Category Archives: Baseball

Shut Up Fatty and Four Eyes: Mike Greene of the Gulls, MRPBL Responds

MRPBL Founder Mike Greene

MRPBL Founder Mike Greene

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.

Shut Up Fatty and Four Eyes: The Grays Harbor Gulls are Returning?

MRPBL Logo from their Facebook page

MRPBL Logo from their Facebook page

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.

Grays Harbor’s The Daily News and KXRO have reported that professional baseball could be coming back to Hoquiam’s historic Olympic Stadium for the 2015 season. The proposed team will revive the Grays Harbor Gulls name and will play in the new Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League.

All six teams in the MRPBL will be owned by one man, Shoreline’s Mike Greene.  Greene, according to his bio on the MRPBL website, has coached college baseball at Mississippi Valley State and Oklahoma Panhandle and most recently coached the Douglas Diablos, a defunct team in the independent Pecos League.

The Pecos League is the obvious model for the Mount Rainier League. Most famous for the Fox Sports 1 reality show of the same name, the Pecos League is an independent league with teams in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado that has floundered and found controversy along the way since their first season in 2011. The league plays in rustic ballparks in tiny cities like Alpine, Texas and Taos, New Mexico and players are paid as low as $50 per week. Every year, the league basically releases a wish list of cities, team names and logos and hopes to convince those cities to allow them to host their team.

Essentially, that is what the MRPBL is doing. Since their Facebook page was started in late July, there have been numerous teams mentioned by the league in their stream of consciousness posts…

Centralia Minotaurs logo inspiration. From MRPBL Facebook page.

Centralia Minotaurs logo inspiration. From MRPBL Facebook page.

  • Kennewick Sockeyes
  • Oregon City Sasquatch*
  • Centralia Minotaurs*
  • Olympia Osprey
  • Lacey Osprey
  • Richland Sun Rays
  • Ephrata Rattlesnakes
  • Moses Lake Hooks
  • McMinnville Mad Hatters
  • Grays Harbor Gulls*
  • Chehalis Minotaurs
  • Skagit somethings
  • Skagit Steelheads*
  • Moses Lake Rattlers
  • Lake Oswego
  • Moses Lake Rattlesnakes*

*currently listed as in the league

The league’s website and Facebook page are proposing paying players a minimum of $100 a week and they have hired Kyle Holtman, a name vaguely familiar to Oly Sports from his time as a player in the Puget Sound Collegiate League, as the general manager for both of the proposed teams in Centralia and Grays Harbor. Greene has also hired a handful of managers, player representatives (players that serve as reps for the league and get paid 1 1/2 times more) and signed a few players.

In Grays Harbor, the City of Hoquiam and the league seem to have come to an agreement on $300 a game for rental with 35 planned home games. That works out to over $10,000 for stadium rental alone just on game days. Though the other planned facilities in the league are smaller and likely less expensive, there is still a remarkably substantial cost just to rent facilities.

My biggest question is: how does Mike Greene, who seems to be a journeyman baseball coach, plan on paying for all of these baseball teams? In today’s article from The Daily World, Greene said “I’ve got a couple of backers that are financing this.” While that is a nice thing to say, it doesn’t concretely answer the question. He says that the break even point is 200 fans per game and I suppose that sounds like a realistic number, but it also sounds remarkably low to break even considering all of their proposed, albeit somewhat modest expenses.

I interned for the Grays Harbor Gulls during the 1997 season. The team had a dedicated staff of between four or five employees that were focused on selling advertising and tickets, an excellent media relations guy (the late Mike Warchol), and were locally owned and backed by the league owner/founder, a multi-millionaire lumber baron named Bruce Engel. They had remarkable success in 1995, struggled in 1996 and had a much better year at the box office in 1997. And yet, they still failed. Badly. They folded up shop in the middle of the 1998 season and Charlie Kerfeld’s squad finished the season on the road.

I have followed professional independent baseball since the rebirth of the Northern League in 1993 and I have seen many leagues come and go without ever playing a game. Sure, there have been some resounding successes like the Atlantic League, but for every well financed league there are many more that have been monumental flops. Many failed without ever playing a game. All of the classic warning signs of a flop are there for the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League.

Look, I just convinced someone to fund a start-up semi-professional indoor soccer team for me. We have a logo, a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a General Manager (me) and a league to play in and that is all so far. The season starts in just over two months. I probably shouldn’t throw stones. But we also have virtually no overhead. If the Oly Town Artesians struggle at the gate, we won’t lose much. Nobody will lose much. We didn’t bite off more than we can chew (other than the hours that might go into it).

I fear that Mike Greene and the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League are biting off MUCH more than they can chew. If they fail they leave cities with bills, they leave players in small towns without paychecks, they put another stain on the legacy of independent baseball. And if they follow the model of the Pecos League, they also leave town swinging, burning bridges left and right.

I wish the MRPBL all the luck in the world. I would love nothing more than to have a viable independent or collegiate league team back at Olympic Stadium or at Wheeler Field in Centralia. Heck, this is the best chance that the Olympia area, without a decent facility, has at professional baseball.

But I have reservations. I have serious doubts. And I think these communities should beware.

P.S….Please don’t use the old Grays Harbor Gulls logo. I beg of you. Leave it be.

Shut Up Fatty and Four Eyes: A Thunderous Moment for the M’s?

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.

My dad, my brother and I sat in the first row of the 300 level of the Kingdome on August 24th, 1995 and had a perfectly clear view directly down the right field line of Ken Griffey Jr.’s walk-off two run home run that gave the Seattle Mariners a come from behind 9-7 win over the New York Yankees.

At the time, the M’s sat 11 1/2 games behind the California Angels and it was a relatively lazy afternoon game in front of 17,000 fans at the Dome. But when Junior hit that blast, something changed. We recognized it immediately. Junior, fresh off the disabled list after missing 73 games, marked his return and there was an electricity amongst that small crowd that was palpable. A feeling that we just saw something happen that was more than an average walk-off win, an iconic moment that we would remember for a long time.

And indeed, that day was the beginning of the historic rally that saw the Mariners go 23-11 down the stretch, beat the Angels in a one game playoff and win the ALDS with “The Double”.

19 years later, the sixth inning of Monday night’s game gave me that same type of feeling.

The Mariners erased all doubts that another Felix Hernandez gem would go unrewarded by scoring seven runs on six hits in the sixth inning en route to an 11-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of over 41,000 fans that were nearly split 50/50 between Mariners and Blue Jays fans.

The seven run sixth inning included a lead off homer by Robinson Cano, an opposite field blast by Mike Zunino that nearly got out of the park but went for an RBI triple, an Endy Chavez RBI double, another RBI triple by Brad Miller, a two run single by Dustin Ackley and finally, one more RBI for Cano on a double that was just a foot from his second home run of the inning. Cano’s near homer/double was preceded by a perfectly timed and perfectly dramatic bolt of lightning that put an exclamation point on the evening. And credit to the Mariners for following the inning with the perfect song: AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

There is no way to predict what will happen with these Mariners. Despite a good home stand, I’m still not sure I trust this offense to keep pace with their outstanding pitching staff. But mark tonight on your calendar. Put a big lightning bolt on August 11th, 2014. This could be one of those iconic moments that we will look back upon as the beginning of something special.

Of course they might manage to pound out one hit on Tuesday night. Go Mariners!

Wednesday Score: Silvers Take PSCL Title

Baseball

Nisqually Silvers 6, West Olympia Linx 5
The RAC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Linx 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 5 12 2
Silvers 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 x 6 12 0
W: Jacob Patterson | L: Tucker Ibabao

The Nisqually Silvers scored five runs in the sixth and seventh inning and held off a furious rally in the top of the ninth inning to knock off the West Olympia Linx (sic) and win the Puget Sound Collegiate League championship.

Tuesday Scores: Linx Rally to Advance to PSCL Championship Game

Baseball

Hawks Prairie Cardinals 13, Tumwater Brewers 12
The RAC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brewers 0 3 0 0 5 3 0 0 1 12 17 2
Cardinals 2 0 0 0 2 6 0 0 3 13 14 3
W: Chris Weik | L: Elias Sablan

The Hawks Prairie Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to stay alive in the Puget Sound Collegiate League tournament. Drey McInnes (Shoreline) drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly. The Tumwater Brewers were eliminated with the loss.

West Olympia Linx 8, Hawks Prairie Cardinals 7
The RAC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cardinals 1 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 7 12 3
Linx 2 0 1 1 2 0 0 2 x 8 10 4
W: Tucker Ibabao | L: Ian Hollis

The Cardinals built a 7-3 lead through the top of the fourth inning but West Olympia Linx (sic) scored five unanswered runs and advanced to the PSCL championship game tomorrow night. Charlie Dietrich singled in the game tying run and Ryan Atkinson (Columbia Basin) drove in the go ahead run with a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ashton Williamson (Skagit Valley) went 3-for-4 with two RBIs  for the Linx. They will have to win two game against the Nisqually Silvers to take the PSCL championship on Wednesday night beginning at 5:00 PM.

Monday Scores: Brewers, Silvers Advance in PSCL Tourney

Baseball

Tumwater Brewers 11, Olympia Athletics 4
The RAC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brewers 2 0 0 2 1 3 0 1 2 11 13 6
Athletics 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 4 6 2
W: Ty Donahou | L: Max Winkelhawkey

Darrell Wilson (Olympic College) went 2-for-5 with a triple, three runs scored and a pair of RBIs to lead the Tumwater Brewers to an 11-4 win over the Olympia Athletics in the second day of the Puget Sound Collegiate League tournament.  Ty Donahou (Olympic College) gave up just one earned run on four hits over six innings to pick up the win. The A’s season came to an end while the Brewers moved on to a loser-out game on Tuesday night.

Nisqually Silvers 8, West Olympia Linx 7
The RAC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Silvers 5 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 13 2
Linx 1 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 7 12 2
W: Aaron Falgoust | L: Charlie Dietrich | S: Jacob Martinez

Trevor Inman’s (Murray State College) RBI triple in the top of the 10th inning broke a 7-7 tie and the Nisqually Silvers moved into the PSCL championship game on Wednesday with an 8-7 win over the West Olympia Linx. Inman collected three hits on the evening and fell a home run short of the cycle. Jeremy Camacho went 3-for-5 and scored the winning run after leading of the tenth with a base hit. The loss drops the Linx into a loser-out game at 7:30 on Tuesday.

Click here for box scores

Thursday Scores: Senators Late Rally Tops Emeralds

Baseball
Grand Forks Invitational

Langley Blaze 9, Lacey Saints 1 – Box score
Grand Forks, BC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Saints (1-1 GFI) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 2
Blaze (1-0 GFI) 0 0 0 1 2 4 2 9 9 0
W: Steven Federau | L: Jake Kapsandy
Thurston County Senators 6, North Sound Emeralds 5 – Box score
Grand Forks, BC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Senators (1-0 GFI) 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 1 1 6 8 2
Emeralds (1-1 GFI) 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 5 12 0
W: Nick Keller | L: Tommy DeBoer

Marcus Hinkle (Western Oregon) went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI in Thurston County’s 6-5 win over the North Sound Emeralds in their first game at the Grand Forks Invitational. Hinkle scored the game-tying run in the eighth inning on a single by Travis Shaw (Saint Martin’s) and Jake Ross (Youngstown State) scored the go ahead run on a passed ball in the top of the ninth. Olympia High School and Saint Martin’s alum Tommy DeBoer took the loss for the Emeralds.

Wednesday Scores: Sweets Sweep Senators; PSCL Saints Open GFI With Win

Baseball

Walla Walla Sweets 3, Thurston County Senators 2 (11 innings) – Box score
Walla Walla 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
Senators 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 8 1
Sweets 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 10 1
W: Jesse Houser | L: Jake Patterson

Travis Shaw (Saint Martin’s) singled in the game-tying run in the top of the ninth inning for Thurston County but Sean Bouchard added to a fifth inning solo home run with the walk-off base hit in the bottom of the 11th to give Walla Walla a 3-2 win and a sweep of the Senators.

Thurston County next heads to Grand Forks, British Columbia to take part in the Grand Forks Invitational.

Lacey Saints 4, Northwest Honkers 3 – Box score
Grand Forks, BC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Honkers 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 1
Saints 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 8 3
W: Lars Rider | L: J.D. Scholten

The Lacey Saints of the Puget Sound Collegiate League opened up the Grand Forks Invitational with a 4-3 win over the Northwest Honkers. Lars Rider (Central Washington) pitched a complete game allowing just three unearned runs on three hits while striking out 11 honkers.

Tuesday Score: Sweets Thump Senators

Baseball

Walla Walla Sweets 12, Thurston County Senators 2 – Box score
Walla Walla 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Senators 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 6 2
Sweets 4 5 0 1 1 1 0 0 x 12 12 1
W: Matt Walker | L: Nick Keller

 

Monday Score: Sweets Slice Senators

Baseball

Walla Walla Sweets 3, Thurston County Senators 2 – Box score
Walla Walla 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Senators 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 7 0
Sweets 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 x 3 7 2
W: Jake Campeau | L: Nick Mailhot | SV: Omar Porras

Marcus Hinkle (Western Oregon) and Jake Ross (Youngstown State) each drove in a run for Thurston County but Ryan Littlefield’s home run in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference as the Walla Walla Sweets took a 3-2 non-league win over the Senators at Borleske Stadium.