Author Topic: Nats to Pulaski, VA?  (Read 1006 times)

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Nats to Pulaski, VA?
« Topic Start: July 16, 2007, 09:27:20 AM »
(Found this off another site)

http://www.tricities.com/tristate/tri/sports.apx.-content-articles-TRI-2007-07-14-0011.html

APPALACHIAN LEAGUE NOTEBOOK: Pulaski could draw Washington Nationals minor league affiliate

Saturday, Jul 14, 2007 - 12:59 AM

BY BUCKY DENT

BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

With a classic ballpark and a front office which renovated the facilities in every way Major League Baseball asked, Pulaski got sucker-punched by the Toronto Blue Jays.

There’s hope the New River Valley’s dormant Appalachian League franchise could turn on the lights next summer at Calfee Park.

League commissioner Lee Landers confirmed this week that the Washington Nationals are interested in filling the vacancy Toronto left last September.

"Ideally, you’d like to have it done as soon as possible," Landers said Tuesday night. "The people in Pulaski are great to work with ... I feel for the fans there and the gentlemen who ran the club. They did everything they were asked to do."

A Blue Jays affiliate for four years, Pulaski found out its horrible news not from Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi or another Blue Jays administrator, but from an assistant of player personnel.

The decision came so late in the even-year affiliate shuffle which the minors experience that Pulaski didn’t have a realistic chance to find a replacement.

Ten months after the fact, it still rankles Landers.

"When Cleveland made the decision to leave Burlington," Landers said, "we mutually agreed to hold off on announcing it so they could help us get a club in there. The Blue Jays ... boom.

"It’s hurt us in some municipalities. They ask you if the same thing can happen there that happened in Pulaski, and you can’t blame them."

Last year, the Blue Jays averaged 902 fans per game – a solid sixth out of 10 teams. The number is even better when one considers Pulaski drew from one of the smallest population bases in pro baseball.

The Nationals were connected with the vacancy last fall, but felt they didn’t have enough time to make a choice between a Gulf Coast League team or the Appy League.

According to Landers, one of the factors in the Nationals’ decision will be economics. The organization’s lowest affiliate resides in the Gulf Coast League, where it has been since the franchise was based in Montreal.

GCL franchises are the least expensive to operate because they normally work out of an organization’s spring training facility, which usually has dorms or a nearby hotel for players to reside.

Without a team in Pulaski this year, the league has been forced to make do with a nine-team loop which forces at least one team to be off in two-day stretches and requires at least four scheduled doubleheaders for each squad.