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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What happens down in Mexico...

Well, it looks like there will be a 10th team in the GBL after all this season. One year after expanding north of the border into Calgary and Edmonton, the GBL is going the other direction, crossing into Mexico with the intent to put a team in TJ.

After a few weeks of rumors and speculation, it appears a GBL team in Tijuana is coming close to a reality. I know, I know, it ain't the Surf Dawgs, but it's close (at least geographically). This is now the third new franchise for the Golden League this season, after the additions of Victoria and Tuscon. RIP Reno.

Here's the release from the league site...

GBL Signs Agreement with Tijuana Group For Expansion Team
Potros Leaving the Mexican League Opens Up Market

(Dublin, CA. December 15, 2008) The Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced today that they have entered into a Letter of Intent with a group to bring professional baseball back to Tijuana for the upcoming 2009 season. The 2008 Tijuana Potros team was disbanded by the Mexican League and their franchise relocated to Reynosa, opening up the market for the GBL to place an expansion team.

"We anticipate completing this agreement and adding Tijuana as a GBL city for this coming season," said Kevin Outcalt, Commissioner of the Golden Baseball League. "We have always believed that Tijuana would be a very good market for the league. It has a tremendous base of fans that regularly fill the ballpark, a fine baseball history, and excellent support from the business community and government."

This agreement allows the new ownership group to finalize their business and operations requirements. Pending no other problems, a formal announcement of the ownership group, and team name should occur in the very near future. Tijuana has had a long baseball history playing in the Mexican Winter and Summer leagues and consistently enjoyed some of the best attendance in all of minor league baseball. The Mexican League voted last week at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to re-locate the Tijuana franchise to the city of Reynosa which is over 1000 miles closer to the rest of the Mexican League teams.

"A Tijuana team brings the GBL many benefits," said GBL CEO and President David Kaval. "Not only will it be exciting for the Latin American fans in many of our markets to see the Tijuana team play, but there are also many opportunities with Mexican businesses that will be interested in league-wide sponsorship and advertising to reach potential customers throughout the southwestern U.S. cities where the GBL has teams. Becoming the first professional baseball league to have operations in three countries should also provide a number of other business opportunities."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Etherton bouncing back

Looks like another member of the Fleet is setting sail for affiliated ball. This time pitcher Seth Etherton (fight on) is joining the Arizona Diamondbacks system. The former major leaguer was a key cog for the Armada's late season charge into the playoffs. Here's the story from the league's website...

Long Beach Pitcher Seth Etherton Acquired by Arizona Diamondbacks
5th Armada Player Acquired This Season By An MLB Club

(Dublin, CA. December 14, 2008) The Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced today that Long Beach Armada pitcher Seth Etherton has had his contract acquired and been signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Etherton, 32, 6-1, 200 lbs is right handed pitcher who was drafted in the 1st round of the 1998 MLB Draft by the Anaheim Angels out of the University of Southern California. He was in the major leagues just two years later as the Angels called him up in mid-season and he went on to post a 5-1 record in 11 starts for the big league club. An elbow injury knocked him out for the next year and a half, but he was back in the majors with the Reds in 2003, the A's in 2005 and the Royals in 2006. Released by the Royals and still bothered by his elbow, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and joined the Long Beach Armada late in the season in 2008 as he was eager to show that he was back to 100%. He started two regular season games for the Armada and was spectacular as he went 1-0 in 9.1 innings pitched with a 1.93 E.R.A. and struck out 16 while walking only one batter. In his one playoff start he went seven innnings, giving up just three hits, no runs, and struck out 12.

Etherton is the fifth player off the powerful 2008 Long Beach Armada that is now with a major league organization. He is the 25th GBL player in 2008 to be acquired by a big league club.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Read The Navigator online

Hey Armada fans, the latest issue of The Armada Navigator is out there for you. You can click here to read it online. Make sure to check out the biggest news: center fielder Steve Moss has been acquired by the Seattle Mariners organization. Best of luck, Mossy.

CF Moss signs with Mariners

On the first day of free agency, Armada centerfielder Steve Moss wasn’t expecting his phone to ring. That didn’t stop the Golden Baseball League commissioner from contacting him.

“I received a phone call from Kevin Outcalt,” said Moss in an email. “He explained that Seattle contacted him and may have an interest in signing me. I was surprised anyone was contacting me on the first day of the free-agent signing period. He asked for my permission to sell my contract, and of course my answer was yes.”

The Seattle Mariners purchased the contract of Moss, making him the fourth member of the Fleet acquired by a Major League organization since June.

After one season in Long Beach in which Moss hit a career-best .299 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 68 games, the Southern California native is returning to affiliated baseball with the Seattle Mariners.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Moss, 24, out of high school in the 29th round of the 2002 draft. After a year of rookie ball, Moss spent two years with the Beloit Snappers in the single-A Midwest League. He continued to rise through the Brewers system with the Brevard County Manatees in the high-A Florida State League in 2005 and with the Huntsville Stars in the AA Southern League from 2006-07.

“The new GM of the Mariners had run scouting for the Brewers last year and brought over a number of his Brewer staff as he took the Seattle job a few weeks ago,” said Outcalt through email. “The first player move they made was to sign Steve Moss. Moss had originally been drafted by the Brewers and played in their organization, and it was a very tough release for them.”

Moss will most likely land in High A or Double-A with the Mariners to start the 2009 season, but he’s not assuming anything is guaranteed.

“Nothing is ever set in stone, and anything can happen,” said Moss. “I am going to go into spring training with my goals set high.

The always-amicable outfielder got off to a hot start with Long Beach, blast three home runs in the season-opening series in St. George. After missing 20 games in June with an injury, Moss returned to the lineup and continued to produce, putting together hitting streaks of 12 and 11 games. The 2008 season served as a homecoming year for Moss.

“Playing so close to home actually felt foreign,” he said. “Throughout my career I've been assigned to remote
places around the country, and that is an aspect of this profession I have enjoyed. But it was nice
sleeping in my own bed.”

No, he won’t get to enjoy his own bed as he spends next season in the Mariners system, but that shouldn’t be too much of a strain on him.

“I am most looking forward to continue the pursuit of my career,” he said. “I am a firm believer in meaning behind events that occur in an individual's life. If you have faith in your pursuit then success should fall into place. After the Brewers released me, it gave me the chance to rejuvenate my passion for the game and to never take any thing for granted.

“The right path isn't necessarily the shortest and most clear one. I have been given a rare second chance and I intend on making the most of it.”

The Armada will miss Moss’s production, but it might be even harder to replace his personality. When asked what he will miss the most about his time with the Armada, his answer was simple.

“The skunks.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Evans to manage Seals

Darrell Evans, the first skipper of the Long Beach Armada (2005-07), will once again manage an expansion franchise with the GBL's newest team, the Victoria Seals. Here's the story from the Victoria Times Colonist...

Evans also helped lead the OC Flyers to the 2008 GBL championship as a member of Gary Carters staff this past summer.

Congratulations Darrell. We'll see you at the ballpark.

Surfs up for Rickey Henderson, HOF?

Interesting story from the League... the GBL has offered Rickey Henderson $1 million to go into the Hall of Fame as a San Diego Surf Dawg. Henderson spent his final professional season with the Surf Dawgs in 2005, leading them to the inaugural GBL championship.

How amazing would that be to see this Hall of Fame lock in Cooperstown with the old Surf Dawgs cap on. Of course, the one snag in this plan is that the Hall of Fame museum has the final say as to which logo a player goes in under. Not sure just how much consideration Henderson will get as a Surf Dawg.

The craziest part of the story is the fact that the Surf Dawgs are not currently playing in the GBL. The San Diego franchise went dark after the 2006 season, and the St. George (Utah) Roadrunners entered the league.

The same league that brought you Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, trading "Leon" from the Budweiser commercials for a case of Bud, trading a player for Maple bats, and so much more, now the GBL is pushing for a Hall of Famer. Gotta love it!

Golden Baseball League Makes Rickey Henderson $1M Hall of Fame Offer
Baseball Legend Would Enter Cooperstown as a San Diego Surf Dawg

Dublin, CA. December 3, 2008) The Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced today that they have offered professional baseball superstar Rickey Henderson $1M if he elects to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as a San Diego Surf Dawg.

"Rickey played his final professional season in the Golden Baseball League in 2005 as a key member of the championship winning San Diego Surf Dawgs," said Golden Baseball League CEO David Kaval. "Cooperstown is the National Baseball Hall of Fame for professional players and the San Diego Surf Dawgs were Rickey's last professional team and one of only three teams, along with the 1989 Oakland Athletics and 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, that Rickey won a championship with. We stood by Rickey in 2005 when no major league team would sign him and continue to support him with this offer. We are confident that Rickey will be a first ballot selection and we look forward to seeing a bronzed Surf Dawg cap displayed on his Hall of Fame plaque."

Henderson played the entire 2005 season for the San Diego Surf Dawgs in the inaugural season of the Golden Baseball League, the premiere independent professional league in western North America, under Manager Terry Kennedy. He appeared in 73 of his team's 88 games, hitting .270 as he stole 16 bases and led the league with 73 walks as a 46 year old centerfielder. His team went on to post the best record in the league, led by four former Major League 1st round draft choices, and is considered one of the legendary independent professional teams of the modern era. Both coaches, plus the manager ended up signed by major league organizations along with four of the players, although not Henderson.

Rickey thrilled the GBL crowds that gathered to see him play with outstanding baseball on the field and with several uniquely Rickey moments off the field. From being ejected in the first inning during Little League Day at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego and then spending the next nine inninngs in the stands rotating seats throughout the ballpark to sit with different little league teams to driving through the desert in a pickup truck with a lettuce farmer to reach Yuma by game time after being removed from his flight for not hanging up his cellphone fast enough, Rickey embraced the intimacy of the independent minors and demonstrated his love for the game regardless of where he was playing. His quest to be signed that year and spend one last day in a major league uniform and officially retire went unfulfilled. His championship game win at the end of that season was the last time he would wear a professional uniform as a player after first donning one 29 years earlier in 1976 in Boise, Idaho as a rookie in Oakland's farm system.

"This is a legitimate offer and a signed agreement has been sent to Rickey." continued Kaval. "Considering that Rickey played for nine major league teams in his career this gives him an excellent solution to the problem of slighting any of those fine organizations by picking a favorite. We would gladly donate the funds to a charity of Rickey's choice and look forward to being with him in Cooperstown on July 26th next summer."

In addition, the GBL will donate Rickey's final professional jersey and hat, now on display at the San Diego Museum of Sports History to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Golden Baseball League already has a team in the Hall of Fame as the 2005 Japan Samurai Bears, the first professional Japanese team to play as a regular member of a U.S. professional sports league had a jersey and team ball requested by Hall of Fame President Dale Petrosky at the conclusion of the 2005 season (see attached photo of GBL minority owner Todd Anson presenting to Petrosky), but Rickey would be the first GBL player to be enshrined in Cooperstown.