A few coolers to get you in the summer sports mood
School’s out for summer, so the season is now officially underway. Here are a few summer coolers to consider:
— The Futures Collegiate League got a huge boost Friday night when Rhode Island legislators approved an $83 million plan just in the nick of time for a new stadium to keep the Pawtucket Red Sox in Pawtucket.
Why is this important? Well, Worcester was the PawSox and franchise head Larry Lucchino’s backup plan as the city was ready to welcome theReds Sox Triple A affiliate with open arms with the willingness to build a new stadium in the city’s Canal District. It has been a political tug of war between the two cities for the last year or so.
Other than the Red Sox interest, why should we in the Nashua area care? Because Worcester is the strongest, most successful franchise in the Futures Collegiate League in terms of economics (attendance, community support, etc.). Unless there are any late snags, now the FCBL and Commissioner Chris Hall can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on finding an eighth team to even out the schedule.
— The concern about the strength of Legion baseball isn’t just contained to New Hampshire. Interesting story by old friend Steve Craig in the Portland (Me.) Press Herald about the decline of American Legion baseball in the state of Maine.
It seems the problem there, especially for Senior Legion, is the same as in New Hampshire: Losing players to AAU (or facsimile thereof) travel teams. According to the report, Senior Legion has lost 15 teams in the state in the last two years. In 2007, Maine had 48 Senior teams. Now? Just 18.
Also according to the report, some high school coaches have pushed to form alternative leagues.
The problems with Legion ball in New Hampshire have been well documented, including here in this space. What happened with Exeter in last year’s state tournament, unable to compete from the second day on because of a lack of players, was simply an embarrassment. It was surprising that Exeter was allowed to have a team this year after all that, but if they have enough players, Legion isn’t in a position to turn teams away (plus why punish those who legitimately want to play).
Legion in New Hampshire has moved to have more doubleheaders during the week with the new rule reducing games to seven innings, just to avoid scheduling weekend District games so some players can play AAU ball on the weekends. But this area has lost two Senior programs already (Hudson and Milford) for the time being. And you have to think in theory that there should be enough players from Alvirne and Campbell High Schools to fill a Senior team, if they can be combined that way.
—Just a reminder that the landscape for high school football locally will change just a tad this coming fall. Remember, Merrimack will now be in the Western Conference with Nashuas North, South, Bishop Guertin and Keene. The Tomahawks are replacing Alvirne,which is dropping down to Division II. Windham, meanwhile, will move up from Division II and take Merrimack’s spot in the South Conference. Quiz on all this by the end of summer, so study up.
— Speaking of the Silver Knights, congrats to team owner Drew Weber as the team he used to own, the Lowell Spinners, renamed a street by LeLacheur Park “Weber Way” in his honor. A great gesture. Weber rescued the Spinners more or less in Lowell and under his ownership the franchise catapulted to great success, unheard of in this region.
—- Speaking of the Red Sox, anyone complaining about them signing J.D. Martinez instead of trading for Giancarlo Stanton and his ridiculous contract now? Stanton, despite his walkoff homer in New York last week, has been just short of a bust so far, a strikeout waiting to happen as he constantly swings at pitches down and out of the zone. Martinez? A .300 hitter with great power and run production, leading the Majors in RBIs. Had he not been signed, the Red Sox would be way out of the AL East race by now.
Remember, pennants, etc. aren’t won in December.
—-Former Major League pitcher Tom Candiotti, in town to see his son Casey pitch for the Silver Knights, was just enthralled with Holman Stadim and its history. Candiotti is a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks and being a former Dodger, has a sense of Holman’s history and knows some Dodger greats. “It’s special knowing that Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe played here,” Candiotti said the other day. “I see Newc when I go to L.A.and I’m definitely going to talk to him about (Holman).”
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.firstname.lastname@example.org