Golden League Preview
The baseball season started yesterday with a classic Edmonton vs Calgary matchup. This time in the Golden League.
The Golden League started in 2005 in a hope to give young players, who are unsigned a chance to fullfil their baseball dreams. The Golden League, derives its name being based in the Golden State of California. In 2005 the GBL featured 7 teams in California and in Arizona as well as travelling barnstorming Japanese club. The GBL began independant and remains that way. An independent league is not afflilated with MLB through its teams or player contracts. The GBL actively sells contracts to ML clus.
The GBL plays a 90 game season. The season was halved in the 06 and 07 seasons when the league fielded only 6 teams. There is usally a playoff system in place. I am unsure of how it will work this year.
The GBL has absorbed the Edmonton Cracker Cats and the Calgary Vipers into the fold for the 2008 season. Adding the two clubs in Alberta, Canada has seen the Golden League quickly outgrown its California/Arizona roots. The GBL has added teams in Utah and Nevada and rumours are circling to expand into several British Columbia markets as well as Saskatchewan, Oregon and Montana.
The Golden League is considered A Level ball. The Long Beach and Yuma clubs recently played the Chinese Olympic Team and the games were split and all competitve to give a level of comparison. The GBL all-star team plays the United Baseball League in their version of the mid-summer classic. Their is no meeting of league champs yet.
The Calgary Vipers and Edmonton Cracker Cats, the new kids on the block so to say, were expansion teams in the Northern League in 2004. Calgary and Edmonton are both cities of around 1,000,000, which make them, by far the largest markets in the GBL. Edmonton has a history of PCL Championship teams but the club relocated after the 2004 season. Calgary had the also-ran Cannons in the PCL from about 1985-2000. The expansion to Alberta for the Northern League was unsuccessful. The travel was bad. The Northern League is based in the Upper-mid west. The Vipers and Cats averaged, last year around 1500 per game whereas the other 6 NBL clubs attracted about 4000.
The Vipers and Cats take with them their rosters, coaching staff etc. The calibre in the NBL is considered to be AA. Perhaps the Alberta entries will be more competitive and attract more fans to the ballparks. From what I can find, most GBL games attract 750-2000 fans.
Last night at Telus Field in Edmonton, the Cats edged the Snakes, 8-7 in a back and forth battle in the first GBL game in Canada. It has been stormy in Alberta all week and I am surprised this game got in. I could find no attendance figures
In Calgary this year, Mike Busch is the manager. He played a couple season in the mid 1990s with the Dodgers. Also, watch for Darryl Brinkley, who, even at 40 is expected to tear up GBL pitching. Brinkley was the Northern Leagues players of the year last year, recording a Ted Williamsesque .400 batting average, the first in NBL history.
I hope to report much more on the GBL this summer. Look back for reviews next week when the Calgary Vipers return home for a rematch against the Cracker Cats
Golden League Champions
2005 San Diego Surf Dawgs
2006 Reno Silver Sox
2007 Chico Outlaws
2008 Golden League Teams
Edmonton Cracker Cats
Chino (CA) Outlaws
Reno (NV) Silver Sox
Long Beach (CA) Armada
Yuma (AZ) Scorpions
Orange County (CA) Flyers
St. George (UT) Roadrunners
Check out all the info on the 2008 GBL at www.goldenbaseball.com