Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson

Status Report
March 13, 2009, 17:23
Filed under: Uncategorized

Aces Stadium, Reno Nevada.  You’ll be happy to know that things are apparently on-track with the new $50 million stadium that will soon host the former Tucson Sidewinders, now called the Reno Aces.  Okay, happy may be too strong a word!  Reports posted on the team’s new website state that seats began going into the park in mid-February…and they now have their scoreboard up.  Heaven knows you can’t play ball without a state-of-the-art scoreboard!  All totaled, the new stadium will eventually have 6,500 fixed seats – total capacity of 9,000 fans.  So, a tad smaller than TEP.  Perhaps on the theory that a sellout will be easier to obtain?  The D-Backs have helped develop a team the Reno crowd will love:  they appointed former D-Back first base coach, former MLBer, Brett Butler to be the Aces first manager.  As Spring Training progresses, the player roster is sure to continue to fill out.  As of this moment, almost all of the pitchers listed on the roster are familiar, former Sidewinders.  Most of the rest of the team is built up of new names (with a few exceptions…young-female-fan-heartthrob, Trent Oeltjen is back on the roster).


One thing that fascinates me about this Reno/Tucson thing is that the only pro baseball team Reno hosted until this season was a Golden Baseball League team.  When I was vacationing in NoCA last July, I read an article in the local Reno paper that was bemoaning the attendance at their ballpark.  They simply weren’t supported.  So, now Reno’s got a AAA team:  and it’s all going to be better?  I wonder.  In fact, we’ve traded positions.  We (Tucson) gave up a low-drawing AAA team and picked up a GBL franchise in return.  Reno gave up a low-drawing GBL team and picked up our AAA team.  Will this new alignment work in both cities?  Time will tell… 


Tucson Toros.  Here is something to love about a GBL team: the general manager and manager actually manage – and CHOOSE – the players!  When you’re a minor league affiliate of an MLB team, the parent unit makes all the personnel calls and often gives the MiLB team manager direction on how to use the players in each game.  For instance, the D-Backs might tell manager Bill Plummer (last year, obviously) to limit the pitch count on the starters for the beginning of the season.  Plum wouldn’t be afforded the flexibility to change that count.  But a GBL team is independent in all the important derivatives of the word.  So, you gotta love a team’s website that says, as the Toros’ site currently does under the “roster” heading:  Join the Toros as they take part in the Golden Baseball League, (GBL) starting May 21, 2009. The Toros will field a roster with former Major League, Minor League, Independent Leagues and former College players.  Resumes, bios and career statistics are now being accepted for a late April/early May invitational tryout. All players that are interested, and eligible by GBL criteria, can send their information to the Toros by mail or email at . Candidates will be screened then contacted by the Toros if they are to receive a tryout invitation.” 


You know who I’d like to see try out?  Blake Sharpe!  Blake is a former D-Back farmhand who filled in as an usher in the evenings last season while rehab’ing an injury during the daytime hours.  Although bored out of his skull, Blake took time to be friendly with his fellow ushers.  I was heartbroken for him when the D-Backs activated him from the DL and then released him.  Blake played INF for the USC Trojans, and advanced to D-Backs AA Club, Visalia Oaks before his injury.  I’d love to see Blake play ball here in Tucson!


(Disclaimer – this posting not reviewed/approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Toros, the Reno Aces, Diamondbacks, PCL, MiLB, MLB, Golden Baseball League, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Tucson Baseball LLC, SK Baseball LLC, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)


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