Guest Author - Joe Mancini
Two teams have put their marks on this still-fledgling century: The St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox. This week the Red Sox claimed their third World Series Championship, dispatching the Cardinals, appearing in their fourth World Series, conquering the Cards for the second time in ten years and squaring their rich post-season history at two apiece. For Hub fans, who began this season with the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent hail-of-bullets manhunt, the Game Six victory, held at Fenway Park, was a spiritual balm and an emotional emollient, making the slogan “Boston Strong” ring true and fresh. Congratulations!
This is my farewell column as Baseball Editor of BellaOnline. I’ve covered the last four seasons, sometimes reporting the news of baseball, sometimes discussing the business of baseball, sometimes offerings opinions on baseball, and sometimes presenting the finer points, the “inside baseball” of baseball. I hope that I have entertained, informed, and helped cultivate your appreciation and understanding of this game that we love. It is not like there is nothing to discuss, or happenings on and off the field that will rivet our attention in the coming days: the courtroom drama of the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis case will be worthy of several books and TV specials is my guess, and that is but a sliver of what’s happening in The National Pastime, which, thanks to MLB Network and the internet, never truly has an “off-season” in the classic sense of the term.
In the town where I live, Fredericksburg, Virginia, there is palpable excitement at the thought of Minor League Baseball coming to town. The Class A Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, a Washington Nationals farm club, is in the final stages of finalizing a move to Fredericksburg to start the season in 2015. I feel for the fans of Hagerstown, which has a long and rich history of minor-league baseball, but the park the team plays in is old and decrepit and, frankly, Hagerstown is Baltimore Orioles’ territory in terms of fan loyalties.
The first pass on building a state-of-the-art ballpark failed as Fredericksburg found the ticket (around $29 million) to big to swallow; to their credit, the negotiators for the city and the team did not give up, and team ownership found a business partner in Diamond Nation, a New Jersey company that specializes in baseball and softball academies and tournaments. Now it looks like we will have a facility comprising a number of softball and baseball fields surrounding the ballpark, with facilities for hosting tournaments that will draw teams and their families and fans from all over the country. Much is made both pro and con about the benefits and costs of sports to their communities, but I see this as a tremendous win for our region. Let me cite the late Paul Akers, editor of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, as a prime mover and supporter of this happening, for without his constant support it surely would not. The final agreements are yet to be signed, but this looks like it’s going to get done, and I for one will be thrilled at the prospect of having pro baseball just down the road.
So I bid you farewell and please keep reading BellaOnline. Thank you!