Goldeyes Season Likely Over, What Does American Association Do Next?
- 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 examines the news that Winnipeg will shutdown sports until at least September.
A Summer without Baseball in Winnipeg
On Wednesday, the provincial government of Manitoba released their reopening plans related to the Covid-19 virus. This was great news for most within the province, but the plan looks like it will end any hopes that the Winnipeg Goldeyes or any other sports team will be playing this summer.
According to the plan, all major sports events will be cancelled until at least September. This raises two interesting questions: What is considered major, and why September?
Currently, there are five professional teams in the province – the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the CPL’s Valour FC, and the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes. This does not include junior or other forms of amateur hockey.
Of these teams, only three would be playing in the summer – the Goldeyes, Blue Bombers, and Valour FC. Without sounding legalistic, the question that must be raised is what is considered “major?”
Clearly the NHL’s Jets host major sporting events, as they were drawing nearly 16,000 fans per game prior to the pandemic. The Blue Bombers did quite well last season, drawing nearly 30,000 fans per game so they, too, would definitely be considered major.
That may not fit the definition for the Moose and Goldeyes, who drew around 4,000 fans a game in their last season. Does that mean that they will be exempt from this ruling? Likely not.
That fact that the government order is likely to end in September is the very interesting part of this equation. That would be the time that NHL training camps are set to start, and there is likely a push to ensure that the Jets are up and running. Their fans are not going to take kindly to other NHL teams playing and there team is not, which could lead to government leaders losing their jobs. You can be pretty sure that the Winnipeg Jets will be playing hockey in their arena come October.
What Does the American Association Do?
Goldeyes team President Stan Katz is asking the same question we are: “What is a major sporting event?” He pointed out that the team could very well abide by social distancing rules but, even with reduced numbers of fans coming to games each night, that may not be enough to satisfy the government, meaning the Goldeyes season is likely over before it even got started.
So, what does the American Association do at this point? There is a lot of speculation, but we will provide you with what we know.
First off, with no Chinese players coming, the Texas AirHogs are in a bad situation trying to fill their roster. They would likely be forced to play with a lineup made up of primarily rookies, and it is believed that ownership does not relish this idea. If they put their season off a year, that handles the problem of an odd number of teams, as both Winnipeg and Texas would be out, making a 10-team league, with a team lost in each division. No logistical worries there.
The other concern is the governors. Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin have governors who have been far more restrictive about the shelter-in policies. This could mean that they may continue to stop large gatherings until as late as September.
That would put the St. Paul Saints, Milwaukee Milkmen, and Chicago Dogs in a very bad spot. However, the ownership groups for these three teams are prepared to play games without fans. They have already informed their league they are willing to do so.
In Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, and Kansas it does not look like it will be an issue to play games with some commonsense precautions taken. Indiana does not look to be an issue either, as their stay-at-home order ended today, and there has been no talk of stopping sporting events.
With three teams willing to play in empty stadiums and seven looking like they can play, the American Association looks like they could go with an 80-game schedule. It will not be fun for teams to travel to Cleburne just to play the Railroaders, and the Railroaders are likely going to have some long road trips and homestands to even out the travel mileage, but it is workable. Each team could play a three-game series home and away against teams from the other division and play 12 or 13 games within their own division to play an 80-game season.
Right now, MLB is in limbo and there is likely not going to be an affiliated minor league season at all. That puts the American Association in the position to be the only game in town. This could be huge for the league if it works out.
By Robert Pannier