Local Matters

Community Sponsors

baseball

January 12, 2021 - 8:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia.
Video Sponsor

The Muckdogs will bark again.

True, no longer will the team be comprised of players affiliated with a Major League Baseball team but the majority of players in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League are legitimate professional baseball prospects.

As many as 30 current major league players have passed through the league previously, said Robbie Nichols, the former professional hockey player who already owns a PGCBL team in Elmira and will own the expansion PGCBL Muckdogs in Batavia.

The Genesee County Community Baseball Club, which owns the Muckdogs trademark, has agreed to let Nichols use the team name.

PGCBL is a "wooden bat league" -- a league comprised of amateur players who play or will play Division I or Division II college baseball.

A couple of advantages of collegiate ball over low-level minor league ball, Nichols said, is that the players with a team tend to spend the entire season with a team, so fans get to know them and Nichols said his organization -- CAN-USA Sports -- is committed to fielding a team with about four players from the local area.

The PGCBL regular season consists of 60 games from late May until the end of July. The playoffs and championship are in the first week of August.

Season tickets are on sale now and start at $99. There is also a VP ticket package for $199. Existing Muckdogs season ticket holders will have priority to retain the seats they had in previous seasons.

January 8, 2021 - 5:46pm
posted by Press Release in new york penn league, baseball, muckdogs, sports.

Press release:

In 1939, the New York-Penn League (NY-P League) was founded in Batavia, NY (formerly known as the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League), and has been the oldest, continuously operated CLASS A league in professional baseball.

As one of the founding members of the League, the Batavia club has proudly provided affordable, family entertainment for the Batavia community and Western New York for decades.

Unfortunately, Major league Baseball has announced it will no longer continue to offer Major League Baseball club affiliations to Batavia and most of the other clubs in the New York-Penn League.

The result of Major League Baseball’s action means the end of professional baseball in Batavia.

Major League Baseball’s announcement was part of other sweeping changes being made to the player development structure of the Minor Leagues, which includes the elimination of the Rookie classification and the NY-P League’s Class A – Short Season classification of professional baseball.

In sum, Major League Baseball believes these classifications are no longer needed for developing its players.

NY-P League President, Ben Hayes, recently stated, “The elimination of this historic League as part of Major League Baseball’s player development system is truly heartbreaking for the NY-P League’s fans, communities, club employees, and club owners.

"Sadly, most of the NY-P League’s clubs played their final professional baseball games in 2019, and neither they nor their fans knew at the time that it would be their last professional baseball season.

"The elimination of these classifications of professional baseball by Major League Baseball will result in thousands of players, who would have had an opportunity to develop and compete to play in the Major Leagues, will no longer get the chance to live their dream.

"I’ve been working with Batavia Interim City Manager, Rachael Tabelski, over the past several months to ensure the Batavia community will continue to enjoy the play of live baseball at historic Dwyer Stadium.”

During its professional baseball history, the Batavia club enjoyed four NY-P League championships, and Batavia’s fans saw numerous players who went on to have exceptional Major League careers, including Steve Blass, Doc Ellis, Cito Gaston, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and many others.

In 1961, the Batavia club made history when the Pittsburg Pirates named Gene Baker as the Batavia club’s manager, making him the first African American to manage a professional baseball club.

Prior to the 2008 season, the club was operated by Genesee County Baseball Club, a nonprofit community-based organization. From 2008-2017, the club was operated by the Rochester Red Wings, and in 2018 and 2019 by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NY-P League.

In 2019, the Batavia club won the Pickney Division championship and competed for the NY-P League championship, increased its attendance by 42 percent, and won an award for the best natural turf field in the NY-P League.

December 9, 2020 - 7:19pm

Major League Baseball Enterprises Inc., a multinational corporation based in New York City, is killing off professional baseball in Batavia.

That's an oversimplification but that is likely the end result.

The New York-Penn League, founded in Batavia in 1939, is breaking apart -- though a smaller independent league may survive -- and since the NY-P owns the Muckdogs, the league in its new form, if it survives at all, won't have the wherewithal to operate a baseball club in Batavia.

Today, MLB announced that its Major League teams have selected their affiliates for the 2021 season and Batavia is not on that list.

Only four NY-P teams are on the list.

Some NY-P teams have chosen to join what will be known as the MLB Draft League. The new league will consist of collegiate players who compete on a limited schedule from May until the All-Star break when the MLB will conduct its annual amateur draft.

For more than a year, MLB and MiLB have been in negotiations over a new operations agreement, with the number of Minor League teams being reduced by at least 40 franchises.  That plan also would have eliminated the Muckdogs as a Major League-affiliated team.

The plan announced today goes a step further by eliminating the MiLB completely. MLB teams will have license agreements (they'll no longer be known as franchises), with each affiliated team and the Minor League system will be operated out of the MLB offices in NYC.

It's unclear if the owners of the 120 teams being offered license agreements will agree to the MLB terms. They just received the proposed contracts today.

Red Wings Gave it Their Best Shot

In 2008, the Genesee County Baseball Club, owner of the Muckdogs at the time, entered into a 10-year operations agreement with Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings operated the team at a loss for those 10 years but the agreement gave them a 50-percent ownership stake in the team.

In 2018, the NY-P would not allow a new operations agreement and took over ownership of the team with an agreement that would allow the NY-P to recover its operating losses from any eventual sale of the club. The GCBC, a community-owned organization, would receive any money left from the sale that wasn't paid out to the Red Wings or the NY-P.

It is unclear if any of the financial stakeholders in the Muckdogs will be compensated for MLB's apparent unilateral elimination of the team.  

Ben Hayes, commissioner of the NYPL, said he's asked the question directly and hasn't gotten an answer.

Naomi Silver, chief executive officer of the Red Wings, said she also doesn't know whether the Muckdogs owners will be compensated for the loss of the team. 

An attorney who specializes in antitrust and business competition law, Luke Hasskamp, with Bonalaw, based in Los Angeles, said Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are both protected by an antitrust exemption that prevents those harmed by MLB's actions from filing an antitrust claim. 

Major League Baseball is a legal monopoly.  

Where to Go from Here?

The legal options for the Muckdogs stakeholders are limited, he said. The last affiliation agreement the Muckdogs had with a Major League team, the Miami Marlins, expired after the unplayed 2020 season, so there may not be a breach-of-contract claim. 

Other legal options don't seem to apply to the Muckdogs, such as claims that the stakeholders made financial commitments and investments based on a promised continued relationship. Since the Muckdogs have been under a cloud of financial hardship -- making them a target for acquisition and relocation -- there are no apparent promises of continued play in Batavia.

The commissioner's office, with its new plan for player development, is not specifically eliminating the Batavia Muckdogs. The lack of an affiliation with a Major League club, however, along with the upheaval in the NY-P caused by the new alignment, makes it impossible to operate the Muckdogs as a professional baseball team, causing its estimated $6 million value to evaporate. 

Asked if the stakeholders could claim the MLB unjustly deprived them of appropriate compensation for making the Muckdogs as a financial asset valueless, Hasskamp compared the idea to eminent domain, but said since MLB is a private organization any such comparison does not legally apply.

"It’s an interesting argument, not one I have thought through much, but it’s challenging, in my opinion, not only because MLB isn’t a public entity because also, as you pointed out, MLB isn’t really taking property," Hasskamp said. "It’s just taking action that will impact the value of others’ businesses. This may be relevant to a party’s damages."

At the end of that email to The Batavian, Kasskamp said, "One other thought: It will be interesting if this stirs any greater interest in Congress to revoke baseball’s antitrust exemption. These contractions are going to impact a number of communities / congressional districts, and more than 100 congressmen noted their displeasure when the contractions were first announced."

Will Schumer Keep Fighting for Batavia?

On a couple of recent visits, we've asked Sen. Charles Schumer, a die-hard baseball fan, if he would pursue legislation to revoke MLB's antitrust exemption. He didn't give a direct answer. He just promised to keep fighting to save teams like the Batavia Muckdogs and Auburn Doubledays.  

This afternoon, we asked a member of his staff for a statement and clarification on Schumer's position on the antitrust exemption and didn't get a response.

Today, in a phone conversation, Hayes offered no hopeful take on the future of the Muckdogs given today's announcement, other than to say there is still much that is unknown about the MLB plan and how Minor League team owners will respond to the license offers.

Silver said the team owners haven't even had a chance to fully review the contracts and discuss the best course of action. She said she's hopeful the Red Wings will be made whole for their losses incurred while operating the Muckdogs.

"We're sad to think there will be no Muckdogs baseball in Batavia," Silver said. "We worked hard for 10 years to try and save the team."

She noted that Batavia is not the only community suffering a loss of a team because of the MLB's decision.

"Batavia is not being singled out," she said.

Tabelski: Games Will be Played at Dwyer

While the prospect of a professional baseball game ever again being played in Batavia seems dim, that doesn't mean there won't be organized baseball played at Dwyer Stadium in the coming years.

Rachael Tabelski, interim city manager, said she has been contacted by representatives from collegiate leagues (often called wooden bat leagues) and semi-pro leagues looking to move into Dwyer. She said the city has yet to respond to those inquiries because there is still a contract in place with the NY-P that gives the league control of what baseball is played in the stadium. Unless and until that contract is resolved, the city can't find a new tenant. 

There will be a tenant in Dwyer again, Tabelski said. 

"As somebody who grew up going to Clippers and Muckdog games, it's very sad to think about losing the team," she said. "I think it's very difficult to look at losing the baseball team we've loved, but there will still be an opportunity for baseball in this town."

And the next team to make Batavia home could very well be called the Muckdogs. The Genesee County Baseball Club has retained the rights to the Muckdogs trademark (it was recently renewed).

November 20, 2020 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, news.
Video Sponsor

At a press conference in Medina yesterday, Sen. Charles Schumer announced that the Rochester Red Wings will become an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals will move their AAA affiliate from Fresno, Calif., to Rochester.

He said he continues to fight to save the Muckdogs, the Doubledays, as well as the entire New York Penn League. We asked about Congress using its power to exempt Major League Baseball from its anti-trust exemption and he didn't answer the question directly.

Support Local News. Support Community News Coverage. Support The Batavian.

October 6, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in sports, baseball, Athletes Edge 15/16U baseball team.

ae_big_orange_championship_pic.jpeg

Press release:

Two weekends, two cities, two titles. The Athletes Edge 15/16U baseball team recently completed a successful stretch of games in which the team went 7-0-1 in winning tournaments in Oswego and in Pennsylvania's Beaver Falls. The team is comprised of 15- and 16-years-olds from several Genesee County schools. 

Legends of the Fall Tournament, Oswego

The Big Orange defeated teams from Syracuse and East Rochester on their way to the title. In game 1, Kyle Porter (Oakfield-Alabama) led the Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange to victory over Syracuse SportsZone Black on the hill. Porter surrendered one run on zero hits over one and two-thirds innings, striking out two in relief of Gianni Ferrera (Byron-Bergen).

Bodie Hyde (Oakfield-Alabama) threw one inning and recorded the last three outs to earn the save. Athletes Edge Scored the winning runs in the top of the seventh on hits by Jimmy Fanara (Batavia Notre Dame) and Bodie Hyde. 

In game 2, Jaden Sherwood (Batavia Notre Dame) threw a complete game 1 hit shutout against Syracuse SportsZone White, striking out six batters over five innings. Vincent Grazioplene (Batavia), Alex Johnson (Batavia), and Brayden Smith (Oakfield-Alabama) each had two RBIs in the 10-0 victory. 

The tournament semifinal, a seven-run third inning led Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange to a 10-1 victory over SportsZone White. Bryceton Berry (Attica) earned the victory on the pitcher's mound allowing two hits and one run over six innings, striking out six. Vincent Grazioplene hit a solo home run and Jessie Reinhart (Batavia) was 2-2 with a double and two RBIs

In the championship game, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Batavia Notre Dame) scattered three hits while striking out seven over seven innings in a close 3-1 victory over Diamond Pro. Barry and Reinhart each had RBI singles in the first inning, Fitzpatrick doubled in both at bats, scoring a run. 

Northeast Baseball Tournament, Beaver Falls, Pa.

The Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange came together to overcame multiple injuries to key players to come away with a hard-earned championship outside of Pittsburgh. Gianni Ferrara (Byron-Bergen) sustained an injury stealing a base in the top of the first inning of the opening game, Vincent Grazioplene would sustain an injury in the tournament’s semifinal on a collision at home plate, and Jimmy Fanara would suffer a leg injury running out a grounder in the Championship game.

The Big Orange defeated the Steel Town Maulers in the opening game 8-7. Bodie Hyde earned the victory in relief of Ryan Higgins (Le Roy). AE scored four runs in the final two innings to earn the comeback victory. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a two RBI double, Vincent Grazioplene was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and Jessie Reinhart was 1-2 with two runs scored. 

AE would move on to face the Steel Town Dawgs in the second game of pool play. Both teams were evenly matched in a game that would end in a 1-1 tie after nine innings as the game was called due to darkness.

Kyle Porter pitched seven and two-thirds innings, only surrendering four hits and one run. Bodie Hyde pitched the final inning and a third, all under “shootout” rules as teams in the eighth and ninth innings began with a runner on second base. 

The two teams would face each other again the next day in the tournament semifinal and once again the teams would find each other tied at one in the final inning. Vincent Grazioplene drew a walk to open the inning and Bryceton Berry would be hit by the next pitch advancing pinch-runner Sean Alexander (Oakfield-Alabama) to second.

Ryan Fitzpatrick would lay down a bunt that loaded the bases. Kyle Porter followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left field that allowed Alexander to tag up at third and score what would become the winning run.

Bryceton Berry started, allowing five hits and zero runs over four and two-thirds innings, striking out six; Bodie Hyde would again earn the victory in relief as he allowed two hits and one run over two and a third innings, striking out three and walking one. 

The championship game starting assignment would once again go to Fitzpatrick, who would pitch five innings, allowing two runs on two hits, striking out two and walking one for a 10-2 win. Jay Antinore was two for three with two RBIs, Jessie Reinhart was two for four with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Bryceton Berry was one for three with a triple. 

Athletes Edge continues their fall season this Saturday with a doubleheader at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Williams Park in Batavia.

October 5, 2020 - 12:19pm

Photo and information from Audra DelPriore:

The Spartans Baseball 13U Travel Baseball team successfully completed their very first tournament together in Oswego, for the "Get Your Pink On," operated by Champions Events, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

The team is a new creation from towns all across Genesee County. The young men have only been together as a team for the last month and showed up to battle against other teams from around New York State, all while leaving the tournament with smiles on their faces.

The Spartans Organization is welcoming sponsorships for the upcoming year, if you are interested, please find us on Facebook under Spartans Baseball, or call/text (585) 813-2763.

Our team is Coach David Schnaufer, Coach Sam Vigiano, Coach Michael DelPriore, Sean Pietrzykowski, Austin Humphrey, Anthony Abbatiello, Hayden Williams, Owen Shultz, David Schnaufer III, Brayden Lang, Mason Vigiano, Anthony Pellegrino, Jaxon DelPriore, Max Siewert, and Leo Egloff (absent).

October 1, 2020 - 3:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, baseball, aces/inferno.

Aces/Inferno Baseball is looking for one or two players to complete their summer 2021 rosters in a couple ages.

For more information or to register for an appointment see:  www.teamacesbaseball.com or contact Rich Wozniak at:  [email protected].

 

July 23, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in baseball, Aces, sports.

Aces will hold tryouts for its 2020 Fall and 2021 Summer Teams by appointment only.

For more information or to register for an appointment see  www.teamacesbaseball.com or contact Rich Wozniak at [email protected].

 

July 21, 2020 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, United Travel Baseball.

travelbaseballchamps2020.jpeg

This past weekend, United Travel Baseball's 12U team, based in Genesee County, played in the Lancaster Legends Classic and beat the Clarence Red Devils, 9-3 to claim the Gold Bracket Championship.

The team is comprised of players from Batavia, Alexander, Oakfield, and Pembroke and include: Landen Santini, Austin Humphrey, David Schnaufer, Jayden Bridge, Hayden “Meat” Schroeder, Mason Vigiano, Jaxon DelPriore, Leo Egloff, Mason Wells, Nolan Ball, Kylan Ball, and Anthony Pellegrino.

The Team is coached by Jason Ball, Joey Santini; Statistics -- Mike DelPriore; and Equipment Manager -- Dom DelPriore.

July 1, 2020 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

One thing is certain: There will be no professional baseball in Batavia in 2020.

The decision is final, according to numerous news reports that say the Minor League Baseball season is canceled because Major League Baseball teams will not furnish the minors with players in 2020. 

If there is an MLB season, it will likely start later this month, with only 60 games on the schedule. Teams would be limited to 60 eligible players. The 20 players beyond the standard 40-man roster would practice and workout on "taxi squads."

New York Penn League President Ben Hayes, in an exclusive interview with The Batavian a week ago, was still hopeful at that point that there would be a 2020 season for his league and the Muckdogs. We've not been able to reach him for comment today.

While it's quite possible there will never again be a professional baseball game played in Dwyer Stadium, last week Hayes was also hopeful that wouldn't be the case.

Prior to the pandemic hitting, the future of baseball in Batavia didn't look good. The MLB is trying to force the MiLB to accept a contraction, eliminating 42 minor league teams, including the entire NYPL. While there was talk of creating a "dreamers league" of low-level prospects, and Batavia could be a potential spot for such a team, there was no indication at that stage of negotiations on whether Batavia would be part of those plans.  

An ESPN column suggests that the 2020 cancellation and pandemic have effectively eliminated whatever leverage the minor league teams might have had to stop the contraction. Several teams were in a precarious situation financially, not just including the 42 slated for elimination, and now the financial situation is much worse for those teams.

Last week, Hayes said he has communicated his desire to MiLB negotiators to see at least one more season of NYPL baseball, asking that the contraction be delayed until after the 2021 season, which would give cities like Batavia a farewell tour with their teams.

June 24, 2020 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, sports, baseball, notify.

muckdogsfiedljune2020.jpg

It would be "very, very sad" way for baseball to end in Batavia and 41 other minor league cities if the baseball season were canceled and a new agreement between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball eliminated those small franchises, said Ben Hayes, president of the New York Penn League.

Professional baseball in Batavia was under threat of extinction before a pandemic hit, and news reports have indicated Minor League Baseball has conceded to the MLB's request to consolidate leagues across the nation. Still, Hayes said today that negotiations continue and nothing has been finalized.

Even better news, he isn't giving up on playing NYPL baseball in 2020. The season is indefinitely postponed, but Hayes said he and league owners and officials want players in parks and fans in seats this season if at all possible, including in Batavia.  

The NYPL operates in eight states, and there are only two stadiums so far that are in regions where COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted enough to allow fans and ballplayers into ballparks.

"There's nobody at the Major League level or the Minor League level that has said this season is over and done," Hayes said. "Nothing has been canceled at either the full-season or short-season level."

If a decision was made to play ball, the MLB has suggested it would take players two or three weeks to get ready for the rigors of professional baseball.  

Hayes is currently traveling around the league, including a planned stop in Batavia, and league owners have been holding regular conference calls so they can be ready for the day when there can be baseball again.

Every team is developing plans to ensure social distancing is maintained; there is plenty of personal protective equipment for personnel; there are plans for thorough and regular cleaning and sanitizing in place, and to ensure that hotels and busses are safe and clean. 

"Everybody has a plan right now," Hayes said. "We're following the guidelines to make sure our players are safe but also our fans and stadium staff or safe. Right now, it's just a waiting game."

If the season is washed out, Hayes said he has already communicated with the Minor League's negotiating committee to request that any new agreement that could potentially eliminate teams would be delayed at least a year so that fans in those cities losing their franchises could get a farewell season before shutting down.

"That's my hope," Hayes said. "We voiced that to our representatives on the negotiating committee," Hayes said. "There are 42 clubs out there that if that plan were to go through, they would have never gotten a chance to have a last season, and that would be very, very sad."

As for the current operations of the Muckdogs, if you call the office, the phone is disconnected. It's not possible to get in touch with General Manager Brendan Kelly.  

Hayes said shutting down operations was purely a cost-saving measure and not an indication of the status of the ballclub.

"We're just trying to save money," Hayes said. "We're trying not to accrue costs simply because of the financial situation of the Muckdogs."

Meanwhile, except for the city mowing the infield and outfield grass, the playing surface is not being maintained. Weeds are sprouting up all over the diamond that Cooper Thomas has beautifully manicured over the past couple of seasons. 

None of that is a worry, Hayes said. 

"We can get that back in shape in two or three weeks once we get a grounds crew in there," Hayes said. 

The weeds maybe a little bigger but the situation now isn't much different than it would be in a typical year when crews start preparing the field for high school players in the spring.

"It's amazing what an edger and a lawnmower and a little bit of fertilizer and weed killer can do," Hayes said. "It makes a huge difference and you can really turn a field around quickly."

Whether Thomas will return in 2020 to lead that effort -- assuming the NYPL gets to play baseball -- is up in the air, Hayes said. He would love to have Thomson back and Thomas wants to come back, he said, but President Trump's current moratorium on worker immigration because of COVID-19 could prevent Thomas from making the trip from Australia to Batavia.

Top Photo: Weeds growing in the Dwyer Stadium infield.

muckdogsfiedljune2020-2.jpg

Yesterday, the Dwyer Stadium scoreboard was lit up with "Reds 0 / Pirates 0 / PPD."

June 17, 2020 - 6:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, baseball, sports, video, muckdogs.
Video Sponsor

While Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Pavilion today, we asked her if she was still involved in trying to save the Batavia Muckdogs.

May 8, 2020 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, Batavia HS, batavia.

Tribute to Batavia High School's 2020 baseball team by Nickie Fazio.

April 21, 2020 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

Minor League Baseball appears to be ready to accept a deal with MLB, Baseball America reports, that would eliminate 42 franchises and wipe out short-season Single-A baseball, ending an 81-year history of the New York Penn League that began in Batavia.

With a pandemic threatening the 2020 baseball season, Dwyer Stadium may have hosted its last professional baseball game on Sept. 6, 2019.

We don't know yet, of course. If there is 2020 baseball, the new deal -- which BA indicates isn't final yet -- wouldn't take effect until 2021.

There's no indication in the article how team owners would be compensated for the loss of their properties. The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the NYPL but the Genesee County Baseball Club, a community group, and the Rochester Red Wings still have a financial stake in the team.

April 14, 2020 - 4:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, baseball, video.
Video Sponsor

Paul Spiotta, the voice of the Muckdogs and a member of Batavia Players, reads "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, in memory of his friend, local sports icon, the late Wayne Fuller.

February 1, 2020 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, notify, batavia.

Major League Baseball officials are apparently spreading false information about the Batavia Muckdogs as part of a negotiating tactic to destroy professional baseball in 42 communities, including Batavia.

Daniel Halem, MLB's deputy commissioner, said in a letter to a Minor League Baseball official that the Muckdogs have been sold and are being relocated to another city.

That is not true, City Manager Marty Moore said. Moore has spoken both with the Muckdogs general manager and Ben Hayes, president of the New York Penn League. The league owns the team.

Moore said city officials and club officials are excited about the upcoming 2020 season after the team's most successful season in many, many years in 2019 when attendance averaged 1,165 per game, up from 785 the previous season.

In Halem's letter to MiLB's Pat O’Conner, he wrote:

The recent information we learned about the Batavia affiliate not only proves this point but, frankly, calls into questions whether MiLB is truly pursuing a strategy in the “best interests of our 160 community partners.” Batavia is a failing affiliate, with both facility and economic issues, that was put into receivership by the NY Penn League (which essentially owns and operates the team). New York State officials requested that MLB officials meet with Batavia community officials to discuss how to preserve baseball in Batavia. After we set up the meeting, we learned for the first time from multiple sources (but not MiLB) that the NY Penn League sold Batavia — presumably for millions of dollars — to an owner who intends to move the team to another city. While this transaction certainly benefits the NY Penn League owners who may split millions in proceeds by selling an asset with no intrinsic value, we fail to see how it is in the “best interests” of the citizens of Batavia or MLB owners, whose minor league players endure unreasonable travel burdens because MiLB permits its affiliates to hopscotch around the country for purely economic reasons.

Moore said at no point have MLB officials contacted him or anybody else in the City of Batavia.  

Contrary to Halem's letter, if the team is ever sold, its "intrinsic value" would be split between the NYPL, the Rochester Red Wings (who operated the team for 10 years in exchange for equity in the club), and the Genesee Community Baseball Club, a community organization that would return its share of the proceeds to the community.

December 4, 2019 - 2:18pm

Press releases:

The Batavia Muckdogs today praised the newly created Save Minor League Baseball Task Force that has been organized by members of Congress to prevent Major League Baseball (MLB) from eliminating 42 minor league franchises, nearly one quarter of all minor league teams around the country.

“We appreciate the support of Rep. Lori Trahan (D.-Massachusetts), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and the members of the task force in standing up for Minor League Baseball and speaking out against MLB’s effort cast off thousands of jobs, reduce affordable, family-friendly entertainment and undermine grassroots support for our great game,” said Muckdogs General Manager Brendan Kelly.

The Batavia Muckdogs have been identified as one of the 42 franchises facing elimination under the MLB proposal.

Minor league teams are vital to the social and economic lives of millions of Americans; they support scores of local businesses and jobs, provide accessible entertainment, help promote tourism spending and donate tens of millions of dollars in charitable contributions.

“With this proposal, MLB is willing to break the hearts of dozens of communities across the country,” Kelly said. “We are going to resist this plan and are gratified that so many in Congress are willing to join with us.”

***************

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Dec. 3 Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV), Max Rose (D- NY), and Mike Simpson (R-ID) announced the official formation of the bipartisan Save Minor League Baseball Task Force.

At the group’s inaugural meeting, interested Members heard from Minor League Baseball (MiLB) President Pat O’Conner and several Minor League team owners. The group discussed strategy to continue the momentum on this urgent issue.

The Save Minor League Baseball Task Force will advocate on behalf of the communities that stand to be mostharmed by MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league franchises. They will closely monitor ongoing negotiationsbetween MLB and MiLB as well as discuss potential legislative action if and when such a remedy becomes necessary.

“I am proud to launch this important Task Force with my co-chairs; Representatives McKinley, Rose, and Simpson," said Congresswoman Trahan. "Together along with our colleagues we will make perfectly clear that Congress is ready to defend ourcommunities, which stand to lose out in MLB’s proposal to slash the number of Minor League teams. The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home, and Congress must have a voice in this conversation,”

"Baseball is America’s pastime, and minor league teams have a major impact on small communities across our country,” said Congressman McKinley. “While we understand the MLB has concerns: the idea that doingaway with 42 teams is the only solution is not reasonable. We look forward to working with MiLB and MLB tofind a compromise that will preserve affiliated baseball in these cities.”

“Major League Baseball can look at all the ‘sabermetrics’ it wants, but what they don’t understand is the serious impact that losing these baseball teams will have on our communities,” said Congressman Rose. “You won’t see it in any formula, but my colleagues and I have all seen the impact teams like the Staten IslandYankees can have on the faces of the children who show up at the ballpark every year. I’m proud to join this effort to urge the MLB to reconsider.”

“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities," said Congressman Simpson. "Minor League Baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country. To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that depend on minor league baseball organizations. I am proud to join my colleagues in starting this task force toensure baseball stays vibrant in communities like Idaho Falls and Boise."

A statement from MiLB: "Minor League Baseball values the support of Representatives Trahan, McKinley, Rose and Simpson and the entire Task Force for America’s pastime and for recognizing our positive contributions to their communities andlocal economies as well as dozens of others across the country. While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels ofgovernment, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation."

The formation of this task force follows a Trahan-McKinley led bipartisan effort along with 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge MLB to abandon its plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams.

November 20, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, notify, muckdogs.

dwyer_shoot-5270.jpg

Major League Baseball should not end its affiliation with the Batavia Muckdogs, or any of the other 41 minor league teams reportedly on the chopping block without sitting down and listening to local community leaders and minor league executives, Sen. Charles Schumer said during a telephone press conference with Upstate news media today.

"This plan presents some real potential problems for New York State," Schumer said. "We don't know how real it is, but the newspaper reports are very disconcerting. So I am calling today on the MLB and Minor League Baseball to sit down and talk with the community leaders and with team owners to ensure that all the relevant parties can provide feedback and propose constructive solutions before any final decisions are made."

The proposal to eliminate or demote 42 minor league teams is potentially an issue for members of Congress to take up because Major League Baseball enjoys an exemption from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act based on a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1922. Congress has the power to overturn that exemption.

Responding to a question from The Batavian, Schumer declined to comment on how he might respond to any proposal to lift the exemption.

"As for the antitrust exemption, we all know it exists," Schumer said. "Let's see what Major League Baseball has to say. Let's see how quickly and willingly and cooperatively they are willing to sit down with us before we comment on that particular proposal."

The current proposal -- as leaked to The New York Times -- would move 42 teams currently affiliated with major league teams to an independent "Dream League." Schumer acknowledged that it's unclear what MLB means by a "Dream League."

Besides Batavia, teams listed as candidates to lose a major league affiliation are Binghamton, Auburn and Staten Island. Three New York teams -- the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones -- would be promoted to AA leagues. That proposal, Schumer noted, would mean the end of the New York Penn League, founded in Batavia 80 years ago.

Complicating matters for Batavia is that the Muckdogs are now owned by the New York Penn League.

For decades, the Muckdogs were owned by the community, run by the Genesee County Baseball Club with a volunteer board of directors. The team has been perpetually for sale for several years. If it ever were sold, some of the proceeds would be returned to the GCBC.  

Club President Brian Paris said last night that any proceeds from the sale would be used for the community's benefit.

So the Muckdogs are, in the true financial sense of the word, a community asset.

Attempts to reach Ben Hayes, NYPL president, to try and clarify how the MLB proposal might affect this community asset have been unsuccessful.

Schumer said the first order of business is getting MLB to listen to the concerns of the communities affected by this proposal. He is seeking a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manafort, whom Schumer hopes will understand the concerns of Upstate communities because he's originally from Rome. 

Loss of the NYPL would be especially devastating for baseball fans in Upstate New York, Schumer said. The Dream League, whatever that might be, Schumer said, might be a sufficient attraction to make professional baseball viable in Upstate.

"The New York Penn League short-season schedule has been ideal for New York baseball fans," Schumer said. "The games get started in mid-June after the colder spring weather; They last through the hot summer months when baseball's at its best, in my opinion."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has also weighed into the debate defending baseball in Batavia, stating, "If you’re in Batavia or anywhere nearby, you love the Muckdogs. I’ve been to many of their games. I’ve thrown out opening pitches. My husband and I slip in there at least once or twice a year to catch a game, so it’s part of the identity of the community and especially these small towns. I mean Batavia has a lot going for it, but part of it is being associated with a Minor League Baseball team."

Photo: File photo by Jim Burns.

November 19, 2019 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

It's early in the negotiations and officials with Minor League Baseball are working hard to save all the minor league ball clubs from the chopping block, a spokesman for Minor League Baseball said this evening.

"The game of baseball is just as important to Batavia and Auburn as it is in Charlotte or Indianapolis," said Jeff Lantz. "We want to see baseball grow and thrive and be a part of all of our communities."

He said it's unfortunate that word leaked that Major League Baseball floated a proposal to eliminate some minor league teams, and even more unfortunate that this week a list of teams MLB is proposing to be cut was leaked. Both Batavia and Auburn were on a list of New York Penn League clubs that could be scrapped if MLB is successful in reducing the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

"That's not good for anybody," Lantz said. "It's not good for Minor League Baseball. It's not good for the fans, and it's not good for the fans of Batavia and Auburn."

He said it's early in the process and MLB and its officials are meeting this week to negotiate. They'll meet again at the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks to try and hammer out a deal.

"We'll find out their (MLB's) concerns," Lantz said. "I don't think there are any concerns that can't be addressed through negotiations and finding out the best way to go."

Asked if MLB holds all the cards, Lantz said, obviously, the Appalachian League (of) MLB owns all the franchises and can do with them as they please, but the rest of the teams have separate owners so their status does become a point of negotiation.

The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the New York Penn League now, but the team's former owner, a community group -- Genesee County Baseball Club -- would receive a part of the proceeds if NYPL ever sold the club. If the club were sold and moved, members of the club have floated the idea of using the funds to start a baseball team in one of the leagues that provides summer baseball for college-level players.

Lantz referred questions about the team's ownership status and how that might play out in these negotiations to league president Ben Hayes.

The Batavian has been unable to reach Hayes although we've tried for the past couple of weeks.

General Manager Brendan Kelly said he was not authorized to talk about the status of the minor league clubs. We were also unable this evening to reach club President Brian Paris.

That said, Lantz confirmed, there will be a 2020 season for the Muckdogs in Batavia. The current contract between MiLB and MLB runs until Sept. 15, 2020.

"The good news is, that gives us 11 months to try to negotiate a deal," Lantz said.

Lantz said one thing that is helping the cause of Minor League Baseball is politicians speaking out to help save the teams in the communities they represent. He cited specifically a member of Congress from Massachusetts who got more than 100 other members of Congress to sign a petition to send to MLB asking MLB to protect these teams.

Sen. Charles Schumer has come out strongly in favor of keeping ball clubs in Batavia and Auburn.

“America’s favorite pastime should not become part of Upstate New York’s past," Schumer said. "It’s no secret that New York’s minor league teams are institutions within their communities, which is why I implore MLB to reconsider any such plans and will be reaching out to them directly to advocate for our New York teams."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who along with her husband, Bill, is a big fan of the Muckdogs and has attended several games over the years, also sent out a couple of Tweets in support of protecting minor league teams in New York. In one, Hochul wrote, "Foul ball!? @MLB - please say this isn’t so. As the birthplace of baseball and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, these teams are big economic drivers for our small towns and part of New York’s identity & culture."

UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Genesee County Baseball Club President Brian Paris said he's had no conversations at this point with Ben Hayes or Minor League Baseball about the future of the Batavia Muckdogs, though he is mindful of the fact that the club has a financial stake in the outcome of negotiations. He noted that Major League Baseball enjoys an antitrust exemption, which could limit the leverage of ball club owners but, citing a Baseball America article, noted that terminating as many as 40 franchises could jeopardize baseball's always tenuous hold on its exemption (which is authorized by Congress). If the Muckdogs are ever sold, Paris noted, it's the intention of the club's board of directors that any proceeds from a sale (about half the value of the club, less operational losses sustained by the NYPL since the league took over) would be used to the benefit the community.

October 6, 2019 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, sports, batavia, baseball.

bellavia_firstpitch.png

Press release:

Army Staff Sgt. Bellavia of Western New York has been invited to throw out the first pitch at tonight's Washington Nationals baseball game against the the L.A. Dodgers (Oct. 6). The game in D.C. begins at 7:45 p.m. and will be aired on TBS. The two teams are tied at 1-1. 

Shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House on June 25, Bellavia threw out the first pitch at the Mets/Yankees game on the Fourth of July. 

Coming up
This Saturday, Oct. 12, Bellavia will be honored by the Niagara Falls community with a key to the city and present the talk "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community" at the Rapids Theatre. Tickets to the 3 p.m. event are $22 and will benefit a new nonprofit created by Bellavia called Deuce Deuce Relief Fund.

This inaugural fundraiser and Deuce Deuce benefits soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2), who may be experiencing hardship or require other assistance. 

Tickets are available online through EventBrite, with a link at DavidBellavia.com.

Photo: Submitted by Duty 1st courtesy the New York Mets. The photo is from the Mets v. Yankees game earlier this year.

UPDATE: Video below courtesy Duty 1st.

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Upcoming

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button