2015 August 23: Baseball - Birmingham Barons
2015 August 15: Baseball - Lancaster Barnstormers
2015 August 9: Baseball - Cedar Rapids Kernels
2015 August 2: Baseball - Normal CornBelters
2015 July 25: Baseball - Pericos de Puebla
It's a biannual tradition here at Bush League Factor: As hockey or baseball season approaches, I give a rundown of the cities that have lost teams and gained teams, and send my condolences to fans in cities that no longer have teams. There's usually at most a half dozen teams changing.
This year it's a bit more than that.
For those who don't know, the big news is that several NHL teams on the West Coast are tired of their top-level affiliates being on the other side of the country (last season the westernmost AHL team was in Texas), so they did some swapping of AHL and ECHL teams, moved some teams out west, and generally made dramatic changes to the minor league hockey landscape. And of course there were a couple of other changes. I think I managed to keep track of all the changes. But my apologies if it turns out I missed something here:
The Ontario Reign and Manchester Monarchs (both owned by and affiliated with the NHL Los Angeles Kings) have switched places, with the ECHL Ontario Reign becoming the ECHL Manchester Monarchs and the AHL Manchester Monarchs becoming the AHL Ontario Reign. For those who don't know, "Ontario" in this case refers to a city in California (about 35 miles due east of Los Angeles), not the province in Toronto. Similarly, the NHL Calgary Flames bought the ECHL Stockton Heat and had them swap with the AHL Adirondack Flames (who the Calgary Flames already owned). This time the team names aren't staying with the cities: the ECHL Stockton Thunder have become the ECHL Adirondack Thunder and the AHL Adirondack Flames have become the AHL Stockton Heat.
In a slightly more complicated series of moves, the Edmonton Oilers pushed their AHL affiliate from Oklahoma City to Bakersfield to become the AHL Bakersfield Condors. That pushes the old (ECHL) Bakersfield Condors out of town, and they're moving to Norfolk to become the ECHL Norfolk Admirals. That, in turn, means the AHL Norfolk Admirals are no more; they were moved by the Anaheim Ducks to San Diego to become the AHL San Diego Gulls. So the net result of all this is that Oklahoma City loses a team, Bakersfield moves up from the ECHL to the AHL, Norfolk moves down from the AHL to the ECHL, and San Diego gets a new team.
Next on the list, two NHL teams have moved their AHL affiliates to play in the same building as themselves: the San Jose Sharks and the Winnipeg Jets (yes, I'm aware that "Sharks" and "Jets" are also the names of the rival gangs in West Side Story...and now that I think about it, West Side Story wouldn't be a bad title for a story about all the changes going on in hockey this year). In the case of the Sharks, the AHL team's former home (Worcester) simply loses hockey. It's a bit more complicated for the Jets' affiliate; after their affiliate left St. John's, the Montreal Canadiens moved their affiliate to St. John's, meaning it is Hamilton (former home of Montreal's affiliate) who loses hockey.
On top of all this chaos, there are two changes to the landscape that have nothing to do with the AHL's entry into California. First, the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers, who were in suspended operations for the 2014-15 season, have officially folded. Second, the SPHL adds the Macon Mayhem to its roster of teams.
My condolences go out to the fans of Oklahoma City, Worcester, and Hamilton, who no longer have a team in town; to the fans of Las Vegas, who now know that their "temporary" loss of hockey wasn't so temporary; and to those fans in Bakersfield, Glens Falls (where the "Adirondack" teams play), Manchester, Norfolk, Ontario, and Stockton who are less satisfied with the style of play in their new league than their old league.
"What's the Bush League Factor?" you may be thinking.
Basically, it's a not-too-serious attempt at quantifying how lousy some of the logos in minor league hockey and baseball are. Certain offenses have been catalogued -- cartoony logos, logos with irrelevant features in them (such as a bear in the logo for a team called the "Aces"), trendy and/or garish colors, and so forth. Each offense has been given a point value, and the scores have been added up.
Some people would say that I need to get a life, and they may be right, but until then I'm going to keep working on this.
Updates should come roughly once a week during the season...maybe more often, maybe less. Keep checking to see what I have to say. With every update one team (sometimes more if I'm feeling ambitious) will be spotlighted. Teams will be done in a seemingly random order (it isn't, but the exact order is left as an exercise to the reader).
Navigation is fairly straightforward. Look at the links on the left and click on the team or department you want to go to.
If you wish to contact me, the best way is through the Facebook page. If you're old school and prefer e-mail, my username is daniel and my domain is the same as that for this page. I avoid putting the two together because I get more than enough spam as it is. Be warned that I often go months without checking the e-mail for this site, whereas I'm on Facebook fairly often. Comments are welcome and encouraged. Particularly witty comments may get put on the website. Particularly stupid ones may as well. Sending me e-mail regarding the Bush League Factor constitutes acceptance of these terms (which is a fancy way of saying, "No, you can't sue me for putting your e-mail on the webpage!").
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