I am sitting at a Café on Halsted in Chicago. I have already attended a Cubs game today and will be attending another one in a couple of hours. After tonight’s game, I will get a jump start driving over to Toledo. Parking was $30 down here, I was prepared to pay $20. When I pulled into the lot it said $10 so I thought I got lucky! Well that was for only for an hour, after I argued with the kid he said “good luck dude, Cubs are playing a doubleheader and Pride Fest is happening, there is no cheap parking”, I paid the $30…
Last night I was down in Joliet attending a Frontier League game. The Frontier League operates mainly in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. The league was formed in 1993, and is the oldest currently running independent league. Teams must recruit and sign their own players, which usually consist of undrafted college players or one-time prospects who have been released by their teams. Frontier League rules limit teams to three “veterans” (those with three or more years of professional experience), two two-year players and seven one-year players (those with at least 150 professional at-bats or 50 innings pitched). The other half of the 24-man roster is confined to rookies. Players cannot be older than 27 as of January 1. Pay in the Frontier League is minimal, as each team has a salary cap of $72,000 and the league minimum is set at $600 per month. Due to the low pay, players typically live with host families.
I was surprised at how well attended the game was. There had to be at least 4000 fans to watch the Joliet Slammers hosting the Gateway Grizzlies. The Grizzlies dominated the game and won, 8-3, but the fans were into it and the stadium was very nice. It was a Friday night and they had a great fireworks show afterward. I have said it in the past, baseball has figured out how to entertain Friday through Sunday. They need to work on filling the seats Monday through Wednesday. Thursday is for beer drinking at most stadiums (Thirsty Thursdays).
Thursday night I was at another independent league, the American Association League. There are a few of these independent baseball leagues. These professional baseball organizations are located in the U.S. and Canada. They aren’t operated in conjunction with either a MLB or MiLB team. Being independent allows teams to be located close to major-league teams without their consent. They have been around for many years and were once known as “outlaw leagues” due to their position outside the rules of affiliated minor league baseball.
What I like about these leagues is their independence from Major League Baseball. I think most fans of baseball view MLB as the final say on how baseball should be played and how it should be marketed. So I recommend that you get out and experience some of this baseball “lawlessness”.
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