Sunday, November 21, 2010

GBL morphs into North American League

Friday's announcement that the remaining teams in the Golden, Northern and United Baseball Leagues were merging came as no surprise. The GBL will indeed absorb the other two troubled independent leagues and form the North American League. The new circuit, which will be the largest professional baseball league outside of the big leagues, will likely play the 2011 season with between 16 and 20 teams.

Contrary to the previously-rumoured divisional alignment, the new league will probably play with three divisions -- one for each of the now defunct leagues. Effectively, the three independent leagues are pooling resources to try and survive. We'll see if that strategy works, but there's no guarantee that the new North American League will even make it through the upcoming season.

Given how this scenario is playing out, it's not a shock that the Victoria Seals decided to cease operations less than two weeks ago. North American League teams are expected to play 75% of their games within their division and 25% against the two other divisions. In 2010 terms, that means the Seals would have played three-quarters of their games against GBL teams: Edmonton, Calgary, Maui (which came under new ownership a few days ago), Tijuana (an expansion team that will be known as the Embajadores) and whichever other teams attempt to make a go of it (likely league-owned teams based in Arizona and California). However, the remaining Seals games would have been played against clubs from the old Northern and United Leagues, which are based entirely in Illinois and Texas. That's way too much travel for an independent-league team.

As a baseball fan, I really hope that the new league survives. But they sure are faced with an uphill climb.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Times-Colonist reported that Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin has been approached by a local group regarding the possible return of professional baseball. No details were provided by the tight-lipped mayor. 
  • In the same article, Brian Rios was quoted as saying that he would likely sign with the Calgary Vipers. So much for his plans to retire...
  • The inaugural league meeting for the North American League will take place at the end of this month in Northern California. I'm sure many more details on the new league will be made public following the conclusion of these meetings.