Changes needed in local baseball on and off the field

Robin Short
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Nobody asked me, but …

Great to see government tossing around the pre-election greenbacks for new arenas this week. C.B.S., Paradise and Harbour Grace are all set to see new badly-needed rinks built by 2014.

They will join the new addition to the Mount Pearl Glacier, opening this hockey/figure skating season. But one question: rather than have each individual municipality get funding for a new rink, didn’t anyone have the foresight to instead look a regional multi-plex facility, like the Tim Hortons 4 Plex in Moncton, N.B., centrally located within the northeast Avalon? Imagine a similar four or five-pad complex somewhere on the Outer Ring Rd., close to the overpass, with easy access for folks in C.B.S., Paradise, Mount Pearl, St. John’s and Torbay and area?

No, instead everybody wants their own little Fiefdom. Ironic, isn’t it, that once the rinks in the metro areas of metro St. John’s are completed, it will be the capital city which will be in need of ice facilities, given the decrepit state of some of the rinks in metro? …

Keeping with facilities, is there no nicer recreation structure in the province — from an aesthetic standpoint — than St. Pat’s Ball Park in St. John’s, located in a valley with its green foliage in the backdrop? However, if baseball is to grow in St. John’s and the province, changes are needed at St. Pat’s, and elsewhere. Given our woeful summer season, baseball players are challenged to get 40 games and practices a year. That, coupled with the lack of qualified coaching from minor to senior, and the shallow talent pool from which a team to compete at nationals can be selected (how about those Newfoundland junior results, football-like scores), Newfoundland is against the odds from the get-go. What to do? For starters, we need to extend our season, and it starts with Field Turf on St. Pat’s, if only on the infield. It would mean getting on the ball field earlier, and far more often. From there, the provincial association should consider hiring a coach from outside to travel the province each summer conducting clinics and working out young athletes. Ask the baseball folks in Corner Brook what Steve Angeline done for its program.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, but given the success soccer continues to achieve, and rugby too, it might even be considered a critical issue. Unless, of course, baseball is contented to be relegated to bit-sport status …

The Boston Bruins Alumni are coming to Newfoundland next month, playing in Deer Lake Oct. 10, Lewisporte the 11th, Torbay the 12th, Mount Pearl the 13th, Bonavista the 15th and Harbour Grace the 16th. Among those advertised to be making the trip are Ray Bourque, Rick Middleton, Terry O’Reilly, Reggie Lemelin, Kenny Linseman, Rick Smith, Mike Krushelnyski, Bruce Crowder, Bruce Shoebottom and Bob Sweeney. Tickets are $20 and are on sale at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters office in the Village Mall and Maverick Cards and Collectibles on Water St. … If Newfoundland doesn’t win gold at these softball nationals, given the team has been nothing but dominating through the round-robin, this province will never win … Like, if I’m setting up a table that will have the Stanley Cup, of all things, sitting atop it, wouldn’t I ensure the legs are locked into place? Huh? … I keep hearing Deer Lake won’t be icing a team in the West Coast senior league this hockey season, which leaves Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor remaining in a two-team league. If that’s indeed the case, do you suppose plans for the new East Coast league are scrapped, Clarenville returns to the West Coast league and Mount Pearl and C.B.N. are back in the Avalon East circuit. And everyone who wanted this upheaval shrugs and says, “Never mind.” …

Former Toronto Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden told The Telegram this week St. John’s should not have been without AHL or QMJHL teams after the St. John’s Maple Leafs and St. John’s Fog Devils left.

“You have a terrific arena there, and there are great fans and people who really love hockey and really know hockey. It’s a terrific thing that you have a new team. You should have never been without one.” Tell that to John Ferguson Jr., who’s now scouting for San Jose, and very likely will never see a general manager’s job again given the mess he made of the Leafs …

Hear there are some who have taken issue with Doug Partridge’s comments in The Telegram last month after the age group basketball nationals. “As always,” Partridge said, “Newfoundland often fails to compete because our players are not as fit or strong as other provinces.” Kudos to Partridge for telling the truth. I’ve covered every Canada Games – except 2003 in New Brunswick – since 1991, so I think I have an idea of what I’m talking about.

 While we can never compete with the Ontarios, British Columbias, Albertas and, depending on the sport, Quebecs of the world, we should be in the same ball park, if you will, with Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. But most times we are not, and it’s partly because we are neither prepared nor in shape. And there’s no excuse. There has to be a change in philosophy, and it’s coming. Not soon enough, too …

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email

Organizations: Toronto Maple Leafs, The Telegram, Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Mount Pearl, Avalon East Moncton Corner Brook Ball Park Deer Lake West Coast East Coast San Jose New Brunswick Atlantic Canada Manitoba Saskatchewan

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