Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spring is Near: Arizona and California Winter Leagues Start Friday

As was reported here in a blog post on January 9th, two independent instructional leagues of interest to GBL fans kick off their season this Friday.

Details are sparse on the Arizona Winter League (AWL), but on Thursday the four California Winter League (CWL) teams will draft their players from the pool of athletes who shelled out up to $3,500 USD for the right to participate and have a shot at a pro contract.

Here is a video from the first day of workouts, proving that spring cannot be far off.  If you look closely, you'll notice Seals manager Darrell Evans, who is Commissioner of the CWL and will be on the lookout for "diamonds in the rough" who might fit in this summer with the Victoria squad.

California Winter League: Day 1 from Eric Durban on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dodgers Sign Sergio Pedroza

I guess Sergio Pedroza won't be roaming the outfield in Royal Athletic Park this summer.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed ex-Seal Sergio Pedroza.  In my opinion, Pedroza was the most valuable player on the Victoria Seals last year prior to his trade to the Calgary Vipers.  Sergio went on to lead the Vipers to a GBL championship and was named MVP of the GBL Championship Series.

Pedroza was previously in the Dodgers' organization after being taken in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft.  In 2009, he led the GBL in homeruns (20) and was second in RBI (81).  He also hit .322 in 304 regular-season at-bats.

Pedroza is the third Victoria Seal to be signed by a major-league organization.  Austin Bibens-Dirkx is currently in the Chicago Cubs system.  Isaac Hess was signed by the Boston Red Sox after the GBL All Star Game last season, but his contract wasn't activated by the Red Sox after legal concerns about his artificial hip.

On behalf of all Victoria baseball fans, congratulations Sergio!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Potential Conflict of Interest in the GBL

Hot Corner Baseball LLC stepped up to the plate and helped bring the St. George Roadrunners franchise back from the brink of extinction.  That's the good news.  The other side of the situation is the close link between the owners of the St. George and Maui franchises.  The GM of the Roadrunners, Rick Berry, is also the President of  the expansion Na Ikaika Koa Maui.  The Maui team is owned by XnE Inc.

But consider this situation: The Roadrunners are now in the North Division, while the Strong Warriors of Maui are in the South Division.  Suppose the expansion Maui team falls out of contention in August (a reasonable assumption for 2010) and the Roadrunners are in a pennant race with the upstart Victoria Seals.  What would happen if Maui dealt three or four of their best players to the Roadrunners for a bag of used baseballs, a Jugs radar gun and cash?  Can you imagine the reaction from Victoria fans?  Let's hope the GBL Commissioner, Kevin Outcalt, would have the gumption to step in and nullify such a trade (under a "best interests of the GBL" clause).

Here's an even scarier scenario to envision: XnE has negotiated a Territory Operating Rights agreement (for $800,000 USD) which will allow it to add another three GBL teams in the state of Hawaii.  Can you imagine the potential conflict of interest if they owned four Hawaiian teams in the GBL?!?!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Victoria Seals and the San Francisco Seals

The first time I saw the Victoria Seals logo I realized that it was inspired by the logo of the old San Francisco Seals, a Pacific Coast League team that existed from 1903 until 1957.  The Seals lived a happy existence until the day Walter O'Malley and Horace Stoneham agreed that they could both make a lot more money by moving the Dodgers and Giants to the west coast.  Take a look at the similarities in the two logos:

It's also worth noting that the San Francisco Giants have a statue dedicated to the San Francisco Seals outside of AT&T Ballpark:

Now that I think about it, does anyone see the resemblance between the San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal and our own Seymour Seal?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

GBL Releases Much Improved Schedule for 2010

The GBL released its schedule for the 2010 season yesterday and things are looking up for both the league and fans of the Victoria Seals.  The league is expanding to 10 teams with the addition of clubs in Maui and Tijuana, and the St. George Roadrunners have been brought back from the brink of extinction with new owners.

The North Division will include the following teams in 2010:
  • Victoria Seals
  • Calgary Vipers
  • Edmonton Capitals
  • Chico Outlaws
  • St. George Roadrunners
The South Division will be comprised of the:
  • Na Ikaika Koa Maui ("The Strong Warriors of Maui")
  • Cimarrones de Tijuana ("Tijuana Untamed")
  • Orange County Flyers
  • Tucson Toros
  • Yuma Scorpions
Let's hope that there isn't a last-minute franchise pullout like there was last season, because right now the schedule looks fantastic.  The season has been expanded to 90 games, so the Seals will play 45 home games at Royal Athletic.  The Seals drew 93,691 fans in 40 home dates last season, so if the summer weather is decent the team will have no problem passing the 100,000-fan mark.

The home opener for the Seals is Friday May 21st against the fledgling Na Ikaika Koa Maui.  The teams will play a 5-game series to kickoff the season, but that will be the only visit of the year by the Hawaiian expansion team. 

Unlike last season, Victoria isn't stuck playing Edmonton and Calgary for over half of its schedule.  The Capitals and Vipers only visit RAP seven times this season (as do the Chico Outlaws).  Maui and Tijuana will play five times each in the Garden City.  The Orange County Flyers and the Tucson Toros have four games scheduled in the Seals' ballpark, while Yuma and St. George will only play three games here.

Aside from opening night, potential highlights to the home schedule include a Canada Day game against Tijuana, Father's Day (June 20th) against the Capitals and the season finale on Labour Day (September 6th), which will also feature the Edmonton squad.  Single-game tickets are not yet on sale, but they will eventually be available via Select Your Tickets.

Full details on yesterday's press release can be found here.

The entire home schedule is as follows:
  • Friday, May 21 - Na Ikaika Koa Maui (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, May 22 - Na Ikaika Koa Maui (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, May 23 - Na Ikaika Koa Maui (1:30 PM)
  • Monday, May 24 - Na Ikaika Koa Maui (7:00 PM)
  • Tuesday, May 25 - Na Ikaika Koa Maui (7:00 PM)
  • Thursday, May 27 - Orange County Flyers (7:00 PM)
  • Friday, May 28 - Orange County Flyers (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, May 29 - Orange County Flyers (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, May 30 - Orange County Flyers (1:30 PM)
  • Tuesday, June 08 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Wednesday, June 09 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Thursday, June 10 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Friday, June 18 - Edmonton Capitals (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, June 19 - Edmonton Capitals (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, June 20 - Edmonton Capitals (1:30 PM)
  • Monday, June 21 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Tuesday, June 22 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Wednesday, June 23 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Thursday, June 24 - Calgary Vipers (7:00 PM)
  • Wednesday, June 30 - Cimarrones De Tijuana (7:00 PM)
  • Thursday, July 01 - Cimarrones De Tijuana (7:00 PM)
  • Friday, July 02 - Cimarrones De Tijuana (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, July 03 - Cimarrones De Tijuana (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, July 04 - Cimarrones De Tijuana (1:30 PM)
  • Friday, July 23 - Yuma Scorpions (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, July 24 - Yuma Scorpions (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, July 25 - Yuma Scorpions (1:30 PM)
  • Monday, July 26 - Chico Outlaws (7:00 PM)
  • Tuesday, July 27 - Chico Outlaws (7:00 PM)
  • Wednesday, July 28 - Chico Outlaws (12:00 PM)
  • Thursday, August 05 - Tucson Toros (7:00 PM)
  • Friday, August 06 - Tucson Toros (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, August 07 - Tucson Toros (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, August 08 - Tucson Toros (1:30 PM)
  • Wednesday, August 11 - St. George RoadRunners (7:00 PM)
  • Thursday, August 12 - St. George RoadRunners (7:00 PM)
  • Friday, August 13 - St. George RoadRunners (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, August 14 - Chico Outlaws (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, August 15 - Chico Outlaws (1:30 PM)
  • Monday, August 16 - Chico Outlaws (7:00 PM)
  • Tuesday, August 17 - Chico Outlaws (12:00 PM)
  • Friday, September 03 - Edmonton Capitals (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, September 04 - Edmonton Capitals (7:00 PM)
  • Sunday, September 05 - Edmonton Capitals (1:30 PM)
  • Monday, September 06 - Edmonton Capitals (1:30 PM)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Long Bearch Armada Lose Stadium Lease; GBL Teams Unclear for 2010

On January 4th, California State University took over the daily management of Blair Field, former home of the Long Beach Armada.  The Armada now have no stadium in which to play and will likely be unable to participate in the 2010 GBL season.  According a story in the Long Beach Gazettes, the Golden Baseball League, owners of the Long Beach franchise, is preparing to sue the city over the wrongful termination of the lease.  A statement of claim has apparently been forwarded from the league's attorney to the city of Long Beach:
“It is no secret that the city wishes to cede responsibility for maintaining Blair Field to its most important tenant, the Long Beach State ‘Dirtbags,’ a national powerhouse baseball program,” the claim says. “It is also no secret that Long Beach State does not wish to have the Armada share the facilities or control the concessions during its games. Our sources advise us that the negotiations between the city and Long Beach State are much more advanced than we have been told and that in fact a prerequisite of any deal between the city and Long Beach State was that the Armada’s permit be terminated.”
The story in the Long Beach Gazettes also suggests that the Armada had been falling behind in payments to the city in the last year.

In other GBL news, the Kamloops Daily News reported on Saturday that there will not be a Golden Baseball League team in that city for the 2010 season.  However, the Victoria Seals and Calgary Vipers will be playing a three-game exhibition series in Kamloops just before the beginning of the season (the GBL season will likely start around May 21st).  It appears the league will use this exhibition series as a way to gauge the level of interest in bringing a permanent team to Kamloops.  The city is positioned perfectly from a geographic perspective and would be a perfect stopping point for teams travelling between Victoria and Edmonton/Calgary.

This means that there are now only eight firm GBL teams for 2010: Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Chico, Maui, Orange County, Tucson and Yuma.  Other teams that could still join the league in 2010 (in estimated order of likelihood) are Ottawa, Tijuana, Palm Springs, Scottsdale and St. George.  As of today, there is still no word on which ownership group will be granted a lease on Ottawa's 10,000 seat baseball stadium.  The Nation's Capital could end up with a team in either the Can-Am League or the Golden League.

On the positive side, the name of the Maui team was revealed in late December.  The newest GBL expansion team will be known as the
 Na Ikaika Koa Maui, which is Hawaiian for the Strong Warriors of Maui.  The team will be managed by ex-major leaguer Cory Snyder.  Snyder steered the St. George Roadrunners to the South Division Championship in 2009.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Arizona Winter League Season Kicks Off Jan. 29th

The Arizona Winter League (AWL), an independent instructional league associated with the Golden League, is set to start its fourth season on January 29th.  This eight-team league will feature a Canadian division with the "Calgary Vipers", Team Canada, Saskatchewan Silver Sox and the Western Canada Miners.  The American division will include the "Yuma Scorpions", San Diego Surf Dawgs, San Luis Athleticos, and the Blythe Heat.  Unlike the summer independent leagues, winter (instructional) independent leagues charge players to play.  The AWL charges each player up to $3,500 USD for the chance to get a head-start on spring training, get some instruction and hopefully be noticed by a scout.

After the season concludes on February 27th, at least 17 (summer) independent league teams will participate in a draft to select players for their upcoming season.  All Golden League teams will participate this year and they will be joined by a Can-Am League team (Sussex), two Frontier League teams (Florence and Normal), two Northern League teams (Rockford and Kansas City), two American Association teams (Fort Wort and Sioux City) and one team from the Mexican Liga Del Norte (San Luis).  In the first three AWL seasons, over 130 players have been signed to pro contracts.

The AWL has announced that two women will be participating this season.  In addition to Japanese pitcher Eri Yoshida (see my blog post from December 16th), former Gonzago softball player Tiffany Brooks will also be looking to sign on with a professional baseball team this summer.  In fact, the two women will be roommates this winter and will both play for the Yuma Scorpions.  An interesting interview with Tiffany can be found here.

At least six GBL managers will be managing / instructing in the AWL.  However, Victoria Seals manager Darrell Evans will be busy running the fledgling California Winter League (CWL) during this time -- the CWL schedule also starts on January 29th and wraps up at the end of February.  Seals coach Dan DiPace will act as an instructor during the CWL season.  Let's hope that Evans and DiPace will unearth some talent for the Victoria squad this winter.

All AWL games played in Yuma will be broadcast on the internet at  The league's schedule can be found here.