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Silence from league, Na Koa; news rolling out of Lake County

August 13, 2011 - Robert Collias
Still no new word from the North American Baseball League nor Na Koa Ikaika Maui — I know, I know, y'all must be shocked — on precisely what is going to happen for the rest of the season for Maui's professional baseball team. Haven't heard anything more from the Maui franchise other than that they were slated to play the Maui Open League all-stars tonight and a team of policemen and firefighters on Saturday.

I have a prep football game at Lahainaluna Saturday afternoon, but I may stop by the ballpark after that to see what is going on.

Na Koa's front office has managed to talk to yet another Chicago newspaper, but can't get anything to us other than a short press release on the exhibition games. No need to inform the local folks what is happening, I guess, through the newspaper that has covered every single one of their home games with a writer, and often with a photographer, and a rewrite through the league's statistical website for all of the away games.

I guess two seasons, 159 games total, earns us the cold shoulder while owner Bob Young doesn't have a problem talking to the Chicago Tribune for this piece on what is going on. Looking back at the facts — Eri Yoshida pitched on Tuesday on a sore foot, a day before Maui manager Garry Templeton thought she would be ready when I talked to him on Sunday and Monday, but the final game of the Edmonton series — and that Maui vice president Bob Elder announced during the fifth inning of Yoshida's game that the Lake County series was on, is perplexing.

Lake County's travel day for the Maui series was Tuesday — and the in-game announcement that night had to have the crowd of 934 that was jazzed from Yoshida's historic win even more excited. My first thought after hearing that announcement was that the Fielders had traveled on Tuesday, as expected.

Awfully hard to believe now that the Fielders had any intention of coming to Maui for this final homestand, even though they made a show of gathering at their ballpark on Wednesday morning with the supposed intention of getting on a plane for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch at Maehara Stadium. They were gonna hop on over to O'Hare Airport (or wherever), buy tickets for a traveling party of 30 or so and just come to the Valley Isle for this four-game set? Please. Then Templeton and the team were told in a meeting with Young and Elder to be ready for a game with the Fielders on Thursday — Seriously?

The fact that the NABL at first announced that the Fielders were out of the league because of not making this trip and then 12 hours later saying that the matter of Lake County finishing the season with its last 25 games at home (the first 11 of which are supposed to be against Maui) is being discussed by Lake County and Maui is a black eye for the league — and still has not been answered by anyone.

The biggest losers here, clearly, are the loyal Maui players, coaching staff, and, of course, the fans that have stood by this team for its entire history.

Here is the league's statement, now almost two days old, on the subject, in case they decide to take that one down, too: "The Lake County Fielders failed to show up for the scheduled series in Maui yesterday. The league is in discussions with Lake County and Maui regarding the schedule for the remainder of the season and will make an announcement shortly."

The evidence that Lake County was in doubt of going anywhere is piling up as Chicago area news outlets keep cranking out the stories. In this piece from the Chicago Daily Herald, Lake County team spokesman Bernie DiMeo said the team told the league earlier this week that it was considering pulling out of the NABL because of travel expenses, specifically to Maui.

Did that just occur to the Fielders this week? Did the possibility of Lake County not coming not cross the collective minds of Na Koa's front office? Did the league not think to step in before all of this circus started? Did the Maui front office ask the NABL to play its final games in Lake County after the announcement that the Fielders were done because not having that series to play would no doubt mean the end of Na Koa's season and sink any hopes of perhaps selling this franchise down the line?

Questions, questions. Maybe at some point we will start to get some answers.


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