Catching Up

Hello, Fat Cats fans! I hope you all had a great fall, and are enjoying this New Year. The offseason is well underway in the IBL, and there is plenty of news to go around. Today in this much needed update post, I’m going to touch base, if you will.

One piece of good news that has found its way onto the tickers is that the Guelph Royals are back for the 2012 season, as they reached an agreement with the city of Guelh and signed a deal to use Hastings Stadium for 5 years. This is wonderful news for the IBL. I, myself, didn’t seem to notice the absence of the Royals that much last year, but I am a newbie when it comes to the IBL. It was pretty evident to me after a while that the Royals are an integral part of this league, and it’s great to have them back for next season. Welcome back, Guelph!

Some major player “signings” have gripped the IBL world as well. Two all-stars from Barrie last season, Sean Reilly and Frankie Hare are headed back to Guelph next season (EDIT: Actually, this is not true. Reilly contacted me to tell me that him and Hare have not signed with Guelph.. he didn’t day more than that. Thanks for the heads up, Sean.) and former Leafs catcher Kyle DeGrace will be joining the Barrie Baycats.

As for the Fat Cats, they tend to keep their roster on the inside until the spring. That, combined with the fact that I am not an official member of the media (yet!), means I don’t have an update on our roster. However, I don’t think that even the Fat Cats themselves are really thinking about the 2012 roster, given the fact that it’s still January. Until I can get word on the 2012 team or the roster is released, we can only hope for the best. That being said, I don’t think that one LaDale Hayes should be expected to return. He is a very good ball player, and will likely get another shot in the Indies, or maybe even affiliated ball.

Speaking of affiliated ball, during my leave of absence, the Pro ball scene has seems to catch fire around Southern Ontario.  Firstly, it was announced that the London Majors have competition in Labatt Park for at least next year. The extremely controversial London Rippers of the Frontier League will be sharing Labatt Park with the Majors. Now, I know that this is a Fat Cats and Ottawa baseball blog, but I really want to get my opinion on this out there.

There seems to be many Londoners that are unhappy with the Rippers, saying that they’re “driving the Majors out” and “ruining years of history”. Why can’t the people of London be happy that they’re getting more baseball next year? It doesn’t make much sense to me. The Majors have survived 3 pro teams that have come in and out of Labatt Park over the years. What makes people think that it won’t be the same this time around?

Sure, the “Rippers” isn’t the best team name in sports, but why should that stop people from enjoying a nice, warm Friday night at the ball park? Loosen up, London!

Another pro ball team that will likely be making it’s way into ballparks everywhere as soon as 2013, will be here in Ottawa. At the moment, the details are a bit skewered, but it’s looking like either the Binghamton Mets (New York) or the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto) will be moving to Ottawa, or forced to find new parent clubs.

This is a big gamble by the owners of both the Jays and Mets. To be honest, I think that the only type of affiliated ball that will work for a long period of time here is a Single A team in the NY-Penn League.

Reason being that the season in AA and AAA ball is just simply too long. However, if you’ve been a fan of baseball in this city for a long time, you don’t need me to tell you that.  If the IBL extended their season from say, May to mid-September not including playoffs, it would be perfect. For those who think that won’t work here, just look at this year’s playoffs. After all, everyone loves a winner.

Shifting gears back to the Fat Cats, it was definitely an action-packed end to a season back in 2011. I reached Ottawa P Josh Soffer by email, and he said that the strong finish was all about getting their confidence up, and finishing the job. “After the first weekend or two, everyone on the team knew we had just as much talent as any other team in this league, it was just going to be a matter of execution which in 2010 we failed to do down the stretch.”

One thing’s for sure, the Fat Cats definitely did execute. For 2012, they’re out looking to prove that this team is a group to reckoned with. “I would say on a team and personal level first and foremost is to prove that, that playoff run was not a fluke. We are for real. Additionally I would say finishing in the top half of the league is a priority to get home field advantage in the playoffs for a round or two. That could have really helped us in 2011.”

Before I sign off, I’d like to thank Josh for doing this interview. In fact, he offered himself up. That’s one of the many things that I love about semi-pro ball. Do you find MLB stars agreeing to blog interviews? Absolutely not. Semi-pro players are much more approachable than pro players and fans can often relate to them because they are local guys with jobs around the area. I think that that has contributed to the Fat Cats’ success.

I’d like to thank everyone for reading. Hopefully it won’t be too long until you hear from me again, but until then, have a great offseason!

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