It's too bad there isn't a reality show camera crew following around the North American Baseball League's Lake County Fielders this season because it really would make for some fantastic entertainment.
First the team's manager quit prior to a game, then the acting manager decides to put together a lineup consisting of all pitchers in the field and position players pitching, then the team's play-by-play guy quits on air. Three weeks later, the team is forced to postpone a game because they didn't have adequate baseballs -- no, really -- which was followed up days later by the North American Baseball League kicking them out of the league for refusing to make a trip to Maui.
All caught up? Because the latest news defies logic and/or reason.
The team announced today that they have kissed and made up with the league and will be playing out the rest of the season. With a twist.
From the Fielders' press release:
"The plan includes a Monday announcement by the Fielders that the team will play many of its remaining home games against the newly formed Kenosha County Fielders, a team of professional minor leaguers that will challenge their Lake County counterparts when other League teams are not traveling into town."
Read literally, that means the team will be playing a good chunk of the remainder of its NABL schedule against what is essentially a pickup team of local semi-pro and former minor leaguers. The end result is the creation of a sort of low rent Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals situation, wherein the established team (the Lake County Fielders) is taking on a ragtag foil (the Kenosha County Fielders) for the amusement of the masses on days when an NABL team won't be able to make it out to Zion.
Quite frankly, in my humble opinion, this press release leaves us with more questions than answers.
Are the Kenosha County Fielders' games going to count in the standings? How are the Kenosha County Fielders going to field a team on such short notice? Which current NABL teams are going to be making the trip out to Zion? Neither the team nor the league has answered any of these
The Fielders, for their part, have chosen to assign blame on everyone but themselves. Team spokesman Bernie DiMeo states in the release:
"We hope the City can quickly fix whatever internal issues at City Hall have caused the delays, so that in 2012 the Fielders, their fans, and the community can finally have their stadium."
The team has publicly stated since the outset that they're determined to finish out the home portion of their schedule, so in an odd sort of way, this allows them to do just that. Nowhere in this statement is there mention of the fact that the team still owes the city of Zion some $185,000 in back rent dating back to last season, a sum the team says they've refused to pay because the city didn't complete the promised permanent stadium in time. This despite the fact that the team has continued to play at the temporary facility with no prior (public) complaints.
More information is expected to be released shortly regarding how the remainder of the Fielders' schedule will play out and who will be paying the Kenosha County Fielders. We here at The Outside Corner will continue to keep you posted on the latest developments.
The fielders are an embarrassment to the game of baseball and to the city of Zion, IL. Playing out their remaining games against a pickup team? I think the Fielders' season ticket holders, who paid a lot of money to see PROFESSIONAL baseball, should sue the team for fraud. It wouldn't do any good, though-the deadbeat owner wouldn't pay up even if they got a judgement against the team.