Watson Dooms Baseball In Ottawa Forever


canamWhen Ottawa had a franchise in the Can-Am League in 2008, the league had eight teams.

Now the loop has six teams with only half the teams still operating from the 2008 season. As well, the Can-Am League has to play an interlocking schedule with the American Association to flesh out its schedule.

The Ottawa franchise folded after one season.

Five players from the Can-Am League have been invited to Major League Baseball training camps. Just five. And that certainly does not guarantee any of those players sticking on a MLB roster. In fact, it’s highly doubtful one will stay. And thus you know the level of Can-Am baseball.

Your Ottawa Champions also have massive road trips to places such as Minnesota and North Dakota in the American Association which certainly will put a strain on the team’s bottom line.

And Ottawans are accustomed to a professional presentation of a game such as the RedBlacks and Senators give them. However there is not much much fear that demand for tickets for the Sussex County Miners will strain the capacity of the 10,000-seat Ottawa Stadium in which two teams will play and no one will know a name on either roster. Where is Sussex County?

Ottawa had two of the best (if not the best) owners in Minor League Baseball ready to put on a professional presentation of Double-A baseball with top Blue Jays prospects. But Mayor Jim Watson cheaped out on baseball (as he does in many other things), not having the faintest idea what makes for a successful minor league team, and threw the money for a ball club at Arts Court. Politically, no doubt, he thought he was giving Ottawans baseball and the arts.

What in fact he really did was doom baseball in Ottawa forever. What he should have done is taken the file away from outgoing deputy city manager Nancy Schepers and given it to an innovative person who would find a way to make the team succeed. Somebody who knows baseball.

One minor league expert told me he expects the Ottawa franchise will not finish the season.

In addition, the new team, without significant local ownership, will be run by one of Watson’s best friends. Good grief.

All this comes about as the Champions announced this week they will have microbrewed beer at home games. MICROBREWED BEER. Big deal.

When successful minor league teams have waterslides and play areas for youngsters, patios, play areas and seats with tables for the adults and $10 seats behind home plate served by waitresses, Ottawa will have microbrewed beer in front of a bunch of no names playing against teams from locations no one knows. That should build up some rivalries.

In other minor league stadiums, the gatherings turn into parties which subside now and then when a baseball game breaks out. Why there’s even places where boys can meet girls. Now there’s a selling point.

The Champions will have microbrewed beer. Be still our hearts.

If this team fails and odds are it will, the blame for that rests squarely on the shoulders of Watson. No one else. There’s nothing quite like having someone who doesn’t know a thing about sports … not a thing … making decisions in a field in which he understands nothing.

But then he did the same thing with the $2.1-billion light-rail project and got the same results … a train that goes nowhere that’s too expensive, too short and has too many transfers.

No word yet if Chuck E. Cheese will put a franchise on the grounds when the stadium is knocked down.

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