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NABL has questions with 1 month to go to opening day

May 3, 2012 - Robert Collias
I promise I am trying to look at this as optimistically as possible, but let's assess where we are with the Northern Division of the North American Baseball League after my story today announcing the division — read that ownership groups in Maui and San Rafael, Calif. — says it will also play games in Hilo and Sonoma, Calif., to make up the NABL North.

First, the positives:

—Travel is much easier this way with Sonoma and San Rafael being separated by about an hour by bus and only two inter-island plane rides required to get from Maui to Hilo. No doubt, big ups there.

Michael Cummings, who somehow found a way not only back into the league, but to own two teams in the same division as the Maui franchise he owned back in 2010, is out. For anyone who remembers Cummings and his countless missteps here, this is also good news.

—Cummings is quoted as saying this: “We want to show everybody, ‘See we pay our bills. Everything happens the way it’s supposed to with us,’” Cummings said. “When the season starts for the summer we want everyone to know who we are and what we’re about, and we do what we say we’re going to do and we can move forward” in this story announcing his Yuma Panthers will go dark this season. In that link, Cummings is also quoted as saying: “We want to come in and do it right ourselves.” (And, yes, this is the same Michael Cummings who owned Na Koa).

—Commissioner Kevin Outcalt, the gentleman who let Cummings own franchises in Yuma, Ariz., and Orange County, Calif., is also out. After the happenings in Lake County, Ill., last season and the fact that Maui didn't play its last 27 games largely because of those bumbling Fielders and that the entire league had to cut the final week of its schedule, it is hard to say Outcalt will be missed.

—Maui-Hilo owner Bob Young and San Rafael-Sonoma owner Brian Clark are now in charge of the league. They do have a very reputable guy in San Rafael Pacifics President/GM Mike Shapiro, a former major league exec.

Now, the question marks (take a deep breath):

—There is no schedule in place now — the season is supposed to start June 5 — since dates in Hilo have not been nailed down (read first link above) and neither have dates or a stadium been found in Sonoma, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

—There is no commissioner in place (first and fourth links).

—Too bad a good guy like 2011 Maui manager Garry Templeton, a class act all the way, got mixed up with the Yuma franchise. He would be a great hire for Hilo, IMHO.

—Before naming them Panthers, Cummings bought the former Yuma Scorpions — guided by player-manager Jose Canseco last season — from Outcalt. Figures. Canseco and his twin brother Ozzie, a player coach, were the best thing about the NABL last season and by far the biggest draw on Maui. Oh yeah, 2011 Maui GM Bob Elder was hired by Cummings for the same job in Yuma, a perfect match.

—There is no front-office or field staff in place in Hilo (first link).

—There was a recent court challenge in San Rafael that actually went in the team's favor somewhat over (I promise I am not making this up) bingo and a group called the "Goldenaires" (maybe this one should go in the positives section, yeah?).

—Hard to tell precisely, but it doesn't seem like there are any staff members in place in Sonoma, either.

Other than that, everything looks good.


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