Dr. Randy Gregg Needs To Resuscitate The Edmonton Capitals

As a long time Edmonton Prospects volunteer (7 years) and former Edmonton Rush employee (6 years) I have deep rooted issues when the following phrases are linked: Edmonton City Officials, Oilers anything. The tail wags the dog so like it or not, the next Edmonton Baseball team will be owned by Dr. Randy Gregg and associates. While Dr. Gregg does not technically own a baseball team yet, when he holds the press conference to introduce his team he needs to already be wearing an Edmonton Capitals jersey.

The Edmonton Capitals, for those who do not know, were owned by Daryl Katz. Katz is the owner of the Edmonton Oilers. I feel confident that you have been reminded that Dr. Randy Gregg formerly played for the Oilers collecting five Stanley Cup rings. While new teams tend to like to do silly “name the team” contests, this situation calls for a straightforward “here we are” approach! The situation I reference is the optics of one news source citing Gregg for wanting a WCBL team which then forced the league to come out and admit they told him it was not that easy (the breakdown)!

Many fans will clamour for the return of the moniker “Edmonton Trappers”. Using baseball speak, here’s three reasons that would strikeout:

  1. Using the name of a former beloved Triple A baseball team will only amplify fans pining for a return of affiliated (associated with the MLB) baseball. It will not happen. Roll your eyes if you wish because the story is from the Prospects website but as the author of said article, the only opinions expressed are by the people delivering the eulogy of previous incarnations of baseball in this town – Baseball in Edmonton article.
  2. The Edmonton Prospects brought back Al Coates, the voice of the Edmonton Trappers. The Prospects also brought back Homer, the beloved mascot of the Trappers. I saw it as the organization tipping their cap and paying homage to a great era in Edmonton baseball. Now the first rule of the internet is never read the comments but! Each time the Prospects did anything to tip their caps to the Trappers the keyboard warriors would come out saying they were doing everything to squeeze every dime out of that old logo. Dr Gregg is not above any of this animosity. Leaving the Trappers logo in the annals of time will attract less hate than bringing it back and tarnishing it.
  3. The overarching angle to Dr. Gregg winning the Re/Max Field bid was all the development that will done to the area. Therefore you are not only trying to sell baseball tickets you are trying to drive people downtown. The Trappers left 17 years ago. Your millennials (age 18-34) will have very limited knowledge of the Trappers unless they had parents who brought them to a game as a kid. Generation X (age 35-50), if they are baseball fans, can probably relate a story or two about catching a game at John Ducey Park but does a 42 year old catching their first baseball game because their checking out the revamped downtown core relate to the Trapper logo anymore than the Capitals logo? Baby boomers (age 50-70) will have the strongest memories of the Trappers logo. The problem is if the Trapper fan in them has kept them away from the Prospects, they will shun this incarnation soon enough.  Target the younger age groups, make sure if they know one thing about the Capitals that is the fact they won a championship during their short life span and that folks need to be there when they do it again.

To further drive home the narrative that Dr. Gregg needs come out strong with a logo that already has some recognizablitity behind it is this statement from Saturday May 23rd’s Edmonton Journal,

“In the meantime, the backwards situation could occur in 2021 where Re/Max Field ends up laying dormant in the summer college circuit”

Seemingly City officials and the good doctor were willing to sacrifice a year of baseball at Re/Max Field because the business deal, which happens to require a baseball team, was too sweet to pass up. Do not waste anymore of the baseball fans time when you do acquire a team. I cannot be the only angry baseball fan in town. The anger is not because one bid was chosen over the other, the anger is because being stripped of sports during the current pandemic, the last thing a sports fan wanted to hear is that you will just have to wait longer to watch live baseball.

Therefore on behalf of all angry fans, please be ready to hit the ground running with a team name and logo when you have that introductory press conference. The synergy is there for you to resuscitate the formerly Oiler branded Edmonton Capitals. If you are going to choose a former logo to ride in on, the Capitals logo makes so much more sense in this situation than the Trappers. It is understood that the Oilers do not have an ownership stake in this version of the Capitals but Randy Gregg would not have to clear any hurdles to use those colours.

Then the task at hand becomes raising the Capitals logo to a level of prominence next to the Trappers logo. As angry as I might be at how this situation is playing out, I do believe Dr. Gregg and associates can accomplish the feat of putting Capitals logo in the rarefied air of the Trappers logo.

Will The Stingers Play In Edmonton This Season?

Last night (Friday May 22nd), the Edmonton Stingers were scheduled to host the Fraser Valley Bandits at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. It should have been game three of the 2020 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) season. Stingers fans would suggest that the Club would have brought home a victory last night pointing out that they defeated the Bandits in all four meetings last season.

The games of course are postponed by the current pandemic. “The Hive” as the Stingers call it is currently being “activated as a temporary overflow day programming facility for vulnerable populations whose access to services have been impacted by COVID-19.” So where does that leave the CEBL and the Stingers during this time that the economy is beginning to re-open?

Per the CEBL press release:

STATEMENT FROM THE CANADIAN ELITE BASKETBALL LEAGUE REGARDING CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR SINGLE SITE TOURNAMENT

“For the past two months we have been methodically working through a number of contingency plans that could enable us to play in 2020 under the traditional format of a regular-season or under any number of innovative formats. We have known that ultimately any actions we may take will be dictated by public health and government officials. Our priorities align with theirs—keeping the health and safety of all people at the forefront of our decisions.

While nothing has been ruled out at this point, we are presently focused on exploring what may be possible with a single-site tournament event in Ontario. As part of the contingency planning we have been engaged with the appropriate federal and provincial leaders around protocols related to players, coaches, team officials, venue staff, and fans.

Pertinent to all of our contingency plans, as we announced earlier this month, we formally submitted a request to the federal government for a modest loan of $5 million after determining that our league is ineligible for federal business support programs that had been announced. We are awaiting a decision on our request. We have also been as involved as any professional sports league in the province’s back-to-play planning process for sports organizations. We remain optimistic that CEBL players will be on the court this summer and again, providing world-class pro basketball entertainment to people across Canada.

            Protecting the interests of our season ticket holders, as well as national and local corporate partners, is integral to all of our planning. As our options become more evident in the weeks ahead, we will be able to provide clarity to our ticket, corporate, and community partners around how their investment in us will be protected.”

Let’s repeat the bolded line:

While nothing has been ruled out at this point, we are presently focused on exploring what may be possible with a single-site tournament event in Ontario.

The title of this article asks will the Stingers play in Edmonton this season. It seems they may not.

A league in its second year of operation is doing everything in their power to not have their history read a dormant second season. With 4 of the 7 teams in the league playing out of Ontario, a single-site tournament in that province is logical. Not ideal for anyone involved but in these times you have to work with what you have. Here is more on this idea from CBC.ca.

There is an article worth of questions to be asked if you are an Edmonton Stingers season ticket holder but I have one for you. If the Stingers win the CEBL Championship in a tournament where you cannot attend any of the game, would you be less proud?

Dreaming about a Stingers championship is not a local writer being a homer, it’s a reminder that the Stingers were 14-6 last season. A team that started 4-4 under inaugural coach Barnaby Craddock and finished 10-2 under coach Jermaine Small. A team that was breathtakingly close to edging out the Saskatchewan Rattlers, who went on to become champions, in the semifinals.

As the league and government officials worry about today, this article will end with a link to CEBL.TV so you can re-watch your favourite game from last season.

Edmonton Prospects Look to Extend Home Opener Winning Streak

The title to this article was originally supposed to include the word “today”. In a pre-pandemic world, the Edmonton Prospects and their fans had Saturday May 23rd circled on their calendars. It was the day the Prospects were set to begin their 15th season in the Western Canadian Baseball League and celebrate their 9th consecutive home opener at RE/MAX Field.

Did you know that the Prospects have won their home opener for 5 consecutive seasons? The streak started in 2015, the second season of the Ray Brown and Orv Franchuk coaching regime for the Club. They coached the first four wins with current Coach Jordan Blundell picking up the 5th win last season. 

Here is another “did you know”. Did you know you can re-watch last seasons home opener, all 2019 Prospects home game actually, on YouTube under the ICU Video account? So if you really wanted to watch some baseball today, the option is available.

 

Let’s take a quick look back the Home Opener winning streak:

2015 – The Medicine Hat Mavericks provided the competition quickly falling behind 3-0 after two innings. After taking a 4-3 lead in the top of the 4th, the Prospects put up three in the bottom of the 4th to take a lead they would never surrender. Derek Shedden and Josh Williams each collected two RBI while Alex Bishop and Tony Olson each one RBI. Brenden Wiun got the start but the story on the mound was Kent Hasler. Hasler inherited a mess in the 4th inning but went on to complete the game only allowing one hit against.

2016 – The first season the Fort McMurray Giants were in the league. It was the year of the horrible McMurray wildfires that caused mass evacuations. The Prospects allowed the Giants to share their ballpark to begin the season. The Prospects did not show any mercy during the home opener trouncing the Giants 16-3. Noah Gapp collected the win. Cory Scammell, Kody Funderbunk and Ryan Thrasher each collected 3 RBI while Owen Bessette and Derek Shedden both chipped with 2 RBI respectively. Logan Wedgewood and Erik Sabrowski also collected RBI.

2017 – The Brooks Bombers, beginning their second season in the league, got bombed 10-1  giving the Prospects a hat-trick of home opener victories. Noah Gapp pitched a complete game, 1-hit, 14-strikeout masterful performance. Gapp would go on to pitch one more dominant game for the Prospects prior to that seasons MLB draft. Gapp would go undrafted but would move onto the Canadian-American Association. On the offense side of the ball, Marion McLean led the way with 3 RBI. 

2018 – 5 pitchers combined to only allow one run on three hits as the Prospects defeated the Lethbridge Bulls 7-1. Tony Olson hit a 3-run homer in the 4th and a 2-run homer in the 7th to power the Prospects offense. 

2019 – The Lethbridge Bulls were once again victimized in the Prospects home opener streak. Unlike the first four wins though, this game went right down to the last at-bat. Pierce Blohowiak, who had struck out his first 4 at-bats, became the hero with a walk-off single.

Until we can all see each other at the ballpark again, stay safe everyone!

 

Editor’s Note:

There is no actual game today. A meeting about the future of the 2020 WCBL season is scheduled for Wednesday. This article was prepared before the news broke that the Prospects would be moving to Spruce Grove in 2022.