The off-season is a time to reflect in the season past, and at the same time look to the future. With sports in general, fans have always conversed on the ‘what if?’ factor, and I’ve been contemplating an idea for months now, ever since last season’s baseball trip. First, let me state that my two favorite Minor League’s are the Midwest League and the South Atlantic League. The MWL has three teams here in Michigan, and is where my hometown team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, reside. We also attend some Great Lakes Loons games over in Midland, and that is a great venue, also. In fact, I’ve been to every stadium in the MWL except two, the Lake County Captains and the Bowling Green Hot Rods. We’ll get back to those teams momentarily, as they’re important. As for the SALly league, through work training down in Charleston and southern Georgia, I’ve was able to attend a few games of the Savannah Sand Gnats and the Charleston Riverdogs. During my baseball trip to North and South Carolina last year, I was able to visit another five SAL towns. Through my experience, these leagues have a lot in common. Between the two, we can see some of the best logos, nicknames, and mascots in all of sports. Both have teams in some great towns, with stadiums ranging from state-of-the-art, to simple and classic. Some of the best baseball fans we’ve had the luxury of interacting with attend games of these great leagues. Oh, the MWL and the SALly league have one more thing in common: they are the only two Single-A league. Now, I know there is short season and advanced ‘A’ league, but these two are just plain ol’ Single-A. The only two. These two league also have a link, so let us back up to two teams mentioned earlier, the Lake County Captains and the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Captains organization played in the South Atlantic League from 1991-2009, hosting their All-Star Game in 2006. The franchise started out in Columbus, Georgia, as the Columbus Indians (1991) and RedStixx. The franchise moved up to Eastlake, Ohio in 2003 and became the Captains. Lake County joined the Midwest League in 2010 with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The Hot Rods were previously the Columbus Catfish up until 2009, and the two northern most teams jumped to the MWL to alleviate travel expenses.
So, now that the link between the two has been established the fun can begin. We can ask ourselves ‘what if the teams from these leagues played each other?’, and if so, ‘in what capacity?’. Due to the aforementioned travel expenses, any interleague play between the two is illogical, so we’ll just scrap that right away. It could be possible to have a Single-A All-Star Game, pitting the MWL against the SAL, but I don’t care for that, either. It may work at the Triple-A level, but I don’t like it for this one. What I would purpose is to have a simple championship series between the two leagues. For the Triple-A National Championship, they have a pre-determined neutral site to hold the event, and the winners of the International and Pacific Coast League play a one game winner-take-all. This could work at the Single-A level, also, and would ensure the fans of every team to have the opportunity to witness the championship game, and be exposed to the other Single-A league. Another route would be to have a three game series, with game one and games two and/or three at each of the participating teams’ stadiums. Last season, the Quad Cities River Bandits won the Midwest, while the Sand Gnats reigned supreme in the SAL. What an amazing series this would make, and not for just the prospects involved. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting both Modern Woodman Park with its breath taking sight lines in right field, and Historic Grayson Stadium, where you can feel the ghosts of baseball past when you enter the gates. What if the Loons would wind up playing the Greensboro Grasshoppers at some point? It would be awesome to cover the games from both ends with my buddies from Hoppers Fan, with both teams having phenomenal venues and fantastic community support. On a personal note, what if my transfer down south is granted next year, and the ‘Caps end up opposing the Greenville Drive. Where would my loyalties lie between my birth city and my adopted home? Although the possibilities my be endless, the one fact that stands out is this would be a win-win situations for all baseball fans involved, as well as the teams from both historic leagues. It would also be fun to see a game like this featured on MiLB.tv or the MLB Network. This is still nothing but a pipe dream, but it’s fun to imagine who the first team might be to win the ‘Minoring In Baseball Cup’…
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
MiLB is teaming up with Fritos for the ‘Be A Minor League Baseball GM For A Weekend Sweepstakes’. Five winners will recieve
: round trip transportation for two people; double occupancy hotel accommodations for two nights; two premium tickets to the game; autopraphed Minor League Baseball host club replica jersey; a chance to sit in on team meetings; and $1,525 in spending money. Sounds like a good deal to me. I’d even just take th money…The choices for host teams include the Portland Sea Dogs, Durham Bulls, Memphis Red Birds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Las Vegas 51’s, and the San Antonio Missions. My choices would either be Portland or Durham. I contimplated not posting this, because it would lower my chances of winning, but since I never win anything it would be cool if maybe someone from the blogosphere here won it. Just remember your ol’ buddy here at M.I.B. if you win. The trip is for two.
Even if you don’t win, you can still probably afford to take in a MiLB game. During recent survey, Minor League Baseball concluded that for the cost of four people to attend a game is around $57. This includes two adult tix, two child tix, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, a program and parking. They found an adult ticket is $8 or less at 80% of the ballparks. The highest I’ve paid for a Minor League game is $13 for the AAA Indianapolis Indians last season. My tickets for the Single-A Peoria Chiefs this seaons were $5, and that’s for a premium seat. The average cost of a night at the ballpark ranges from around $67 for AAA to $50 for Single-A Short Season or Rookie League.
If you still don’t want to get off your lazy, well, ya know, and catch a live game luckily the MLB Network will be broadcasting some Minor League games as well, including the Triple-A All Star game. The first game will be aired this Monday at 11:00 am and feature the Gwinnett Braves at the Durham Bulls. The next game will be the Burlington Bees at the Quad Cities River Bandits on May 3. Figures they’ll be televising a game just two days after I’m there. Other games slated include Scanton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at the Indianapolis Indians on May 19 at 11:00 am and the Norfolk Tides at the Columbus Clippers on June 15 at 12 noon. Victory Field in Indy was one of the best venues I’ve watched a game at, and should look great on TV. MLB Network will be airing weekday afternoon games thoughout the summer, too.