It’s well known that the money earmarked for Double-A baseball was moved to Arts Court when city staff and Mayor Jim Watson canned a Blue Jay affiliation.
So now we have independent ball … the lowest level of minor league baseball. It’s not drawing well. In contrast, imagine how excited Ottawans would be with a Blue Jay affiliate now that the Jays are contenders.
This is the 2008 schedule for the now-defunct Ottawa Rapidz of the Can-Am league.
It’s not baseball that’s the problem in Ottawa. It’s the league the team is in.
This week I found an old Can-Am League schedule around the house for the one-year Ottawa Rapidz of 2008. The Rapidz were gone as that year ended.
Of the eight teams in the Can-Am loop in 2008, only Les Capitales de Quebec continue to operate in their original form with their original names and operations. So the average team in the Can-Am League fails. They are replaced by other clubs that keep the baseball ferris-wheel turning.
They are accustomed to watching the highest level of hockey in the world at the Canadian Tire Centre.
So when someone brings in the lowest form of minor league baseball to this city, fans will be skeptical. Residents don’t mind watching their Quebec league and Ontario league juniors because at least these players have an outside chance of making the NHL.
How are baseball fans to know when the Can-Am League or American Association Ottawa Champions are playing?
The only ads I’ve heard are on Blue Jays radio broadcasts which are a good idea except that they don’t make the date of the game stick in the mind. Print ads help in that regard. So does web advertising.
Some concerning omens appeared at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Stadium, home of the Can-Am baseball league Ottawa Champions on Coventry Road.
The Champions (why play the games if they are already the champions of the Can-Am League or American Association or whatever independent ball they’re in?) drew an average of 2,815 over the first three nights of the season against the Sussex County Miners (whoever they are).
So the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am League or the American Association or an amalgam of both were already in trouble, but now the chance of salvaging the team has become more difficult if not impossible.
The Ottawa Champions have named their new manager, former Major League Baseball great Hal Lanier.
You have to be a certain vintage to remember Lanier. That was my earliest vintage. Somehow the 18-34 age bracket might have missed him
Good luck to Lanier, not just on the field, but in the executive suite. Your agent has had an expert on minor-league baseball say that he doesn’t think the Champions will finish the season. We’ll see. The first incarnation of Can-Am League baseball … if that is the league they’re playing in … died after one season. So far, no local ownership.
But the franchise does have a president, none other than that Order of Ottawa award-winning friend of Mayor Jim Watson and professional resume-builder, David Gourlay. Now how did that happen?
CFRA’s Rob Snow and Bulldog Ottawa’s Ken Gray look at the ridiculous waste of councillor “swag” at city hall and they discuss the hopeless prospects for a Can-Am baseball team in the city.
In fact, the Can-Am League is not even operating as an independent entity this season. Instead it is a division of the low independent-tier American Association. What that means for Ottawa, well who knows? The city isn’t discussing that.