Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Can/Am League Welcomes The NEWARK BEARS ~ 2011

In the Midst of Financially Trying Times, the Independent NEWARK BEARS Baseball Club Switches to the Canadian/American League as a More Cost Effective Alternative to the Atlantic League.

This year marks the seventh season of CanAm League operations.  The Canadian/American League is the reorganized version of the old NorthEastern League which formed back in 1995.

For the 1999 season, the NorthEastern League merged with the elder Northern League; formed back in 1993; and operated as a Northern League Eastern Division.  The two leagues split apart again after the 2002 season.  The Northeastern League resumed independent operations and in 2005, reorganized as the CanAm League.  But, in name, the CanAm League actually has a history that traces all the way back to 1936 when it was originally tailored to be an Upstate New York and Ontario, Canada circuit. 

This League plays a shorter schedule than does the Atlantic League of Baseball.  On average, they play ninety-four games a season.  This season kicks off on Thursday, May 26th.  The healthiest organizations; - the Broxton Rox and the Quebec Capitales have consistently lead the League in attendance averaging crowds of well over three-thousand per game.

Last season, Quebec defeated Pittsfield to win their second consecutive title and the team's third
CanAm Championship.

2005 ~ Worcester Tornadoes
2006 ~ Quebec Capitales
2007 ~ Nashua Pride
2008 ~ Sussex SkyHawks
2009 ~ Quebec Capitales
2010 ~ Quebec Capitales

This season's returning teams include the Quebec Capitales; Pittsfield Colonials; Brockton Rox; New Jersey Jackals; and the Worcester Tornadoes.  Gone are the Sussex Skyhawks of New Jersey after five years of operation.  They will be replaced by a new team making a debut in the CanAm League; the Rockland Boulders of New York.

Additionally, the CanAm League will be an eight team circuit again due to the Newark Bears switching over from the Atlantic League (and utilization of a road team).  For the last two seasons, the CanAm League only fielded six teams; marking their lowest total.  For the 2005, 2006, and 2008 seasons, they managed to field the customary eight teams.  The circuit sported a League-high ten teams during the 2007 season.

Managed by former MLB star Tim Raines, the Newark Bears will make their CanAm debut this season after operating in the Atlantic League for the last thirteen years.  Because the CanAm League indeed plays a shorter schedule than the Atlantic League, the Newark Bears made the switch to a shorter schedule in order to lower the operating costs of their struggling franchise.

In the past, other teams have taken similar measures as the Newark Bears.  The Atlantic City Surf were originally an Atlantic League team which crossed over after the 2006 season.  However, despite representative crowds of twenty-five hundred plus, they ultimately folded after the 2008 season.  The Nashua Pride likewise came over from the Atlantic League and were suffering crippling attendance figures like the Newark Bears face today.  But they were reorganized after the 2009 season and exist today as current member, the Pittsfield Colonials. 

The addition of the Newark Bears now places three teams in the NY/NJ area; three teams in Massachusetts; and the one team in Quebec, Canada.  In addition to a shorter schedule, this alignment should also help Newark bring their travel expenses down.  In the Atlantic League, the Newark Bears' competitors were more widely dispersed.  Aside from the nearby Somerset Club and Camden down the turnpike, the Bears travelled to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and eastern Long Island.  They now have a team 40 miles away in Rockland, N.Y., and a second team literally, right next door.

Their newest and closest rival will be the New Jersey Jackals who play twelve miles away next to Montclair St. University.  That's also where the Yogi Berra Baseball Museum is located.  They are an old Northeastern League hold-over from the Northern League days and won back-to-back Championships during the 2001-2002 seasons. 

To date, the Jackals are the only CanAm League team I have visited.  But that changes this season as I will continue to root for the Bears while they get accustomed to their new environment.  I, like the Newark Bears, look forward to learning a new League and visiting their parks.

It's my sincere hope changing leagues helps the Newark Bears and new management better control costs, and that they may enjoy a promising season at the gate.  There's a rich history connected with Newark Baseball that predates even the New York Mets and stretches back to the 1930's.  It would be a travesty should a city so intertwined in Baseball History have it's current team go dormant due to financial reasons. 

I met Newark Mayor, the Honorable Cory Booker, just as a fan shaking hands during the Bear's winning Championship game in 2007.  I wish him well, as I did then, in all his endeavours and hope the Newark Bears remain a part of the local, but crowded Baseball landscape for years to come.  I will try and do my part to help by hopping over from Brooklyn and attending several games a year like I've done for over a decade.

Jackals and Boulders...., consider this your fair warning.

For scheduling purposes, it is still undetermined as to whether the NEW YORK FEDERALS will serve as a road team to even the number of teams at eight.


Atlantic League 2011  ~ Mike.BTB


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