Major League Baseball’s announcement Wednesday in which it essentially cut ties with the Clinton LumberKings was not a surprise.
For more than a year, LumberKings General Manager Ted Tornow – knowing that MLB’s plan was to cut 42 teams and save another 120 in a realignment plan – had been voicing concerns about potential MLB cuts. Over time, he became even more convinced Clinton would be cut.
His predictions came true this week when MLB released a list of teams that have been extended invitations to be full-season affiliates with 30 MLB teams.
Clinton and the Burlington Bees were not on the list. Iowa’s three other teams – the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Quad Cities River Bandits and Iowa Cubs – received invitations to be affiliated with MLB teams.
Even though we had heard of the possibility and by early this week Tornow was convinced we would be cut, it still stings to hear the news.
Many of us have spent warm, sunny days at the ball park, with a cold drink in our hand, watching our boys of summer. In fact, it’s where community members for generations have turned up to have a good time with their friends, leave their every-day cares at home and create memories as they unify behind their team.
But for as bad as the loss appears, here’s the thing: Tornow is certain there will continue to be baseball in Clinton. Because while teams were waiting for the list to come out, Tornow was contacting other leagues to see if they were a good fit for us. The Frontier League and the Prospect League are two that have surfaced. Forming a new league also could be a possibility.
Wednesday afternoon he said he expects decisions to be made within the next few weeks about what form baseball will take in Clinton. His optimism tells us that while it will look a little different as to length of a season, where our players will be coming from and where they will go from here, the baseball experience will remain.
That is important. We can still hear our kids sing the national anthem, order concessions, meet with friends, cheer and clap and support our team.
And that’s what we hope will happen: that people will turn out to fill the stands and financially support baseball in Clinton, whose presence goes beyond the game itself and creates a quality-of-life amenity that’s hard to beat.