Gold Sox Join League, Reduce Home Schedule
August 24, 2015

For the last 13 years it has been true, and it was even a marketing slogan at one time. You could set your watch to the Gold Sox. For 11 weeks every summer, there would be a home game Thursday through Sunday. That is no longer the case.

From now on, keep those pocket schedules in your wallets, and the magnetic schedules on the fridge. The Marysville Gold Sox officially announced today that they will be joining the new Great West League, and while the league won't play its first game for a little more than nine months, team owners and league executives are calling it “one of the premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues in North America.”

“This is really a terrific day”, said Great West League President Ken Wilson, who along with Gold Sox General Manager Matt Lundgren, and team owners Tom Lininger, Kevin Knight, Jake Knight, and Gary Gelinas, sat at the head table of the team's conference room, slightly outnumbered by guests and media in attendance.

“I can't tell you how happy we are, how happy I am representing the owners of the Great West League to include the Marysville Gold Sox in this new venture. You're going to find out how great the Great West League is as we move forward”, Wilson said.

The Gold Sox are officially the fourth entry in what Wilson says will be a six-team league in its first year. Marysville joins the Chico Heat, the Lodi Crushers, and the Portland (Oregon) Pickles. Wilson says there will be a team in Sacramento and another team in Oregon to round out the Great West League's original six. The league schedule will be a 60-game season, with 30 home games, and 30 road games. Each team will play the other five teams 12 times each, six at home, and six on the road. Wilson says the plan is to eventually get to eight teams, with a north and south division. In the six-team configuration, the top four teams in the league would make the playoffs with two best-of-three semifinals and a best-of-three championship. According to the league website, opening night will be Friday June 3, 2016, and the schedule will likely be released in October. Ticket plans and prices will be announced at that time.

Wilson wouldn't knock the Gold Sox business model of 44 home games and little to no travel, but says the quality of play will be better. Talking about some of the Gold Sox opponents, Wilson says “they are all going to run around in cars and play each other, without fans and without a business model, and, believe me, there's a place for that, because there's a lot of college players that need a place to play. We just have a little different model where it's going to be like the California League essentially. It won't look that different than watching Modesto play Stockton.”

The coaching staff has not been named yet, but it was made clear that Jack Johnson and Jim Stassi are invited back. “We certainly hope so”, Kevin Knight said. “We like our group.”

“It's a two-way decision”, Lininger added. “Jack is going to have to want to go on the road, and coach Stass. I don't know if he'll want to go on the road, but we'd love to have him back, of course.”

Even though only 30 home dates means the ball park being empty for two more full weeks a year, team officials say fewer home dates would be a benefit. Concession workers would have only 30 dates to make money instead of 44, but “I don't think it will be as significant as it may sound”, Lundgren said, adding that most part-time workers don't work all 44 games anyway.

Wilson also spoke of new rivalries like Chico playing Marysville six times in each park, and real standings and playoffs, something the Gold Sox have really never had. There will, however, be no non-league games, which means the Humboldt Crabs or the Seattle Studs or the Redding Colt .45s or the Neptune Beach Pearl or the Sacramento Legends will never come here again.

“Our attitude is, and I sound a little arrogant or cruel I guess, but our attitude is if a team wants to join our league, I'm certainly happy to look at them joining our league”, Wilson said.

It's the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one in the history of the Marysville Gold Sox.

Hey, aren't you...?: It's pretty cool when you can go a random minor league baseball game and instantly find a Gold Sox connection. I attended the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes-Visalia Rawhide game Sunday night, and in the next section over, and one row in front of me, I recognized a guy about 6-foot-5 charting pitches. It took me a few innings to figure it out, but it was Brett Shankin, who pitched for the Sox in 2009. Shankin recently signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being released by the Seattle Mariners in spring training. He was the starter for Visalia the previous evening. Also, looking at the Rancho roster, their trainer is Jason Kirkman, who was the trainer for the professional Gold Sox in 2002. The Quakes are an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and like their big league counterparts, lost. Visalia beat them 12-5.

Speaking of the Dodgers: I spent last week in Palmdale visiting my mother, and while I'm happy to report Mom is doing well, I also got to watch all five Dodger games. Fortunately there were two days off, or the Dodgers would have likely been 0-7. The Mike Fiers no-hitter was fun to watch Friday night, and how could you not root for it after seeing so much ineptitude from the Dodger offense in previous days? Look at it this way, the San Francisco Giants just went 2-5 on a brutal road trip, and actually gained a game in the standings. The showing by the Boys in Blue has to be one of the most pathetic weeks on record from a first place team.

Speaking of pathetic: Well, pathetic may be a strong word, but let's just say if you want up-to-the-minute news about the Dodgers, you won't find it during a Dodger telecast. During the Wednesday afternoon debacle that was the 5-2 loss in Oakland, the Dodgers were finalizing a trade to acquire Chase Utley from Philadelphia. Twitter was lighting up with various sources, but nothing from Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser, and 'reporter' Alanna Rizzo. Saturday was also the 50th anniversary of the notorious incident between Johnny Roseboro and Juan Marichal. Nice piece in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, but not a mention from SportsNet LA Saturday.

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