Sports Outside the Beltway

A Baseball Revolution

(via The Loss Column) There’s going to be a new minor league team in the area, the York Revolution. Given that southern Pennsylvania is Orioles territory, the Revolution have shrewdly exploited some Oriole connections. Oriole great, Brooks Robinson – whose professional career started in York – has been hired as a special assistant to York Professional Baseball

(Peter Kirk, chairman of York Professional Baseball, is president of Maryland Baseball the group that once owned the Baysox, Keys and Shorebirds.)

According to today’s Baltimore Sun, the Revolution will be cementing the Orioles connection by hiring former Orioles Chris Hoiles, Al Bumbry, Tippy Martinez and Ryan Minor as manager and coaches.

The newly formed Atlantic League team announced the coaching staff for its inaugural 2007 season, and it will feature three members of the Orioles’ Hall of Fame as well as the answer to a historic trivia question.

Former catcher Chris Hoiles, who played his entire 10-year big league career with the Orioles and was inducted last summer into the club’s Hall of Fame, will be the first manager of the Revolution.

Tippy Martinez, one of the best relievers in Orioles history, will serve as pitching coach, and former outfielder Al Bumbry will be a part-time coach and base-running instructor.

Rounding out the staff will be infielder-hitting coach Ryan Minor, who played three seasons with the Orioles and is best known for replacing Cal Ripken in the starting lineup on Sept. 20, 1998, ending Ripken’s record consecutive games played streak at 2,632.

(Ryan Minor hitting coach? Minor was convinced to give up his basketball dreams to play for the Orioles but it never panned out. He was eventually traded to Montreal for Jorge Julio. Tippy Martinez previously had a minor league connection. The first year the Baysox played they were in the old Memorial stadium. Tippy had a barbecue stand there.)

Now if I travel 45 minutes and go east on I-97, I can see the Orioles AA affiliate Bowie Baysox; 45 minutes and go west in I-70, I can see the Orioles A affiliate Frederick Keys; 45 minutes and go northeast on I-95 I can see the Orioles short season affiliate Aberdeen Ironbirds; and now about an hour and travel north on I-83 to see the independent York Revolution. (I could also travel about half that time and take I-83 south to the see the Orioles, but given their likely level of success this year – 4th place again – why bother?) Baltimore is becoming a hub for minor league ball.

A little further away another Maryland minor league team, the Blue Crabs won’t be starting play next year due construction delays.

With all this minor league expansion, where will all the players come from? Well Congress has been looking out for that and recently passed a Minor League Immigration Bill.

The House and Senate did pass an immigration bill as they headed for the exits last week — one for minor-league baseball, basketball and hockey players and icecapade skaters.

The bill allows an unlimited number of those athletes to enter the U.S. on the same terms as major-league players and international sports stars. Currently, the minor leaguers enter on H2-B visas, which are good for only six months and are limited to 66,000 a year. That visa category is intended for seasonal workers like crab pickers and ski-industry employees, but as the popularity of minor-league and farm-team sports has spread, entire leagues have become dependent on foreign players.

Who says that Congress is out of touch? And who says that they don’t have a sense of humor?

After the Senate passed the measure, one of its sponsors, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, issued a press release saying the “legislation would level the playing field for minor league athletes.”

Crossposted on Soccer Dad and OTB Sports.

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