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Na Koa Ikaika Maui sets up new format for 2013

April 5, 2013 - Robert Collias
It will officially be four seasons, four formats for Na Koa Ikaika Maui baseball team when it begins play May 28 against the Ishikawa Million Stars at Maehara Stadium, something we were the first to report was on track last summer.

General manager David Andrus emailed me a press release and a 77-game schedule on Wednesday.

Here is the press release:

NA KOA IKAIKA ANNOUNCES 2013 SEASON

For Immediate Release. March 6, 2013.

Kahului, Maui.

Na Koa Ikaika Maui Professional Baseball, owned and operated by Hawaii Baseball, LLC, released its 2013 Schedule today. The Maui squad will be part of the Pacific Association a new independent minor league, and will kick off the season when it renews its rivalry in inter-league play with the Ishikawa Million Stars of Kanazawa, Japan of the Japan Baseball Challenge League at Iron Mahaera Stadium in Kahului on May 28, 2013.

Last year, the teams split their exhibition series in Maui and in Japan.

The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, headed by former Dodgers All-Star Mike Marshall as Commissioner, will have four teams and play a 77-game league schedule, featuring the returning Maui team, the Hawaii Stars, based on the Big Island in Hilo, the San Rafael Pacifics, who return for their second season, and the newest entry to join the new league, the Vallejo Admirals, out of Vallejo, California, in Sonoma County. After the opening series against the Million Stars, the Strong Warriors of Maui will host another team from the Challenge League, the Shinano Grandserows, who open against Maui’s sister team in Hilo. The Maui squad will compete with the Hawaii Stars in 24 home and away contests for Hawaii’s bragging rights. Both Maui and Hawaii will travel to Japan and play all six teams in the Japan Baseball Challenge League.

Iron Maherra Stadium will also welcome this season new competition for Na Koa. The East Bay Lumberjacks, (as well as teams from) Santa Rosa, Reno, and a squad from Australia, expanding the international flavor of the Pacific Association, will all pay visits to the Valley Isle. Maui travels to California on two road trips against its Bay area rivals and ends its season with a trip to Arizona and more inter-league play with the Freedom League’s Goodyear Centenials and the Peoria Explorers before entering the league wide, college world series style play-offs set up by the Pacific Association to give every league member a shot at the Championship.

“We are excited by the innovative schedule which we worked long and hard over this past winter with these teams in the Pacific Rim to showcase the talent in independent baseball. Now, it is time for our fans and supporters to get ready for another exciting season of professional baseball on the Valley Isle”, said the General Manager of Na Kaoa Ikaika, David Andrus. “This winter was all about new beginnings, never done before in organized baseball, and our schedule is a testatment to that. I am excited for our loyal fans as we embrace these new opportunities of minor league baseball with Hawaii right at the heart of it,” exclaimed Andrus.

The team has lost a solid, local front-office employee in Chris Osgood over the offseason, but the schedule sounds fun, although I couldn't open it on my home computer. Exactly which games will count and which ones won't for the purpose of getting to the College World Series-type playoffs that they are talking about in the press release, is somewhat unclear to me — I assume the games that will mean the most will be against Hilo, San Rafael and Vallejo (Sonoma County last season).

Last season, for example, we were told for most of the season that the North Division (Maui, Hilo, San Rafael, Sonoma County) champion of the North American Baseball League would play the South Division (Texas teams) for the title, something that didn't happen. The year before, Maui didn't play its final 27 games.

I will be in touch with Andrus soon to do a more in-depth story on all of this and we will release the schedule with that story next week. In the meantime, here are some links about the new league (a recurring theme in this four-year adventure, yeah?):

—The Hawaii Tribune-Herald's take on the Stars return, from January.

—Ballparkbiz.com's report on the inter-league aspect of all this with the Freedom League (another new one) playing the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. Read the comments on this one, very interesting.

—Ballparkdigest.com had this to say on the death of the North American Baseball League in January: "If indeed the North American League is dead -- and given the lack of an active website or team, we're guessing it is (although someone claiming to represent the circuit out of Green Bay has approached several venues about potential leases) -- it represents a spectacularly failed experiment in creating an indy league from the remnants of three different leagues, with a footprint ranging from Illinois to Texas to Alberta to Hawaii." The full entry can be accessed here.

—The take from a Marin, Calif., newspaper website (sorry, can't figure out the name of the paper from the website).

—Our Sports Central had this about the Pacifics — this link says the Pacifics will host a league chamnpionship series with all four PAPBC teams from Aug. 26-28, which would make the regular season somewhat moot.

Again, I will be in touch with Andrus when I have a little time next week to find out precisely what the plan is for Na Koa Ikaika Maui this season, so stay tuned.

 
 

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