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Can things get any stranger in Lake County?
August 8, 2011 - Robert Collias
Na Koa Ikaika Maui manager Garry Templeton asked me after his team was swept in a doubleheader by the Edmonton Capitals Sunday night if I had heard anything more about the Lake County Fielders and their plans to make their trip to Maui for Na Koa's final four homes games Wednesday through Saturday.
I didn't know any more than what the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday — that the team was perhaps days away from folding because of a stadium dispute with the city of Zion, Ill. — but a quick Google search shows that the follies continue in Fielders country.
According to this popular baseball blog, the team didn't have proper baseballs to play a game against the Calgary Vipers last Friday, so it was suspended in the bottom of the second inning. Couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
In this blog entry from radio station WLS 890 AM, the city of Zion, Ill., says the team is $185,000 behind on rent payments as the team and city go back and forth on the stadium dispute.
Will the cash-strapped Fielders get on the plane Tuesday to come to Maui, for the only four games left on their schedule away from home in the final 31? I have no idea — and neither does Templeton — other than what I have presented here on the Roblog and in the paper. After the final four home games here, Maui is supposed to go to Zion for 11 games in nine days Aug. 15-23. If the Fielders don't come to the Valley Isle, what will Maui and-or the league do for its scheduled trip to Illinois? Don't know the answer to that one either, but it clearly has to be an issue at this point.
I do know that Maui's playoff hopes are falling faster than the U.S. national credit rating after Na Koa's listless 3-2 and 8-1 losses to the Caps ran their record to 2-13 since reaching .500 back on July 18. Na Koa trails Edmonton by 12 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in their division with 29 to play. On the other hand, it may not actually be 29 games left on the schedule, depending on the state of the 15 games on the slate involving the Fielders.
After Sunday's sweep, Templeton strongly hinted that drastic changes to the lineup could be coming as Maui tries to climb back into the race — I will link to that story on the Roblog when it is posted on our site.
Maui team vice president Bob Elder told me after Sunday's games that Eri Yoshida, the 19-year-old knuckleball-throwing female from Japan, is set to start on the mound for Na Koa on Tuesday, the last home game I think that can be counted on. However, that came a few minutes after Templeton told me that Yoshida was still hobbled by a non-baseball-related foot injury, was unable to throw on Sunday and that her tentative target day was Wednesday.
I also know that Maui is still waiting on more than $12,000 that Na Koa says it is owed from the Fielders for changing the schedule early in the season to help Lake County out when its stadium was still under construction. Stay tuned.
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