Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm Not Sure About the Northwoods League

Look, I love baseball. I really, really do. The simpleness, yet complexity of the game is what draws me in for every nine inning affair. But just because there is baseball being played in front of me, doesn't mean I'm buying the product. There is one league that fields teams each and every summer and their players are adored by thousands of fans, but I just can't figure out why. As much as I love baseball, I don't quite understand the Northwoods League.

Previously in this space, I've mentioned the league which features teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada. I've attend a few games in La Crosse to watch the Loggers play, including tonight. As while it is cheap entertainment (I payed just four bucks for my ticket, and had great seats), I'm just not sure it's something I could be interested in on a night by night basis.

For those of you that don't know, the Northwoods League is basically summer ball for college baseball players. These players are eligible to play as long as they have collegiate eligibility left. The players come from all over the country, most of them from California and Texas. And many big leaguers have had stint in the league, including Max Scherzer, Jeff Weaver, Clint Barmes, Juan Pierre, Josh Willingham, George Sherrill, Curtis Granderson, and many others.

The thing I've always suspected, and realized tonight, is that the quality of baseball is not that great. The 4-2 contest between La Crosse and Rochester was a snoozer, and all I can really remember about the game is the between inning entertainment. If you're looking to watch quality baseball in your own backyard, which I believe is what the goal of the Northwoods league is to do, you'd be better off watching the Brewers on a TV you brought out to your deck. The teams are made up of a bunch of kids who are meeting each other for the first time, and most likely have no allegiance to the uniform they represent, as they are just trying to get some summer work in.

That I have no problem with. I think it's great these kids have a chance to improve themselves, and meet other ballplayers. I just don't see how people can be justified buying season tickets to watch a group of kids that spend just one summer in that uniform. To me, it seems the only time people really have fun at the game are when they come home from it drunk.

I know that these teams bring a sense of community pride, and it's a great way to kill a beatiful summer evening. All I'm saying is that I went to one tonight, and the baseball just wasn't that good.

Maybe I should have sat on the Party Deck.


Anonymous said...

Eh, you get what you pay for.

$4 isn't so bad ... I think it's $7 to see the Madison Mallards. Later on this year there will be a promotion where if you eat a real beetle (MAD is playing the Alexandria Beetles that night), you get free admission to the game & get to eat & drink all you want in the "Duck Blind Party Area".

Last year they were regularly getting 5,000 - 6,000 fans per home game.

I think the overall ballpark experience is what attracts most Mallard fans, but now I think more fans are expecting them to win on a consistent basis.

Another Northwoods League alumni member: Rockies OF Ryan Spillborghs. He played with the Mallards a number of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Mallards are a good time. Especially the Duck Blind. But Duck Blind games always started with someone saying "when do they quit serving beer" and then after after trying to go a beer every half inning ended with not realizing a game was even being played. Ah, I miss college.

The baseball gets a little better once the College World series teams are done playing, but even then the league is no match for the Cape Cod league. Which I'm sure is just like the movie Summer Catch portrays it. For such a bad movie I've always find myself watching it.

Winks said...

For an overall experience, Loggers game's aren't bad, I just can't see how anyone can get so connected to a team that changes so often. The Loggers staff though does a great job of making sure you get the best bang for your buck.

I've heard the Mallards games are the best experience in the whole league, and I've also heard other teams struggle to draw 500 people.

As I've said, if you are going to these games, you're going for the FAN EXPERIENCE, and not to live and die with their playoff hopes.

Anonymous said...

Mallards draw so many people because there isn't much of anything else to do in Wisconsin for fun. And the weather sucks...

Anonymous said...

Mallards draw so many people because there isn't much of anything else to do in Wisconsin for fun. And the weather sucks...

Anonymous said...

Ah what? Actually I'm sure the Mallards draw people because its a bigger town and a college town. A lot of businesses buy packages for there employees to go to the games, and college kids go to get drunk.

What doesn't Wisconsin have that any other state offers other than an oceanside beach, and the weather only sucks in the winter. So basically everything about your double post is wrong.

Anonymous said...

My double post was an accident, clicked the button twice... It was not designed to provide extra emphasis to my point. No need to get overly offended. The weather does suck, especially almost 7 months of winter - just look at binge drinking and wide waistlines. It's awesome the Mallards are there to provide much needed excitement. Let's hope more teams/sports/activities can survive and flourish... Btw, Madison is "the one and only," I hope you realize that - just take a drive down to Fondy or Oshkosh...

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