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By Brian Hillabush

Yesterday was crazy and I never got a chance to formally say hello.

I started my day at 9 a.m. in Fairport, which for me was a heck of an accomplishment, came home and took a short nap and then was out at the Muckdogs game. Throw in the photography and writing and it was insane.

Now that I've got a moment to actually sit down and think, I would like to tell you all a little about what I'm going to be doing here at The Batavian.

I love high school sports and want to take the coverage I gave readers at The Daily News for eight years and take it to a new level here. Print newspapers are fading fast (ask Jay Mariotti) and the Internet gives me the opportunity to do so many new and exciting things.

I have some blogging experience but am still pretty raw, so bear with me as I work on that writing style. 

I will be trying to get out to as many games as possible to shoot video, take photographs and blog, giving the great local athletes the best coverage possible.Video intrigues me a ton because I've done very limited work with that and think I can do some excellent work with that. Expect to see video highlights and interviews with local athletes in the very near future.

I am a huge football fan and you can expect to get the best coverage of area teams here in the coming weeks. My quick previews that I wrote at 3 a.m. is just the beginning of what you will see every Wednesday or Thursday.

I'll be covering games Friday night and Saturday afternoon, then doing some in-depth stuff during the week to preview games. Come sectional time, you will get to know everything about the squads making runs here at The Batavian.

I did a basic roundup of local scores last night, but I would like to get local coaches involved with posting blogs to give great coverage of their own teams. I will start making calls next week and asking soccer, volleyball and cross country coaches to directly post their results on the sports page.

Rather than having to wait for tomorrow's Daily for a couple paragraphs on each game, you will be able to come here and read exactly what the coaches saw just after the game ends.  Imagine how well you will get to know, for example, about the Alexander girls soccer team if coach Chad Flint posts after every game. Please let your coaches know about this opportunity if they have not seen The Batavian yet.

Those coaches that do post regularly will stand a much better chance of seeing me out at a practice with my video camera, doing special features on players and the team. 

High School athletes, parents and fans can also register and post comments on any blog. 

Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have story ideas or just want to talk high school sports. My AIM screen name is hillabush12, my cell phone number is 585-993-4662 (expect to hear anything from rap music to Jimmy Buffett when you call) and my e-mail is brian at thebatavian dot com. And don't be shy if you see me at a game, come say hi.

I'm looking forward to meeting many new people and giving my home community the best sports coverage in the coming years.

Long-time WNY rivals to meet for NY-P championship

By Howard B. Owens

After eliminating Lowell Wednesday night in a hard-fought 3-2 victory, the Batavia Muckdogs will face the Jamestown Jammers Friday night in an effort to secure the team's fourth league championship in its seven-decade history.

Surprisingly, the NY-Penn League site's story on the championship series gets it wrong, saying that Batavia is going for its first-ever title. (Surely, the Jammers, as one of the leagues original teams, has won championships before -- and we know they've made the finals before, because Batavia beat Jamestown in 1945 -- but I couldn't find any history of the team from before the 1990s.)

Last night, Adam Veres, who was 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in the regular season, may have pitched the career game of his young professional career.  He went seven innings and gave up only 1 run and two hits while striking out seven.

From the NY-P story referenced above:

"We feel great right now, this was obviously the biggest game of the season," Veres said. "We've got a lot of high-spirited guys that want to go all the way with this."


"I was really amped up to get this start," he said. "I was locating the fastball to both sides of the plate and the ball was moving real well. I just wanted to prepare for this one just like any other game, but this one obviously meant a little more."

Ramon Delgado struck out the side in the eigth to preserve Batavia's selendor 3-1 lead.

Closer Adam Reifer was shacky in the ninth, giving up a walk, a hit and a run, but held on to pick up the save, retiring Lowell's Ricardo Burgos on a called third strike while all 800 or so Batavia fans were on their feet clapping and cheering.

Friday's opening game will be at 7 p.m., and then the teams return to Batavia Saturday for a 7 p.m. game. If game three is necessary, it will be played at Dwyer on Sunday and the game time will be 7 p.m. (oops, make the 6 p.m.).

UPDATE: Here's how the Batavia franchise finished in each year it fielded a team 1939 through 1997 (actually, the Batavia Indians seasons are here (including a 1957 finals appearance), and the Batavia Pirates made the finals twice, winning in 1963; and the Batavia Trojans made the finals in 1977). The Jamestown Falcons won five titles in nine championship appearances. The Jamestown Expos won twice in four appearances. The Jamestown Tigers made the finals once.

HS football previews

By Brian Hillabush



Pal-Mac (0-1) at Batavia (0-1)

7 p.m. Friday

The young man with the ball in his hands needs to have it in his hands a lot more than he did last Friday night.

Rob Williams had seven carries for just 17 yards, but is the most talented athlete on the Batavia roster, and should get a lot more touches against Palmyra-Macedon, which lost to a talented Livonia squad 14-7 last week.

Batavia coach Dan Geiger gave the ball to Anthony D'Aurizio a bunch of times in a 27-13 loss against visiting Le Roy last week, and the senior did a great job. But Williams has a proven history of putting his squad on his back and carrying them. 

He could line-up at quarterback, running back or wide receiver, but he needs to touch the ball more than seven times if the Blue Devils are going to get a first win.

If Williams gets 15 touches in the game, Batavia should run away with this one at home.

Junior quarterback Joe Canzoneri faced some pressure against a very talented Le Roy defense last week and will find this week a lot easier, so he could get the ball in the hands of Williams, Vinny Pedro or wild card Devonte Rolle. Any of those playmakers can bust out for a big play at any time.

Batavia's defense did a great job against a very talented Le Roy team, so expect a markedly better effort against a squad that has nowhere near the talent the Oatkan Knights have.



Barker (1-0) at Oakfield-Alabama (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday


O-A wingback Tim Smith was the best story of Week 1.

He rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns after quitting on his teammates last year, and has proven to be a solid scoring option for the Hornets.

He will get his share of carries, along with fellow runner Jason Stanley and fullback Brad Riner. Smith talked about apologizing to his teammates in Monday's Daily News, and should be a leader on the field Friday night.

If the Hornets struggle with the run - which hasn't happened since coach John Dowd walked onto the O-A campus - then the passing game will be as good as it has been since he has shown up.

A.J. Kehlenbeck has experience and Tyler Tamblin played out of his mind last week, so  tight end Noah Seward would be a great GR fantasy football choice.

Another name you might not have heard of that could rush for over 100 yards would be sophomore Matt Ososolojaikonaowaksianskowdkonwoski (however you spell or say it).

He played in the sectional tournament loss last year and was awesome. The young man nicknamed the "OZ man" has had his issues holding onto the ball, but  could be the best young talent in the league.

Barker has improved under coach Bill Bruning, but O-A will run away with this game.


Letchwoth (1-0) at Le Roy (1-0)

7:30 p.m.

Two of the most respected coaches in Section 5 face-off in this one.

Letchworth's Tim McMullen might not have a roster that has a ton of stars, but the indians will play hard.

Le Roy and coach Brian Moran proved in a win over Batavia last week that solid players step in and fill roles every week.

The Indians will try to slow things down, but LR quarterback Travis Fenstermaker will have a huge game.

Le Roy won't win by 30, but should win pretty big.


Pembroke (1-0) at Alexander (0-1)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

While quarterback David Kleckler blew up last week, watch for running back Mike Dibble. He will rush for over 150 yards and at least one TD.

Alexander will continue to get better, but playing one of the "big 3" will not lead to a win.


Holley (0-1) at Elba/Byron-Bergen (0-1)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

Elba/B-B has too much talent.

Brandon Spurling rushed for almost 200 yards against Oakfield-Alabama last week and should be the top option this week. He comes from the Le Roy youth program and will do well.

Zach Green almost rushed for 100 yards and will provide a great support system. 

Holley gave Barker a great run, but E/B-B has too many athletes.


Attica (1-0) at Notre Dame (0-1)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

In what might be the game of the week in the GR, the quarterbacks are the show.

ND slinger Nick Bochicchio went 27-34 for 182 yards in the opener, meaning the Fighting Irish aren't exactly a power-running offense.

But Kevin Schildwaster and Mike Pratt can run the ball.

Attica's Brandon Rolling might be the best quarterback in the league, but Andy Ruddock might be the best running back in the league. Attica can put up a lot of points in a lot of different ways.

No other GR game will lead to more points than this one.


Local HS scores for Wednesday

By Brian Hillabush

Byron-Bergen and Notre Dame have the two girls volleyball teams with the most recent state experience.

The Bees won a few state titles and the Fighting Irish made the finals twice.

It was the Bees, who are hit hard by graduation every year but still remain the top program in the Genesee Region League, that came out on top in Wednesday's contest.

B-B scores were 25-25-26 while ND tallied 20-8-23.

Mary Cocking was the top Byron-Bergen performer with nine digs and 15 kills, with Alli Phillips adding 14 digs.

Sarah Hartman handed out 15 assists with a pair of aces for the Bees (5-0).

Notre Dame (3-1) was led by Kendra Wall, with five helpers.

Other high school results from Wednesday are:


Girls Volleyball

LYNDONVILLE 27-25-25-23-25, PEMBROKE 25-18-27-25-21: Samantha Skryp was big at the net for the Tigers, getting 15 kills, nine blocks and five aces.

Kelsey Brown pitched in 11 kills, 11 assists and five aces for Lyndonville (3-3).

Danielle Kelsey had 10 kills for the Dragons (1-3).


Boys Soccer

LE ROY 1, AVON 0: Cody Niccloy's penalty kick in overtime was the only goal of the game, helping the Oatkan Knights improve to 2-2.

Russell Schultz had five saves in net for LR.


Girls Soccer

PEMBROKE 1, ALEXANDER 0: Alyssa Reeb earned her third shutout of the season, making 12 saves.

Nicole Sharick had the game winning goal off a pass by Katie Hackett.

The Dragons are 2-0-1.

BYRON-BERGEN 4, ATTICA 0: Maylee Amesbury scored once and dished out an assist for the Bees (2-2-1).

MacKenzie Heale and Kim Oliveri each scored for B-B.


NY-P league president thinks future is bright in Batavia

By Brian Hillabush

When times were rough and it looked like the failures in the management of the Batavia Muckdogs franchise was going to cost the city a team, New York-Pennsylvania League president Ben Hayes admits he was on the fence. 

He said after the sixth inning of tonight’s game that it was tough for him to back keeping one of the NY-P’s original franchises in the league because of how bad things were. But he didn’t pull the plug because of Batavia’s history and because of the job done by the Rochester Red Wings.

He was impressed that the first playoff appearance for the franchise in eight years has brought out plenty of fans – 789 to be exact - on a chilly Wednesday night in September.

Combine the on field victories and the progress made in rebuilding the historic franchise and the league feels good about the Batavia situation.

“This is a win-win,” Hayes said. “What Naomi Silver and the Red Wings – Dan Mason, Gary Larder – what they have done is an experience in professionalism that is top-notch in Minor League baseball.”

Of course, everybody knows about the terrible financial problems that nearly left Dwyer Stadium without a team this summer, and how Naomi Silver and her Red Wings stepped in the bail out the team.

When the situation looked its worst, Hayes ducked phone calls by the media. The Muckdogs were not my beat at The Daily News, but I heard reporters talk about the frustrations of not getting a phone call (or three) returned.

He had no problem speaking to me now that I'm at The Batavian, shortly before the Muckdogs picked up a 3-2 victory over Lowell to advance to the league championship series.

Hayes was sitting with Silver and expects that the disappointing attendance figures for this season will not be a problem next year after the Red Wings get a full offseason to work on promotions.

“They got started very late in the marketing season,” Hayes said. “The other clubs started marketing two weeks after the season. The Rochester Red Wings didn’t take over operation of the club until the end of March. It was very, very late in the season, so to speak. I don’t think you will see anything different, but over an extended period of time the momentum will be a lot different. The problems have been fixed (with the stadium and the finances). Now they can focus on other things.”

While the former professional baseball player turned league president is optimistic, he realizes that there is still work to be done – the biggest of which is the support of local baseball fans, or rather, lack their of.

Batavia was 13th out of 14 teams in the NY-P in attendance at 43,167 during the regular season. Those numbers are going to have to go up.

Hayes says that the sellouts can’t just come on the 4th of July. Batavians need to get out to watch some quality Minor League baseball at a reasonable price.

If not, the talk about the franchise leaving town that engulfed the city of Batavia last winter could be back in the future. He has faith that the Red Wings will do a good job with promotions, but says it is up to the locals if we want professional baseball in Batavia.

“It really depends on the community and the fans, and if they are going to support the team,” Hayes said. “There has to be enough revenue for this team to survive. The cost of umpires, the cost of travel – all the costs associated with being a minor league club. It’s not an image, it’s an endeavor. In order to put the product out there for the community, the community has to support the product.”


By Russ Salway

The Batavia Muckdogs just won their playoff series against the Lowell Spinners and now are heading to the championship series against the Jamestown Jammers!  What a turn around from a city that was about to lose their long time baseball franchise!  The president of the New York Penn League was in town tonight to see Batavia win!  Its not over yet, we need the entire community, county and Rochester support to come out this weekend and cheer on our 2008 Batavia Muckdogs!  Several fans are heading to Jamestown this Friday for the first game and I expect to see every member of the city council along with  a few thousand fans Saturday night at Dwyer Stadium!  What a great story for this franchise and this community! Thank you all for your contiunued support and LET'S GO MUCKDOGS!

Brian Hillabush joins The Batavian staff today

By Howard B. Owens

In Genesee County, if you follow local sports, you know the name Brian Hillabush.

Brian has been covering sports, mostly high school sports, for the Batavia Daily News for eight years.  In that time, he has developed a solid reputation and built quite a popular following.

Today, he joins the staff of The Batavian.

Brian will be the full-time sports editor for The Batavian (you may have noticed we added a sports tab to the top of the home page the other day).  He’ll cover local sports and help anybody who wants to post their own team or league information on the site.  Besides being able to blog about sports (something he wasn’t allowed to do for the Daily News), he’s also excited about shooting video for the site – so looks for more local sports video on The Batavian.

A native of Oakfield, Brian has spent his entire life in Genesee County. He attended Genesee Community College where he studied broadcasting and managed WGCC.  He even spent a couple of months working for WBTA before embarking on his print career.

In hiring Brian, we fulfill one of our earlier promises – that as we grow, we will hire local staff, people who live in and love Genesee County.

We’re also excited to bring Brian onto our team because he’s just so dang good – a good writer who really knows local sports, has a wealth of contacts and is highly regarded by the people he deals with. We’re confident that with Brian covering sports for The Batavian, we’ll have the most timely and comprehensive Genesee County sports coverage you’re going to get anywhere.

St. Louis Cardinals renew agreement with Muckdogs

By Howard B. Owens

The St. Louis Cardinals seem to like what they see about Batavia so far as far as player development goes. The team announced yesterday that it renewed its contract with the Muckdogs for two more seasons, according to

“We’ve enjoyed our two years in Batavia,” stated Cardinals Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak. “We are grateful for Naomi Silver and Dan Mason as they look to build a successful franchise in Batavia. We look forward to the next two years there.”

UPDATE (Philip): We received comments from Naomi Silver, Muckdogs Manager Mark DeJohn and the Cardinals VP of Scouting, John Luhnow on the contract extension.

Naomi Silver:

“We are very pleased to be able to extend our agreement with the Cardinals. When you are fortunate enough to affiliate with such an outstanding organization, you certainly hope to see it continue. We are gratified that they are eager to remain in Batavia. We have been very lucky to be with an organization which has provided us with extremely talented young players. There’s nothing better than playing in the post-season, and this year has been extremely exciting for all of us and the Batavia community.

“The Cardinals are a class organization, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner. They know how important their role has been here and they deserve a lot of credit for the great team they’ve fielded for us. They have been great to work with and we’re looking forward to continuing this relationship.”

Mark DeJohn:

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here the last two seasons and I enjoy working with the front office and stadium staff. I appreciate the improvements made to the ballpark and operation prior to this season and I look forward to working here with our young players for another two seasons.”

John Luhnow:

“The Cardinals are excited about staying in Batavia. We believe in small town minor league baseball; for our players and staff as well as the community."

Muckdogs take game two of playoff series

By Howard B. Owens

As the Batavia Muckdogs entered the bottom of the sixth inning tonight, trailing 8-2, I was thinking -- "if they don't do anything this inning, I'm heading home."

My thought was prescient. The Muckdogs exploded for six runs to tie the game, and with five more runs in the seventh, the 'Dogs cemented a 13-9 victory over Lowell.

This was game number two of a three-game playoff.  Game three will be Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Here's the complete box score.  Mollie's full report here.

If the Muckdogs can win the third and deciding game, they'll face Jamestown in the finals.  Jamestown swept Staten Island with a 4-1 victory tonight.

Muckdogs Battle Back To Send Playoffs To Rubber Match

By Mollie Radzinski

Batavia (1-1) stormed back from a 8-2 deficit to take down Lowell (1-1) 13-9.  Arquimedes Nieto (1-0) earned himself the win, pitching two and two thirds innings with five hits, one run, one walk and two strikeouts.  Jason Buursma got his first save of the post-season, retiring the last Spinner of the night.  Lowell's Wang-Yi Lin (0-1) blew the save and got the loss in his one inning with three hits, four runs and one walk.

The Muckdogs took the lead early in the bottom of the 1st as they scored two runs.  Colt Sedbrook was hit by a pitch, then Charlie Cutler and Jermine Curtis both singled to plate one.  After Shane Peterson walked to load the bases, Edwin Gomez had a sacrifice fly for the other RBI.  However, the Spinners answered right back with three runs of their own.  Ricardo Burgos doubled, Will Middlebrooks tripled and Kade Keowen and Casey Kelly had back-to-back base hits in the rally.  Keowen came home on a wild pitch for the third run.  They added one more in the 3rd on a walk, stolen base and a single, and another in the 5th in the same fashion.

Lowell scored three more runs in the 6th to make it a 8-2 game. Keowen singled and Kelly and Ryan Dent doubled to score two; Ryan Lavarnway hit a sacrifice fly for the other run.  But it was Batavia's night of winning, as a big six run 6th inning tied things up.  Frederick Parejo and Xavier Scruggs both walked to start the rally.  Both advanced on a wild pitch, enabling Parejo to come home when Sedbrook reached on a fielding error.  RBI singles by Cutler and Peterson continued the onslaught.  Gomez doubled to plate two before coming home himself on a Chris Swauger double.

And the Muckdogs were not done there.  They scored five more runs in the next inning to put the game out of reach.  Sedbrook was hit by a pitch, moved around the bases on a Cutler single and came home on a wild pitch.  Peterson then came up with another RBI single.  Gomez walked to load the bases for Swauger to come up with a bases-clearing double to left.

Cutler was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a RBI and three runs scored.  Peterson went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, and Swauger went 2-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI.  The rubber match to decide who will continue on the playoff quest will be Wednesday at 7:05 at Dwyer Stadium.

*I may not have a write-up for tomorrow's game right away; I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon to go to Pennsylvania to cover the events in Shanksville, PA (the site of the crash of Flight 93) for our campus TV station, and I won't be back until late Thursday.  I'll try to get something done after the game, but I can't promise anything!

Small Town Football

By Lynn Naylor

My children go to Elba and  I would just like to say that I think its great how the community of Elba and Byron-Bergen all came out to support the newly combined Football team . My sons both play 1 on the modified and the older on the JV which i might add won against OA Saturday morning.But then we attended the Varsity game and it was just great to see how many were their just to support them; some didnt have kids on the team it was just nice to see.

News roundup: Meat auction pulls in the big bucks

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County's 4-H'ers logged record sales of more than $100,000 at the 38th annual meat auction at the Fair yesterday, according to the Daily News. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing costs of feed, straw and fuel mean that the higher sales prices were barely enough to break even in many instances. Check out the article by Tom Rivers for more details.

Animal shelters in Genesee and Wyoming counties are "inundated" with cats this summer. PAWS Animal Shelter in Albion is already "at capacity" with 190 cats — and more getting dumped in the donation slot regularly.

News of the potential relocation of Youth Football to John Kennedy that is noted on today's front page appeared on The Batavian yesterday.

Batavia sluggers will travel to Oakfield tonight for the District 3 youth baseball championship. Batavia's pitchers threw two no-hitters in the past two matches (versus LeRoy and Oakfield). If they win tonight, they clinch the championship and travel to Elmira for the sectionals. If Oakfield wins, the two square off Monday for a tie-break match. Tonight's game is at 6:00pm.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at

New logo for the Minor League

By Philip Anselmo

A story in the local section of today's Daily News about the logo design contest for the New York-Penn League was missing one very important element. In a story all about designs, it would have been nice to see them.

So I went online and found them.

First things first, make sure you visit the Web site and vote for your favorite. There are six altogether from five finalists — Matthew Steinberg of Corfu got two submissions into the finals. Unfortunately, you can't tell which two are his. (This one to the left here is the current logo.)

Here are some more details about the contest from the Minor League Baseball Web site:

At the beginning of April, the New York-Penn League announced their current logo would be retired at the completion of the 2008 season. In an effort to find a new mark, the league announced a contest to help design the new logo. The league received over 80 designs from talented artists as far away as Paris, France, as well as designers from throughout the New York-Penn League community. After narrowing the competition to the top five designs, the contest will now be turned over to you, the fans, to select the league’s new logo.

And here are the final six. I kind of like Option Nos. 4 and 5.

Now, go vote!

News Round Up: Village walks and no-hitters

By Howard B. Owens

So what's the bigger local story: That Federer-Nadal make a good tennis match, that CC Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, or that Tyler Pratt threw a no hitter to lead Batavia over LeRoy in the 11-12 Division of the District 3 youth baseball tournament?

Federer-Nadal dominate the sports page of today's Daily News (it's a wire story that was all over the Internet hours before the DN presses ran), and Sabathia gets a good 8 inches of copy with picture (and I bet if you follow baseball, you already knew all about the trade last night), while Pratt's heroic efforts gets two paragraphs.

If Tyler or his family reads this, or any of you know him ... The Batavian would be happy to post anything you have on the game (or you can post it yourself) ... pictures, video, a first-person account. Let us know ...

Batavia's next game is Friday at 6 p.m. against Oakfield, which beat Wayland 10-7.  If you're going, take a video camera and post a few shots to YouTube. We'll repost it here.

Before we move off the sports page, we learn that tabloids love A-Rod (hold the presses for that one), and the Muckdogs lost in Vermont to the Lake Monsters 3-2 when Blake Stouffer hit a walk-off home run.

On the front page of today's Daily News, Joanne Beck covers Walk The Villages. The 45-minute walk begins downtown Saturday at 6 p.m. It's a chance to get some exercise, meet some neighbors and learn a little bit about local history, culture and architecture.  Oh, and there might be a couple of ghosts encountered along the way.

The other front-page story of note, Scott DeSmit follows up on the parachuting death of Joseph Schickler.  Officials are looking at the rigging of his chute.  An autopsy revealed that Schickler had some heart problems, but it cannot be determined if that was a contributing factor to the accident.

And in the final item to include in our round up today, on A-5 eleven area girls who are competing for Fair Queen are profiled.

The are Katie Fales, Batavia High; Anastashia Spikes, Batavia; Elysia Summers, Corfu; Desiree King, Elba; Lauren Mullen, Byron-Bergen; Taylor Patterson, Pembroke; Damainique Bruce, Batavia; April Meier, Pembroke; and, Alyssa Hilderbrandt of Pavillion Central School.

As always, you can pick up a copy of today's Daily News at a local news stand (such as Main Street Coffee), or, better yet, subscribe on the DN web site at


A closer look at the turf — Just what's at stake if Youth Football plays one more season at Dwyer?

By Philip Anselmo

Daily News reporter Joanne Beck paid a visit to Dwyer Stadium yesterday, but she wasn't there for a ball game. She was there to get a closer look at the outfield turf, a plot of grass that has been the center of a controversy over the past week here in Batavia.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Ben Bonarigo stood up and asked the city to let youth football play one more season at Dwyer before it relocated to Kibbe Park at a cost to the city that would not exceed about $19,000. His recommendation was immediately followed by a heated, hour-long debate among Council members, none of whom seemed to agree on even a single detail. (For more details about the meeting and the recommendation by City Manager Jason Molino to relocate the program to Austin Park, check out our two earlier posts.)

At the core of the debate is a simple disagreement between Bonarigo, who is a member of youth football's board of directors, and Council President Charlie Mallow. Bonarigo says that if youth football stays another season at Dwyer, the outfield will suffer no great hurt. Mallow says just the opposite.

Beck writes that if Council approves youth football's request to stay at Dwyer for one more season, "Mallow has no doubt the city will pay another $10,000 next year for field repairs."

We asked Charlie to explain a little more his choice of $10,000 for the city's share of field repair costs. Why that much? He wrote to us in an e-mail:

The city is responsible for the first $10,000. From what I remember it cost the Red Wings $40,000 plus for this season's patch repairs. I expect the city's liabilities to be at least what they were last year. In talking to the baseball people, anything less would not be believable. We can not open ourselves up to escalating costs of field repairs any longer.

Bonarigo countered at the meeting Monday that there is no way youth football would cause so much damage that the city would need to spend that kind of money and that even after the repairs, the field is in the same shape this year as it was last year.

And really, that's what it has come down to: Charlie says this, Bonarigo says that. My question — and I would hope it would be everyone else's question, too — is: Who do we believe?

In Beck's article today, she quotes Muckdogs General Manager Dave Wellenzohn and Red Wings General Manager both saying that Bonarigo is wrong. Wellenzohn says flat out that the "overuse" of the field from youth football "will bring us back to square one," and square one would mean an investment by the city of at least $10,000.

With the quotes from Wellezohn, Mason and Red Wings CEO Naomi Silver, the overall tenor of the article seems very much in support of Charlie's view that: "Council is wasting taxpayer dollars." And it's an argument that should warrant some credence.

Why pay $10,000, $20,000 or even $10 for youth football when that money is not spent on other youth programs, Charlie asks? Why does youth football get special treatment? Or is it special treatment? WBTA seemed to ask the opposite question in their next-day coverage of the meeting Monday: Would one more year of youth football really be that bad?

Unfortunately, Beck also writes that "Bonarigo was unavailable for comment." The Batavian put in a call to Bonarigo's office this morning to take up some of these questions, but he was not in. He should be back later, so we hope to get a comment from him then.

News roundup: GCC budget approved

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for this and other stories:

  • The county Legislature approved the $31 million budget for Genesee Community College last night. Also approved at the meeting was the purchase of 17 bulletproof vests for the Sheriff's Office at a cost of $24,038.
  • The Muckdogs lost 3-1 to the Jamestown Jammers to drop back below .500 for the year. They'll be in Mahoning Valley tonight. Batavia went 2-1 in their last series against the Scrappers earlier this week.

No clear cut plans for youth football

By Philip Anselmo

There comes a time in every city government reporter's life when he heads home from a lengthy municipal meeting and says to himself (perhaps not entirely in jest): There has to be another way. In other words, representative government is not the prettiest form of rule that we've dreamed up as a thinking, social species — and the more you spectate, the less pretty it gets.

You would be hard pressed to get nine people to agree on which type of latté to order at Main Street Coffee — or even three of them to agree on the milk to mix: skim, whole, soy, part, almond, powdered, none. Fat chance then getting those same nine to come to a tidy conclusion about a complex city issue. In fact, you can almost count on that issue becoming more and more complex before it eventually was hashed out and resolved.

But that's just how it goes. Unless you want a dictatorship... and even then you've still got bureaucrats.

Take the relocation of the youth football program out of Dwyer Stadium — its home for 32 years — into a city park: a non-issue that was vaulted to priority status when Red Wings management came to the city a few weeks back and sort of said that they would not pay for the costly repairs to the turf each year that would be required as a result of football cleats gouging the grass. Toute suite, City Manager Jason Molino put together a cost comparison between relocating the program to Austin Park or Kibbe Park. He recommended moving to Austin at a cost of about $19,000, rather than Kibbe, which would cost more like $61,000. See our earlier post for the full details.

Well, quite quickly it was quite clear that the issue was not so simple.

About every member of Council seemed to have a different take. Some argued for moving to Kibbe Park. Others argued for Austin Park. Some wondered if the real issue was the cost of the move. Others wanted to know if the program could wait one year or if they had to relocate right now. Some thought the Red Wings management said they wanted youth football gone without delay. Others swore that the management was an enthusiastic supporter.

Councilman Bill Cox recommended lifting and hauling the bleachers from Dwyer to Austin for football season, taking a torch to the scoreboard posts and hauling that over, too — and doing it all for about $1,000, not $16,000, he said.

Council President Charlie Mallow was utterly and unabashedly opposed to any solution that did not involve the immediate expulsion of youth football from Dwyer Stadium and spending the least amount of money possible relocating it somewhere else. Although he urged that he was a supporter of youth football, he just couldn't see spending so much time and money on something that lasted eight weeks and was over. Quote: "What are we really talking about here? What are we prima donnas?"

One question that was never really answered, mostly because several Council members had several diametrically opposed answers to it, was whether one more season of youth football would damage the field so much that it would cost $15,000 to fix for the next Muckdogs season; or was $15,000 more accurate for a repair of many years of field damage and not just one eight-week season.

In the end though, Ben Bonarigo put it quite simply. (Bonarigo is a member of the youth football program's board of directors.) City Council, he said, gave the youth football program its word that they could stay at Dwyer Stadium for one more year, then relocate. Fine. If that was understood, the program wanted to move to Kibbe Park. It just made more sense for them. And if the Council had a problem spending so much money — no problem, youth football would do the fundraising to make sure that the move to Kibbe would be no more costly for the city than the move to Austin.

That was actually prior to Council's discussion that raged on for a good hour and got a few hackles raised, along with a few voices.

Council President Charlie Mallow said that the decision to allow youth football to stay another year was made as part of an informal conference meeting, and it was done as a straw poll. Therefore, it was not official. Council members Rose Mary Christian and Frank Ferrando didn't care much for that, and they said so. Then a couple of them yelled so. But that went nowhere.

In fact, not much of anything went anywhere.

As Mallow himself said: "Where are we going? We're going around in a circle."

Or City Attorney George Van Nest: "The discussion has ranged far and wide." (It should be noted that Van Nest's statement had a bit of an ironic twang to it, since he followed the declaration by offering his own take on what the real issue was, taking everything farther and wider.)

Mallow repeatedly urged Council to just wrap things up before the whole thing erupted in one big overblown argument.

So... Where do we stand? Where does youth football stand? Nowhere. Everywhere.

At the end of the rigamarole, a motion by Frank Ferrando was pushed through that would put a vote on the next business meeting agenda to declare that youth football can remain at Dwyer Stadium for one more year — and one more year only  — before they have to relocate. In other words, Council will vote to maintain a situation that already exists. You could see that Van Nest got a kick out of that. Me too.

News roundup: Muckdogs can't make it to 500

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Monday):

  • The Muckdogs fell apart in the ninth to go down 8-6 against the visiting Mahoning Valley Scrappers last night. After getting sweeped by the Doubledays earlier in the week, the Muckdogs took off for Rochester's Frontier Field Friday where they scored their first win, then won again against the Scrappers Saturday. With the loss yesterday, the home team drops to 2-4 for the season. They'll host the Jamestown Jammers at 7:05pm tonight. Be sure to tune in to WBTA 1490 AM for the broadcast.
  • There's really little else in the way of Batavia news in the paper today. Roger Muehlig put together a trio of articles on the Oakfield-Alabama and Elba graduations from this weekend. Today's Local section has an article about a pastor in Albion helping to raise money for a Pakistani school, a response from Medina's Board of Education to a state audit that found problems with the district's funding procedure and an info-piece about a fundraiser in Bergen. The Zwerka Family Fun Day Fundraiser will be July 13 from 1:00 to 6:00pm at the Gillam-Grant Community Center at 6966 West Bergen Rd.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

On the Agenda (City Council): Moving youth football

By Philip Anselmo

Batavia's City Council will meet Monday to tend to a pair of budget amendments regarding the consolidation study, most of which is funded by a state grant. Also on the agenda is a 2.75 percent wage increase for City Manager Jason Molino following the completion of Molino's annual review which was completed earlier in the week. (Council President Charlie Mallow first announced the results of the review on The Batavian this past Monday.)

Monday's big discussion is likely to be over the relocation of the youth football program, which has for years now been situated in the outfield of Dwyer Stadium. Officials from the Rochester Red Wings told Council about a month ago that if they wish to keep youth football at the stadium, the damage done to the field will mean costly annual maintenance to get the turf back in shape for the Muckdogs season.

Molino has recommended two potential locations to host youth football: Austin Park or Kibbe Park. Both would require an initial investment from taxpayers, though moving the field to Kibbe Park would mean much more.

This (above) is what the layour would look like if it were situated at Austin Park at a cost of $19,444. In a letter to Council, Molino said Austin Park would be the better fit.

As seen in the diagram, the field can easily be placed east to west in the open space of the park. There can be a user agreement developed between the City and youth football for access and use of the concession stand and bathrooms during the season. New bleachers can be purchased, but can also be used for other events during different times throughout the year. Parking is adequate...

Molino dismissed the idea of transferring the bleachers from Dwyer Stadium every year at a cost of about $6,000. The cost for new permanent bleachers for Austin Park would be about $13,000. Several trees on the east side of the park would have to be removed, and a scoreboard will have to be installed.

[The] Rochester Red Wings ... have offered to assist by holding a silent auction night for baseball paraphernalia at the Dwyer Stadium with all proceeds going towards the purchase of the new scoreboard ($4,000). They are also willing to assist with other fund raising efforts in conjunction with youth football.

As for relocating to Kibbe Park, the cost would be about $61,000 and would include the building of a concession stand and other facilities already located at Austin Park. The layout for Kibbe Park can be viewed below.

The meeting will be at 7:00pm on the second floor of City Hall. You can download the agenda for the business meeting.

Note: Mallow said at the last meeting that Council would discuss at this coming meeting the policy regarding Council members communication with city staff. There was no mention of this topic on the agenda.

Muckdogs lose home opener

By Philip Anselmo

You could have said the night started ominous. Sure, the fans were there, diehard and decked in team merch, blankets tucked under their arms. They entered Dwyer Stadium under an arc of balloons — and Muckdog management even saw fit to roll out the red carpet, or at least a pair of shaggy red-colored rugs.

Then came the rain.

Everyone was talking about it. You couldn't not. Not with those low-hanging clouds that looked as thick as continents rolling slowly past. When one of them finally broke at about 6:30pm, everyone who wasn't under cover got a good soaking. Concession boys scrambled to get the condiment carts under the eaves. Managers called out for more hands on deck to roll tarp over the field. Ladies held seat cushions over their heads.

But it passed. Soon it was pretty much over. Fans got down to the business of watching baseball, and the Batavia Muckdogs and the Auburn Doubledays got down to the business of playing it.

Well, they lost. Batavia went down 1-6 against Auburn. Oh well. Now they'll take it to Auburn for the third and final game of the series tomorrow night down two games to none.

Don't forget to tune it to WBTA for the play-by-play.

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