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Lake County fiasco, continued

August 12, 2011 - Robert Collias
Still nothing new on the North American Baseball League website, not sure how they define "shortly" but the statement that is supposed to be forthcoming has now been 11-plus hours in the waiting line.

Just looking around the web, I did find this press release on the Fielders' site:


Zion, IL. The Lake County Fielders, a minor league baseball team in Zion, IL, provided notice to the North American League yesterday that the team may be terminating its membership in the league for a variety of reasons that include the burdensome travel and expense of a schedule that included flying to Maui 3 times in one season. The Fielders will weigh its options to play in other leagues for the 2012 season, but in the meantime, the team is prepared to continue its 2011 home season schedule against a lineup of opponents that will be announced in the days to follow.

"The team had no choice," said team spokesman Bernie DiMeo of DiMeo Communications. "No independent minor league team could financially survive the expense of flying to play every opponent, and to Hawaii no less. The Fielders are the furthest team in the league from Maui, yet the league scheduled them to make 3 trips there compared to 1 trip for all the other teams in the league. That just makes no sense, and no team should be held to a schedule that is so financially inequitable."

"Its no secret that we're living in tough economic times, and the Fielders are doing whatever it takes to provide the community with its hometown team and an affordable time at the ballpark," continued DiMeo. "The Fielders are excited about the weeks remaining this summer, and will provide a unique and daring schedule that will include all the baseball and fun that fans are accustomed to enjoying. We'll be adding some twists along the way, but you'll have to come out to the park to see it for yourself!"

At this point, it is anybody's guess as to what will transpire as far as Maui's scheduled trip to Illinois for an 11-game series Aug. 15-23. If they don't make that trip, will Maui stick around to play at Chico Aug. 25-29, at McAllen, Texas, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, and at Rio Grande Valley, Texas, Sept. 3-5?

How do the Fielders games get scored? If Maui receives forfeits for the four games supposed to be played here, they vault to 33-40. If they get 11 more forfeits for the trip in limbo to Illinois, they go to 44-40. McAllen is currently 30-43 and Rio Grande Valley is 42-30, but the South Division is clearly the weaker one in this league. Even if Maui makes the trip to Lake County, the Fielders have lost 13 in a row. My point is — believe it of not (and I know I'm stretching things here) — Maui could conceivably get back into the playoff race. Edmonton is currently 42-28 and sitting in the final playoff spot in Maui's NAL North Division.

Last season, Maui didn't have the money to make a late-season trip and the Golden Baseball League determined the second-half crown would be decided by winning percentage, so all of my last paragraph may be moot.

Just a thought.

Nothing going on tonight at the stadium, but Na Koa will play the Maui Open League All-Stars Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Maehara Stadium and face a team of players from the county’s fire and police departments — dubbed Guns and Hoses — at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The second game will be preceded by a 2 p.m. game between the Japan Goodwill team and Maui Interscholastic League players.

Saturday will be Na Koa’s fan-appreciation day, with jumping castles, dunking tanks and music between games. Admission will be free for both nights.

And, yes, we got that information emailed in press releases from Maui County and the team itself. See, now that wasn't so hard.

And for anybody who missed it, or cares, here is a link to my story in the paper today on the whole Lake County mess.


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