Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Link: The Business of Baseball in N.J.

Happy new year! I hope that 2014 is filled with blessings for all of us.

Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Google Alerts turned up a mention of a Newsroom New Jersey article by Joe Favorito from last week on “The Business of Baseball in N.J.”, focusing specifically on the Newark Bears.

While the Bears’ struggles are Favorito’s focus (and he doesn’t spend nearly enough time talking about the challenges of operating in a city that had a 14.2% unemployment rate as of August and saw a 23-year high of 111 homicides in 2013), he touches on a more interesting question: how many minor league baseball teams can the New York metropolitan area really support?

However the expansive growth of digital marketing [by Major League franchises extending their reach] combined with the fight for discretionary income, may mean that although we would like to have 13 vibrant and fun minor league teams in a certain geographic area, maybe there is not the need to run these high functioning and somewhat expensive businesses at this time. Maybe the market is 10 or 11, not 12 or 13 or even 14, and maybe those dollars, if there is a sports business interest, can go into better marketing of local colleges or even high schools or youth sports, who also have some seats to fill with affordable and fun entertainment.

Check out the full article and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @PaulsRandomStuf on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

Posted in Uncategorized

RIP Newark Bears (updated Nov. 29)

Bears-logo-on-scoreboardUpdated Nov. 29:

The Newark Bears Facebook profile has this message today:

To all… As previously posted, the Newark Bears are undergoing redevelopment phases, ultimately creating a stronger organization. Part of these plans were to evaluate the right league affiliation. Although the Bears will not continue their affiliation w the Canam league during the 2014 season, this should not reflect the status or livelihood of our organization. We will release more information upon taking our next steps towards building ur better & stronger Newark Bears Professional Minor League Baseball team. We thank all of our fans and supporters for being so awesome!! Happy Holidays, Your Newark Bears Family

Original post:

In a classic move of burying bad news, league officials waited until the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to announce that the Can-Am League will operate as a four-team division of the American Association in 2014.

Quoting from the press release:

Four teams will make up the Can-Am League in 2014: the Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles from the province of Quebec; the New Jersey (Montclair) Jackals; and the Rockland Boulders of Pomona, N.Y. The Newark Bears will not operate in 2014.

[Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball commissioner Miles] Wolff commented, “The Can-Am League is extremely pleased to continue its alliance with the American Association. It has been a great rivalry with the teams in the central U.S. and Canada, and we believe it sets the stage for growth of the Can-Am in 2015 and beyond.” The Can-Am League has already announced that Ottawa, Ontario, will join the league in 2015; several other cities are under consideration for inclusion in 2015.

Ever since the Newark Bears dropped out of the Atlantic League, it sort of felt like the writing was on the wall. I’m thankful for friends I made because of the Bears, and many fun nights at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium over the years.

I invite anyone else who enjoyed going to Bears games to share their happy memories, but I don’t want to rehash their failings tonight.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bad news Bears

Opening Day 2013 at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Opening Day 2013 at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Remember how I wrote about the Newark Bears getting off to a fairly good start a couple weeks ago? Never mind.

Just call them the last place Bears. They have lost their last 11 games, and have just one victory since June 11. At least the first-year Trois-Rivieres Aigles have been nearly as bad all season, but they are playing .500 baseball over their last 10 games.

Worse, Newark’s losses haven’t even been particularly close lately: an 11-4 defeat by Fargo-Moorhead on Tuesday, a 17-5 drubbing by the Redhawks Monday, and a 14-3 loss to Quebec on Sunday.

The Bears have scored the fewest runs (148 in 34 games)  and given up the most runs (221) and second most earned runs (169). If that’s not a recipe for failure, I don’t know what is.

Newark has the lowest average attendance in the Can-Am League by far – 462 per game over the first 20 home dates. I’m not sure there’s another pro baseball team that’s been seen by fewer people this year. But between the weather (out of the team’s control), the quality of play, the team’s limited marketing efforts and seven weekday 10:35 a.m. starts in those first 20 home dates, it’s a wonder the average crowd is that large.

Since 2009, the Bears’ last playoff appearance and their last winning season, the team has done worse every year. From a 74-66 record that year, Newark fell to 53-86 in their final season in the Atlantic League in 2010. They finished 41-51 in 2011, their first year in the Can-Am League, and 35-65 last year.

It used to be fun to go watch the Bears play – the 2007 team was the best independent league team I’ve ever seen. (I think on any given day, they could have given the 2013 New York Mets a run for their money – at least as long as they didn’t have to face Matt Harvey.)

The 2008 and 2009 teams were competitive too, although the ’09 team is one I look back on fondly now for the strangeness of the season as much as the team’s actual accomplishments.

If the stands weren’t full during those years, at least there were usually enough people at the games to create the atmosphere of a professional sporting event.

I’d love to see the Newark Bears become a team that’s fun to watch again. But in 2013, I don’t think I’d recommend them to a friend.