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Atlantic League Notebook: Loudoun (!), Losing Streaks, Sneaky Clemens

The National Spelling Bee finals just took place, so in honor of that, here a few “extemporaneous” goings on around the Atlantic League that caught our attention this week:

  • The long odyssey of the Loudoun Hounds in suburban Washington D.C. (Dulles, VA) is nearing its end (beginning?).  Ground has finally been broken on their ballpark, which will also house a professional soccer team (Virginia Calvalry FC), and be known as Edelman Financial Field.  After a few years of roadblocks, the organization is now targeting a 2014 opening…which is next season.  The Hounds were originally scheduled to join the Atlantic League in 2012, and then again in 2013, but now a shovel is actually in the ground.  Dulles is actually a little closer drive from York than to Waldorf, MD where the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are located, and of course Loudoun will give Southern Maryland a natural geographic rival ala York-Lancaster.
  • Interesting note on Bridgeport’s recent 14-game losing streak, which they snapped during last weekend’s visit to Lancaster:  The Bluefish General Manager is Ken Shepard, a veteran minor league baseball operator.  Shepard knows something about losing streaks and not letting them get you down, and this streak wasn’t even the longest of his career; in 1988 he was the youngest GM in professional baseball when he headed the Geneva (NY) Cubs of the Short-Season A New York-Penn League.  Geneva, who had defeated the Watertown (NY) Pirates in 1987 NYPL Championship series, started the 1988 season by losing 22 in a row.  Bear in mind, that league only playes a 78-game season starting in June, so Geneva lost more than a quarter of their games consecutively.  As the losing streak grew, Geneva took advantage of it as a marketing opportunity, and Shepard began sleeping in the press box until the streak was broken.  The losing streak and Shepard were so intriguing it started drawing national attention, including a visit to Geneva’s McDonough Park by the Today Show.  The really amazing thing wasn’t even that jaw-dropping losing streak, but that Geneva finished the season with a 27-51 record, meaning they finished the season 27-29 after 0-22.  Pretty good improvement all things considered.  Just how valuable was the attention and clever marketing?  Well, Geneva’s home attendance went up by 5,000 people in the moribund ’88 season, after the ’87 team won a championship.  (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not the biggest loser on the planet for knowing this story.  Geneva, NY is the place of my birth, and I grew up right across the street from the ballpark.  In the summer of 1988, I was 3 1/2 years old.  Good times.)
  • We all remember “Clemens-Fest 2012” in York.  Roger Clemens returned to York Tuesday night, in an unplanned visit as he watched his son, Sugar Land catcher Koby Clemens, play against the Revolution from the press box.  It was a very low key visit.  Roger, who has been known to show up at Constellation Field in Sugar Land on occasion to throw BP, may do the same here in York with the Skeeters.  It’s unclear how much of the series he’ll stay for.  According to Twitter, Clemens was spotted at Dick’s Sporting Goods during the day and The Left Bank restaurant in Downtown York in the evening on Tuesday.  York Dispatch Revolution beat reporter John Walk has some more details on Clemens’ visit on his “Revolution Rumblings” blog.

-Paul Braverman


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