Archive for September, 2012

End of the line for the Fat Cats?

Ottawa city councillor Bob Monette was in attendance at one of the Fat Cats’ final homestands. Jim Watson had also been out to the park this season. (photo courtesy Freedom Photography)

It’s been an interesting couple of days regarding the Ottawa Fat Cats.

OSG’s lease on the stadium expired 5 days ago—on September 15th. This was made official with the city kicking the Cats’ brass out of their offices on Tuesday, leaving many to wonder how much time the team has before something drastic is done—unless they strike a deal with the double-A group to continue play at the Stadium.

Here’s what the mayor had to say over twitter about the Fat Cats possibly sharing the stadium with the new double-A team.

Jim Watson @JimWatsonOttawa

@MNellisTLB we have one stadium and the lease will be for one team. We can barely support one team, let alone two!

Many people were confused by this. Rightfully so, as 2 teams using the same stadium has been done before and can be done once again.

Why wouldn’t the Fat Cats and the new double-A club be able to share Ottawa Stadium? My only conclusion is that Beacon Sports does not want the team around, as to my knowledge there’s been no effort from Beacon or the city to include the Fat Cats in the future. When I asked the mayor if that was accurate, I didn’t receive a reply.

Another thing here, where are the Champions of Ottawa Baseball on this? They said they “want a new team to complement our existing baseball culture including the Fat Cats”.

If they weren’t fibbing, you would think that we’d be hearing from them on the Fat Cats being thrown to the curb. There is still some time for them to comment, so I hope to hear something soon—if not, it will be very disappointing to see a group supposedly advocating for all baseball here let a team fall without at least attempting to put their foot in the door.

If there are any updates to be had on the whole process, I’ll update this post. The IBL is in Cambridge next week for meetings—we should know more about this by then.

In the meantime, here’s some reading material on the subject.

Update – 10/3/2012 9:56 PM

As promised, here’s an attempt to renew your understanding of this whole mess . It appears that the Ottawa Sun article that I linked was wrong and the IBL winter meetings didn’t take place during the week of September 24th-28th. In fact, it has yet to take place.

I was completely unaware of this. In fact, I found this out from an email that I sent earlier this evening to Commissioner Smith. Here’s his response to my request for an update on the situation:

Hi Michael,

Unfortunately there are still too many unknowns for the IBL to say anything of a definite nature. We are aiming at our Annual Meeting on October 23 to have clarity on the situation of the Fat Cats. When we have something clearly understood, I will gladly share it with you.

Stuart Smith, Commissioner IBL

Nothing shockingly new came from that reply, but it gives me relief that the Commissioner listens to the concerns of the IBL’s fans after all. It also gives us a new date to look forward to – October 23rd.

From what I’ve heard through my contacts with current (maybe former at this point) employees of the Fat Cats, the news that will come out of this will almost certainly be bad. However, we will still wait and cling on to the little glimmer of hope that is left.

Until next time, enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Update – 10/24/2012 5:16 PM

Welcome back! It’s now October 24th, with the IBL’s winter meetings behind us. Here is the latest update from your commissioner:

Hi Michael,

The IBL has assured the Fat Cats that a place will be held for them up to the point where we finalize our schedule for 2013 in a few weeks time. Past that point, we have also assured them that they can avail themselves of a year of “suspended animation” arrangement similar to the one we put in place in Guelph for the 2011 year and which allowed Guelph to be very competitive and successful in 2012.

In the meantime, we remain hopeful that the Ottawa civic authorities will recognize that the IBL offers the city, its taxpayers and its baseball fans the best value-for-money, by a country mile, where baseball is concerned and where stadium expenditures are concerned.

We understand the desire in Ottawa for a Blue Jays farm team. We feel, however, that any other non-Jay AA arrangement would lack roots in the community and would be wildly costly! Double A offers a brand of baseball that is admittedly somewhat better than the IBL but not noticeably so to average fans. There is no doubt in my mind that the IBL team should be permitted to play there, inexpensively, at least until such time as a Jays AA affiliate decides to come to Ottawa.

I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.

Stuart Smith

It’s also worth noting that the GM of the Barrie Baycats Doug Dimma has said on twitter that the Fat Cats “are not in the league for 2013”. I assume he is guessing that OSG won’t strike a deal before the 2013 schedule is made in a few weeks, which is a pretty good guess.

It’s almost impossible for something to get done in the coming weeks so I (again) assume that OSG will suspend the operations of the Fat Cats for a season. Look for that announcement to inevitably come on some form of Fat Cats social media.



Support for the NY-Penn League in Ottawa

Hey folks! As I said (at least I think I did), I’m not going to be as active during the off-season on here, but I felt that I needed to get this off my chest.

I haven’t really spoken in-depth about the idea of bringing professional baseball to Ottawa as this is a Fat Cats blog, and I’m still going to reserve digging deep into the subject to another day, but tonight I felt like whipping something up in response to Carlos Verde’s article on MLB From Me To You.

The one well-lit path I see which could work for pro baseball in Ottawa in the immediate future is Single-A.  I’m talking about the New York-Penn League, Single-A ball.  To me, Short-Season A seems perfect for Ottawa.  No freezing games in April like the Lynx had, nor many ‘businessman’s specials’, mid-week day games which killed Lynx and Rapidz attendance.  The season is shorter, and won’t seem as long and drawn out to Ottawa’s casual fans as the Lynx did.  Being on the lower end of the minor league spectrum means less player salary, and reduced front office costs.  From an attendance standpoint, this league makes the most sense of any discussed; you don’t need 4500 fans per game in Single-A!

Aside from indy leagues having too many weekday home dates (there are quite a few, but I don’t think it “killed” Rapidz attendance numbers), this is pretty much exactly how I see this situation.

No disrespect to David Gourlay and the Champions of Ottawa baseball, but I’m not in agreement with them. I don’t see why we should aim for Double-A baseball, when it seems like the success of the team would rely on the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the Jays as partners, I think that Double-A would work here, however without the support of Canada’s team I doubt that Ottawa AA would be held afloat for more than 5 seasons. Given that, I ask you this question:

Why take a chance with something that may not work, when an option that almost certainly will regardless of the major-league affiliate is sitting right in front of us?

Not only that, but the smaller schedule would help when working out the Fat Cats home dates.

Independent baseball is also a realistic option that would definitely find success here with the right people running things.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. Drop a comment if you’re in the mood.

Update – 9/6/2012 4:00 PM

Well, it appears that my post was a little late. We will be seeing Double-A baseball here. Beacon Sports has secured the lease to Ottawa Stadium and a conditional Eastern League franchise.

This is good news for Ottawa baseball fans, but the challenge at this point will be keeping the team. I hope that the group that has committed to bringing baseball here is ready for a battle in the first couple of seasons, because that’s what it’s going to be. I will be optimistic in this situation though, it can work for more that 5 years with some blood, sweat and tears.

Another thing that must be communicated is that the Fat Cats are a vital part of the baseball community here and should very much be part of the future. Even if it means going on hiatus for one season during renovations, it would be much better than having the team fold.

Champions of Ottawa baseball do have a plan to keep the Fat Cats around as said in a conversation on twitter:

@MNellisTLB we support prof ‘ball, Mike as u know. We also want a new team to complement our existing baseball culture including the FC’s.

This is very good and something to start with. Hopefully the currently anonymous potential owner shares these views.