Archive for July, 2012

Fat Cats squashed in Guelph, but you wouldn’t know that would you?

Ottawa ran into some trouble in Guelph and now find themselves in a hole (photo courtesy Bev Gosling)

I think the Ottawa Sun put it nicely; “The Ottawa Fat Cats are coming home with absolutely no momentum.”

I guess I should explain the title before we get into things. The only reason that I was able to figure out what the score was in game 2 of this series was because both teams provided twitter updates. Guelph’s scorer had a problem with his phone and was unable to update pointstreak.

Now, it was really just an unfortunate series of events that led to people without social media not being able to keep track of the game whatsoever, but the point that I’m trying to make here is that it should not happen.

Firstly, why wasn’t Rogers Ottawa broadcasting the game? I checked it out at 7:30 last night and they had Bingo on.  I doubt that bingo would get more viewers than IBL baseball.

Secondly, it’s 2012. Collegiate and independent pro leagues all over the place have internet radio broadcasts if they can’t get their games on the airwaves. There are sites and programs like Ustream that let you broadcast online for no charge. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection, so I don’t understand why teams can’t set a stream up, especially during the playoffs.

Ottawa and Hamilton have their games streamed and Barrie will be starting those broadcasts next season. Let’s see more teams get on board! The feedback is great when I ask away fans about the Ottawa broadcast. If the other organizations started them up, they definitely wouldn’t regret it.

Now, to be fair, I don’t know why any Fat cats fans would’ve wanted to tune in to last night’s game. I can only think of one way to describe it: a good old-fashioned ass-kicking.

It goes to show you that a little momentum can go a long way. After Amelotte gave up a couple hits to start things off,  it only took was a couple bombs to put the game out of reach—and let’s not forget that we weren’t even half way through the first inning.

I guess Amelotte had the jitters going into the game, but to give up 9 runs in a span of a third of an inning? I’ve never seen something like that. Sabourin came in for relief, but gave up 7 runs in just over 5 innings of work himself.

The Fat Cats’ bats didn’t help the cause either. We just simply couldn’t get anything on the scoreboard besides the hits. The effort was there—Ottawa only went down in order twice—but there’s still a problem when it comes to bringing baserunners home. We left 11 men stranded all game and most of the time the 3rd out came on ground outs while swinging at either the first or second pitch.

We needed some patience and composure to win last night and unfortunately no one was able to bring that. This is one of those moments where I really miss Matt McGovern from last year. We could definitely use the presence that he brought down the stretch in 2011 once again.

To add insult to injury—or in this case, injury to insult—Jason Coker left the game in the 7th inning with a lower body issue. This is terrible for the Cats, as he has been a huge asset at the plate all year. Not sure that we can afford to lose him for an extended period of time at this point.

Saturday was a much different game. I actually made the trip down to Guelph to take things in. Hastings is a nice little ballpark that lets you get very close to the action. The place holds about 700 people and it was pretty much full. You can’t compare the experience to Ottawa, really. They’re two very different places.

The game itself was a pitchers’ duel. Brandon Huffman lost it, but definitely didn’t deserve that fate. I believe that David Hatt outpitched Huff, but it was the Fat Cats infield that lost them the game. 4 errors, including 2 on the same play that let Guelph take the lead in the 7th. You just can’t let that happen.

You’ve also got to give the Royals credit here; they’ve clearly been the better team through these 2 games. Sean Reilly and Frankie Hare have gotten the monkey off their backs in a big way. Reilly has posted an average of .667 while getting on base 78% of the time. Frankie Hare’s numbers aren’t as crazy, but his 6 RBIs leads the team.

Any type of curse that these 2 had while playing Ottawa appears to have been lifted.  Their final test is performing in the hostile environment of Ottawa Stadium.

Speaking of which, fans, I won’t be there this coming weekend so I won’t be able to hear the noise.

I hope that the Fat Cats are able to come out with a couple wins this weekend, but if that isn’t the case and we are going to lose this series in Ottawa, I better hear about the biggest standing ovation in Ottawa sports history. It may be the last time that we ever see the Fat Cats play.

Carlos Verde will be covering this weekend’s events at Ottawa Stadium for me, so I guess he’ll be seeing you then. Hopefully, the next time I sit down to write an article it won’t be a season recap!

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Fat Cats hot at the right time

Photo courtesy Freedom Photography

The playoffs are on the horizon and it has been determined that your Ottawa Fat Cats will do battle with the Guelph Royals. This 4-5 match-up was made after the Cats went into their weekend road trip with 2 blowout wins in Hamilton and Toronto.

No disrespect, but with the Cardinals you almost expect to blow them out. They’ve been getting absolutely demolished lately and it’s really because they have nothing to play for (aside from their pride).

We dealt them a 10-2 loss on Tuesday; with Huffman, Hayes and Dietrich each recording 2 RBIs. Hayes wasn’t even in the game for all 9 innings—he finally got some action on the mound for the final 2 innings, dealing 2 strikeouts and just allowing 1 hit. Not a bad outing at all and we may have something going for us there.

This was actually the 2nd time that Hayes has thrown for the Fat Cats. I believe the 1st time was in Brantford last season and he fared poorly. I don’t remember exactly how things transpired, but he didn’t last an inning. Glad to see him get a 2nd chance as he does have potential, shown here throwing 93 mph.

With such a short bench for the final trip of the season, I’m sure you’re wondering who Pat Gagnon (acting manager) saw when he looked down the bench for a Hayes replacement in the outfield. He found Josh Soffer, who was slotted in LF and was walked in his only plate appearance. I don’t remember him ever fielding previous to Tuesday, so he I would say that he did well from what I could tell on pointsteak.

The variation of positions continued for Josh the next day. Soffer, usually a closer, started the rain shortened Toronto game on Wednesday and pitched his way to a complete game* while striking out 3 and only allowing 3 hits in 6 innings pitched. Against a Toronto team that enjoys swinging for the fences at the little league park Christie Pits that is quite impressive.

It wasn’t just those two who showed that they can be versatile ball players. Mombo, Huffman, Sabourin and Gagnon were among others who played out of position and even with the short bench, they helped deliver convincing wins, 10-1 over Toronto and 10-2 over Hamilton

After a victory over the Brantford Red Sox and 2 wins in this fashion, one has to agree that the Fat Cats are on the prowl going into the first round of these playoffs.

Guelph lost the season series to Ottawa 3 games to 1, including the season opener in Guelph and a sweep in Ottawa. It seems like the Royals talented offense is snake bitten against the Fat Cats.

Frankie Hare, who batted .414 this season and quite frankly tore up the league, only managed to hit .307 against Ottawa. Sean Reilly hit .333 when he also is usually in the .400s. Hare and Reilly have a history of performing under their expectations in Ottawa—all you have to do is look back at the sweep of the Baycats in the 2nd round by Ottawa last year, a Barrie team that both Reilly and Hare were members of.

Guelph also has given up an average of 4.5 runs a game when taking on the Fat Cats, while the Cats in the same category vs Guelph score a 3.75.

Point being, the Fat Cats have been able to have more success over Guelph that the Royals have had on us, and our superb pitching staff—which has rebounded nicely after an starting the year poorly—has managed to shut their stars down.

I may be a little biased, but my prediction for this first round series is a Fat Cats victory in 6 games. Who have you got in this series?

Amelotte stars as Fat Cats split Brantford series

Stellar pitching from James Amelotte secured a 4-3 Ottawa win on July 22nd (photo courtesy Freedom Photography)

Another weekend at Ottawa Stadium has come and gone, and the Fat Cats once again sent the fans home happy, with a win to wrap up the series over the defending champs from Brantford.

I always try to be optimistic/encouraging, but I wasn’t feeling that way going into the weekend. Ottawa had been playing some iffy baseball as of late, getting swept by London a few weeks ago, plus a pounding in Barrie. We were also trailing the Leafs when that game at Christie Pits was rained out (albeit with the tying run at the plate). Aside from the rout in Kitchener, our record from the past few weeks didn’t exactly look stellar.

Tack on that we were facing a team that had lost just 5 times all season and things looked pretty bleak.

However, the Cats took the little shot that they had at stealing a win from the Red Sox and did just that, walking away with a 4-3 victory after the Sunday afternoon rubber match of the 2-game series.

Let’s take a second to have a look at this Sox lineup. The Brantford Red Sox sent 13 former professional baseball players up for the trip, including former major leaguers Scott Thorman and Brian Sikorski. While Sikorski didn’t play this weekend, it’s pretty crazy to think that a team of mostly local Ottawa ball players beat a team of guys that were mostly playing AAA 5 years ago.

Thorman was absolutely spectacular, pounding 2 jacks over the Ottawa Stadium wall and showing his smarts at the dish and on the base pads. It was a treat to watch him play. He really doesn’t belong in the IBL.

One of the big reasons that we pulled off the win was the performance of 19-year-old James Amelotte, who came away with the complete game win while allowing 10 hits and only 3 earned runs. He got himself out of tough situations a couple times and didn’t let it rattle him when—guess who—Thorman took the first pitch of his at bat to Coventry Road in the 3rd inning.

It goes to show you that Amelotte is the real deal. At 19, if you’ve got the mental composure to pitch a complete game against a team like the Red Sox and win it, you’re likely not staying in semi-pro for very long.

I was actually surprised that Amelotte stayed in the game for the 9th inning. When McGovern stepped into the bullpen during the 8th, I was under the impression that Nelson was slotting him in for the save attempt. It didn’t end up happening, which is a bit of a bummer considering McGovern’s history vs the Sox and how sweet it would’ve been to see him post a save against them, but Amelotte finishing off the complete game is just as big of a feel-good moment.

We’ll see how things turn out with Amelotte come playoff time, but I’m sure that he’ll be making an appearance in the starting rotation come playoff time alongside Huffman and hopefully McGovern.

I’ve heard rumblings around the IBL grapevine that Huffman is battling an injury right now. This is complete speculation since I don’t have conformation of it, but seeing him come out of the game in Barrie early and not get a start in a weekend series for the first time in a long time is worrying.

The homer that he hit on Saturday while playing DH was reassuring (considering the injury looked to be lower back according to Barrie GM Doug Dimma), as it was the hardest hit ball that I’ve seen so far this season.

Injury or not, some rest is a good thing for Huffman because of the workload that he’s likely to carry these playoffs.

Back to this weekend, I’ve got to give some credit to Kevin Dietrich for his play in the outfield. He made a couple catches at the track that weren’t easy nabs and had to work to get to many outs. His highlight pack from the weekend included an unbelievable diving catch to preserve the Ottawa lead on Sunday. Major props to him and LaDale Hayes as well, who saw a big workload in deep left.

Ottawa was close to having a similar outcome on Saturday. It was a 6-5 lead for Brantford headed to the top of the 9th with the momentum seemingly in the Cats’ favour, when a string of early hits and an error from Joe Stone put the Sox up by 3. Another one from Coker put the game out of reach.

On that 2nd error, Coker’s throw from short didn’t help, but Gagnon let the ball get away from him at home. He had a good opportunity to put Gotwalt away at the plate for out number 2, which is why the play made me groan. An 8-5 lead seems a lot less insurmountable than a 9-5 lead when you’ve got 1 half-inning left.

If there weren’t any fielding troubles in the dying moments of game 1, we could’ve swept the Sox. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that we split the series, but imagine what a sweep would’ve done to this team’s confidence going into the playoffs.

Speaking of the playoffs, the Fat Cats sit tied with the Panthers, who have finished their season, for 6th place. Two wins this week would put us in 5th and set up a series vs Guelph and possibly Barrie. Where we currently sit would match us up against the London Majors, because Kitchener wins the tiebreaker. I get the feeling that we won’t be the complete underdogs if we’ve got a healthy starting rotation consisting of Huffman, Amelotte and McGovern.

My personal choice for a playoff series would be the Majors, so that we can—to put in nicely—send them back where they came from. Can’t stand London.

Grading the Fat Cats’ in-game promotions

The Tax Man getting his daily exercise (photo courtesy Freedom Photography)

Baseball has always been considered one of the more boring sports by the general community. Now, I don’t agree with that one bit, but you can’t deny that there are certain areas of the game that aren’t exactly pleasing to a fan—for example, the intermissions between innings.

This is something that can’t be avoided as players need to warm up, but that doesn’t mean that organizations can’t try to spice them up, right?

Well, you don’t have to tell that to the Ottawa Fat Cats.

Having lots of spare time in the summer, I figured that I would give some #FatCatsFeedback on the in-game promos that you see at Ottawa Stadium.

Dizzy Bat Race

This one is possibly the most entertaining promo of the whole lot because of the obvious troubles that the 2 participants have getting to the finish line after spinning around a bat for 10 seconds. There really isn’t much to improve with this one. You need almost nothing to run it and it gives the crowd a good laugh. My only suggestion is to wait a couple innings and then find the intoxicated fans for mass hilarity.

Grade: A-

Concession Race

Ah yes, the concession race. I suppose Grape has to win something, right?

The Fat Cats appear to love humiliating their fans, as those inflatable things that you’re supposed to race on look absolutely impossible to move. Either way, it’s another event that provides a good deal of entertainment for the fans. Especially when we see one of the participants face plant. I also can’t help but chuckle every time I hear boos coming from the crowd when beer is not announced as one of the 3 possible half-price concession items.

Grade: B+

Grape Race

It’s the classic beat-the-mascot-around-the-bases promo! One of the problems with this one is that it’s only entertaining for the people who are at the games for the first time. Season ticket holders and regulars can turn a blind eye pretty quickly when it’s time for the race, because it gets pretty repetitive.

I guess it’s mainly for the kids. Besides, who doesn’t love seeing a mascot lose/get frustrated? I also like the way that they get the players involved with this one. I’d love to see Coker or Charrette just full out tackle Grape over one of these days.

Grade: B

Tax Man

I love the Tax Man. Promos at semi-pro games really don’t get any better than this. It’s not only original and makes for a good time, but it also requires almost no setup. The cleanup is a different story, unfortunately.

Taking another look at it from a different perspective, this has also got to make the Fat Cats a bit of coin. The tennis balls either cost $1 or $2—can’t remember off the top of my head—but for the amount of balls thrown on the field every game, they’ve likely made a significant amount from it.

It’s especially fun for me, because I get a good shot at pegging Mike (yes, the Tax Man has a name) in the head.

Grade: A+

The in-game promos don’t stop there either, as I only listed a couple of them. Little interactions with the fans in the stands such as Tweeting Trivia are nice additions, but there are also some that have struck out in my book, mainly Pirate Adventures. Not sure that many people care for pirate impersonations and the like. Maybe it’s just me, though. I never really liked pirates as a little guy.

You can see these promos in action this weekend vs Brantford and give them your own grades if you’re looking for some way to keep busy between innings.

Fat Cats split rain-compressed road trip

Tim Nelson was unable to make the journey this weekend, leaving Pat Gagnon and Josh Soffer with managerial duties.

After the Friday rainout in Hamilton, the Fat Cats would instead start their trip in Kitchener at Jack Couch Park; which, in my opinion, was one of the biggest successes of the season so far.

19 hits came flying off the Ottawa bats, with only 2 men (Miller, Wilson) mustering less than 2 hits. Coker, Hayes and McGovern had 3 hits each, which led the team. Those hits translated into 14 runs for Ottawa. Usually you see that kind of run production from the Panthers at Jack Couch Park, but James Amelotte held them to just 3.

Speaking of which, James Amelotte was outstanding on Saturday afternoon, dealing 10 strikeouts while only allowing 6 hits and walking 2. A great performance from a great pitcher who has seemed to assume the starting role that was given to him quite nicely. It’s nice to have another solid starter going in to the playoffs along with Huffman and Hummel.

I would like to include McGovern in that list, but we’ll have to wait and see how he does leading up to the postseason. For those of you who don’t know, he made his long-awaited return in Barrie on Saturday night and pitched well according to fans in Barrie and the Baycats GM, Doug Dimma. 1 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 1 R in 2 IP are some pretty respectable stats for a guy who hasn’t pitched since last September.

I also heard from some Barrie fans that the umpires weren’t too sharp. Josh Soffer agreed out loud on his twitter account, tweeting “I’ve never seen/had such a blatantly intentionally bad umpire”.  Since it’s also been reported from Barrie fans, I have to assume that there’s no bias there.

Coker was on the mound once again. Granted, it was in the 9th in a 6 run game, but I’ve been impressed with him. For a guy who has only pitched twice this year, he’s not half bad. I just wish that I could see him pitch live or on TV to make a solid decision on him instead of just assuming. Either way, I’ve been impressed with the shortstop’s game on the mound and in general this year.

The Toronto game was cancelled about 4 stanzas in and will be replayed at a later date, however that still got Brett Sabourin 3 innings pitched, in which he walked 4 and allowed 4 earned runs while posting just 1 K.

Really not sure what’s been going on with him lately. Prior to this game his last start was in Brantford on June 29th, so you can likely come to the conclusion yourself that he would be a little rusty. In fact, that game in Brantford was the last time that he’d pitched over 1 inning.

That may have been the case today at Christie Pits, but Sabourin has been off this season altogether. He has the 2nd worst ERA on the team (not counting Boisvert and Durward) and is 1 of only 2 Fat Cats pitchers with a losing record (along with Eric Boisvert). I’m not sure that I would keep him on the bump in the postseason.

On the other hand, his offensive game has been commendable. In his 7 games as either a first baseman or designated hitter—he may have played a game or 2 in the outfield as well—Sabourin has posted a .297 ERA and a .400 OBP. Of course, these are only after 17 at bats; but if you compare it to say, Chris Latimer’s stats in those same categories (.200, .279), I would think that Sabourin would be a more valuable piece in the DH spot than some of the other Fat Cats hitters. I’m hoping that he gets slotted in there more often as the season draws to a close.

What was supposed to be the final series of the regular season for the Fat Cats vs Brantford will take place this weekend at Ottawa Stadium. Once again, the game means quite a bit standings-wise, as the Cats currently sit in a tie for 6th place with the Kitchener Panthers, a game back of Toronto for 5th and a game and a half behind Guelph for 4th place.

There is still an opportunity for Ottawa to jump in to a home field advantage these playoffs, but in order to do so we’ll have to take at least 1 game away from the 26-5 Sox this weekend. Won’t be an easy task!

My reply to “Time to wake up and sell field of dreams”

Someone show this to Elizabeth Payne

For those of you who haven’t had a look through Elizabeth Payne’s editorial, here’s your opportunity, because I’m getting straight to the point here.

A lot of Ottawa’s ball fans have been very polite in disagreement with Ms Payne on her take. It says a lot about the class that you guys have, as not many fanbases would deal with someone basically calling for the extinction of their team and sport like you guys have.

Unfortunately, I’m not of the same nature. Let’s break things down.

Baseball doesn’t seem to want Ottawa and Ottawa doesn’t want baseball. So why does the same city that has just voted to close a municipal equestrian park still own a white elephant baseball stadium?

Oh boy. We’re off to a bad start, Liz.

I’d like you to tell the record-shattering attendance numbers of the Ottawa Fat Cats that baseball doesn’t belong here. The only team that can occasionally (once or twice a year) draw as well as the Fat Cats in this league are the London Majors and even then their numbers barely come close to those of the Fat Cats.

Last fall, a semi-pro baseball team stuffed almost 8,000 people in their home stadium to watch a game. You couldn’t find another city or town in this country that would manage that.

Before the Fat Cats came the Rapidz. For some reason, the media likes to claim that the Rapidz left because of a lack of fan support. This isn’t the case, as you should know. The league-owned Voyageurs (formerly the Rapidz) left the city as a result of the Atlantic City Surf not finding an owner for 2009. The Can-Am League told the public that they couldn’t operate with 7 teams, or financially support both the Surf and the Voyageurs.

After the move, Can-Am League commissioner Miles Wolff said “We would love to come back to Ottawa next year.”

And so Ottawa holds on to Ottawa Stadium, a field of dreams that long ago began looking more like an island of wishful thinking — with semi-pro ball players washing their dishes and living part-time in VIP boxes for an added touch of low-rent colour.

The second part of this blurb really gets me. It’s obviously not ideal, but these players are trying to get somewhere within the game of baseball and are clearly doing whatever they can to do reach their goals, as shown here. If it was their choice, they wouldn’t be living in those suites, but they want to get somewhere, so they make that sacrifice.

All this and you’re making fun of them for it? It’s absolutely shameful for you to pull BS like that, Ms Payne. Do you think that they’re proud of their living situation? Definitely not, so why are you using their struggle to get by as an attempt at a joke? Crossed the line right there. Hopefully you retract that horribly insensitive comment.

Ottawa Stadium, a state-of-the-art acility built in 1992 for $17 million, is now an underused, even misused facility that still manages to cost taxpayers money based on the hope that it will someday again serve the purpose for which it was built

Alright, I’m putting my superb math skills in use for this one. As Andrew previously mentioned, the NCBL puts Ottawa Stadium to use very frequently. Last I checked, they’ve played 60 games per year at Ottawa Stadium for the past few seasons.

The Fat Cats play 18 home games every season. Add those together, and you get 88 different baseball games being played at a stadium which primary use is baseball in one season. The Lynx only played around 72 games per season.

If a baseball stadium is being misused while it’s hosting more baseball games than it ever has before, than I’d like to know what has to be done for it to be used properly!

This year there was hope in the form of Beacon Sports Capital Partners, a group that wants to bring double-A baseball to the city, as part of a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, if possible. For many local baseball fans, it was the first real ray of hope in awhile that professional baseball would return to the city. But then the Blue Jays announced they had other plans and would keep a double-A affiliate in New Hampshire, at least until 2014. What will happen after that? Who knows.

Actually, there are many who know what’s going on. The Jays are going through a minor-league transformation right now. I would be shocked if the Jays weren’t using this extra time to get their AAA team out of Las Vegas. Setting up a new AAA team in another market would take… hmmm… about 2 years if you started the stopwatch now.

If I were the Jays, I wouldn’t want to be moving 2 minor league teams in the same span either. Once AAA is moved somewhere more suitable, then the Ottawa team comes into play. Of course, this is all just speculation but if Ms Payne can do so about Ottawa not getting the team in her editorial—Payne: “The Beacon Sports proposal would cost $452,000, if it goes ahead, which seems unlikely”—then I don’t see why I can’t.

I could go on and on when it comes to this editorial. Ms Payne has a couple different spurts of apathy, cold-heartedness and just downright ignorance in her piece. One has to wonder how this got on the front page of the paper.

RE: “Time to wake up and sell field of dreams” (Guest post by Andrew Denny)

[This piece is a reply to this editorial from Elizabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen this morning, written by Andrew Denny. I may put something similar out. ]

Before I dive in to this article, I want to tell you a little bit about who I am and what I do (let’s face it…. no one likes to waste time reading irrelevant opinions). My name is Andrew Denny, I’m a lifelong resident of Ottawa and I’m a writer for a US sports network covering Major League Baseball (more specifically the Chicago Cubs). Of course, my career choice makes me a baseball fan and I’m a strong fighter for the continuation of baseball in Ottawa at any level.

After reading the article that Ms. Payne wrote – which is in itself was a reasonable and on point article – I feel as though she missed the mark on a few issues.

The City of Ottawa did “build it”, but on the contrary to what Ms. Payne stated, they did come. They came in hoards and they stayed.

There is no doubt that baseball in Ottawa is broken. We can argue until we’re blue in the face trying to say otherwise, but there is no doubt about this simple fact. After the Lynx’s failure, the Rapidz failure and what will soon be the eventual demise of the Fat Cats (more on this later), it’s becoming quite apparent that sustainability is a serious issue in this entire affair.

No team means no revenue from the stadium. Even a simpleton could understand this concept.

I agree with Ms. Payne that if the stadium is bleeding public funds, then why must all residents of this city bear the burden of dead weight? Not every resident is a baseball fan and in a city that is covered with snow for arguably 6 months of the year, it would seem a silly concept to even dream of having a local pro or semi-pro baseball team. Besides, Ottawa Stadium couldn’t support the one million plus residents that Ottawa now boasts at every game anyway…

But while she leaps to the conclusion that the only recourse is to tear the stadium down and lay waste to the dream of baseball in Ottawa, she misconstrues a couple of facts that have significant impact on the implications of bringing sustainable baseball to Ottawa.

Firstly, the statement that “the city is talking about a $5.7 million renovation to the stadium” is only half correct. These renovations were only to take place should the Beacon Group be successful in its purchase of a AA squad. They have yet to do this, and so the renovations will not be taking place as of yet as stated by Mayor Jim Watson some time ago. The crafty diction leads the reader to believe that these renovations will be taking place regardless of circumstance; and believe me, I know a few literary tricks to persuade readers to side with your opinions, and this one is clear as day.

I know for a fact that Beacon Group is still pursuing teams for sale while Champions for Ottawa Baseball, a local group founded by David Gourlay, is working hard to motivate the community as a whole to rally behind professional baseball.

Gourlay started a campaign many months ago asking the residents of Ottawa to put down a cash deposit for ticket packages and season tickets for the “to be AA team”. This campaign was met with much success, collecting well over 3100 deposits from baseball fans in Ottawa. This was a complete and total success in the eyes of the MiLB, Beacon Group, and the City of Ottawa alike.

But the desire for baseball in Ottawa did not stop there.

Even further, back in the early to mid 90s, the Ottawa Lynx were selling games out without issue. You couldn’t get a ticket for love or money at one point. The average attendance ten years later (2004 is the sample I use) is well over 2000 fans per game – a very sustainable fan base that many teams can work off of.

Even today, the Fat Cats draw large crowds of 2000+ to their Saturday night games. While these numbers are not published, as a season ticket holder I can see the evidence first hand.

This raises another point, if the Fat Cats can draw such a healthy crowd, why is the team losing money?  (and yes…. they’re losing money. I can guarantee this.)

The answer is very simple: overhead operating costs.

If you need any more details on that, I encourage one of your reporters to contact both the Ottawa 67’s and the Ottawa Fat Cats and compare the rent of both facilities, assuming we can agree that they make a relatively level comparison. You may find the answer quite shocking.

The rent that ANY baseball team must pay the play at Ottawa Stadium is obscenely expensive and does not make the challenge of keeping a baseball team in a hockey loving city any easier.

Take into consideration that the team is semi-pro, does not pay their players an outlandish amount of money to play, and considering they have shattered all IBL attendance records, should be able to sustain a team rather comfortably.

Another franchise within the IBL, the aptly named Toronto Maple Leafs, play at Dominico Field – a rather minimalist set up with basic outdoor bleachers and a grassy hill for fans to sit and enjoy the game from. There is little to no room for more than 300 fans, which the team draws consistently to each home game.

By the same assumptions we make for the Fat Cats, the Toronto Maple Leafs should be bankrupt several times over by now. Yet they continue to be a force to be reckoned with within the IBL standings year after year. Revenue is clearly not an issue for this team.

The bottom line is that the stadium, being the second largest in Canada (not counting old Stade Olympique) is too expensive for any other team but a high end professional team to operate in.

The Fat Cats are essentially doomed to be victims of circumstance in this regard, forcing them to take on events such as the Escapade Music Festival, to cover their inherent sky high rent payments – another point brought up my Ms. Payne for the destruction of the stadium. While this can seem askew, even MLB teams will rent their stadiums to concerts and promoters, as Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs did in June 2012 to help recoup some funds while the Cubs played a road trip. Ms. Payne’s argument that it is “a somewhat awkward fit with baseball” is invalid as this is practiced within the most elite circles of baseball operations.

Ms Payne also stated that the stadium goes largely unused. This is not the truth. (she also goes on to later contradict herself in the article, but I digress)

The National Capital Baseball League will often use the field to play their league games. Community events, most famously the “Jose Canseco Home Run Derby” are hosted at the stadium.

If you want to make baseball work in this city, which is appears that the City is doing everything in its power to do; you need to create a reasonable business environment for a team. A low end semi pro team cannot support the rent of Ottawa Stadium, and kudos to the Beacon Group and Champions for Ottawa Baseball for pursuing a AA team that can support the operating costs in Ottawa.

Lowering the rent on the stadium is clearly the answer, but this is not a reasonable or a realistic one, knowing that the City will want maximum return for the property.

The key issue in getting a AA (or low A, or A, or short A, or AAA) team is waiting for a team to go up for sale.

Until then? We’ll have to wait, but the destruction of Ottawa Stadium seems brash and uncivil. The stadium is one of a kind in a country that does very little to support its baseball talents. It also adds some flair in Ottawa, which is already rather dry and quite boring for residents. Ditching the stadium will only feed that reputation further.

Baseball in Ottawa has a celebrated history, and it can continue to be this way under the proper circumstances, but these will not come easily with the backlash of those like Ms. Payne.

The destruction of the stadium is indeed the easy way out. But like a good marriage, you have to fight for something to make it last rather than give up and divorce.