American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier admits that he may not be as smart as he thinks as the off-season in the American Association has been the most productive in five seasons.
A Moment Frozen in Time
It was September 18, 2017. Casey Turgeon grounded a ball down to T.J. Mittelstaedt, who threw to Matt Chavez for the final out of the game, and the Wichita Wingnuts were the 2017 American Association Champions. Or were they?
A balk became one of the most controversial calls in sport’s history. Turgeon would return to the plate and doulbe to tie the score, and the Winnipeg Goldeyes would go onto win Game 4 before winning Game 5 and the 2017 American Association Championship.
Step 1 – Open Mouth, Step 2 – Insert Foot
Following Game 5, some “wise” man expressed his outrage at the call and how this had permanently damaged the American Association and its reputation. He said, and I quote, “Why would any player want to come and play in a league where teams don’t win on the field, but can have games taken away from them by absolutely ridiculous calls?”
That “wise” man was me and, if this off-season is any indication, the answer to may question is everybody!
In the five years that I have been covering the American Association, this has been the most impressive off-season I have ever seen. There are former Major League players on almost every roster in this league. The Sioux City Explorers have three and would have had four had Tony Campana not signed in Mexico. Teams are even turning away former big leaguers because they don’t have enough veteran spots.
That is not even the full story. Guys who were in AA and AAA in 2016 or 2017 are coming to the league in droves. Just look at the Kansas City T-Bones for example. They currently have a guy who has Major League experience, plus seven players who reached AAA last season and six more who made it as far as AA, and Manager Joe Calfapietra is not enough done filling his roster.
Returning to my previous question, who wants to play in a league like this? That answer is pretty clear.
Maybe the Old Saying Is Right
They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and maybe that is the case here. While I am not insinuating in anyway that the American Association and its executives did anything to create the circumstances of Game 4, because I am not saying that at all, they may have inadvertently stumbled upon something that has given the league a whole lot of free press.
The tale of the championship was on SI.com and it was talked about in several sports publications and websites. Maybe this discussion opened the eyes to some players who may not have thought about playing independent ball before or who may not have thought about playing in the American Association. That could very well be the case.
So, Mea Culpa American Association. You have truly turned what could have been lemons into lemonade. Thou truly art wiser than I.
American Association Daily Notes
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks signed IF Leobaldo Pina and traded RHP Tyler Stirewalt to Pitttsburg (Pacific Association). Pina has been in the St. Louis Cardinals organization since 2011. Last season, he split time between High-A Palm Beach and AA-Springfield. Combined, he hit .261 in 103 games with 40 runs scored and 24 extra base hits…The Sioux City Explorers signed RHPs Holden Helmink and Tyler Fallwell. Fallwell has played for the Kansas City Royals organization since being drafted by the team in 2016. He pitched at Burlington (Rookie Ball) and Mid-A Lexington last season, where he was 1-0 in 13 appearances. The right-hander struck out 29 in 24.2 innings pitched. Helmink last pitched for Bridgeport (Atlantic League) in 2016. He made just 7 appearances before an injury sidelined him for the last year and a half…The Lincoln Saltdogs traded IF Johnny Ruiz to Sussex County (Can-Am League) for IF Chase Simpson. Simpson was in the Pirates organization at AA-Altoona to start 2017 before joining York (Atlantic League). He hit .199 in 57 games for York.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA