The largest league in terms of participation for baseball is Little League; including the girls’ softball division, Little League says that 2.6 million kids participate. Major League Baseball is the pre-eminent league for baseball; with 30 teams and 25 players on a roster most of the time, there are only 750 major-leaguers at any given time. Wikipedia lists 17 MLB players who were also in Little League including some rather famous ones like Nolan Ryan Cal Ripken, Jr. and Carl Yastrzemski. I mention this because Little League baseball and Major League baseball are going to intersect in August 2017.
On 20 August, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to play one of their “home games” against the St. Louis Cardinals in Williamsport, PA – the town where Little League was born and the town where the Little League World Series happens every hear. Mid-August is the time of the Little League World Series so the overlap here is symbolic. [in fact, this MLB game will happen in the middle of the Little League World Series which will run from 17-27 August this year.] ESPN will telecast that game as part of its Sunday Night Baseball coverage.
No. The Pirates and Cards will not be playing on a Little League field even though the Little League fields in Williamsport are the largest venues in town with regard to seating. The game will take place in the stadium used by the Williamsport Crosscutters – a Single A affiliate of the Phillies. The Crosscutters play in BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field and the seating capacity there is 4200.
At first, I thought that these would be the most expensive baseball tickets of the season given the short supply until I read this report saying that there would be no ticket sales to the public. A spokesperson for MLB says that the tickets will be distributed “mostly to Little Leaguers and their families”. I guess that will limit to some extent the “ticket scalping industry” in Williamsport that evening but I can imagine that there will be complaints about who gets tickets and who does not. There will be more Little Leaguers and family members present than can be held in the stadium.
- Memo to MLB: Figure out a way to minimize the complaints here lest they turn a feelgood moment into a protest demonstration.
The same report linked above also talks about some extensive upgrades that MLB will be making to the stadium in order to bring the field up to MLB standards including additional lighting and a new playing surface/draining system.
The Crosscutters play in the New York-Penn League which is a Short Season league and the home opener in Williamsport is not until 20 June. Once all of the renovations/upgrades are finished, this should be one of the classiest venues for minor league baseball anywhere. I don’t know if I will be able to make it to a Crosscutters game this year, but I have just added this to my list of “Things to Do” on a nice summer evening.
The players on the US Women’s Hockey Team announced yesterday that they will not participate in the World Championships that are about to be held in Michigan unless “significant progress is made to secure what players consider to be fair wages and support from USA Hockey.” The US Women’s Team is the defending World Champion. You can read the espn.com report on this matter here.
The two sides in this dispute are still at the stage of talking past one another. The women say they have successfully represented their country with dignity and they want decent recompense and support for their sport at all levels in the country. USA Hockey – the governing federation here – says that it appreciates the players’ contributions and that it has already increased its offer to them and to support for hockey in the country.
The lever the players have here is that the World Championships begin on 31 March and non-participation from the World Champions will alter the nature of the tournament itself not mention detract significantly from the economics associated with the tournament. I will not pretend here that I follow women’s ice hockey closely; I do not. I did know that the US Women’s Team had been successful in the past and had always been “in the mix” when it came to championships and medals in international competition. However, a Google search told me that they have won the Gold Medal in the World Championships 7 times in the last 12 years and have won the last two tournaments in 2015 and 2016.
USA Hockey says it will field a competitive team for the tournament that begins in 2 weeks. That sounds like bravado to me and it does to at least one of the members of the current US Women’s Team. If indeed, they could throw together a team that is competitive at the World Championships in 2 weeks, that would denigrate the level of competition in their sport worldwide.
The players have the leverage here; the question is if they have the internal resolve to maintain that leverage and force a change from USA Hockey. If the financial terms that are cited in the linked report above are accurate – or even close to accurate – then the women are definitely on the moral high ground here.
Finally, as I wrap this up to begin my annual basketball orgy and watch as many NCAA Tournament games as I can with only 1 TV at my disposal, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“The St. Louis Cardinals will have to give up two draft picks and $2 million to the Astros after scouting director Chris Correa went rogue and repeatedly broke into Houston’s online player-information database.
“On the bright side, the Cards are odds-on favorites to win the inaugural Hack Wilson Award.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………