KUBA Pulls Plug on Gold Sox After 15 Years
May 1, 2017

Until last season, Yuba City radio station KUBA (1600 AM) broadcast every single game the Gold Sox summer baseball team played. That included when they were known as the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox prior to being renamed the Marysville Gold Sox in 2010. It included the professional season of 2002 when the Gold Sox were in the independent Western League, also included the Feather River Mudcats of that same league in the year 2000. Last season, the station dialed back to home games only. This year, they say they are out completely.

With the season a month away and having not heard from my summer employers, I gave station manager Gordon Rowntree a call on Friday. I left a message, and when the call was returned, it was Operations Manager Eric White, telling me rather matter-of-factly that the decision had been made not to carry the games, based on lack of sponsorships and the commitment involved. This has always been an issue in the past, but somehow, hurdles were cleared, and the games were carried. With the ball park now hosting two teams this year, the options seemed to be carry both, carry just the Gold Sox, or carry neither. They went with the third option.

Trying to hide my disappointment as much as I could, I told White that it would have been nice if I were notified. He apologized, and told me the decision had been made recently. He didn't say how recent, but recent sounded to me like maybe the last couple of weeks.

After thinking about this for a little bit after hanging up with White, I wondered if the Gold Sox were aware of the decision. You would think they would be the first to know, of course, but I had recently gotten an e-mail from the Gold Sox GM, and it made no mention of it. I called KUBA back, and this time Rowntree answered.

“Of course they know”, Rowntree said, understandably laughing a little bit at the question. That was before I told him that White said the decision not to air the games was “recent”. Rowntree said the call was made in January or February, and all the parties were notified. Except for me, but okay, fine.

However, the saga continues. The reason I'm outlining these details is because I then (now knowing this wouldn't be a surprise to the Gold Sox) e-mailed the team GM. I essentially asked Michael Mink if they were exploring an internet-only broadcast like some of the other teams do, or something like that. The response, however, was an e-mail to the office manager (which I was cc'd) saying Mink was under the impression that Yuba City Bears games would not be broadcast, but Gold Sox games would be. In other words, I was right all along, that the Gold Sox were not aware of KUBA's decision not to broadcast games this season.

Whether or not this new information could turn the tables or not is unclear, but there have been last minute decisions made or overturned before regarding the Gold Sox. Prior to two different seasons, KUBA was not going to air the games, and then changed their minds less than a week before first pitch. In one of those cases, it was less than 48 hours before the start of the season that it was 'game on'.

This time, that may not be the case, and if that's how it works out, so be it. While I've enjoyed doing the games, one of the best parts of the job was to continue a long time tradition of baseball on the radio, in large cities and small towns all over America. In the ocean that is sports broadcasting, this is just Ellis Lake, but it would be sad to see that lake dry up in an area that loves their baseball.

Roster makeup: This column was originally going to be a preview of the Gold Sox season with less than a month to go. There are 30 players listed on the Gold Sox roster, including three returnees from last season (Pitcher/infielder Darrell Doll and pitchers Ryan McCarthy and Shinpei Kanamori). Of the 30 players listed on the website, nine are from NCAA Division I schools, two are from Division II, five from smaller NAIA colleges, 12 from junior colleges, one high school senior, and one from Japan (Kanamori). While one would like to see more players from larger schools (especially since the Great West League is calling itself “one of the premiere leagues in North America”), the Yuba City Bears have 24 players listed on their current roster, and 19 of them are Jucos. The Bears have two players in NAIA and two at Division II Hawai'i Pacific. Their lone D-I player, catcher Codey Kitagawa at Utah Valley University, is not on UVU's active roster. While it figured the Bears would be more like a B team to the Gold Sox, having them compete in the same league seems odd, if not unfair.

More Bears: Three players from last year's Gold Sox team (T.J. Dove, Brendon Nelson, Logan Wurm) will be with the Bears this year, and Yuba City's pitching coach will be former Gold Sox pitcher Stuart Bradley.

Stassi goes Hollywood: It's hard (for me) to cheer against the Dodgers, but it was impossible not to cheer when the Phillies scored three runs in the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium Saturday night. The runs came on a three-run bomb by Brock Stassi—his second homer of the year. The Dodgers ended up winning that game after three consecutive home runs by Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner in the ninth, to be followed later by a game-winning hit from Adrian Gonzalez. Stassi and the Phillies are now at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Bass sent out: If a short stint in the majors is a cup of coffee, Anthony Bass just had a K-cup. Bass only pitched in one game for Texas, giving up six runs in three innings Friday vs. Minnesota before being sent back to Triple-A.

Bottom 100: While it appears that I may be out of a summer gig, that pales in comparison to what's happening at the Worldwide Leader. ESPN announced massive job layoffs this week, reportedly totaling about a hundred. While the network didn't (and won't) publish a complete list, many have gone public via social media. On the baseball side, reporter Jayson Stark, Dodgers beat writer Doug Padilla, former GM Jim Bowden, and commentator Doug Glanville are all out. Also gone, long time basketball color analyst Len Elmore, racing announcer Dr. Jerry Punch, NFL reporter Ed Werder, and longtime legal analyst Roger Cossack—mostly known for guiding us through the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens steroid sagas. Most of the personalities and anchors are safe, but according to one report, some, like Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech, are re-structuring contracts or taking pay cuts to remain with the network. Sports Center anchor John Buccigross is not being laid off, but his contract is reported to be up shortly, and may not be renewed. This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the shoddy treatment of people like Dick Vitale and Brent Musberger, but ESPN, acting on its own and not mandated by parent company Disney, cites a declining subscriber base and skyrocketing rights fees for the changes.

At least he's working: We should all, though, know that all is good and right with the world when Ryan Seacreast gets yet another job. The host of American Idol (that show isn't on anymore, is it?), a late night show, radio gigs, New Year's Rockin' Eve and more, has been named as Kelly Ripa's new sidekick on Live (the former Regis Philbin-Kathy Lee Gifford show eons ago). Seacrest, pound for pound, has to be the person with the highest ratio of most jobs to least talent since the invention of the microphone.

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