Friday, November 27, 2009

Winter baseball fails in Florida

When I do a sports road trip, I like to see a game every day if possible. But in the winter, there's really only hockey and basketball to rely on, and with only 3 games a week per team, it's tough to keep busy in one area. That's where the minor leagues and college games can really help. So I'm always on the lookout for new sports leagues that increase the chances of seeing a game in some far-flung locale.

I've mentioned that I'll be taking a big trip in January - I'll post separately on that once tickets are booked but I've put in on my 2010 schedule for now. I'll be spending a good length of time in Florida, a state that I've only been to once, back in 2001. I've planned a few NHL and NBA games, as well as some ECHL and NCAA games to fill out the time, but there was still January 24th that was empty. So I was intrigued to find the Florida Winter Baseball League would be holding their playoffs on that weekend. The League is the latest attempt at winter ball in the USA, billed as an alternative to Caribbean Winter Ball. Sounded interesting and definitely worth a look, I thought. If there was a game somewhere on the 24th it would complete my schedule perfectly. But as it turns out, there's no game anywhere that weekend: the FWBL has suspended operations after just two weeks.

It appears as if the League was not meeting its financial obligations so the group financing them backed out. I suppose when your average attendance of 367, it's tough to make much cash. I wonder how well the FWBL was marketed - perhaps Florida, which has pro baseball from February till October, is not the best place for this sort of independent league.

You have to feel for the players, who are going to have a tough time landing another job in the winter. They will still get paid apparently, but I'm sure missing out on those 2 months of ball is going to hurt.

As for me, well, I'll be watching the NFL conference championships on January 24th. New Orleans and Indy will likely be the hosts, so I don't think I'll be making it to a stadium. But with New Orleans only 13 hours from Miami (or a $250 flight) you never know.



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