April 11th, 2005


As if gas prices weren't high enough...

Ann Althouse links to a story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about octane fraud: paying for high-test gas and getting stuck with regular. Apparently Wisconsin has a real problem with enforcement since they can't keep their test units online. Seems that this would be one of those enforcement activities that pays for itself, especially if the fraud is as widespread as it was in Indiana.
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    Soundtrack Of Our Lives - Mind The Gap
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Shifting landscapes

I used to be pretty well informed about independent baseball, and with good reason: for seven years I ran pretty much the only publication that covered the independent leagues in any depth, the Rebel Baseball Review (RBR). The RBR ceased publication at the end of the 2002 season, since as a single parent I no longer had the time or energy to crank out the weekly standings and analyses that were the mainstay of the newsletter, to say nothing of the essays that many subscribers thought were the best part. I had the opportunity last night to flip through a few web pages and see what's happened in the two years I've been away.

Quite a bit, as it happens. I'd heard in passing of the Northern League breakup, which separated the NL from what had been the Northeast League. What I hadn't heard was that the Northeast League re-formed as the Can-Am League, nor that the Texas-Louisiana League had also renamed itself as the Central Baseball League. The All-American Association and the Southeast League had come and gone, and the Western League folded after the 2002 season, to be replaced by a new Golden Baseball League that'll begin play this year in California and Arizona.
In addition to all this, of course, teams came and went in the various leagues for various reasons, most notably (to me, at any rate) the Duluth-Superior Dukes of the Northern League.

Every so often I think about putting a book together on the history of the independent leagues; if there are a million stories in the naked city, there must be tens of millions scattered througout the diamonds of the outlaw leagues from Bangor to Yuma and on to Long Beach. There are a few websites that track the history of various leagues, and the Indy Leagues Graveyard that collects the history and logos of bygone leagues, but nothing out there so far ties it all together, except possibly this book by David Kemp and Miles Wolff which offers team and individual stats for players from 1993 through 2002. It should be interesting to see Kemp & Wolff's take on the overall scene; back when I started the RBR, part of the reason was that Miles' newspaper Baseball America didn't cover any independent leagues except the Northern League, and USA Today's Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly) didn't cover them at all, despite my teasing of Minor League Beat Babe Correspondent Lisa Winston. Eventually this improved - BA's coverage went from minimal to snarky to professional over the seven years that I ran the RBR, while BW picked me up as a stringer in 1996 only to demote me to freelance in 1997 when they decided to concentrate on baseball news of interest to fantasy fans - and by definition, independent leagues didn't fit that concentration. The improvement in coverage, to say nothing of the explosion of team and league websites, made me feel somewhat better about dropping the RBR after the 2002 season; in 1995 I was pretty much all there was out there, but by 2002 anyone with Internet access and some patience could ferret out most of the information I was providing. Maybe someday I'll pick up the RBR again, most likely as a blog, but today is not the day.
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    Soundtrack Of Our Lives - Never More
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