This can’t be good…

After posting about the possibilities of life after Muckdog baseball, I had an email conversation with Ray from the Batavia Daily News. We were theorizing on what might happen, if and when the team was sold. I had read on a Cardinal’s blog back in January, and again last Friday that for each year that Rochester Community Baseball operates the club, they gain a 5% share in the team if it is sold by the Genesee County Baseball Club. (owners of the team). This being the 3rd (and final) year of the agreement with the Red Wings parent organization, their share would amount to 15%. At an estimated value of $3-5 million, a sale would just about offset the half million in operating losses incurred in the 3 years of operation.

I began to wonder who & or what the “Genesee County Baseball Club” is exactly. I assume it is a non-profit set up to operate the team. So I decided to put my “mad googling skillz” to work. Low and behold, I stumbled across something that cannot be a good sign. The Genesee County Baseball Club Inc. canceled their trademark registration of the Muckdog logo on July 17th. Now, the Muckdog logo, as I mentioned before, has been one of the few money makers for the team. By licensing this trademark image to Little Leagues across America, the team has been able to create a revenue stream beyond gate receipts. So the news that they would cancel the trademark, is alarming indeed.

Here’s the link to trademark news

No Longer Trademarked

Now before I jump to conclusions here, I do have to point out that just because the Trademark is no longer registered, it does not mean that the club has no right to the logo. By using the logo, and marking it with the little “TM” the club would still retain common law rights to the use of the logo, and stop others from using it. Another possibility is that the mark may have been applied for again in a separate application, or is being changed in some way. (changes would have to be covered by a new application). Further research beyond the means of this humble blogger is required to determine whether this mark is truly abandoned in commerce. How ’bout it news guys? Can you pick up the trail from here?

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In the Good Old Summer Time

The weather here on the Front Porch is lovely this morning. Pull up a rocker, and let me get you a cup of coffee. This is the height of summer. Mornings like this were made for porch sitting, listening to the birds and the hiss of sprinklers in the neighborhood, while preparing for another summer day.

Last night, as I was lying on my couch reading a good book, I heard the crickets for the first time. Now maybe they have been here all along, and maybe I have just been too busy this summer to notice them, but last night their chorus of chirping floated through the open windows with a soft breeze. Summer. How many has it been now? 42 by my count, which still surprises me when I see it. Can it be? Can I really be approaching a half century? Some days my body feels every one of those 42 years, but I’d be lying if I said I felt any more mature now than I did at 21. I still drive home with the music turned up too loud, singing along with Weezer like a teenager. Time I got Back to “The Good Life” indeed.

Just like summer life has a way of sneaking up on a person. You plod along with your head down focused on the chores and distractions of the day until one evening you drop onto the couch exhausted, close your eyes, and hear the crickets again as if for the first time. These are the glorious, long, hot days of summer. The lazy days of porch sitting, and trips to the swimming pool on your bike, with 25 cents in your pocket and a towel around your neck. You’d use the quarter to rent the locker, get it back when you returned the key, then buy yourself a candy bar from the vending machine. Maybe a nice salty “Payday” for a sweaty summer afternoon. Maybe if it was a weekend Mom and Dad drove you up to Crystal Beach to escape the heat.

Sadly, Crystal Beach is long gone, and even the city pool has long since been filled in. More victims of a society too sophisticated, and busy to enjoy the simple things. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. iPod’s, Wii’s, and family vacations to Disney, while one by one the little amusements parks fall prey to the developers blade. Roseland, Crystal Beach, and many others around WNY.

The Comet

I mention them because I came across this great little article on the history of “trolley parks”. The little amusement parks that seemed to sit on the edge of every city when I was a kid. Sadly, very few of them remain. Here in Minnesota they are long gone. Seems like only in little Eastern outposts do any of them remain.

So before I descend into Grandpa Simpson territory again, maybe I should call it a post and go back to my coffee. Mornings like this are not to be wasted. You never know how many more you have left.

Life after the Muckdogs?

OK, yeah, I know I said I was on hiatus, but I have been thinking about the pending move of the Muckdogs out of Batavia and what the future might hold. So I felt the need to post on it, since I have already posted several times on the subject.

Judging from the tone of some of the recent articles, and interviews with the staff of the Red Wings who are currently operating the ‘Dogs, it is becoming apparent that the Muckdog’s days are numbered. The trend within Minor League baseball has been to move small, Class A affiliates out of small towns and rural areas, and put them in suburbs of larger urban areas to reach a larger fanbase, sell more tickets, and consequently make more money. This trend began back in the 90’s when MLB placed new requirements on the minor league clubs that their stadiums meet certain minimum specs. The result of the rule was that many of the clubs in smaller towns were forced to either rebuild their stadiums, or move to an area with newer facilities. For a lot of these small towns the $ required to build new parks were just not feasible. Meanwhile, other towns scrambled to update their stadiums to keep their teams. (Batavia and Auburn are two examples of rebuilt stadiums from this time).

Out with the old...

In with the new.

As the years have progressed, the costs of owning and operating a minor league club have risen to the point that the small NY Penn league teams have struggled to keep their head above water. Gradually MLB woke up to the possibilities of milking more $$ out of their minor league system. The result has been a steady “corporatization” of minor league ball that has driven up the interest in owning and operating minor league clubs. This demand for minor league teams has resulted in the sale and move of many of the remaining small town teams. Last year it was Oneonta club that was sold and relocated to suburban Connecticut. Batavia seems to be the next in line with Auburn not far behind.

I have lamented this corporatization before, but in the last year have come to grudging acceptance of the fate. Economic trends like this do not change quickly. They move in like a tide, and recede only gradually. I can’t foresee it changing. The Muckdogs will be moved, this year, or next, or the year after. It is inevitable. So I began to think, what would life be like after the Muckdogs? Would Dwyer Stadium sit vacant, hosting only high school, and community college baseball, or is there future life in it yet? It’s a wonderful little facility, and it would be a shame to see a community asset like that go to waste. So I decided to do some investigation, and see what has become of the other towns that were once a part of the NY Penn league, but have lost their teams through the years.

So what has become of Oneonta, Geneva, Niagara Falls, Elmira, Little Falls, Watertown, Hornell, and the other 12 cities that once were home to NY Penn league franchises. The result surprised me. The New York Collegiate Baseball League has been around since 1978. (Who knew?) It is a summer wood bat league for collegiate baseball players to get a feel for the demands and style of minor league baseball while maintaining their amateur status. There are actually quite a few of these leagues in existence.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me. Collegiate Summer baseball is about the only “minor” league baseball left in Minnesota and Wisconsin, aside from the Independent St. Paul Saints. Such classic minor league stadiums and cities as Eau Claire, Wisconsin have hosted Collegiate Summer teams in the Northwoods League since the mid 90’s. Collegiate Summer baseball has grown to fill in the void left by Minor League Baseball as the farm clubs have moved out of small cities and towns in rural areas as the operating costs of running a team are lower. Attendance seems to fall into the Mouckdog average of 1,400 / game, for communities of similar size. The quality of the baseball is surprisingly good, and many of the players in the Northwoods League have gone on to the majors.

So, will Batavia follow in the footsteps of Oneonta, Geneva, Niagara Falls, Elmira, Little Falls, Watertown, and Hornell, and make the jump from the NY Penn to the NYCBL? It’s an interesting thought, and an idea that excites me the more I think about it. Is there an ownership group out there that would step forward to bankroll the startup of a team? Could Batavia pull it off without missing a season? I see no reason why we couldn’t. B-town is every bit as capable of supporting a team as any of the towns mentioned above. Heck, Batavia is even more capable as it brings with it a more modern, and up to date facility than many of the towns that have NYCBL clubs.

Best of all, it wouldn’t take a million dollars to make it happen. Anyone out there willing to go in on putting an ownership group together drop me a line. I’m in.

Unofficial Semi-hiatus

OK, it’s apparent that I am not going to be able to keep up with writing this blog at the moment. Life, Work, and School have been hectic and absorbing all of my time, leaving me little time and/or energy to post. So I will now make this an official-unofficial-semi-hiatus. See you on the other side.

If I had a Million Dollars…

I’m sure it would probably take more than a million even, but if I bought a winning lottery ticket tomorrow, by Friday I would be buying the Muckdogs. Sadly, that’s about all that might save the team at this point. Seeing baseball leave one of the last remaining NY Penn league towns for some metropolitan suburb on the east coast would be hard enough. Watching the Muckdogs leave will just make another little part of old Batavia die.

Article here in the Webster Post, h/t Russ Salway.

Field of Dreams

Notes from SFO

I woke after nine hours of fitful, restless sleep, yawned, and smiled. A whole day with nothing to do but wander back to Minnesota both physically and mentally. I showered, grabbed the free copy of the Weekly Reader USA Today outside the hotel room door, and headed down to Powell to grab some breakfast. I am not sure there is a more relaxing activity in life than eating a leisurely breakfast and reading the newspaper. Even if it’s the newspaper without news.

There are days when I can bend my mind to the task, and force my thoughts to follow a disciplined progression from one step to the next, to accomplish a clearly defined goal. This is known as work. Then there are days like today where I have no obligations but to get my carcass back to Minnesota. This is the kind of day where I can let my mind wander in and out of coherence, chasing thoughts and daydreams at whatever ADHD induced whim I choose to follow.

Four cups of coffee later it was time to stroll back to the hotel and pack. Walking the streets of San Francisco, I began to notice just how ubiquitous the Starbucks paper coffee cup has become. I passed 3 Starbucks in the 2 blocks between the diner and the hotel, and nearly 30% of the people on the street were carrying a cup of Starbucks. I’m not sure why this should surprise me, but it does. I can think of no better icon for Globalization than the Starbucks Coffee cup. I have seen them in every corner of the world that I have travelled to. I’ve sat in the familiar modern furnishings of Starbucks in Taipei, Bangkok, London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Brussels, Amsterdam, Vienna, and many other places. This makes me as complicit in cultural colonialism as anyone I guess. I’m not sure how I feel about it to be quite honest. I hate that no matter where I go I find pockets of American culture, and yet when I travel I find that I visit them for comfort’s sakes as much as for my coffee addiction. Life in the post modern “global village” (my favorite oxymoron) is complex and messy. No matter what target I choose to direct my angst at, (globalization, suburbanization, McDonaldization, corporatization, logo-ization, etc..) if I dig deep enough I find my own footprints. What is to be done? How does a single person change the world? Is there any point in trying?

Riding out to the airport on the BART train I looked upon the diversity of our age. Asian, Hispanic, African America, European, Dumpy Old White Guys (DOWG’s), we were all there swaying along in our own little cocoons, iPod’s plugged into our heads, pretending not to notice each other. Has it always been this way? Is the diversity of society connected in anyway to our alienation? Robert Putnam’s study revealed surprisingly, that the more diverse a neighborhood, the less “social capital” that existed in the community? Which is the cause, and which is the effect, and is there even any connection between the two? He’s devoted a book, and years of research to answering those questions. I’m afraid that the answers we find aren’t always the ones we want.
Technology brings us closer, and technology leads us further apart. This is the life I lead everyday. Because of technology, and my life in the corporation I have developed friendships with people from every continent except Antarctica, and yet, I feel more alone, more often, than I ever have before in my life. I can cut open a vein and spill my deepest fears and secrets on a blog available to anyone in the world, and still I find that it can never match the satisfaction of sitting down to a table and breaking bread with another person.

Technology and Globalization are post modern paradoxes. Riddles I will probably never solve, and could seriously drive myself mad trying to. Maybe it is better to plug in the headphones, and let my mind wander off into a labyrinth of its own. Sitting here in the crowded terminal, getting ready to squeeze like cattle into our veal pens seats on the plane, what else can I do? Talk to the people next to me? I think I’d either scare, or annoy them if I did, and to what end? Do I need more facebook friends? Hell no. I need one good one to sit with and share a pot of coffee on the front porch. That is the paradox. Globalization, corporatism, and technology, are just well paved paths that lead into a labyrinth. They don’t lead you home. The rocky dirt path that is overgrown with weeds is the only one that leads us home. Here’s to picking up a backpack, and heading off into that wilderness.

Peace.

Photo copyright Library of Congress

You know you have a problem when…

Chimay? Or, she may not?

your kids start asking you “Dad, why do you always take pictures of beer?”

More importantly, why are you taking a picture of a Belgian Beer in an Irish Bar in San Francisco. Well! I’m glad you asked! Because this is a post about globalization.

Not really, but that is the topic for this week’s lesson plan that I have been working on, so it sounded like a good excuse. Let me know if you buy it.

My other favorite beverage. See, I do take pictures of other things!

The fact is it was a long day. Started with breakfast at Lori’s Diner on Powell, which a good friend of this blog tipped me off to. It beat the line up at the Hilton Restaurant and Starbucks. Then I walked several miles of trade show booths, and sat in on some interminable keynote speeches by “very important people” in the industry (ie. – overpaid), and topped it off with a customer meeting. The fact is that by 4:30 pm I had earned that beer damnit!

Well, if you call this work. Which I don’t. Mostly I feel like I am stealing money from the shareholders, I mean really? Me, managing a business? WTF are they thinking? Should I feel guilty about this, or should I feel that the shame is on them for their oversight?

Enuf kidding around. I do have to admit that San Francisco would be a great place to live if I were 20 years younger. It’s got everything a kid of 22 could possibly want out of the world. Thankfully I am 42, so I have set my sights a little higher. That and the fact that there are more vagrants per capita here than in any other city in the world have kind of soured me on any idea of ever living here. I know, you could pick worse places to choose a life of homelessness and mental illness, but it gets a bit old. This trip I have followed the local custom of wearing my iPod when walking the streets so that I can pretend to drown out the pleas for assistance. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s kind of like starring in your own music video. And if you start singing, or moon-walking in public, well, then you just blend right in with the locals.