Indy ball will work in Trois-Rivières

Revue de presse

By Marc Alexander Blais, Canadian Baseball Network, 14 mars 2013

Aigles de Trois-Rivières Ripper de London Independent baseball is a place for incredible stories.

Bad ones and nice ones.

Undrafted players making it trough the Independent Leagues to the Majors are part of the good ones.

Folding teams in the course of a season are part of the bad ones and it happens often.

I’m very excited about the entrance of Les Aigles de Trois-Rivières in the independent Can-Am League. It will add a little bit of Canadian content in the Can-Am league and it will give an easy to reach (only 80 km away) opponent for the four-time reigning champions Les Capitales de Québec.

It will work. It has to work. I desperately want it to work. But then I think about the 2012 season of the London Rippers.

The London Rippers played a great total of 60 games on a 96 games schedule in the Frontier League before folding and becoming the Road Warriors on the road for the remaining games of the season.

The Rippers, despite the success they had in their home opener gathering 2,764 curious fans, finished dead last in the Frontier League with an average attendance of 846 per game.

What went wrong? I mean what could possibly go wrong when you play in one of the most baseball-friendly city in Canada and in Canada’s favourite ballpark that is Labatt Park.

If it went wrong in London. It could also go wrong in Trois-Rivières! Right?

I don’t think it will. Trois-Rivières has put together a strong management team and is off to a good start. They are not repeating some errors the Management in London did.

Be local
In London the owner, general manager and manager were the same person. An American. Not that it’s a bad thing but as Can-Am League and American Association commissioner Miles Wolff told me when I asked him in 2008 why he wouldn’t start the Can-Am League Ottawa Voyageurs by himself like he did with the Capitales in Québec City he told me that for independent baseball to be successful you need a local owner.

Indeed, the most successful franchises of independent baseball in Canada are owned by people who were born in the city or at least live in the area of their team. You have Sam Katz in Winnipeg, Jean Tremblay in Quebec City and another Katz in Edmonton (Edmonton has other problems, ownership is not of them).

This is important: You need a person who is close to the people of the city, who knows their likes, their dislikes and their habits. Something the London Rippers didn’t have in David Martin.

In Trois-Rivières there are three local business owners in place Emmanuel Turcotte, Jean-Francois Picard, who is acting as the team president, and Michel Côté. To round up the group of owners you have former Cy Young winner Eric Gagné (Mascouche Que.), Trois-Rivières native hockey player Marc-André Bergeron and probably the man you want in such an adventure Miles Wolf.

They also have aboard GM Marie-Christine Boucher a native of Trois-Rivières, who spent the last year in the neighbourhood with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Shawinigan Cataractes where her duties were to oversee the organization of the Memorial Cup Tournament which turned out to be a success.

Before that Boucher spent 10 years in the Montreal Canadiens department of marketing taking part in the elaboration of the Centennial activies for La Sainte-Flanelle. There again quite a success.

Have a great brand
I tought the Rippers had a great logo. I just didn’t like the name. It also appears I wasn’t the only one.

At the time of the launch, some London residents expressed disgust at their baseball team’s name being associated with a 19th-century serial killer from London, England, not London, Ont. who was notorious for disemboweling his female victims. That controversy had great repercussions on the web and on the social networks.

If you want to be successful who have to have a name that is related to the city. Play on word or not.

Les Aigles did right again in re-branding with a new logo the name of the already in town junior baseball team. A team that took its name from the former Cincinati Reds double-A affiliate who played in the city in the early 1970’s and had a certain star player named Ken Griffey, father of the future Hall of Famer by the same name, for the 1971 and 1972 seasons.

Have a coach who speakz French
Alright, I know this is not mandatory, and it has nothing to do with the situation going awry in London but it is a must have in the province of Québec. You need somebody who can speak French in the aftergame scrum, who can explain to the people in the city why he took one decision instead of another or why such player is not playing tonight. Quebecers give a lot of importance to that small detail and while the managers of the Montreal Expos didn’t know French, they are the only exception case in the province.

Just remember the fiasco it made last year when the Montreal Canadiens named Randy Cunneyworth as the head coach replacing Jacques Martin. Even Scotty Bowman spoke French and still can do it today. The Quebec Nordiques’ last head coach Marc Crawford from Belleville, Ontario knows French as his mother is born in Jonquière, Qué.

The manager of Les Aigles will be Pete Laforest (Hull, Que.) who ended his playing career with Les Capitales de Québec last year after spending 17 years in pro ball, the last four with Les Capitales. During his career Laforest played in 68 Major League games (for San Diego, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay) and won eight championships. He brings a lot of credibility to the ball club and he can speak French.

All seems to be in place for this team to be a success. All is left to do is win some ballgames.

Revue de presse publiée par Jacques Lanciault.

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