We’re taking over the Futures League for a day

It’s time for a change, if only for a day.

Nothing personal, Chris Hall. You’ve gotten the Futures Collegiate Baseball League up and running, and it was really on its way a couple of years ago to becoming what was envisioned.

But the FCBL has lost its way, as this past year showed. Bad play, bad scheduling, bad umpiring, etc. Fans still had fun, but the way things ended typified the season, as the league ran out of time to finish its championship series due to weather. Hello, co-champions: Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and Worcester Bravehearts.


And now, the flagship Bravehearts will be hit hard with the arrival from Pawtucket in three years of the Worcester Red Sox. Oh, excuse me, the WooSox. That couldn’t have likely been avoided, but now the urgency to strengthen this league is

So, we are taking over. Commish For A Day. The 24-hour reign of Commissioner King begins, and what’s accomplished in this brief time should not be undone.

Of course, this is all fantasy. Hall doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing his job. Yet touting a record average attendance year, while good public releations, hides a lot. First, it was expected you would have a record average, because the franchises who can’t draw weren’t around, as the league shrunk to seven teams. It was simple math.

And that hides a lot of things that are wrong with the league. Thus, as Commissioner King, this is what should happen:

First of all, we would still give Hall a job, as deputy commissioner. The league needs more help, and Hall has had to spread himself thin too much. So an assistant is needed going forward.

Second, the umpiring system needs to be overhauled. A new supervisor – possibly a duty of the new deputy commissioner. Commissioner King will immediately institute a three-umpire system. You can’t make a call on a play at third from the other side of the pitcher’s mound. Ridiculous. Money may be the issue, but these owners have deep pockets. We will get it done. When an umpire can’t get off his butt to inspect the field after a rain delay — as happened at Holman Stadium a few weeks ago — something is very, very wrong.

Most important, this commissioner will find an eighth team/city/owner. Time to break ties with the idle Seacoast Mavs and owner Dave Hoyt. He’s held this league hostage with the foolish Dover taj mahal that had been in the works, and sat out this past season. We will thank Hoyt for being one of the league’s founding fathers and move on — unless, of course, he can produce a lease for a facility/stadium in another city which could work.

Otherwise, the search is on. Bristol would love a neighbor. Waterbury? And let’s not even entertain thought of Pawtucket. Too big a facility for a college wooden bat league. A thousand fans at McCoy will feel like 100.

With an eighth team, Mondays will be off unless needed for makeups. In a big difference from the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the FCBL is a for-profit league. There is no profit in playing on a Monday night in June until school is out. Even then it’s a tough sell. And when a team has to take a weekend night off, they are losing a good potential home date.

The hokey Home Run Derby to decide games that are tied after 10 innings will be gone. In its place: We will go the international way, putting a runners on second to start each half inning, but we will do it after 11 innings (not 10 that the FCBL has done with the derby) if games are still tied. The HR Derby was always a mess. Thankfully, Holman Stadium never saw a single one to decide a game. That belongs in an

All-Star Game.

We’re ending the season after 52 games. Everyone gets 26 home dates, two fewer than what has been scheduled. Thus, the chances of avoiding the fiasco that was the co-championship on the Vineyard are lessened. And, a new rule is being proposed that in the rare instance the league does get caught in a time problem, the top seed gets the crown. Sharing is not caring.

The high school grads/incoming freshmen rule will allow each team only three. Yes, we know that some of the league’s best players have been those who have yet to put on a college uniform. But there are too many of them. And some of them – Silver Knight Nick Biddison comes to mind – are simply too young. College coaches are trying to offer these players instead of some of their better ones. That’s holding the league back from improving.

The league needs a marketing campaign to lobby major colleges. We’ll only have a day to put it together, but in the words of Silver Knights general manager Rick Muntean, “We want your starting shortstop,not your freshman shortstop.” Muntean’s view is this: the league plays in some top-notch facilities, and those should be a selling point to motivate college coaches to send better players.

It’s time for the Futures League to put its best foot forward. It grew too fast a few years ago, and settled for sub-par franchises and lousy facilities, and bad or underfunded owners. Playing at Portsmouth’s Leary Field was a joke. So was having seven teams this season. So was the decision for co-champions.

In all seriousness, the FCBL has some important times ahead. Owners need to spend some of their dollars to enhance it.

Commissioner King has laid out his plan. What say you, Futures League fans and owners?

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com., or @Telegraph_TomK.