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October 24, 2008 – EXCLUSIVE – NEWARK BEARS FOLD October 24, 2008

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Story updated at 11:30 PM, 10/24

Breaking News! Bears Have Folded: According to a top-level team source, the Newark Bears are no more. Team owner Marc Berson has decided the Bears were losing too much money each year to continue. He also felt as if he wasn’t receiving the proper support from a number of people, including in the community and around the league. More to come. – Scott Stanchak (2:58 pm ET)

Ashmore Update: Here’s what I’ve been able to learn from speaking to multiple sources regarding this…

With many Atlantic League teams and executives down in Florida for their annual meetings, the folding of the Newark Bears is an idea that had been on the table for several days.

As of now — and that appears to be the key phrase in all of this — the Newark Bears are no more. According to one source, a representative of ownership informed the staff that the team was folding today, and all staff members were essentially asked to leave. There was no advance warning.

I’m told that there are scenarios being discussed that would involve the team being bailed out in a way similar to what Frank Boulton did with the Bridgeport Bluefish, and one team official told me that he thinks it’s highly unlikely that baseball won’t be played in Newark in 2009.

But as of this moment, the Newark Bears have ceased operations and will not be playing in any league, at any time. The ballpark is empty and will remain that way until further notice.

It is unclear what happens to the 2009 All-Star Game or whether the Road Warriors will be returning, but that is obviously not the biggest concern at the moment. I don’t see how the league could lose another of its charter franchises, but short of a financial infusion from another owner, it seems to be a very real possibility.

The Bears reportedly lost more than a half a million dollars this season, and I’m told that only half of the teams in the league didn’t lose money this year. With that said, this may not be the last team you see go away. – Mike Ashmore

Note: All news sources should cite AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com on this exclusive story. I’ve also opened up comments to anyone, not just registered users for this topic. – SS

4:45 PM UPDATE — I’ve placed calls to several people on this matter, but I wouldn’t expect to hear anything for a while, as many people are on their way back from the meetings in Florida. – MA

11:35 PM UPDATE — Imagine my surprise to see my cell phone ringing at 11 PM with Frank Boulton on the other end. Many thanks to him for calling me back after what had to be a long day, with both the Newark situation and returning from the Florida meetings weighing on him.

I’d love to have a lot to tell you right now, but honestly there isn’t a lot to say…not yet. Boulton told me that he expects to have a clearer picture of the situation in a week or so, but that he wasn’t informed of the decision to release all but three Bears staffers from their jobs until around 11 this morning.

Hopefully by the end of this month, there will some finality to the Bears future. Will they exist at all? Will they play in the Atlantic League if they do? Will they still host the All-Star Game? Are the Road Warriors coming back? Is Boulton buying the Bears?

All questions, I’m told, that should be answered sooner rather than later.

A Player’s Perspective On The Salary Issue: Chad Ehrnsberger spent some time in the Atlantic League with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this season, and also has extensive experience in not only other independent leagues, but affiliated ball as well.

Chad was kind enough to write up his take on the salary issue, and with his permission, I’ve posted it here.

I have been reading all the comments on this board since before I even signed to play in the Atlantic league. There are alot of opinions out there which everyone is entitled to. But at the same time, I think you should base those opinions on facts, not rumors or assumptions. I have the unique perspective of playing in different independent leagues as well as affiliated ball, so I feel I can compare and give the facts on all 3 of those I mentioned.

The most controversial of the talk seems to center around players’ salaries. It is true that you make very little money in affiliated ball. BUT, only at the lower levels. Once you reach AA/AAA, the salaries will get higher than what you make in the Atlantic League. When you sign with your first pro team, they have a set pay scale based on your level of play. On average, the first year AA salary is about $2200/month. This pay scale stays in effect until you get released or become what they call a 6-year free agent. Basically, that means you’ve been in the minor leagues for 6 years and not in the big leagues. And once you become a minor league free agent (which most guys in the Atlantic League fall into) you negotiate your salary. Most minor league free agents make as little as $4000 and as much as $12,000 per month. So to ask a guy making that kind of money to make no more than $3000/month is a shock for most players. That more than anything is the reason so many players choose to play elsewhere rather than the Atlantic League. Players make more money in Mexico, Taiwan, Italy, Korea, Japan, and even other Independent Leagues. I’ve played in the Northern League for parts of 5 seasons, and I made alot more money there than in the Atlantic League. In fact, my salary was basically cut in half to come play in the AL this season. I’ve known a couple guys to make $10,000/month in the NoL. And not only money wise do they take care of you in that league. They will house you for free (2BR 2BA fully furnished apt) and also give you a car to drive for the season. You get your own hotel room on the road, all your bats paid for, and pay 1/3 the clubhouse dues you pay in the AL. And the food is much better! So long story short, if salary is a player’s main objective, the Atlantic League is the last place to look.

But players decide where they will play based on many other factors. Among them are: location, travel, potential teammates, opportunity to get picked up, and stadiums. The only factor that will never change is travel. Unless of course, the AL expands way south or west. For right now, the Atlantic League is the place to be for players looking to get picked up. But for how long? That remains to be seen. If more players leave for the money, will MLB teams continue looking at AL teams for talent? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that having a love for the game only takes you so far. You still have to pay the bills and look out for your family. I think as more players realize they can make alot more money elsewhere, the talent pool will continue to decrease. For example, when I told players this year about the money they could make in the NoL, about 95% of them said, “Get me a job there!” And every year it gets easier and easier to get jobs in foreign countries, which again will take players away from the AL. The league’s owners are in a tough spot. They need to pay the players more and take better care of them if they wanna keep them, but can they afford that? I have no idea. I’m sure some can and others cannot. Here’s my idea…search for all the Independent teams that CAN afford it and create one big “Super Independent League”. You could pay players between $5,000-10,000/month and fly around the country playing in the best stadiums in front of the biggest crowds. It would basically be the Mexican League but in the US. The other Indy teams could stay as is, reorganize, or even create some sort of farm league for this Super League! That may be a fantasy but I can think of at least 6-7 teams that could do that right now.

I kinda got off topic there but to close, the AL needs to do something. Players in the league are not money-hungry like some fans wanna believe. The fact is, these same players have made, and could make, much more money elsewhere.

Chad Ehrnsberger

On behalf of Scott and myself, we’d like to thank Chad for taking the time to do that. Agree or disagree with him, you’ve got to appreciate that he’s willing to give you first-hand knowledge on what appears to be an important issue to many of you.

If any other players (current or former) or team/league (ha!) executives would like to do something similar, you can reach Scott and myself at the e-mail addresses listed on the right side of the page. – MA

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Comments»

1. Scott Stanchak - October 24, 2008

You know, I think that’s a great point that Chad made. Players know what they’re getting into when they sign in the league. If they don’t want to make that type of money, they should look elsewhere. Regardless, everyone would like to make more money and if the league wanted to pay more than great.

2. James - October 24, 2008

Hi Mike thanks for bringing this up. One thing that often goes unnoticed are the salaries of the front office staff is underpaid as well. Unlike the owners who take in the lion’s share, the basic staff makes between 20-30K as a base salary and can make up the extra $ in sales commissions. They are also at the ballpark typically from 7/8 am until the wee hours of teh morning. That salary also includes attending team sponsored events like parades, kids clinics and also staffing any events at the ballpark that occur like Stan Musial games and things like that. So the salary structure in the league does not just hurt the players as Jake mentions so poetically.

3. Scott Stanchak - October 24, 2008

That’s a good point, but again, you work at these local levels with hopes of getting a bigger job. I started in the Atlantic League, covering the Patriots, and now cover all the pro teams in NYC on a regular basis. It’s all about your dreams and what you’re willing to do to get there.

Also, I know what some salaries of A.L. front office officials are. I also know first hand what the salaries of some of the front office staffs (P.R. Directors, Sales Reps., etc.) make in the pros and you’d be suprised to learn that they are not a tremendous amount more.

Again, it’s about paying your dues. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

4. Tom from Long Island - October 24, 2008

Scott/Mike,
Thanks for posting Chad's letter. It was very informative.

Chad,
Thanks for sending that in and letting it be posted. Hopefully some other players will send us their prospective on the league. The Atlantic League has always been billed as a AA/AAA equivalent. What do you, or the majority of the players, consider the league to be? If you can, could you also let us know how many players that were on your team that you think were making the supposed $3000 maximum/month? Also, what did they charge you for clubhouse fees and other charges and what were those fees for?

As Chad pointed out, players are coming to this league in the hopes of getting called up quicker because the talent pool in this league is greater than in the other leagues and thereby they sacrifice salary to do it. However, he also stated the salaries are so low in comparison to the other leagues that something must be done to keep those type of players here. Hopefully the higher ups is this league will deal with this issue. At the same time, when you have to increase expenses you have to get the money to pay for it. We all know that they will just pass some of those expenses on to us in terms of ticket price increases.

I am looking forward to the league representative Q&A and hopefully Scott will interview someone from the league who is among the upper echelon and not someone who is just a messenger.

5. Scott Stanchak - October 24, 2008

I agree with a lot of what you are saying, Tom. If other leagues do have better salaries than the A.L., the A.L. will eventually have to pay more to get the quality players they like to market they have to big league clubs That might not be next year or 5 years down the line, but sometime in the future. That’s not much of a concern right now though.

Also, any questions for the executive — who I can assure you is one of the tops in the league — can be sent to scott at atlanticleaguebaseball.com.

I’d like to get this issue resolved and move on.

Thanks,
Scott

6. Jeff - October 24, 2008

Chad, Thanks so much for taking the time to give us a better perspective of what the players are feeling and seeing concerning compensation. This sure helps us fans better understand what the players are facing these days. The league should at least study and compare their player compensation packages, to be on a level playing field with other major Indy Leagues. Thanks Chad, for what you wrote. Jeff

7. Jeff - October 24, 2008

Scott, If you would be able to ask the exec if/how are players covered as far as benefits, like medical or hospitalization packages, in case they are sick or injured and need surgery (such as pitchers)? Many of the players have young children, and I wonder if families are covered. If not, that would be a huge expense for players. Thanks Scott, for your work on this!

8. Mike - October 24, 2008

Real quick…

As Chad has written, you can make more money in other independent leagues, but the AL is still the place to go for the player looking to get picked up.

For some players, the decision on where to go may come down to where they feel their respective career is going.

I’d have to imagine that there are guys who have all but given up hope on getting picked up, but still want to play and still would like to pick up a nice paycheck doing it…perhaps that’s why the AL’s salary structure is the way it is, to try to avoid getting that type of player.

9. jake - October 24, 2008

Chad Erhnsberger you are a mench, God Bless you. I hope all that are reading your statement realize how much you put yourself out there and how courageous and selfless it was for you to share your thoughts and all of that information. You were very diplomatic and graceful in doing so. You have in fact opened that door that we have been trying to wedge open so that we can have a legitimate discussion about the league economics and player compensation. Bravo. Within the last 2 hours I have spoken with 2 of your teammates from SMD and two others from other teams and all expressed their gratitude and how proud they were of you. If you haven’t already I suspect you will be hearing from them in short order.

Scott and Mike a word of thanks to you as well. We also appreciate that this was a lift for you as well given the propensity for some owners in this league to threaten or try to intimidate journalists in the course of their work. You have opened the door for a meaningful discussion that we had all been seeking.

Lets hear now from Mr. Kalafer and Mr. Boulton, and Mr. Berson and the leadership of Opening Day Partners. Tell us what the total revenues versus gross revenues for each team are. Tell us what the individual owners are seeing in personal profit or income at the end of the day. Let me say clearly I find no fault with any of these organizations or those indviduals for making money. It’s free market and its good for the economy, for our state and for our local communities. We only want to see the player’s compensation packages improved to a livable position.

Now Scott I must find fault with two comments you have made on Chad’s statement and on the overall subject. First I do not believe that he was saying simply that players in the AL know what they will get and they have the choice of playing here or not. In fact I think he was addressing the fact that the league may continue to lose the talent level if compensation does not improve. I also believe he moved from just the discussion of salry to overall compensation and I took from it as well another asset he and others seek, “respect”.
And finally Scott, it has taken a long road to get this door open. Lets hear from ownership and league officials and get the facts. I do not necessarily understand your desire to move on so quickly before we have had the discussion in full. You accomplished today what over the last ten years no one else could, don’t close the barn door before the horse is in. You will be hearing from other players directly or via this blog. I join with Jeff and Tom and others who want to see this dialogue had. It’s not only good journalism, it’s not only interesting, but it is important to these players and I believe strongly it’s important to the future of this league.

Well done Scott and Mike and again, well done Chad.

10. jake - October 24, 2008

James I filed this posting seperately because I wanted to show you the respect and attention you deserve. I apoligize if you thought that any of my comments were intended to alur or attack those front office employees in the categories you described. My wife and brother and I are all too aware of the conditions you describe. Some of our neighbors children have been employed with the league and the information you provided is absolutely accurate.

As someone who years back worked as a union rep in a large print and design firm it boggles my mind that a team employee who has been with an organization for say 3 years, and had prior experience with another team is compensated at $21,000 per year for working upwards of 65 or 70 hours a week. It’s scandalous and I wish the United States Department of Labor would take a look at it.

James I apologize again Any problems that my family or friends have had with staff involved senior level people, the decisionmakesrs.

Good Luck

Jake Bell

11. jake - October 24, 2008

Mike your point is a good one except if the talent pool in this league as Chad alludes to continues to decline then MLB and the scouts will stop looking and it will not be the league to play in. I also think if you speak to the players as I am sure you do you will find that there were alot fewer scouts around the last two years. And some of the other leagues including those he discussed are having more success in placing players than they had had in the past. Great job Mike.

Jake

12. Jeff - October 24, 2008

Although we knew the Bears had financial problems, I am shocked that they have folded. That is why we have to be careful when making a push to increase player salaries in this league. As I have said before, there are probably 3 teams that operate at a profit in this league. Don’t kid yourself into thinking these owners are making alot of money – they are not.

13. jake - October 24, 2008

Jeff don’t jump too fast. First this is an unconfirmed report and while I appreciate and respect both Mike and Scott this may not yet be the outcome.

If however it is then I join you in disappointment ans shock. Mr. Berson has shown a great deal of patience in trying to make that team solvent and successful but may have had to cleanup to much baggage from its past to succeed.

But, lets not now link one teams possible demise to the salary issue in full. Exploitation is not lessened because onbe element of an industry cannot make it. It is a free market, survival of the fittest. If the Bears cannot succeed then they should sell, relocated or fold. But that does not give license to pay the men who play in this league a substandard or unlivable wage.

It would interest you to know that there are six teams in this league making money. Lets not overlook the information shared with us today, and I cal tell ytou additional player’s comments will be forthcoming. I respect your points Jeff I truly do. But unfair compensation cannot be justified this way.

Among the questions of economics that we should pose to the owners and league is what effort were made by the league as a whole to support Bridgeport and Newark if that in fact was part of the league process.

But if the owner in Somerset or in Long Island is making profit it is certainly not reasonable that players’ compensation is levelled based upon conditions in Newark or Bridgeport. That is just not how this market works.

Thanks Jeff.

Jake

14. Jeff - October 24, 2008

I give Mike and Scott maximum props. AtlanticLeagueBaseball is the only news outlet reporting this Breaking News, which is a huge story. Thanks Mike and Scott – for your hard work!

15. Tom from Long Island - October 24, 2008

Jake, although it would be nice to see the bottom line profit that the teams and owners make, I would not expect them to tell it to us. If we were stock holders in the company, that would be a different story, but to ask any company that you get a service or product from to open their books to us is not feasible.

I agree with Jeff that there are probably not many teams in this league that operate at a profit. I would have expected the Bluefish to fold before the Bears did. Had it not been for Frank Boulton bailing them out, they probably would have.

16. Jeff - October 24, 2008

Jake – You make some good points. But I believe only Long Island and Somerset, and Lancaster are turning a profit in this league. So I don’t think the economic picture is as rosy as you might think. I respect your thoughts, and always feel your passion for this great sport and league!

17. Anonymous - October 24, 2008

Giving the staff from the Bears no time to prepare for this is an absolute shame…for all the time and effort minor league staffs put in…just horrible.

18. Anonymous - October 24, 2008

Great job Scott and Mike. You seriously are the top journalists in this league.

Rich

19. www.BrickCityBruins.com - October 24, 2008

I feel like someone dropped a bomb on me. Too shocked to feel anything yet. I’m sure some of us will find out more soon. We’ll share what we can.

20. petebentrice - October 24, 2008

Gentlemen some outstanding reporting and journalism at work. Mike and Scott you should be very proud. Chad thank you for your comments on this page today you really have a great deal of guts and I truly appreciated the information you provided. I am one of those who has posted here many times in the past about the need for discussion of league finances and you have helped us to move further in that discussion.

Mike as a matter of fact I have been told by a senior official in this league with whom I do business as recently as last week that six of the eight teams were showing profit, and that Newark and Bridgeport were those at risk. This has also been reported over the summer in the newspapers in Lancaster and York. Ironically my colleague told me that it was Bridgeport that was in the most precareious position.

If Mr. Berson has decided to call it a day then he should not be scorned I think he did in fact hang on for a lot longer than others would have despite an unsupportive city governemnt, both in the previous administration and the current. He also had to overcome the damage done by previous ownership and certainly powers in this league working aggressively against the team and its efforst to succeed. I hope some of that now comes out.

I have not had the opportunity to comment here recently as my computer fried and passwords and the like were lost. But I must say that I was horrified by some of the offensive remarks directed at players and fans by those clearly with an agenda. I hope that the willingness of Chad to come forward will convince these individuals to sit out this important exchange so that we can continue an important dialogue.

Pete

21. jake - October 24, 2008

Jeff & Tom thank you for your kinds words and excellent commentary.

Right now I feel very badly for Bears fans and the Berson family and staff. They worked hard to make that franchise work but if this is what has happened they may have just had too much to overcome.

I can still remember when the stands were filled in Riverfront and they always had a good product on the field. I too have heard that ownership under Mr. Berson came in and had far too much mess to clean up from the previous owners.

Tom with regard to the economic imformation about the teams, I believe that you will find that we do in fact have a right to learn more about what is going on and that a great deal of it is available via Freedom of Information filings with county offices. Most of these franchises operate as concessions operating within public owned property–the stadiums. As such the financial filings of what the teams and their ownership are making versus what the county is paid should be available under the FOIL statutes.

I grant you that there will no doubt be those who aggressively oppose such disclosure. In part because of information such as what we learned today from Chad But lets see what happens.

By the way Mike and Scott I heard from a couple more players regarding Chad's message today and everyone is overwhelmed that he was willing to step out in front of the discussion. Bravo Chad.

Jake Bell

22. Anonymous - October 24, 2008

Love the video Scott.

23. jake - October 24, 2008

Scott nice sweater. Seriously though this is not good news for the Atlantic League, nor the Bears fans, baseball fans in New Jersey, or for that matter for the City of Newark.

I do have another thought though. As Chad noted salaries could have a detrimental impact on the league and its talent level and the willingness of better players to come into the league. I believe the recent issues with Bridgeport and Newark, and Newark in particular may also have a catastrophic impact on the league as well.

The issues that top level players take into consideration are becoming more and more problematic in the AL. Further, how seriously will MLB executives and scouts take this league if this keeps happening.

Even beyong a re-introduction of the Road Warriors this league’s talent pool will be significantly reduced in scope and that is not what fans, or the people that AL players are looking to be seen by, are looking for.

Jake Bell

24. Kevin - October 24, 2008

Wow, not good news for the AL to have a charter member have to fold. Can I reserve my Richmond Bears tickets yet?

And I agree with everyone else that the Road Warriors would just be a disaster. There’s no chance any of the MLB-experienced Bears would want anything to do with that, nor should they.

As for Chad Ehrnsberger’s comments, first off, as a Blue Crab fan, good to hear from you Chad! I really like the idea of a “Super Independent League.” It seems if more teams start having the financial problems as the Bears and Bluefish, that may become a more enticing proposition.

25. Anonymous - October 24, 2008

Why would anyone be surprised at this???? I’ve been to so many Bears game the last few years and the stands were empty…Although the box score would say there was 2000 there it was lucky if there was a few hundred there. It is a shame and all those politicians always came out for the first game of the year, but you never saw them again..

26. Chip Saunders - October 24, 2008

That is really sad news about the Bears. I’m going to miss that unique ballpark.

27. Mike - October 24, 2008

I don’t think most people who know the league are surprised at the fact that they folded, I think people are surprised it happened now.

There really hadn’t been any rumors or rumblings about it, and apparently it had only become an option over the past several days.

I have calls out to Frank Boulton and Joe Klein, among others…so let’s see where that goes before I say any more.

I will say that I liked the majority of the people on the Bears staff, so I do feel bad for them. I enjoyed covering Bears games…they were always incredibly helpful.

28. b-fish fan - October 25, 2008

bridgeport and newark both have outs,and they know it.they see what atl.city has done playing in the can-am.this year attn was up 24% in ac.no way the city of newark would allow that stadium to be vacant when a canam team would be able to play there in may.that also goes for bpt.boulton knows if push came to shove he could put the fish in the canam and not have to worry about any april,may or sept dates.he would make a fortune playing only 40 home games.these dopes up here wouldnt know the difference or care.it is a genius move by newark ownership.re-do the lease and only play when school is out.ditto for bridgeport.

b-fish fan

29. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

b-fish fan there is a note of anger in your comments and I think tonight I can understand it better than most. There are many heavy hearts in Newark and among those who loved our Newark Bears. I have felt the same anger during my time with the team. And yes tonight I am certainly angry.
I am angry at a City Administration that wouldn’t lift a finger to support this team or at the very least acknowledge its existence. I am angry at a City that does nothing to upgrade its own image and looks past a great story in the Newark Bears. I was angry each time I looked out and saw our diehard fans maybe about two hundred of them on a good day, surrounded by so many empty seats.
Even the sponsors who owned so many seats didn’t show up. I am angry because so many of us worked so hard to try to make it work but there was so much to overcome. So much baggage from past owners, so much misinformation about the City, so much working against us from within the league.
Today we all got a call and we were told it was over and that we had to leave immediately. Pack up your personal belongings and go. A few would stay behind a few days to secure team property to be moved off site. The hammer came down suddenly but not entirely as some here think without warning or rumblings. There had been some rumblings this week out of the league meetings. One particular owner from our principle rival wanted us gone bad. We were in his way we heard. Most of us knew he hated this organization but still our guys were sandbagged and when the smoke cleared Mr. Berson had had enough. He could fight the external issues but not from within our own league.
I feel bad tonight for those 200 or so who lived and died with the Bears. I still see them celebrating a year ago as we were champions having beaten our rival the big bad Patriots of Somerset. Where will they go now. They won’t be welcomed in Somerset, they don’t meet the acceptable fan profile. We were a family in Newark, employees, management, and our beloved fans. I thought we would have more time, but it just ran out.
We didn’t have much but what we had was special and our fans were as good as any. Goodbye

30. RememberOurBears - October 25, 2008

I hope the Atlantic League realizes what it lost in the Newark Bears, credibility. An historic name in an independent baseball league. A franchise in a City where so many of the greats of Yankee history played. They may look back on this day sooner than later and realize they lost so much more than just one team.

31. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

Oh I would have to concur with those previous two comments. This was a very bad day for the Atlantic League and the good ole boys meeting in Florida. This was a day some of us believe they will dred for a very long time. First, all of those rumors and public relations spin that was put out for so long about player salaries and other leagues and how the Atlantic League was so much better to its players than those other indy leagues died a sudden death. With the honest voice of one player, willing to lay it all out for everyone to read, the lies were meaningless and the truth was there for all to read.

And then just as suddenly the Newark Bears, one of the anchor franchises, the team with the historic and famous name is no more. Almost a month since seasons end and so much of the landscape has changed. One team in Bridgeport bailed out, its future or venue still unclear. Another, the second most successful team on the field, is gone.

What do you think those mmajor league baseball execs and the scouts and the people that watch and read are thinking tonight.

Not much I imagine

32. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

There may not be any joy in mudville tonight but there are a whole lot us smart enough to know that that arrogant SOB in Somerset is probably dancing for joy.

33. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

What an absolute disgrace. The only team in this league serving a minority and underserved community and its gone. Yeah just a damn coincidence right.

34. Mike - October 25, 2008

A few things…

It would seem the implication being made is that Somerset wanted Newark out of the league, right?

I honestly don’t know where that came from or if it’s true or not. Not to sound insensitive about the whole thing, but I can’t imagine Newark putting a dent in Somerset’s business or vice versa.

Two entirely different markets, really.

I can’t imagine there are too many people in the league that are happy Newark is gone, if anyone. Maybe I’m naive.

I don’t think it’s any secret that Newark was perhaps never really “accepted” by many of the higher-ups in the league, but to say that they or anyone specific wanted them gone…I don’t know. I’d be more curious to hear where that came from before I would comment further.

I just don’t see how Somerset would be happy about losing Newark.

And in regards to some of the language being used and way people are speaking about one another and others in the league, I warn you to use discretion in further postings. “Please display appropriate behavior. We will not tolerate anything less than respect in this forum” is not a joke, and just because we took the comment registration off for this topic, doesn’t mean people can loosen up with the language.

35. Mike - October 25, 2008

And as for this one: “The only team in this league serving a minority and underserved community and its gone.”

I think you could argue that several other teams in this league meet those criteria.

And to be very, very clear…I am not happy the Bears folded and am still hopeful that they can be saved. I’ve covered probably around 20 or so Bears games, and have always enjoyed my time there. And it was fairly close to my house as well, so it was convenient for me.

36. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

I had a lot of fun over the years at Bears games and am sad to see this news.

37. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

I hold out hope that this will get fixed for 2009…..whats your GUT feeling Mike??? In the meantime I am sick over this I think of good people like John Brandt Jim Cerney Chick Fook Jonesie all the way to Roy the bus driver. You guys are a class act and I really hope this gets sorted out in the days ahead. My thoughts are with all of you tonight and I hold out hope to see you all in 09….what do you think Mike for real??

38. Mike - October 25, 2008

I believe there will be baseball in Newark in 2009.

That’s an open-ended answer and I know it…but I just can’t see a pro team not playing there next season…and perhaps more so, I can’t see the league wanting to deal with the embarassment of a charter franchise biting the dust.

39. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

mike,you seen this act before.atlantic city and nashua did the same exact move.i will be shocked if newark does not become the 8th team in the canam before mid nov.you couldnt set it up any better.canam loses ottawa needs a 8th team and what do ya know.newark folds.boulton and the rest of the gang knew bpt was in trouble but the didnt know newark was also in trouble? i will say it again.THE CITY OF NEWARK WILL NEVER ALLOW THAT STADIUM TO BE VACANT IN 09.they already know they have a can am league team in place.

b-fish fan

40. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

I definitely believe it’s an option, I’ll say that. And it would work out rather well.

But there are a lot of issues that would need to be settles before that could happen.

-Mike-

41. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

As much as I’ve enjoyed reading your postings over the years, I find it sad that the past three hours have seen more Bears’ related comments than the past three years combined.

Having attended many games, I saw first-hand many of the things that have been described previously. Unfortunately, the stigma of Newark continues and fans seemed to rather travel to Somerset or Montclair- both within 30 miles of the Bears than see a great stadium with great tradition. Hopefully baseball will return to Newark (for the third time) and the team will find a city ready to embrace it.

42. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

* settled, not settles on my previous post

Also, dug into the supposed Somerset-Newark rift a bit and haven’t really found anything.

If you’re one of the Bears employees who has been displaced due to today’s events and wishes to continue to work in the Atlantic League, please let Scott or myself know and we’d be happy to help you out as best we can…perhaps some sort of scenario in which we post your name and former/desired job title and teams could contact you.

Also, and again…this may sounds prickish but that’s not how I’m intending it to be, the AL just added a feature to their website that lists jobs around the league by team. So you may want to check that out as well.

I just know, from the experience of covering games there, that there are now a lot of good people in Newark who are going to need jobs.

-Mike-

43. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

Agreed, Mike. And really, this is the hot topic right now. People are supposed to be talking about the Bears. I, for one, am happy to give people the forum to do just that.

– Scott

44. batter up - October 25, 2008

I spent a load of time reading the comments on this page in the past and a couple of hours since yesterday reading Ehrnsbergers statement. Man Chad you have a lot of guts. It was tough enough playing against you but that took some real steel. I have played in the Atlantic League for parts of three years and spent this past season in Camden. I have also played in affiliated ball and in two other indy leagues. I would love to put my name at the top here as well but I had an injury late last year and I am rehabing and will probably spend at least some time in an indy league come the spring or summer. Chad has alot of guts. They make very clear to us in the Atlantic League that “if you talk you walk”.

Chad pretty much laid everything out. Yeah we know what we are going to be paid when we sign. Are we being exploited. Hell yeah. The salary isn’t just low its basically nothing. Its what they don’t tell you that kills you, its what you don’t know before you get there that makes it unlivable, and its what they think of you that makes it downright depressing. When I signed with Camden I was told that they would pay my reasonable expenses to drive across country. They told me to keep receipts for food and 2 nights in cheap motels, and all gas receipts. I presented receipts for about $750 which included just over $570 in gas, two nights in flea bags, and fast food receipts for drive thru. They gave me an expense check that was just over $300. Did the same thing on the way out.

Chad nails it about why it was appealing despite this to play in the Atlantic League. In the past this league provided an opportunity to play with guys of greater caliber and the ball was good. Not the same anymore and started changing when I played in the league in 2006. The talent pool has decreased and even our agents now warn us that the Atlantic League is no longer the place to be. Too many of the really good players just won’t come knowing everything that goes on. It’s not just the salaries though that is a big part, its everything on top of it as Chad said. Its the housing that is expensive, way more expensive that anywhere else, and is just garbage. Its paying clubhouse dues to get a meal that many times isn’t even there. Particularly on the road when they either forget or they put out a tray that might feed 8 guys, not 30. Its the way they speak to you and the way you feel disrespected. I have no problem ever signing an autograph for a fan its a priviledge to be asked. The fans are always great. Its the management guys who are at your locker everyday with mutliple items they say are for sponsors or a sale. Can’t get a decent meal or hot water in the shower but their selling your signature. Its when they walk up to you and say be somewhere at a certain time to shake hands or meet a sponsor and smile. No please, no thank you and certainly nothing for doing it. Your property plain and simple and they never let you forget it.

I would have to say that with so many guys now going elsewhere and what I read has happened in Bridgeport and now Newark that this league is in trouble and these owners need to get together and rework this. Chads idea is a good one but whatever they do they need to do it soon. Some of my best friends played in this league this year, one of them was at the top of the league in stats and they cannot get a look. Agents are saying that the scouts and the execs think the numbers are inflated by bad pitching and the play is down. Maybe. Hell the best guy in the league this year the MVP just played in Mexico with a buddy of mine and he was released after a week. I just think these owners beter do something. There are too many other options out there as Chad said and now even the Golden League is expanding and offering competitive salaries and housing and other benefits. Just based on the calls since seasons end I think the other Indy leagues smell blood. If the Atlantic League can’t draw the top level of play and MLB folks then it won’t be the league of choice for anyone.

I appreciate that many people put some kind words for the players here and yeah it matters. And for those who said some things that weren’t so kind it doesn’t make me angry but I wish you had the facts before you attacked. I am not whining and most of the guys that play in this league never do despite some legitimate reasons at times to do so. But this is a living and we work very hard and very long hours and we just ask that the pay and what goes with it is enough to pay bills and take care of family. I don’t think thats alot to ask no matter what you do.

Thanks

45. fireres56 - October 25, 2008

"The only team in this league serving a minority and underserved community and its gone."
where did this come from? someone forget Camden?
I also am sadden by newarks fold, as a somerset Pats fan I enjoyed goto Newark to see Baseball even when the Pats were in Bridgeport the bears were close enough to get to a game. I am holding out hoping that someone an come along and restore Baseball in newark is not a bad town just a bad rep.
AND Anonymous said… that arrogant SOB in Somerset is probably dancing for joy.
I really dont like that comment I hope Your not refering to Steve K? do you have a short memory span? do you not remember Steve K buying the Bears from Ric Corone and running them until Marc Berson & company came along. why would you even say that? I have no clue
Fireres56 Pats fan

46. barbara - October 25, 2008

fireres56 I agree with you that whoever posted the statement about the Bears serving an underserved community probably mispoke. I think you could argue that both Camden and Bridgeport could make that statement as well. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt that they just mispoke. Alot of people myself and my family as well lost a big part of our community last night and we are saddened and disillusioned.

But as for your owner in somerset you are way out of line. That man never did anything for this team but leave it in worse shape then he found it and he treated us fans like we weren’t worth anything. The same way they have treated us when we went to somerset for the playoff games last year. They called us filthy names that I can’t even post here and the staff wouldn’t help and they even sent the police to our seats if we cheered for our beloved Bears. I appreciate that you loved going to Newark and I am not looking to pick a fight with a fellow baseball fan. I have nothing against the Patriots or the Patriots fans. But Newark was just a stepping stone for that owner in somerset so he could get his team in Bergen and they never let us forget it. We are brokenhearted in Newark today and this is a loss for the whole league. I hope you are right and something can be done to save the franchise.

47. jake - October 25, 2008

Mike you are one hundred percent correct in that we need to respect each other on this forum. This has been a unique and yes very difficult 24 hours for the Atlantic League, its fans in particular and for those who read and love this page. Tensions and emotions are high. We have now heard from two players in the league about salaries and other issues, and we have received word that one of the great clubs in the league is gone. Lets talk to each other with respect. State your opinions and thoughts but lets at least try to curb the anger.

Scott I agree with you that this is the hot topic right now but I think its the larger picture we need not lose focus of. The loss of the Bears is but a part of the larger economic picture that includes salaries and compensation and conditions for players, the declining level of play as Chad and batter up spoke of, and what the future is for this league.

Certainly no one wants to see this league go anywhere or any more teams lost to their fans or communities. The ownership has to get on the same page and address all aspects of the financial strength, salaries and compensation and quality of play.

I too have heard that there were a number of factors in the decision to fold the Bears and that their were issues with specific other owners. But I think we should all reserve judgement until we hear it directly from Mr. Berson or his representative. In the end I hope that the Bears fans get the reprieve they deserve and have baseball in 2009.

Jake Bell

48. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

I think, if anything, this shows why some teams can’t afford to pay players and their front office much more money. We’re also in a financial crisis right now, and this is something that might only be possible with the economy booming once again. – Scott

49. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

I just want to point this out that I found on the Northern League site:

"Northern League players are paid monthly from $800 (for rookies) to $3000 (for veterans) –these are approximations and can change based upon the manager's discretion. They receive no long term benefits (such as disability or retirement benefits) and, if cut, go straight to unemployment (or their "day jobs"). The are only paid during the season (May – September).

The league also has a salary cap of $105,000 for the entire season or roughly $25-$30,000 dollars per month."

Now, here's the thing: The league said approximately when it comes to individual salaries. The cap for the season, however, is set in stone — I know this as a fact. If the monthly salary total for a team works out to roughly $30,000, and let's say one player is making $8000 per month, than that leaves the other 24 guys on the roster to make $916. That's if no player is making more than that, in which then every other players' salary would go down.

The Atlantic League, I can assure you, pays well above that on average, closer to $1800 per month. So while you may think some guys are making a lot more in the Northern League, and they may be, than that affects the other guys on the team, who are then making much less.

With that, can we please keep the focus on the biggest story in the league in many years: The Bears shutting down operation. That should be our focus today and throughout the next couple days.

I will get the Q&A going with executives about the financial issues in the near future. It's funny because I haven't even had one person email me with questions so it must not be that big of a deal. But, I'll do it anyway. – Scott

50. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 25, 2008

Also, these are the stories that Mike and I love working on and breaking for you. Please keep supporting us by making a donation of any amount using the PayPal button on the right side of the page. Any support helps keep us going. And thank you to those who’ve already given.

51. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

Sad about the Bears news. I too enjoyed the match up of the Bear/Patriots.
Hopefully the Road Warriors will not come back–those games are not fun to watch.

52. Anonymous - October 25, 2008
53. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

what ever happened to the league merging with another league? i vaguely remember a situation like that, both leagues i ntheir own divisions, 1 league starts a month before the other and some strange setup was talked about, but it meant thered be 16 teams to play instead of the 7/8

54. WFWRA - October 25, 2008

Hats off to Scott and Mike for the years of terrific work. I’m a longtime reader (and Bears fan) but first time poster.

Sad news indeed about the Newark Bears, if it is true. I’ve been going for years, sometimes with my wife/young kids, sometimes alone after work (from my downtown Newark workplace), to the “Den”. It’s a shame that a city like Newark can’t shake its reputation. We’ve gone to day and night games, using mostly public transportation, and nothing’s ever happened to us.

Jake: your appreciation and fervor for the welfare of the players is to be commended. While I don’t deny that the apparent wage structure is very tough on AtL players and families, let’s remember that they are in the entertainment business and, like struggling artists and musicians, freely enter into it with some knowledge of this reality. They’re chasing a dream, or hanging onto one. It’s not fair nor equitable to the players, but it is the reality. Has been for decades. We can think of it as a big pyramid: you have a few high earners at the top (A-Rod), but a vast majority in the profession are at, or near, the bottom of the earnings pyramid. A discussion will be helpful but real change, I’m sure we can all agree, is hard to implement.

Back to the apparent departure of my beloved Bears: what’s been left unsaid is the complete lack of coverage of Bears baseball (actaully, the entire Atlantic League) over the years by the Newark Star-Ledger. The City of Newark ignored a feel-good story over the years, and so did the now-troubled Star-Ledger. I found it appalling that the Bears, just blocks away from the Ledger offices, received the same paltry coverage from the Ledger as did the Atlantic City Surf or the (since departed) NJ Cardinals of the NY-Penn League…if any. The Courier News covers the Patriots regularly, and Long Island Newsday, likewise, for the Ducks. Why the Ledger ignored the Bears, I’ll never fully understand. Now both institutions are teetering near sad demises. Who knows how a different approach to print media coverage by the Ledger would have impacted the Bears, and shaped the impressions of other area suburbanites. (Partial disclosure: I am a suburbanite from Middlesex County).

There have been some references to mistakes by ‘prior ownership’. Does this refer to the Rick Cerone regime? If so, what were they? With all due respect to Mr. Cerone, who, from what I saw, did a lot, what missteps were made? I could only recall some quotes made out of frustration by Mr. Cerone to the NY Times around 2002. He was a terrific force in getting professional baseball back in Newark, and was always generous with his time. Mr. Cerone established a high level of standards for the Newark Bears staff throughout his tenure, and it was evident even after he left, right through last month. Hopefully, it won’t be the last month ever for minor league baseball in Newark. (Sigh).

55. Tom from Long Island - October 25, 2008

wfwra, just as an FYI, Newsday does not cover the Ducks in great depth. They have a daily item called “Duck Watch” which gives a 3-4 sentence results posting of the previous day’s game in which the writer gets off of the recap from the Duck’s web site. They (Newsday) refuse to send a reporter to cover the game because they feel that their readers are not interested in the Ducks like they are in the Mets or Yankees. They have said that the Ducks games are more about family entertainment than they are about a sporting event and they don’t feel they should cover them.

56. jake - October 25, 2008

Scott and Mike I think its worth mentioning again that you both have done a sensational job this past 24 plus hours. This is some real good journalism and how ironic that it so much greater than the local papers provide. I led with that praise again so that you did not feel that some minor criticism I have to offer Scott in anyway diminishes what I believe has been outstanding work.

With regard to your comments on the Northern League salaries, the information you refer to is not new and has actually been on that site for more than two years with only minimal update and in fact the salary structure in the Northern League has been modified. When Ryan Radmanovich went to the Edmonton team last year there were a series of articles on line and even here in the US that described the new structure. You might want yto speak with Ryan and George Sandel and some of the others that played in the league this year (AL) and you will learn that some teams in the NL now carry as many as 3 and 4players making $3000 or better, the cap has been mnodified and the average salary has increased as well.

I thought Chad 's piece and the posting by batter up were very helpful in providing us with so much more information and understanding than we had. For this reason I am a bit concerned with the manner in which you keep trying to steer the discussion away from salaries. Given the excellent work you have both done in the last 24 hours it makes one wonder of you are not receiving pressure to move off and it certainly doesn't make sense to do so in light of whats happened in Newark. I just don't think we want to be disrespectful of either Chad or batter up or any other players who may step forward.

The story is one of economics and the future. If there are a series of fires in a neighborhood we don't focus on a single fire but the larger picture. The Atlantic League in the last month has been fighting fires. First in Bridgeport and now a more devastating incident in Newark.

But it is all part of the same discussion. I am not the voice of the players, their attorney or agent, I merely believe that they have been undercompensated and underappreciated as was noted in both player's perspectives. I am also concerned as to where this league is going. If the players do not want to come here beccause the salaries and compensation are poor, and because as a result the talent pool is reduced, then Newark won't be the last loss we sustain.

It really is a Catch 22. The fans want to see a certain level of ball, the scouts want to see a certain level of ball, the players want to play at a certain level and be able to survive, and the sponsors want to market to large fan bases that are drawn by the quality that this league has built its reputation on.

I don't think that there is any question that the events of the last month and in particular the last day represent a significant fork in the road for the Atlantic League and its leadership. Maybe the solution is for Mr. Boulton to move the Bluefish into the CanAm league and for the Atlantic League to field six teams in 2009 and for the league to work aggressively to strengthen itself again before any expansion is considered.

By strengthening I mean improve compensation as best you can so that the league draws top talent, the seats are filled, the scouts come and so forth. To do anything else quite frankly is to create another CanAm league and quite frankly I don't think most would be interested in that. The talent pool in that league is well below the mission that was set forth by this league, the efforts of Mr. Granato and Mr. Burke notwithstanding.

Scott I think the flow of dialogue has been good has been good and you wouldn't believe the buzz you guys have generated in discussions and cell calls and late night calls among the fans. With regard to questions for the Q&A when it comes I do not think many people realized that you were ready for them or that any of the execs and leadership had been scheduled.

Thanks again gentleman for all you are doing.

Jake Bell

57. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

Anonymous our reference to problems in ownership was not refering to Mr. Cerone at all. Rick was a gentleman and a pleasure to know and all of us who started with the Bears when they cut the ribbon appreciated all he did. It was the carpetbaggers who followed and not Mr. Berson either.

58. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

Well, I remember chatting with Rick Cerone at a game when he owned the team….He said there was no way it would fail. I think he changed his mind when the Bears won their first championship and the stadium was pretty much empty….I remember it well as it was a Sunday afternoon after a win the night before in Bridgeport when manager Marv Foley was ejected. Maybe it’s just the fact that people won’t support a minor league team in a major league area???? I really don’t think that an affiliated team would be supported in this area..

59. fishyfan - October 25, 2008

thanks for all the news .. I think the teams in the cities have had a tough time.. I know the Bluefish stadium is in, or at least abuts, the poorest zipcode in the state.. this year the Bridgeport Regional Business Council gave the Bluefish the 2008 Business of the Year award, which got the Fish some advertising free on the new electronic highway billboards. However, the other businesses in that Regional Council, which I would guess had to cast those votes for the Bluefish, were noticably absent at the games. For the most part they didn’t take boxes or even a block of seats for their companies. There needs to be a lot more support from the local organizations (those that might be left in these financially tough times) for the seats to be filled.

In the early years of the Fish there were groups of city kids in bright T-shirts who were sponsored by banks, etc. I think blocks of tickets were given to neighborhood houses, after school programs, little league teams,etc. There has been almost none of that the past several years.

I am curious to see what the Fish will be next year.. our season ticket prices have gone down since the team was sold.. and we are all glad that Frank was able to step up to the plate and save the franchise.

I feel for the dedicated Bears fans.. I remember the first year when the Bears and the Fish called Harbor Yard home as the Den was being completed.. many fans headed up 95 to Bridgeport to cheer their fledgling team.

60. Chip Saunders - October 25, 2008

I could not agree with you more Tom from Long Island. Newsday does an awful job covering the Ducks. They used to swnd a writer like Alan Hahn to cover the home games,but they can’t even do that anymore. Yet,they like to call themselves Long Islands hometown paper. I hate Snoozeday.

61. Anonymous - October 25, 2008

This quote is from the article in today’s Newark Star Ledger regarding the demise of the Newark Bears. The man speaking the words is owner Marc Berson.

“There’s no secret that the economic side of this has not been positive for years,” Berson said. “There’s no secret to that. There’s no secret that the numbers of people attending have not been anywhere near the capacity of that stadium. Anyone can take notice of those two facts.”

Jake-
Scott’s point that to be talking about paying more in salary expenses, when teams are being brought to their knees after years in the red, is a good one. Why would that be seen as “steering the conversation”? Can’t anyone make a point that opposes yours without being an “ownership mouthpiece” or subject to some conspiracy theory about the league? It’s ridiculous.

Also, isn’t this Scott and Mike’s site? They can do anything any way they want to. Start your own blog if you don’t enjoy it or if you think their coverage is unfair.

More Berson: Asked how much money the team had lost this season, Berson would only say, “It’s a lot of money.”

“This is not a philanthropy,” he said. “I really do believe, and I’ve stuck with it because I believe, that this was good for Newark and good for the city, and very important for the North end of town. But there are limits. We’re doing everything we can to find a solution here.”

Note to Marc Berson: The solution, according to Jake, esteemed blogger at atlanticleaguebaseball.com, is simply to pay players more in salary. That will fix it all. Thanks Jake! And we can’t wait to read your 10-page dissertation in response!

62. jake - October 26, 2008

anonymous the only thing simple here is you. And since you hide behind an anonymous blog and are too much of a coward to put your name on it you obviously have an agenda. So your point is that if a business in the red then that business has the right to exploit its employees. Did you bother to read the statements of the players.

This is entire conversation is about economics and in what direction this league needs to move for the future. That discussion should and must include a discussion of compensation packages for players for all of the reasons I discussed. But that’s not why you blogged and we both know it.

How many people will fill the seats in Somerset, Camden, Long Island, Bridgeport, or any of the other cities in the league if the level of play continues to decline. Or did the ERA’s thi season escape you.

You want to talk about difficult economic times, come up with a formula for success and leave a key element out of the equation, the players. I run a company with more than 200 employees and I could never be as insensitive or narrow minded as you.

And by the way, Mr. Berson gets a great deal of credit for all he did in his tenure to try to make it work in Newark.

Mike and Scott thanks again for all you do and providing this public forum.

63. jake - October 26, 2008

Scott & Mike based upon the comment that anonymous filed earlier I just went and read the Star Ledger piece that ran today and I have to tell you it makes my blood boil. For Corey Booker or Joseph DeVincenzo or any other elected official in Newark or Essex County to claim they are committed to baseball is a joke. Mr. Benson and John Brandt and the Bears could not get the City or the County to lift a finger to support that team even just with their presence or school based programs or any other creative and supportive measures.
The County Executive goes so far as to suggest they would like to have affiliated ball–is he kidding?

Maybe minor league or indy ball can't survive in the inner city market so close to major league ball, I don't know. But if the Bears are gone I give all the credit in the word for the fight put up by Mr. Berson and his team. My brother Frank and I have been to many games in Newark and it was a great place to see a ballgame. The Bears fans are real baseball fans and just loved their team. The baseball was good too. And contrary to what was reported in the Ledger, in the early years of the Bears those seats were filled, and often and we were there. Shame on the City officials in Newark for a poor attempt to re-write history.

64. fireres56 - October 26, 2008

Jake talk about hidding behind a asumed name LOL now thats funny Kettle black eh?

65. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

you just proved my point for me Jake. Thanks. All I did was disagree with you and I:
1) am simple
2) am a coward
3) have an agenda
4) am in some kind of cahoots with the league. Cute sentence how “we both know it”. Know what?

I’m a fan of the league. Like you care so much about the players, I care that this brand of family entertainment will be around for my family to see for years to come. Whether you believe it or not there are fair, impartial people everywhere that will disagree with you on, I am sure, many different topics. You want to have an earnest discussion about the economics of the league, yet want to ignore the fact that teams can not make a go of it even paying the current salaries? Newark folds. Bridgeport needs to be bailed out. If these two teams lost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with their attendance, Camden and Maryland couldn’t have done much more than break even with their attendance this year. That’s half the league. If one half of the league makes money and the other half doesn’t, and they are all owned by the same people, doesn’t it stand to reason that the teams making money are carrying the teams in the red, thereby negating much of the profit of the solvent teams? Isn’t there just a little chance of that being the case?

And if you are that concerned with employee rights, and if you truly do “run a company”, why don’t you share with us your profit and loss statement from last year, along with all of the salaries of your employees and their responsibilities so we can judge whether or not they are being fairly compensated.

66. jake - October 26, 2008

Well now that the car salesman’s employees have filed their nonsense for the night can we get back to serious discussions about the Atlantic League and its future and about Newark. Goodnight fireres56 and anonymous. And again, its Jake–Jacob Laurence Bell, Cranford, New Jersey.

67. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

Geez… simmer down.
I wish the players were paid more, I really do. I understand, Jake, that you think a decrease in the level of play is hurting the league. And that the AL must pay players more money to raise the level of play. I’m just not feeling your arguement, Jake.

Remember, this is an indy league which employs players who DON’T want to be here and are only here because they aren’t good enough to play in affiliated ball. Please don’t try to dispute this fact. The AL is not intended to be some married, father of 3’s, full-time job. Also, the fans who attend AL games don’t, by and large, care about the level of play, because if they did, they’d be annoyed that it is an indy league and they’d go to real minor league games played by affiliated teams. The AL bills itself as family entertainment and that’s what it is. I personally think that attendance is pretty darn good in this league considering the fact that the players are nobodys.

Anyway, I know I have rambled and my thoughts are not concise. Sorry. The salary issue could be a news story 365 days a year for those who want it to be. The Newark Bears folding is HUGE news TODAY and I don’t feel that “crummy salaries” should piggyback on this story. Again, sorry for my rambling.

southernalfan
(thanks for allowing us to publish anon, since I can never deal with the google/blogger crap)

68. jake - October 26, 2008

okay anonymous good point I simmered down. Your opinion isn’t a bad one it just doesn’t coincide with what I know of this league. What this lesgue claims to be changes from one minute to the next. WQhen Rickey Henderson or Brandon Knight make it back to the majors they claim to be the league that gives athletes a chance to make it back. They claim to be a baseball league with a talent pool equivalent to AAA or better. And when the talent pool is down because the higher caliber players won’t come, see Chad’s comments, they say its a league designed for family entertainment. Fried when is bad baseball entertaining.

I am not looking for anyone to break the bank. And if you read the postings from the players you will see that many did want to be here as they rehabbed or worked their way back to affiliated ball. They wanted to play in a league with higher caliber ball and where the scouts came. But they won’t come if the caliber keeps declining and neither will the fans.

And by the way the AL is a full time job and some of the best players who have come through including Henderson, Knight, and so forth had families.

But I ramble. I appreciate your comments they were well thought out. And I too am very disappointed at the lose of Newark it was a great place to see a game.

69. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

Jake- I couldn’t agree with you more about the AL’s identity crisis. I, for one, have never fallen for the comparisons to AA or AAA. I’ve just seen too many minor league games to buy that spin. For a league that advertises merry-go-rounds and bumper boats instead of players… no one should be attending games to see “good” baseball on a daily basis.

As for my “full-time job” comment… it was made to make a point. Sure I know that many players in the AL are married with kids… southernalfan

70. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

Boy do all of you all stay awake at night wondering what the players make. Im sure the players dont have a comment board and post what the fans make. let them get real jobs and see what the world is like out there. Let them finally work for a living and see what its like. I still say you all need to get a life and stop kissing A#$ on the players because Im sure they really dont care about you. As for the Bears folding Im sure the league is happy and Somerset are flying high that this day has finally come. Its sad but true!

71. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

Ok wait a sec. Its been a long time since I wrote anything on this page but I check it quite often. I can say this, the last poster not only represents everything thats wrong with the game, he/she represents everything thats wrong with society. Yeah I know, thats bold, but true. This is the same idiot who goes to a game and tells the players how bad they are. This is the same idiot who then stands in line after the game and asks for an autograph only to try and sell it later. This is the same idiot who treats the non MLB guys like theyre irrelevent. This is the guy who makes players dislike fans. Now, most fans I ran across in my time playing and SPECIFICALLY in the Atlantic League were class acts and fun to be around. There is even one family who in my time in Newark, was so friendly that I was affectionately called “bodyguard” for the wife (who was pregnant at the time). The same family treated all players with respect, even traveling to see ex-players they knew play in another league. This same family bought our jerseys in an auction, just so ours would get sold. I wasnt even playing at the time, I was coaching the team. Those fans are the ones that make it enjoyable to come out everyday, not idiots like that. It is those fans who take the time to make us feel like family to them in the short time we spend together in a city that make this game worth playing at the lower levels of the minor leagues. Those fans ask about our families, bring us food, and create memories for players that are never forgotten. It is those fans who write these posts asking for fairer wages for players. It is those fans who maintain websites (brickcitybruins.com) for their teams and players, and those fans who grieve tonight. To those fans, I say thank you.
This person has never had someone come to his job and tell him how bad he is at it. It is not wrong to want to be able to feed your family as a minor league baseball player. It is wrong to act as if a minor league guy is worth nothing just because hes a minor leaguer. You ask any big leaguer, and they will tell you that minor league guys get paid nothing, ever. Chad discusses what some guys get in affiliated ball, nut those guys have ML time, or have put up monster numbers consistently to get that money. That is not the average minor league baseball player. It is true that all people have a choice for employment, but baseball is more than a choice, its a dream. Dont you dare criticize someone for doing something that they love for a job. I bet you couldnt hit a baseball if your life was on the line. Unless youve ever worn a uniform, you have no business opening your mouth saying something negative about the guy who chases his dreams night after night. You are disrespecting his family that scarifices so he can fight for what he wants. You dont ever get to do that.

Moving on….

I played in both Somerset and Newark, and had two different stints in the league. Let me make this clear to all: It is a well known fact that Newark players dont “fit” the Somerset model. It is a well known fact that Somerset management looks down on Newark. There are sociological reasons for this. That is a fact. I’ll flat out say it: There are differences in the makeup of the two clubhouses. Its a running joke in the league that Somerset takes a certain kind of player. Having been in both clubhouses, I can tell you its a fact. I am not able to say why because I cant say with facts. I can say that there are different characteristics between the two teams. So yeah, its probably true that Kalafer wanted rid of the city and the players that made up the ballclub. They had a different flavor. But, this isnt new. When I came back to the league for the second time, the entire league had a different flavor. BASA was in control of most teams, and they made it a point to keep their teams with a certain kind of player (Somerset, Camden, Lancaster, etc.) Those who were good enough to play in the league that had different characteristics player in Long Island, Bridgeport, Camden (older days), and on the Road Warriors. Nashua and AC used to have similar players, but their teams folded. So whats the point? The point is that there is some validity to that argument.

Reality: The Newark Bears and Bridgeport Bluefish were losing money in buckets. There is no question about that. For the most part, the cities didnt support the teams. No team anywhere can survive that long term. It happens at every level.
I would guess that they would find a way to keep a club in Newark if they kept a club in Bridgeport. The league needs to keep that balance going. There are lots of solutions to the problem. One could be some revenue sharing among the other six teams that profited. Im not good enough to give you many ideas, but MLB avoided contraction, this league can too.

72. Anonymous - October 26, 2008

We mourn today not just for a baseball team but for a family. At the brickyard we were family. Players, staff, fans we were are family. We had no merry-go-round or boats didn’t want em. We had a classic old stadium and a our fans and players and we had baseball. Pay no attention to the foolish and hateful words of those who despised us. I feel your pain as all of us do. So many really good days, so many good men and their families that we supported during their time here. So many we stay in touch with. We are the Bears and we will live on. They probably are celebrating in somerset and that owner is happy. He came here but he had no use for our players or our fans. He could have been a hero and we would have supported him and made him part of our family but he was just a scavenger and had no use for us. He did not build here, didn’t want to build here, just wanted to destroy. Didn’t want to know us or see us. Our players you say didn’t fit the somerset model, neither do we the Bears fans. Not their model or their color chart. We were not welcomed in their ballpark. Treated us like criminals, followed us around, harassed us. Made us know we were not welcome. In the brickyard all were welcome. When the gates opened our staff welcomed all and so did we. We loved the rivalrys. It was fun. somerset, long island, bluefish, it was a blast. Some people are happy this weekend but will they always be. We the Bears were important to this league and we will be missed. But we will always be family.

73. Big Tony - October 28, 2008

Shame on one of the “anonymous” posts that implied that players are in independent ball simply because they weren’t good enough to play affiliated ball. That is only true for the very top round draft picks. Most players get bumped from affiliated ball because of politics along with the whims of the farming directors and the constant push of superagents nagging those directors to place “their guy”. Put it this way, if you have no substancial signing bonus money behind you, clubs will drop you like a hot potato since they did not invest much money in you. Yes! you need to have talent, but you also need someone pushing for you or have a friend that is higher up in the affiliated ranks. This is the reason many really good, talented players play for independent teams. It’s not because they are lousy players, as your post stated. They are just trying to get noticed. Also, I’ve seen many affiliated teams players play from the Carolina’s to Florida, A to AAA, and believe me, most were not as good as many players in independent ball. Matter of fact, most affiliated players do not get higher than AA. So, before you keep blabbing about something you know nothing about, try talking to a few independent players about their history and why they are here. Remember, it may be just entertainment for you, but most players play hard to show off why they belong elsewhere.


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