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Canseco is the guiding light for NAL
August 3, 2011 - Robert Collias
One of the more fun stories I have written in a longtime ran in Tuesday's paper. It was on Jose Canseco, a guy I used to admire for his unbelievable playing ability and later questioned for being a snitch.
At 47 (my age, btw), Canseco appears to have mellowed into a swpot where he can truly enjoy the game. He is the best thing the North American Baseball League has going for it as far as I can tell.
Here is the start of my story (I think any baseball fan will enjoy it, even if I do say so myself):
WAILUKU - The Jose Canseco show left town just two weeks ago, but it seems like an eternity.
Na Koa Ikaika Maui beat Canseco's Yuma Scorpions six of eight times in mid-July to finish an 11-6 homestand at 24-25, and they won two of their first three on an 11-game road trip to reach .500 for the first time since they were 9-9.
Since then, Maui has fallen into an eight-game slide, including a five-game sweep by Yuma, and are now 11 1/2 games out of first place in the North American Baseball League's North Division, 9 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.
The magic that was palpable with the Cansecos in town - Jose is the Yuma player-manager and twin brother Ozzie is an injured player-coach - is gone.
With 13 home games left, Maui will try to regain what Canseco brought to Maehara Stadium. Today, Na Koa (26-34) start a nine-game set against Edmonton (36-25), currently sitting in the North Division's final playoff position.
After averaging 400 fans per game for the first 25 home dates, Na Koa averaged 790 for the six Canseco nights, a trend that is league-wide in the NAL.
Five of Maui's six largest crowds came in the Canseco series.
"Absolutely, I think part of my job description is developing the league, having the league gain acceptance," Canseco said on July 18, his last day on Maui. "Basically I am, like, an ambassador of the North American Baseball League."
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