In the infinite enigma that is the Great West League, the fledgling collegiate wood-bat summer outlet has added a sixth franchise for its upcoming season. While that in itself would be a good thing, the new team is in a market that already has one—Marysville.
The team will actually have a Yuba City name, according to an announcement on the Great West League website Thursday, but will be owned by the same group that owns the Gold Sox, and will play in the same ball park.
“This is great news for baseball fans all over our area,” stated Marysville Mayor Ricky Samayoa in the announcement that was also posted on Facebook, but about which no media outlets were notified. “We were eager to continue the long-standing tradition of baseball in Marysville. When the league suggested that their newest club in Yuba City would call Colusa Casino Stadium their home field, too, along with the Gold Sox, we knew that we had a winning recreational combination to offer our residents. We’re delighted to be able to help the new Great West League establish itself and provide quality entertainment for the whole family.”
So, just to reiterate, the new team will bear Yuba City in its name, the new franchise will play at the same site as the Gold Sox, which happens to be named Colusa Casino Stadium. So the Yuba City team will play in Marysville at a site that has Colusa in its name. Got it? Okay, good. Glad somebody does.
For now, the team will be referred to as the Yuba City Baseball Club. According to the announcement, “a news conference will be held in early January to announce team operations, season tickets, name, web site, logo and field manager for the 2017 season.”
"We're excited to add a sixth market to our growing league for 2017," GWL President Ken Wilson told the website, although he may have exaggerated just a little bit. League fans are used to that by now, though.
The sixth team does get them back to what they wanted to accomplish last year. They'll play a 60-game season, and this time all six teams will have a place to play, so there won't be a travel-only squad like the Sacramento Stealth were last year. The Stealth, by the way, are taking this season off, as are the Lodi Crushers. The Lincoln Potters, which will actually play in Rocklin, were added a month ago, and the league said they would go with five teams for 2017.
Six is better, no doubt, even if you have to manufacture a club to do it. In some ways, this is an excellent idea, and too bad they didn't think about it last year. In other ways, it's a terrible idea. The new Gold Sox management has had enough problems running one team, and now they have two.
So, if you're the GWL, you're back to four teams in northern California (Marysville, “Yuba City”, Lincoln, and Chico) and you still have two in Oregon (Medford and Portland) that are miles apart and are going to be logging big time bus miles. If you are going to manufacture another franchise, how about another one in Portland? Give it a Vancouver or Beaverton or Gresham name or something. That would seem to make a little more sense. The Portland area was without baseball for a long time, and the ball park has just been renovated. It would keep travel down for the current team, and make the GWL a more balanced league, but that's not the direction they chose.
But for the greater Marysville/Yuba City/Colusa Yuba-Sutter area, the “announcement” creates more questions. There will be games almost every night (30 Gold Sox home games and 30 Yuba City home games). Are people expected to buy tickets to all 60 games? Will Gold Sox season ticket holders be expected to may more when the team is “at” Yuba City? Will the same staff be expected to work for both teams and be there every night? Do you think the poor groundskeeper was consulted before this move, and is he going to get a little help? Does the word 'overkill' mean anything?
Also, the Gold Sox (and other league teams) are made up of players from colleges all over the country. Who is going to get the players for the new team? Will they just be a bunch of junior college guys like the Stealth and Crushers were last year?
Having two teams share one ball park is nothing new. It's even been done in the majors. When Dodger Stadium opened, the Angels played there for four years before moving to Anaheim. The New York Yankees moved in with the Mets at Shea Stadium for the 1974 and '75 seasons while Yankee Stadium got an overhaul. It's also become commonplace in spring training now for two teams to share one facility, so maybe this can work. A gut reaction to worry about, though, is the Yuba City team not drawing fans at all except when hosting the Gold Sox, and Gold Sox crowds dropping due to a diluted product.
We do know this. The Great West League showed its unpredictability in its inaugural season, and it looks like we can expect it again. How that will present itself remains to be seen, but we should know soon enough. The 2017 schedule, according to the announcement, is due out “later this month”, just in time for the holidays.
More Gold Sox: That announcement also says the Gold Sox have reached an agreement to play in Colusa Casino Stadium for the next two seasons. There had been a lease dispute between the team and the city.
Bowling a strike: If you think college football bowl games are less prestigious than they used to be, don't blame the college football playoff. How about the fact that there are 41 of them this year?! With several Minnesota players suspended for unspecified reasons, the rest of the team threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl until they got some answers. They did, and will show up for the December 27 game against Washington in San Diego. And how about Stanford junior Christian McCaffery. He led the Cardinal to a Sun Bowl berth against North Carolina December 30. He decided to skip it to “concentrate on (his) preparation for the NFL draft.”
Sager dies: Longtime Turner Network sports reporter Craig Sager lost his battle with leukemia Thursday at the age of 65. Sager covered many different sports, but was most known as a sideline reporter during NBA broadcasts on TNT. I never really met Sager but did see him in person on a few occasions. He didn't come to Sacramento very often because the Kings weren't very good at that time, but he and the network would show up occasionally, and he also worked several Utah Jazz games when I lived in Salt Lake. Admittedly, I've never thought a sideline reporter added much to a broadcast, and didn't really like his loud wardrobe calling more attention to himself than necessary. That being said, the players loved him, and while that's not a requirement of being a good journalist, he was also very well respected. Sager was one of a kind, he did it his way, and that is something that will truly be missed.