Friday, February 12, 2010

Potential Long Beach return in the future?

As re-posted from the LB Armada Blog, a Long Beach columnist has heard from GBL CEO/Founder Dave Kaval, and while things in Long Beach ended with a bumpy road last fall, the league hasn't dismissed the idea of trying to repave the road in the future. See below...

The Press Telegram's Bob Keisser wrote the following piece this evening for Saturday's paper. Very good to read some positive things about the Armada. Definitely sad there won't be baseball during the summer at Blair Field next season, but hopefully the possibility of a GBL return to Long Beach will materialize in the future.

The article from Keisser:

KEISSER: GBL would like to see a return to Long Beach

By Bob Keisser, Sports Columnist
Posted: 02/12/2010 10:38:58 PM PST

There's the High Road, and then there's the path to Mt. Everest.

David Kaval chose the latter.

The subject was the Long Beach Armada (RIP, 2005-09), and the Golden Baseball League, and the city's decision to lease Blair Field to Long Beach State and pull the team and league's permit to use the park.

Needless to say, the team and league weren't happy about the way the situation was handled, and they and their modest legion of fans were angry when this space responded with a not-so-fond adieu.

So what did Kaval, the Stanford grad who created the league and its league-ownership model, say when we finally connected on the phone?

He said he would like to come back to Long Beach.

Seriously. He thinks Long Beach is still a good fit for an independent league team and a good fit for his league.

When the three previous minor league team ownership groups all were in the throes of death - one crumbled (Barracuda), one moved (Riptide) and one folded (Breakers) along with the league - they usually departed by pointing a finger at the city and the community, literally and figuratively.

Kaval wasn't happy with the way things ended, but he understands that in today's recessionary climate, the deal made sense for the city and Long Beach State on a lot of levels.

He even confirmed that the league once offered the city a bus as collateral, which isn't the usual compensation municipalities seek.

But he just wishes the city hadn't pushed the league aside the way they did. Or as one might say, hadn't thrown them under the bus.

That said, he'd like to come back.

"At some point, I think we will be back in Long Beach," Kaval said. "I think Blair Field is a great park and think Long Beach is a great community for baseball.

"We just feel like we had the rug pulled out from underneath us. We had two years left on a lease when they pulled the permit. We offered to write them a check right away for what we owed them, but they said not to bother."

Kaval and I agreed not to debate the quality of the baseball or concession prices. We weren't going to agree on those points. But we did agree that the basic saga comes down to business decisions.

The city is strapped and wanted to remove a $1 million-plus line item (running Blair) from the budget.

They found someone who was willing to take over operation of the field, Long Beach State, because the university wants the revenue stream that comes from concessions and rent of the park for other events. More on that later.

The Armada would have found it difficult to operate the team financially without the concession deal, which is why they pressed to have the lease honored. Kaval acknowledged that the league owed the city $50,000, half in expenses incurred and the other half in a bank line of credit (LOC) that had expired.

The city exercised the expired LOC to lease the facility. The lawyers will now get their turn at-bat to see how everything is resolved.

"We invested a lot of time and money with the Armada," Kaval said. "We prepaid our rent each year and wanted the city to honor the lease. When I offered to bring the city a check (for $25,000), they said not to bother. The message was clear that they didn't want us at any price."

The bus thing: When the bank LOC first expired, the league offered to give the city the bus as collateral. City officials preferred cash but let the Armada play on without the LOC. Until they didn't.

"I understand that this was an important deal for the city, and the city was under pressure to make a move," Kaval said. "This is a difficult financial environment right now.

"Long Beach State is in a position to do things the city couldn't with Blair. We would have liked a chance make some kind of arrangement that could have allowed us to stay, but we weren't given a chance."

The concession rights were part of the reason why Long Beach State wanted Blair, so any kind of arrangement would have been difficult.

Here's what the university can do that no minor league can:

The concession deal and right to rent the stadium provides the athletic department and university new revenue streams. The university can find ways to renovate Blair - and the 52-year-old stadium needs renovating - that others can't. A capital campaign is in the works, and 49ers A.D. Vic Cegles believes some alums will step up now that Blair is officially the school's to operate.

Once the team moves to Blair permanently, for practice as well as games, the university can consider development of the land being vacated on campus. Money (state, federal) is available for universities to build multi-use facilities for the entire student body; that's how the Pyramid was built.

There were local connections to the Armada that are regrettable with their departure. The two guys who ran the team last year were Tony Soares, who once ran the Ice Dogs, the only minor league franchise here that ever could call itself a success, and Mike Callin, who is also the Dirtbags' Director of Baseball Operations. Their efforts were under-appreciated.

Kaval also said the league is sound and not headed to bankruptcy. He said several teams are doing well and he said the travel costs for a league with franchises in Canada, Mexico and Hawaii aren't as bad as some would think.

No tougher than taking the high road. The harsh assessment here was a case of guilt by association, and they deserve that mea culpa. They also deserve notice for being the first team to keep the door ajar rather than slam it on the way out.

Long Beach Armada 2005-2009 ... for now.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Your 2010 Field Manager is...

Paul Abbott.

It became official less than 48 hours ago. Paul Abbott will be the Field Manager for the Orange County Flyers in 2010. Here's the official announcement and press release from the team:

The Press Release:

11-year MLB veteran returns to OC after serving as pitching coach in 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. (February 5, 2010) – The Orange County Flyers have agreed to terms with former Major League pitcher Paul Abbott to become the fourth field manager in franchise history. The right-handed hurler graduated from Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif., and is best known for his five-year stint with the Seattle Mariners from 1998-2002. Abbott returns to manage the Flyers in 2010 after serving as pitching coach for the team in 2009.

Abbott’s coaching experience includes working as an assistant coach for the Fullerton Junior College Hornets in addition to working with the Flyers pitching staff last season. This is his first opportunity to manage.

“The deal was a no-brainer,” said Harris Tulchin, Executive VP of Player Personnel. “We wanted him, and he wanted us. We’re proud to introduce a homegrown talent like Paul as the next Field Manager of the OC Flyers.”

In early December, 2009 Flyers manager Phil Nevin was hired away by the Detroit Tigers to manage their Double-A affiliate in Erie. Nevin led the team to a 37-39 record last year. In 2008, Hall of Famer Gary Carter managed the Flyers to the team’s first GBL Championship before leaving for a job in the Atlantic League. Three-time All-Star shortstop Garry Templeton managed the Flyers during the team’s first three seasons, from 2005-07, losing in the championship series to Reno in 2006. Templeton was recently named manager of the Golden League’s Chico Outlaws.

Abbott played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, beginning his career with the Minnesota Twins in 1990, making his MLB debut on August 21. In addition to his time with the Twins (1990-92), he also played in the Majors with the Indians (1993), Mariners (1998-2002), Royals (2003), Devil Rays (2004), and Phillies (2004). In 162 big league games, Abbott made 112 starts, going 43-37 with a 4.92 ERA. His best season came in 2001 when Abbot won a career-high 17 games, going 17-4 in 27 starts as the Mariners tied the mark for most victories in a season with 116 wins.

Abbot finished his playing career in 2005 as a member of the inaugural Fullerton Flyers team in the first year of the Golden League. The Fullerton native made 9 starts for the Flyers, going 3-5 with a 2.87 ERA.

“Paul’s ability to help develop emerging talents was apparent last season as pitching coach,” said Owner/General Manager Dan MacLeith. “Selecting him to manage the Flyers makes a smooth transition for our organization as we fight for another championship.”

Tickets for the 2010 season are currently on sale and are available by calling the Flyers office at (714) 526- 8326 or visiting the website:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Major Announcement Coming Soon

The team is getting ready to announce the fourth manager in franchise history...