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I think this article has a lot to say to those who would discuss a new CSL.




Capitals games a fun diversion


Do me a favour and go see a pro baseball game in Victoria this summer.

I saw two of the four played by the Victoria Capitals in their inaugural home stand last week and was suitably impressed.

Checking out the independent Canadian Baseball League’s first game at Royal Athletic Park May 28, I showed up just before game time and expected to walk in for the anthem and the opening pitch.

Apparently 3,620 other fans had the same idea. The lineup outside the park lasted through the second inning and the wait for a cold beer took almost as long as a round-trip to Esquimalt. At least the queues for food and a program looked reasonable.

Overall, it was about as good an opener as the Caps could have asked for. The home team took an early lead on a home run by the team’s best hitter so far, second baseman Henry Pichardo, then fought off the Calgary Outlaws as the sun set and the lights came on at RAP.

The icing came when Victoria managed to pull off its first win — and only one so far in eight games — in extra innings. Most of the fans I spoke to said it was better calibre ball than they expected.

Pity the stadium’s neighbours, however, as this was also “thunder stick” night — for the clapping noisemakers made popular by Anaheim fans during the 2002 World Series. Afterward the crowd bounced into the streets like third graders on an 11 p.m. field trip.

Not surprisingly, attendance had returned to an expectable level by the Saturday game, when an announced 1,379 people spent the warm afternoon watching the Caps lose 4-1 in 12 innings. The other two games brought in about 1,500 spectators each — about 500 less than the league says it needs to break even.

Not that everything was beer-glow bright. While stadium staff can be forgiven for the delays on opening night, a little more needs to be done to keep casual fans coming.

Why not pass around a tin cup and ask for $2 donations? There was no information about the team or the players. Even the photocopied roster inside was out of order and unorganized and the photo sheet made Capital players appear like they were standing in front of one of those sideshow mirrors.

And, while I’m on it, the league’s Web site needs a little debugging. This is what we get from a couple of guys who have revolutionized the Information Age?

Hey, Charlton (Lui), don’t be so cheap with those new portable computers you helped build. That Tablet PC sounds ideal for helping scorekeepers post live updates online. If they need training, league benefactor Jeff Mallett ought to know a few folks in the dot.com world with a little time on their hands.

These are the kinds of details that will help make the league work — and that means casual fans like me will have games to go to.

Around the league, average attendance isn’t anywhere near that magic 2,000 fans per game. The CBL doesn’t list attendance figures for every game so it’s hard to tell exactly how they’re doing. However, scanning the papers from the seven other league cities suggests Victoria might be the flagship franchise so far.

The Capitals’ next opponent, the Kelowna Heat, attracted 1,600 fans to their second home game against Saskatoon, according to the Daily Courier.

In Calgary, the Herald reports that a total of 5,946 people showed up for the Outlaws’ four-game homestand. In London, Ontario, wet weather dampened the crowds, which dropped from 5,100 for the opener to 545 for the fourth game of the Monarchs’ series against Montreal.

And in Saskatoon, where the Legends are the class of the league at 7-1, only 1,300 fans took in the opener and less than 500 have showed up since. Compare that to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, an independent team in the Northern League, which draws an average crowd of 6,200 to its 49 home games.

It’s not about the baseball, though the CBL is clearly above any rec league in town. And it’s not about supporting the whims of millionaires who can play with a real minor league like most of us do with fantasy sports pools.

It’s about being outside on a summer night and hanging on to a sense of community. Something seems to be losing sway, more and more these days, in favour of individual pursuits.


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The Montréal media qould be having a field day with this if they weren't ignoring it so much.

Any team that's named "Royales" by the front office can't draw any respect. They'll be gone after this summer, before having played one home game!

Allez l'Impact!

Allez les Rouges!

Allons Ultras!

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