Officials announced the formation of the new Diamond League of Professional Baseball yesterday, the Atlantic League “feeder league” that has been rumored since last year.
Atlantic League CEO Frank Boulton is also the new league’s CEO and Long Island Ducks President and General Manager Michael Pfaff is its executive director.
The Diamond League plans to field six teams and play a 60-game schedule next year, with host cities selected by August 15th.
Players must be between 21 and 26 years old and may not have five or more years of professional experience to be eligible to play in the Diamond League, according to the announced roster rules.
What are your thoughts on this new independent league? Which cities would you like to see receive teams?
14 thoughts on “New independent baseball league announced”
This is well-meaning, I suppose, but something about this doesn’t pass the smell test. Unless… (more about that in a sec)
The Can Am has a feeder league (NY State League). But that makes sense because the Can Am is probably between short season-A and Rookie League level and they’re trawling for guys who either weren’t good enough to get drafted or signed by an MLB team. Yes, there are exceptions such as D’Angelo Jiminez and Isaac Pavlik. But the Can Am largely has a bunch of guys who, if they had the chance, couldn’t make it past the first link or two of the minor league food chain.
The Atlantic League features a bunch of experienced ballplayers, be it ex-major leaguers or guys who have petered out by AA/AAA. Which makes their feeder league MLB (for the cast-offs and has-beens), the affiliated minors (for the never-weres) and even the Can Am and Frontier (for the few strays who play there but can actually compete at a higher level).
So, in essence, the feeder league is already there. UNLESS, the object is to run the Can-Am out of business, which they’re doing quite satisfactorily by themselves. Seeing it’s already halfway there, don’t be surprised to see the Jackals and Boulders in the Diamond League next year. And don’t be surprised to see this new league, if it takes off, bend the rules to allow an Isaac Pavlik type to keep playing.
So, Paul, what do you think?
It’s very hard for me not to see this league as an attempt to push the Can-Am League out of business.
Beyond that, I’m going to reserve judgement until I see where they are putting teams.
“It’s very hard for me not to see this league as an attempt to push the Can-Am League out of business.”
So, unless your phrasing didn’t come out the way you’d like, we’re in agreement–that this league is an attempt to run the Can Am League out?
The closest Atlantic League team to here is in Somerville. Even so, I’m not sure three indy minor leagues can survive in this area. The Can Am has two viable teams here and the other one is eight hours away. And two, though operational, apparently aren’t too viable. That’s a screwy way to run a league.
Speaking of screwy–that NY State League, the feeder league for the Can Am? Yeah, that league. They’re currently operating in New Mexico.
The whole business model thing gives every indication that the Can Am isn’t long for this world. And the Diamond League may provide the final push.
The new league will be competing with the Can-Am League for players and potential franchise locations, even if the teams are placed in areas that don’t directly compete with it.
If I was a potential team owner looking at the two leagues, I’d be more interested in joining the new one run by people associated with the growing Atlantic League than the one that seems to lose a franchise each year.
I think the Diamond League has more potential than the Can Am.
Most minor league ball is a night out for families. Provide fairly decent ball in a nice, comfortable setting and people will come, no matter what the level. Which is why the Jackals and Boulders are doing well but the Bears aren’t.
Those two things being said, unless most fans don’t make the association, I don’t understand the appeal of a feeder league to an independent minor league, even if they’re the same or higher talent level than the league they might be replacing.
I worked for the NJ Outlaws for the one season they were in Wayne (2011-12). They were a feeder to the ECHL. Yes, the ECHL feeds the AHL and both are affiliated with the NHL, but the Federal League otherwise had no tie-in to the NHL. Obviously, this is different setup than MLB has where affiliates go right down to the Rookie Leagues.
And though they lied about the attendance (I counted the house at the Ice Vault–something like 590 seats and people would occasionally stand behind the end glass), as there were a lot of empty seats most nights and announced attendance was over the seating capacity, I think many people realized that these were players who, though they’d give you a decent game, weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And maybe they drew a couple hundred a game–not enough to sustain themselves. And now they’re out in Williamsport and they played their home schedule last year outdoors at the minor league ballpark.
My point is, even in the affiliated minors, there are many players not going anywhere anytime soon. But there are some who are. The Atlantic League features mostly guys on the way down or who never really got there in the first place. But there are ex-major leaguers who might be worth the price of admission on a given night. Again, you’ll get a competitive and entertaining game.
But, like the Federal League, who wants to see minor league games in a league that’s feeding another minor league filled mostly with players with no future?
The Diamond League might finish off the Can Am and, with decent marketing, they could draw 1,000-2,000 a game, but the idea makes no sense.
I don’t see much potential here for either league. I can go see two major league teams, three affiliated minor league teams, and two existing independent league teams without making any special effort.
Where’s the hook for this new league that’s going to be filled with players I never heard of & who will mostly never get out of Indy ball?
I’ll acknowledge that the Diamond League has some potential, but that’s based only on the fact that the people running the show have a record of success. I want to see where they plan to put their six teams before I make any further judgement.
I’d like to see Sussex County, NJ get a team again… I went to Skylands Park back when the A-level NJ Cardinals played there, and I remember it being a pretty nice park… but that was 20 or so years ago.
I don’t know how big a footprint they’re looking to have, but I still feel bad that the people of Kinston, NC lost their team… Seemed like they really supported the Indians as much as a small community can.
So many indy leagues come and go, but the people involved in the Diamond League are ones who have a clue or two about running an indy league, so I’m inclined to think that if they think there’s something there, there may very well be something.
Kinston was a wonderful minor league town and the ballpark was really nice, as single-A ballparks go. The community really did support the team, even when the ticket prices went up, and it was a great place to watch a ball game. I remember seeing the likes of Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle (he was Joey, then), there. I saw Belle hit a few out, but Manny hit one that I swear is still going. But, even going back to when they were the independent Kinston Eagles (managed by Leo Mazzone, as I recall), they always seemed just one step ahead of the bill collectors. It is a shame they don’t have a club this year, though.
Looks like the bill collectors caught up.
I’m guessing the team was sold and the new owners moved to Zebulon–not far from Raleigh. Looks like they kept the affiliation with the Indians.
And, looking at past attendance figures, they were the worst draw in the league for their final two seasons and for six of their final seven–and by a noticeable margin and was the only team in the league to average under 2,000 during that time. So, while they might have had a dedicated bunch of fans, there weren’t enough of them.
Just saw the Myrtle Beach team (same league) play when I was recently down there on a golf trip. Couldn’t use night clubs, so I went out to the ballpark. 🙂 The lower minors are a lot of fun–trying to guess who might make it to “the show.” Also, it’s nice to know they lie about attendance, too. The box score said 2,710. Actual count? Maybe half that.
I’d rather go to Kinston than Zebulon. First of all, Kinston’s closer. Second of all, the closer you get to Raleigh, the more NC sucks. Of course, I say that as a dedicated Eastern Carolina resident. The rivalry between Eastern Carolina and the rest of the state is pretty intense.
The Kinston ballpark wasn’t very big. I’d be surprised if you could fit much more than 2000 in it.
I’d like to see a team in Sussex also. Never had a chance to see that park. Any chance AC gets a team?
Paul and I have discussed it in the past- do people really have enough disposable income to support all this?
In answer to your second question… We’ll see. My guess is that the Can Am isn’t long for this world and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the Can Am teams become part of this new league should it get off the ground.
As for your first question… As I remember, AC had trouble supporting an Atlantic League team, went down to the Can Am and was finished in two years. The same thing happened in Nashua (four years and out) and will likely happen in Newark (third year since the drop). As for Sussex, it was barely an A-league ballpark. The red barn motif was kind of nice, but it was nothing special inside. From what I’ve read (http://www.nj.com/sussex-county/index.ssf/2013/04/with_deal_closed_new_skylands_park_owner_exploring_all_possibilities.html), Skylands Park was essentially bought at a fire sale but the new owner has little idea either how to run it or what to put in it. I suppose he’ll learn. Might it be a good park for a Diamond League team? In 2010, Sussex’ final season, they claimed a 1,670 average, not terribly far behind the Jackals. So, maybe it might. Then again, even though most people look at minor league ball as a night out, if they care that what they’re watching is a developmental league for an independent minor league, they might not.
In other words, the jury is out. In more words, should this league get off the ground, it might finish the Can Am. Which may have been a goal of the Diamond League in the first place while upping the caliber of ball just a bit.
Do you take a look at the Diamond League website?
Not even off the ground yet and they’d like to expand to eight teams and 24 more games in 2015.
Whoa! One step at a time there, folks.
I did look at the Diamond League website, and the expansion plan actually seems reasonable to me – I see a six-team league as the minimum to be viable, but it’s far from ideal.
I’m more interested in where they put the first six teams than in what they will do for year two.
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