Cape Cod League Baseball

A Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox player warms up while another is at the plate.

After a couple of days off, mostly due to computer malfunctions and a getaway to celebrate my 5th anniversary, The Rally Cap is back and should have posts regularly for the near future.

The starting lineup for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.

During the getaway to Cape Cod, my wife and I took in a Cape Cod Baseball League game. This has become something of a tradition for us when we visit the Cape during the summer. This past weekend we went to see the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox play the Chatham Anglers.

The first thing I noticed when I went to the game was that Chatham’s team name had been changed.  I remembered them being the A’s (like Oakland’s team).  Turns out that in 2008 MLB enforced its trademarks on team names.  Prior to 2008, there were teams named the Cardinals (Orleans, now the Firebirds), Mets (Hyannis, now the Harbor Hawks), A’s (Chatham), Red Sox (Yarmouth-Dennis), Bourne (Braves), and Harwich (Mariners).  Half of the teams with names associated with Major League clubs chose to change their names due to the constrictive policy MLB was enforcing.  This action by MLB is ridiculous.  The Cape league, as cited in the article link above, has an operating budget of $300,000 per year.  It’s not like it is big business making a ton of money off of trademarks owned by MLB.  My guess is that most of the revenue from merchandise sales goes back into running the Cape League.  It is shocking to me is that MLB, which provides financial support to the league, would deliver an ultimatum to the Cape League teams forcing them to do things MLB’s way or break tradition and change names. As one of the few wooden bat leagues in the country, the Cape League, which has been around since 1885, allows top college players to compete in situations that are similar to what they will face in the minors and in the big leagues.  The league is seen as one of the proving grounds for the best college players and gives teams a chance to scout players when they aren’t hitting with or pitching against an aluminum bat.  Evidence of the league’s success is that in 2009 there were 217 alumni in the majors, including Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Chase Utley and Kevin Youkilis.   The league is an important part of baseball’s set up and MLB should be trying to help the league rather than hurt it.

The starting lineup for the Chatham Anglers.

Rant aside, I love Cape League games.  The Cape League is a little slice of Americana.  College baseball players staying with local residents while they play the nation’s pastime on high school fields.  Can’t get more American than that.  The Cape League players are the definition of the Boys of Summer.  Going to the games is fun because the players become part of the community, and the communities on the Cape embrace their local teams.  Some of the games are so well attended that they might rival Marlins games.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a lazy summer day on the Cape than going to the beach and then heading to the ball field to see what is the equivalent of Single A minor league baseball.  I enjoy watching potential stars play against other top flight competition.  I also find the chance to speak with scouts from MLB teams interesting.  Though most wouldn’t tell me what teams they worked for, it was still exciting.

Tommy Toledo delivers a pitch during the 5th inning.

The game itself was a pitchers’ duel.  Yarmouth-Dennis’ Tommy Toledo, a righty from the University of Florida,  had his second good start of the season, giving up just 2 runs.  Chatham’s starter, Derek Self out of the University of Louisville, also gave up just 2 runs.  The Sox had the better of the offense throughout the night, racking up 12 hits to the Anglers’ 6 and were able to get at the Anglers’ bullpen to score 2 more runs and secure the 4-2 victory.

The experience was thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to seeing more games in the future.  It will be interesting to revisit this post in a few years to see if any of the players have made a mark in the majors.

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