Shut Up Fatty and Four Eyes: Mike Greene of the Gulls, MRPBL Responds
Shut Up Fatty and Four Eyes is a new feature on Oly Sports where my radio partner and friend, John McGlamery, and I discuss topics in the sports world that aren’t necessarily related to Olympia sports.
Last week I wrote a reaction/opinion piece after I heard about the Grays Harbor Gulls possibly returning to Hoquiam’s Olympic Stadium as part of a new six team independent league called the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League. I was definitely a skeptic and maybe jumped the gun a little bit and made some assumptions that could have been cleared up with a quick email to the league founder, Mike Greene.
A day after I posted my piece and it made the rounds, Greene posted a Facebook update that understandably expressed his disappointment with it. So I emailed Greene to allow him to respond to my concerns and answer a few questions that remained.
1. How do you propose to fund these teams? Seems like a very large expense for one man to take on. How can you assure cities, sponsors, fans that you will be able to pay your bills/uphold your responsibilities?
I have a very large backer that believes in me 100%. I do not need to disclose that to anyone. Who it is or how much it is. But the league will not fold for lack of playing players or stadium leases. Also the startup cost is not a large amount. The costs start when the games start. Players salaries, coaches, staff, umpires, hotels, vans, concessions, etc…..Players are not getting paid year round. So yes, there are a lot of costs when the season starts. Before that it is marketing, baseballs, uniforms, etc….Believe me….we will need to average over 200 fans a night at 3 different complexes to break even, and it is a little concerning if 65 fans show up like a Pecos League game. But there will be a season completed even if that was the case. We will do quite well if we average 500 fans at each venue and the players and coaches salaries go up at that point. So at the time paychecks start going out, is when we start collecting at the gate and concessions.
2. Do you plan on opening local offices in each city and staff them with sales and marketing people? What is your experience managing a league or team outside of coaching, off the field?
We will have a staff that covers Centralia and Grays Harbor. A staff for both Oregon teams, and one for Skagit and one for Moses Lake. 4 staffs for 6 teams and I will be running around to all of them non-stop wherever needed most. When Grays Harbor is on the road, Centralia will be at home. Or the other way around, or they will be playing each other. All this is done to keep the costs down. So that staff will have games every night in one of the 2 locations. Hope I explained that correctly. A lot of things are done with budget in mind because if the break even point became 400-500 fans then the risks you brought up are easier to come into play. I have a Masters in Sports Management, I have owned an indoor baseball facility and ran 4 select teams out of it at one time, and have been in sports all my life.
3. Do you plan on hiring a graphics designer to create logos for each team? My big problem with naming teams like you have done is you miss a big opportunity to have fans participate in branding the team. If you also don’t give attractive logos, then it could be a big problem. Also, I’m not against the Gulls name, I just hope you create a new logo and think more about the colors.
I jumped the gun a little naming teams and cities. I agree. I assumed Kennewick would love to have a team if offered and found out a lot of cities do not have appropriate facilities or 35 open dates. And those are not finished logos. I talked to a LOGO company today about doing all 6 logos and t-shirt designs today. We didn’t start a bunch of teams and fold them….you made it sound like that in the article. They were cities I was considering and didn’t work out. The mayor and Brian Shaw and everyone I met at Grays Harbor wanted me to call it the Gulls. We will have a logo designed. OK….Let me know what colors you like (not being sarcastic). No matter what team name or color scheme, someone will not like it. I think the quality of team will set the tone for fans liking them or not. The Grays Harbor area have been so supportive. I really want to make sure we meet their expectations.
4. Do you still have ties to the Pecos League?
I have no ties at all to the Pecos League. Except a lot of the best players from there are interested in coming up here next Summer. I started this because of the mis-management of the Pecos League. You assumed that I was modeling it after that in your article. I saw the good things we were doing for the players, and all the things that were wrong with the league. I met so many quality players there that LOVE this game. I said halfway through our season (where I was THE STAFF) how much potential there would be in my home state of Washington. There was no marketing, lack of care for the players in accommodations, playing fields, pay, etc..I KNOW I could make a league far superior to the Pecos League. Playing level wise we will be a little better, but in the putting on a show for fans, concessions, and taking care of the players we will be far superior.
5. Which cities do you currently have deals with?
We have deals with Centralia, Grays Harbor, Skagit (Mt. Vernon), Moses Lake and Oregon City. Because we couldn’t put anyone next to Skagit or Moses Lake it is very important that the 6th city is close to Oregon City.
6. Anything else that you want to tell me that would make me or my readers feel better about the MRPBL?
I cannot guarantee that the first year of the league will be the most amazing Independent Pro baseball league of all time. But I can guarantee that I spend every day working my butt off to be as good as we can be. And it wont be easy or always smooth. I want it to be the best possible thing for the fans and players. If I focus on those 2 things we should be alright.
Thank you to Mike for his honesty and for following up. I certainly appreciate it.
I will say that I’m still skeptical, but that is my nature especially with a start up independent baseball league. But Mike seems very sincere and has set reasonably achievable goals for the first season (though I don’t see how 200 fans a night could possibly make them break even) and I feel slightly better that this league will see the light of day come summer. I certainly want it to succeed and I want to see the Gulls return to one of my favorite ballparks, Olympic Stadium, and I’d love to go watch the Centralia Minotaurs at Wheeler Field. Let’s hope the MRPBL and Mike Greene can make it happen.