find about this team. No surprise there given that this appears to be nothing more than weekend warrior baseball, but there website hasn't been updated in six weeks. What sense does that make? What message are they sending out about the state of their team when their only source of information is six weeks old?

And again, will they manage to finish their season?

Larry said...

I have similar concerns to the previous post. The Fat Cats owners have always seemed like all fluff but no substance. I don't think they have a clue what they have gotten themselves into. I expect they are finding out it is much harder than they thought to get even a simple IBL team up and running. Imagine if they actually got the GBL team they claimed to have!

I saw in the Citizen today that the Fat Cats are playing an exhibition game this Weds at 6pm (vs some local players who obviously weren't good enough to make the team). It's funny that the game isn't listed on the Fat Cats web site...

As I've said before, my worst fear is that these guys will put the last nail in the coffin for baseball in Ottawa. I hope they somehow manage to stumble through the season without folding, and then we get a real owner for an indy team next year.

Anonymous said...

BTW love the three posts on this scammer of a baseball team such as it is, but if you drive by the stadium (i happen to today), the scoreboard still reads 'Rapidz' and you can still find Ottawa Lynx signage.

What's the over/under on this team folding by June 15

Lynxfan said...


I believe you sat through the same Fat Cats sales pitch (they were then the Golden League franchise in waiting) to City Council that I did last fall, so I understand and share your concern. We had front row seats and witnessed what looked (and continues to look) to be a complete and utter train wreck in waiting.

Two things stood out in my mind. First, just how out of touch the Butler Group was, capped off by Duncan MacDonald's delusional presentation. Were it not so serious, we might have laughed. Grape? Really? And that side-splitter - In order to protect Spartacat and other mascots, "he's a seedless Grape!". Stop. My sutures.

Second, it was sad to watch them trot out community group after community group, advocating on their behalf. Seniors, charities, vets - all were used in the hopes that they would garner sympathy and votes from Council members. Knowing that there was no way that they could land their Golden League expansion team, having to witness this sad procession was infuriating.

This will come to a sad end - I put the over/under of them making it to the end of the 2010 season at 30%. I'll take the under.

We can only hope that the baseball-in-Ottawa naysayers don't successfully use this franchise's failure as ammo to bring down the stadium.

Anonymous said...

I am not from Ottawa, actually not even in Ottawa, but did baseball ever really work in Ottawa?

And any insight into "Duncan MacDonald's delusional presentation"

And who or what is a Duncan MacDonald in this?

Larry said...

Duncan MacDonald was one of the OSG people who made the presentation at city hall (yes I was there as well). As Lynxfan said, it was a sad sight. Lots of fluff. Stuff like making the stadium a "12 month a year venue", but no details. The best he could come up with when asked about events in the winter was to say "Winterlude", as if they would ever have an event at the ballpark.

Mr MacDonald is currently GM of the Fat Cats, which means he's in charge of getting the whole organization up and running for the season (just typing that scares me even more).

It's interesting to note that OSG has yet to advertise any events other than Fat Cats baseball at the stadium. If they actually had other plans, maybe now would be a good time to let people know about some of them.

Anyway, we'll be at the stadium Weds night to see if there is an exhibition game (and if the stadium looks anywhere near ready to go for the the season).

BTW - Part of the reason I mentioned the GBL is I believe Mr MacDonald lied to city council. Councilor Legendre asked him if they had a Golden League franchise, and I believe he said they did. Where is it?

Larry said...

I forgot to touch on the "did baseball ever work in Ottawa" comment.

If you call setting an International League single season attendance record "working", then the first season of the Lynx worked. They had about 50 straight sell outs (in a 10,332 seat stadium) that year. They averaged about 9,500 people a game.

I'm sure you can read all about how attendance fell over the years. Everyone has a different theory why. Cold spring weather. Too many games. etc. Some of the other Ottawa baseball fans can probably provide pointers to better descriptions of the history.

Many people (myself included) believe there is the required fan base for an indy league team that has the proper owners. The biggest problem with the Rapids(z) was the ownership spent money hand over fist without any idea what the revenues would be. It's easy to claim big losses when you spend money foolishly.

Miles Wolff (a well respected owner of minor league teams and commissioner of the Can-Am league) believes in this market. He was willing to run a team here for this year, but city staff would not renew the lease in October (they deferred to city council which added several months to the process). By the time city council did anything, the deadline was so late it was not possible for Mr Wolff cto reasonably propose a Can-Am league team for this year.

So here we are. The OSG group submitted a bid to the city and got a one year lease on the stadium (after a couple delays where the city wanted to make sure they had the rent money). We're getting "weekend baseball" (to use someone else's term) and all we can do is hope for the best.

Lynxfan said...


Your memory with respect to the Golden League is bang on - he was asked point blank by Legendre and responded that they had been granted a conditional franchise, contingent upon them getting control of the stadium. He went on to claim that the GL was running with teams in Toronto and Montreal in the near future. I too think that they lied, all in a convoluted yet ultimately successful attempt at getting control of Lynx Stadium. And once they got it, the first thing to get jettisoned was talk of the Golden League - has anyone ever bothered to ask them why? (No.) Would a GL team have cost more than a Can-Am team? (No.) Did the OSG ever have the means to be able to pay for either a GL or a Can-Am team? (I'm going to go out on a limb and say "No" to that one too.)

By their own admission, they need other revenue streams to make a go of it. But what/where are they? Winterlude's come and gone. Concerts would have needed to have been lined up months ago. And becoming a commercial landlord, renting out office space was not what Council had in mind when OSG touted their altruistic notion of "community use".

This one year lease can't expire soon enough.

Anonymous said...

And what happens once the one-year lease comes and goes? That will be it for baseball in Ottawa if you read the tea leaves

Concerts -- in the history of this stadium there have been what two concerts? This isn't a concert venue and the last time anyone checked Ottawa is a festival city for summer concerts. And what about Scotiabank Place, does anyone really believe concert promoters are going to upset the biggest year round venue in Ottawa for a baseball stadium that will be gone in a year's time?

Enjoy it while it lasts -- this is the end my friend's, and someone asked about the over/under on this team actually completing their season -- no better than 50% they get past June 15

Anonymous said...

Yes this franchise is off to a shakey start to say the least.

According to the IBL transaction page ...... Ottawa has been signing least

sager said...

Here's the guys listed and what I could find ...

David Steffler: Former Intercounty player.
Daniel Desclouds: Was with the Rapids(z) in 2008 but never saw any action.
Kevin Gamble: NCBL player (
Joel Richard: Righty who played at Marshalltown CC in the NJCAA. Local.
Mike Lynch: Left-handed pitcher who was at Marshalltown CC in NCAA; might have had a look from the Blue Jays in the very low minors.

Marshall MacDonald: Played NCAA D1 at a decent-sized school, Dayton. Slugged .560 last season (with the aluminum bats).
Rudy Vallejos: Tried out for the Rapidz in 2008, didn't stick. Was IBL rookie of the year in 2006 with London.

Denten Neill: Middle infielder, played 4 seasons of NCAA D-I at New York Tech
Chris Latimer: Infielder, played Canadian collegiate baseball at Cape Breton. Local guy.
Mark Charrette: Played NAIA at Roma (Ga.) College.
Jonathan Dale: \NCBL player
Marcel Levac: NCBL player

Matt Sauve: Collegiate experience at Harris-Stowe State.
Joe Stone: NCBL player

Who knows? William Durward (can't find anything on Google).

Greater minds can say whether that is a competitive IBL team.

Anonymous said...

I feel that maybe people should see the product before freaking out! So what if the players have jobs, so what if the website sucks. How can you expect a team to survive if "fans" insist on beating the team down before a pitch has even been thrown. I would be devastated to find out that any of the players glimpsed this blog before game time. Take in to consideration that some of these guys are really looking forward to playing ball in their hometowns, for a hometown crowd of friends and family. I worked for the Lynx for several years and I have to say that there are many reasons baseball doesn't seem to stick in Ottawa but I'd say the number 1 reason is the lack of support and naysayers. Nothing is ever good enough it seems. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could keep an open mind, come out to the park and see if this is a product you would like to continue watching, if it is, then great, if not just move along.

sager said...

No one is freaked out, so where you get that characterization from is a mystery.

Anyone who is a baseball fan living in Ottawa has a right to an opinion on this matter.

There is no naysaying. People are simply asking straightforward questions about 1) the business model; 2) were they telling the truth when Coun. Legendre asked if they had a Golden Baseball League team; 3) what will be done if a team comes here for three games and it pours rain; 4) where are these concerts and other big events they talked about; 5) who are the players.

You're moving home plate if you think it's solely about the team. It's been about the stadium from Day 1. That's why the group had stadium in the name and not baseball.

I wish the players the best, as for them being "devastated" if they read this post, please. They're adults, they're educated, they should be old enough to realize it's not an attack on them when people raise valid questions about this endeavour.

Anonymous said...

- the devastated remark is just plain silly
- what is the NBCL
- if the NBCL is an Ottawa league can we see their games for 'free'. pass the hat or are they charging more than Triple A baseball did
- has anyone signed up for the Fat Cats one day $850 fantasy camp (is it called a fantasy camp because the Fat Cats are dreaming anyone will sign up and pay $850 to play baseball with 'weekend warriors'
- if you follow this thread and the other one you have going this is sad and funny at the same time, sad that, that's it for baseball in Ottawa, and funny to realize what these guys are trying to do
- and is P.T. Barnum (he of a 'sucker born every minute') the management team's leader

Anonymous said...

i just asked a few questions should have read the story. Yes the NBCL is an Ottawa baseball league that doesn't charge for their games.

does anyone know of any baseball team in any league that charges a different price for a doubleheader? Maybe someone knows the answer to this, but are the doubleheaders this team is playing day/night twinbills (yes i know teams' charge two seperate ticket prices for those games) but if these are the old fashioned traditional doubleheaders i have NEVER once heard of any baseball charging more for a doubleheader.
- then again these guys are charging more than actual baseball teams who played at this stadium did
- this has to be a joke, this can't be real, is it?

Anonymous said...

The NCBL (Tier 1) is a quality league where many former/current college players and even some former pro players can play ball in Ottawa at a high level. Contrary to some belief not many NCBL players tryed-out for the FatCats considering you're away most weekends,meaning time away from jobs/families.

I agree with other posters, give the FatCats a chance (although tickets prices are too high!). Not sure about the business model, but the product will be quality.

Most players listed above as 'NCBL players' did play or had the opportunity to play college ball down south.
Adam Morissette

sager said...


Thanks for your input. There is next to no reason to wonder about the ballplayers' commitment. Our questions are all off the diamond: what's going to happen to a nice community-use ballpark if this team is one-and-done?

It might be a good product, but your product is only as good as its accessibility. Twelve-dollar tickets when the Lynx were only $9?

We're trying to establish the credibility of the operators and their motivation, since as we've said 1,000 times, you can't make it with baseball alone at that property. A lot of what we've seen (the ticket prices, the fantasy camp) seem divorced from practical reality.

Anonymous said...

- I've left a few comments here and let me make this clear -- I am sure the players will give their most every game
- i had never heard of the NBCL and now i do, that is good
- the actual ticket prices aren't even what they list, the prices do not include taxes -- and we all know that's another dollar or two per ticket.
- not only are they (the operators) divorced from reality, the serve as an insult to common sense

Rob Pettapiece said...

Dayton's baseball program is not NCAA D1 in the way you think it is - it's a small school (smaller than Laurier), and it's in a not-so-D1 conference (Atlantic 10).

Really good college ball is on par, roughly, with short-season A, which is roughly Intercounty level. Dayton is not great college ball. So MacDonald, for instance, might not be hitting .313 here, with wood bats.

Also, is this Mike Lynch the one from Drexel a few years back? The one who had ERAs in the 7s and 8s? Eesh.

My gut is telling me this is probably not a competitive IBL team...but my gut is also very hungry.

Anonymous said...

Hey any update on their exh game at Ottawa's soon to be dead baseball palace tonight?

Sorry if i offended anyone, but two years from now Vanier's Loblaw superstore will be where the ballpark is

Anonymous said...

Adam -- thanks for your post. So you're saying the Fat Cats team which is made up mostly of weekend warriors from the NBCL, and the Fat Cats don't even have the best players from the NBCL --

wow maybe these guys can beat the Bad News Bears, or maybe the manager should have gone after the Bad News Bears for his team

Anonymous said...

The NCBL players on the Fat cats are definitely quality.......I was just commenting on a previous post, which stated that the players from the NCBL who were providing the opposition for the ex. game were not good enough to make the team, which is not the case.
Adam Morissette

Anonymous said...

The opposition for the Fat Cats last night in the exhibition game was the Nepean Brewers from the NCBL (tier 1)...Final Score was 11-6 for the Fat Cats, although the Brewers chose not to use 5 of their own pitchers and brought in a couple of pitchers from other NCBL teams. A few pitchers for the Fat Cats were also not in attendance...
Note : none of the Brewers tried out for the Fat Cats for various reasons...

Anonymous said...

One thing you have to remember with the IBL is that it is basically a college summer league, with some ex-pros mixed in.

From the list of the guys signed there is only one or two head scratchers. Also teams often wait until the start of the season to announce who has signed with them, thus the Fat Cats were a little ahead of the league when it came to signing players. I expect towards the end of May, beginning of June some current players will be released and some more signed as bigger colleges finish their seasons.

Concerning ticket prices they are a little high but keep in mind if you come out for a single game with 2 kids and a parent it will still cost $20 total if one kid is under 6 years of age. Also I don't think it is fair to use ticket prices in relation to the rest of the league. Most teams play in parks the size of Hamilton Yards at the Sportsplex and often then won't even pay for the field costs.

My biggest concern with their business model is the lack of info on both the baseball side and the business side, as there is no info on the concerts coming to the stadium as well.

Anonymous said...

Highlights from last night's exhibition...
-a few hard hit balls
-some web gems in the outfield
-lots of players were able to get into the game
low lights...
-lots of walks from both teams
-a few errors but to be expected in preseason
-field was in terrible shape

Anonymous said...

IBL and other college wood-bat leagues are good baseball. The biggest issue is that Canadians are lousy sports fans, all excuses, show up when the novelty factor exists, then nothing but excuses. Americans show up, cheer, and buy the t-shirt. I'm going to the park because I like baseball, hot dogs and beer. If they charge me $4 too much, well I guess I'll have one less beer then. I don't expect line ups to buy it though, we Canadians (who you'd think should savour a summer day at the park, as we get so few of them) have chosen the "don't participate" box. We helped invent this game and used to follow it with a passion. Now we just suck.

sager said...

You believe they have a liquor licence? Do not be so sure.

Honestly, saying Canadians suck as sports fans as your go-to gets very old very fast. Perhaps we do, but it's a blanket characterization, it's cliche and it's "I'm not OK-you're not OK" thinking.

Lynxfan said...


Great response. The "lousy sports fans" argument being trotted out - pre-emptively in this instance, isn't a valid defense for the FC. People may stay away from the stadium in droves, but is it because they're bad fans or because OSG's pricing structure is entirely out of whack? I love baseball as much as the next guy (probably more), but I'm not willing to overpay - or overpay a lot because of it. The FC may draw the hardcore ball fans, but they shouldn't expect them to subsidize a poor business model. It's not running down the IBL to say that they don't belong in Ottawa; clearly - as the now convoluted schedule demonstrates, it's not set up for travel much beyond the GTO.

Anonymous said...

Bad biz is just that bad biz. Anyone is free to charge whatever they want for a product and anyone can pay for that product.

History is supposed to teach us not to make the same mistakes over again. These guys are making mistakes former baseball operators in this market didn't dare make, they were too smart to do what these operators are doing.

Bottom line -- consumers won't pay top dollar for what is an inferior product when compared to what has been offered (and what has failed in this marketplace).

So whatever history has taught, those who own and operate the Fat Cats haven't learnt yet -- case closed

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Pegg is being a bit of an IBL blowhard on the playoff issue. Knowing anyone who has a passion for anything in sports, especially playing or coaching at a high level holidays from work are often taken at busy points in the schedule.

I don't think a player for Barrie, London, Brantford etc. Is putting in a full day at the office before heading out during rush hour for a normal 3 hour drive for a 7pm game during playoff time, they will take vacation at that time.

Think of it like various volunteer coaches and staff across OUA football taking time off during training camp. Two-a-days don't happen with only 3-4 coaches on the field and the rest stuck at the office. Likewise I doubt you will find any IBL player stuck at the office during playoff time.

Nicster said...

well said...

easily the best comment in this thread.

Howard Bloom said...

This has been an interesting thread on this website, mostly comments offered by no one who would leave their name.

Let me take this opportunity to wish nothing but the best to the Fat Cats as they open their home season, here's hoping for sunny days and nights, cold beer and good baseball and success both on and off the field.

If nothing else these guys are trying -- and for that I say thank-you

Howard Bloom -- first time commenting on this

Larry said...

I dropped by the stadium this afternoon to pick up some flex packs. There's still plenty of work to do, but here's what I can report:

- I was told the concessions would be open (including the Pizza Pizza stand). The funnel cake booth now says 'Mini Donuts'.

- I saw someone bringing in a "Mike's Hard Lemonade" sign, so I guess they do have a liquor license. I think the sign said Domestic beer was $5 and Premium Beer was $5.50. I don't remember other prices.

- They were putting up some signs on the outfield fence. The only one that was up at the time was an 'OSG and Bob Monette welcome the Fat Cats' sign. There were several other signs lying on the grass that they didn't have up yet.

- The scoreboard no longer says Rapidz. It didn't say Fat Cats yet, but I assume it will.

- They had some Fat Cats shirts and hats on display in the office. I couldn't really tell if the store would be ready/open tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Fair point, Canadians as 'lousy fans' doesn't pertain to the Fat Cats, whose pricing truly is out to lunch. Having been to hundreds of games in various sports both sides of the border though, there is absolutely no comparison in atmosphere, excitement, support and merchandise sales in this country. That's on both owners and fans of course, but the fact is some people want to go to games, cheer loudly and buy the t-shirt. Other people like tulip festivals and the occasional grand prix race, and that's who lives here in the greater proportion. It's very frustrating to those of us who love sports. I mean, good lord, there was AAA baseball, almost the best in the world 70-some nights a season. In my world, that's a far more enjoyable evening than another aimless stroll at a festival, and I wish it were for more of us. Pardon my frustration, I'll try not to bring it up again.