Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Winter Meeting Useless?

By Jim Tang
[Victoria Colonist, January 23, 1953]
Cynics would have a field day at any Western International Baseball League meeting—but they would probably comes away believing that baseball is the greatest thing in the democratic world. The optimism of baseball men is without parallel. And it’s contagious.
I attended by seventh meeting Monday at Vancouver and enjoyed it as much as the first, although the pattern was laughably identical to the previous six.
There is a tremendous surge of booming effusiveness as club officials gather for their first session. Then the doors to the meeting room are closed and one can only piece together the reports over the years to guess at some of the bitterness and infighting which goes on—for all come out smiling when the doors are opened again.
It’s the luncheon recess and delegates break up into animated groups for the lobbying and horse-trading they hope will strengthen their positions at the next session. Edmonton and Calgary representatives, new to the game, are much in demand. Their clubs need players and are unique in that they have money to spend. Everyone is willing to “help.”
Back into the meeting to again emerge smiling and cheerful after several more hours of battling, club officials are set for reporters and photographers at the annual dinner.
The meetings were an outstanding success—but no major problems have been settled;
The league is financially sound—but all eight clubs lost money last season;
Prospects for next season are the brightest ever—but four or five more clubs are wondering if they can raise enough money for spring training.
And then league president Bob Brown gives it the final touch in his stirring inaugural address.
“Baseball doesn’t need promotion,” he vehemes, no doubt not remembering the policy of no promotion saw his Vancouver Capilanos lose a reported $38,000 last season while attracting less than 120,000 fans from a population area of a half million.
“You never saw a crooked one,” he declares feeling as he defends league umpiring, conveniently forgetting that as general manager of the Capilanos and as a player he was well known for his umpire-baiting tendencies.
But it’s the most believable hokum you can hear and you know that if it wasn’t for the self-hypnosis of the men who are keeping the game alive there would be no baseball. So, may they long continue to miss what they don’t want to see.
Random Harvest
A Vancouver sports columnist has declared without equivocation that Edo Vanni will not return as manager of the Capilanos. Best guess at the moment is that Nanny Fernandez, veteran Coast League catcher, and Joe Orengo, have the inside track. Dewey Soriano, new Vancouver general manager, can probably recall that Orengo won two pennants for him while he was the general manager and star righthander of the Yakima Bears. Vanni, no doubt, will bob up on some other WIL club. There are three or four he’s missed but only Tri-City has a managerial opening.

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