billsportsmaps.com

April 28, 2011

England, Non-League Football/6th Level – Conference North: the 1 promoted club, and the 4 play-off clubs.

Filed under: 2010-11 English Football,Eng. Non-League — admin @ 7:00 pm

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2010-11 Conference North, top of the table


Play-off Final result – AFC Telford United 3-2 Guiseley AFC, at New Bucks Head in Telford, Shropshire, attendance 5,436.
From Bluesqfootball.com, ‘AFC Telford 3-2 Guiseley‘.

1st Leg match reports (from the Football Conference site, from 4th May,2011)…
[Nuneaton Town 1-1 AFC Telford United, at Liberty Way in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, attendance 2,089]
Advantage AFC Telford After First-Leg‘.
[Guiseley 1-0 Boston United, at Nethermoor in Guiseley, Greater Leeds, West Yorkshire, attendance 1,022]
Lions Take Slender Lead Into Second Leg‘.
2nd Leg match reports …
[AFC Telford 2-1 Nuneaton Town / Aggregate 3-2 to AFC Telford United. At New Bucks Head in Telford, Shropshire, attendance 3,442.]
AFC Telford Win Through to Host Final’.
[Boston United 3-2 Guiseley in AET / Aggregate 3-3...Decided by Penalties: won by Guiseley, 3-2. At York Street, Boston, Lincolshire, attendance 2,640.]
Guiseley are Spot-On

The Conference North ends it’s 2010-11 season on Saturday, but the promoted club – Alfreton Town – and the 4 play-off clubs have already been determined. Eastwood Town (currently in 4th place in the table) was ruled to have a ground that did not meet the criteria for Conference National standards, so they will not be in the play-offs regardless. That left the door open for the Greater Leeds-based club Guiseley AFC (currently in 6th place). Guiseley were in the 7th Level last season, and draw around 400 per game, so if Guiseley were to win promotion to the Conference, it would definitely be a case of a club punching above their weight. The same would not be said of the other 3 clubs in the play-offs here, particularly in the case of Boston United, who have history in the League (with 5 seasons in League Two, from 2002-03 to 2006-07), and are drawing over 1,300 per game this season. As for the other two clubs in the play-offs here, Nuneaton Town have drawn around 900 per game this season, and AFC Telford United have drawn around 1,800 per game this season. Telford lead the Conference North in attendance. The other thing about AFC Telford United is that Telford itself, which serves in some respects as as a bedroom community for the West Midlands and the city of Birmingham (it being 45 km./28 milles west of Birmingham), is a pretty large municipality for this level. Telford is a new town and is one of the fastest growing towns in the UK, with a population of around 162,000 {2009 estimate}. Telford is Shropshire’s largest town. It really has the potential to be the home of a lower-League club, and AFC Telford has the facilities to match such a potential, as the New Bucks Head is a pretty nice ground. The Wolverhampton Wanderers reserves play there, and the New Bucks Head is generally considered to one of the best Non-League grounds in the country. Here is a report on a visit there from the Tims92 site, ‘AFC Telford United, New Bucks Head [July, 2005]‘.

This is the first time I have covered the 6th Level play-offs. Sunday I will have the corresponding map for the other 6th Level league, the Conference South.

At the upper left of the map page is the promoted club, Alfreton Town, with club info, 2010-11 kits, and 3 photos of their Impact Arena (North Street) ground. Below Alfreton Town on the map page are the 4 play-of clubs, with club info, 2010-11 kits, and 2 photos of their grounds. On the map itself, the 5 clubs’ locations are shown. At the upper right on the map page are the 2010-11 and 2009-10 average attendances of the 5 clubs.

Derbyshire’s Alfreton Town lost last season in the play-off final to Fleetwood Town, so their clinching of this season’s title is a natural progression. Next season will be Alfreton Town’s first-ever in the 5th Level, and their chairman has confirmed that the club intends to have their squad go full-time, in stages {see this, ‘Reds facing some big decisions following promotion to the top flight”, from ThisIsNottingham.co.uk}.

Alfreton’s manager is Nicky Law (senior). Alfreton Town, known as the Reds, had been usually drawing between 600 to 800 per game this season, but they pulled in 1,364 at their Impact Arena on 23rd April, when they clinched promotion with a 4-nil victory over Redditch United. [Those 4 goals included a brace scored by the Conference North's leading scorer, the Nottingham-born Liam Hearn, who has scored 25 league goals for the Reds this season.] The gate figure at that match was Alfreton Town’s highest in 45 years. It is hoped the crowd size will be similar Saturday, when promotion-chasing Nuneaton Town visit.
Below are photos from Alfreton Town’s promotion-clinching match on 23rd April [note: click on images below to see an enlarged version]…
alfreton-town_conference-north-champions2011_c.gif
Photo credits – all 6 photos by Dave Purseglove [aka kevmiles1] at Flickr.com, here.
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Below, are photo credits from the map page, along with a link to all 5 clubs’ official sites-
Alfreton Town [ http://www.alfretontownfc.com/ ]…
Aerial image of Impact Arena (North Street) from Alfretontownfc.com, here. Photo of field and terrace by clubbability at Flickr.com, here.Terrace photo from WheresTheTeaHut.blogspot.com, here.

AFC Telford United [ http://www.telfordutd.co.uk/ ]
Interior image from from Youtube video posted by telfordtillidie, ‘the new bucks head stadium‘..Aerial image of the New Bucks Head ground from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Boston United [ http://www.bufc.co.uk/ ]
Exterior photo of York Street ground from bufc.com, here. (via woswws.webs.com/Guide to Blue square north {2010-11}, here]. Interior photo from 100GroundsClub.blogspot.com, here.

Nuneaton Town [ http://www.nuneatontownfc.com/ ] Aerial photo from nuneatontownfc.com/ , here. Interior photo by LearnDavid at Flickr.com, here.

Guiseley AFC [ http://www.guiseleyafc.co.uk/ ]
Aerial photo from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Photo of main stand from GuisleyAFC.com, here.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Conference North‘.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for 2009-10 attendances. Thanks to HarrogateTown.com, for 2010-11 attendances.
Thanks to Alfreton Town FC site.
Thanks to kevmiles1 @ Flickr.com, kevmiles1 photostream, here.
Thanks to the BBC London Non-League Football Show.

April 24, 2011

2011 Copa Libertadores, Round of 16.

Filed under: Copa Libertadores — admin @ 5:01 pm

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2011 Copa Libertadores, Round of 16

Round of 16/1st Leg matches are scheduled for 26th April to 28th April. 2nd Leg matches are set for the following week, from 3rd May to 5th May.
2011 Copa Libertadores Round of 16 Bracket [and match-ups]‘ (en.wikipedia.org)

For Argentina, 3 of it’s 5 teams in the group phase have been eliminated. Compare this to Brazil, where all 5 of it’s teams in the group phase have advanced – and none play each other in the Round of 16. This means there is a chance for 5 of the 8 teams in the Quarterfinals to be from Brazil.

The clubs that qualified for the Round of 16 are…
5 teams from Brazil (Cruzeiro, Fluminense, Gremio, Internacional, Santos). 2 teams from Argentina (Estudiantes, Vélez Sarsfield). 2 teams from Colombia (Junior [Baranquilla], Once Caldas). 2 teams from Mexico (Club América, Jaguares de Chiapas). 2 teams from Paraguay (Cerro Porteño, Club Libertad). 1 team from Chile (Universidad Católica). 1 team from Ecuador (LDU Quito). 1 team from Uruguay (Peñarol).

Here are the leading scorers after the 2011 Copa Libertadores Second Stage (after 6 games played by all the teams of the players below, with the exception of Roberto Nanni of Cerro Porteño – Cerro Porteño has played 8 games in the competition so far, because they had to play in the First Stage [Nanni scored 2 goals in Cerro's 2 First Stage matches]. Listed are the players’ number of goals scored, their home country, and their club.
Note: click on images below to see them in a separate, enlargeable page.
copa-libertadores2011_leading-scorers-after-2nd-stage_top8_d.gif
Photo credits -
Roberto Nanni photo: clubcerro.mforos.com/. Wallyson photo: correiodeuberlandia.com.br/. Franco Niell photo: sports.yahoo.com/soccer/gallery/. Esteban Paredes photo: fifa.com . Nicolás Pavlovich photo:golazatropical.com . Lucas Pratto photo: cooperativa.cl . Wason Renteria photo from AP Photo, via indiatimes.com. Thiago Ribeiro photo: football.easybranches.com .

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011 Copa Libertadores‘.
Thanks to Tim Vickery. Tim Vickery’s blog at BBC.co.uk.

April 19, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the Southern League.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 6:19 pm

Click on image below for 2011 Southern League map, with team profiles including ballpark photos
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Southern League (baseball)



The Southern League is one of 3 Double-A minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Double-A is two steps below Major League Baseball. {You can see my map of all 3 Double-A minor leagues, with 2010 attendances and all 30 teams’ MLB affiliations, in this post, here.}. The modern-day Southern League was established in 1963, when the fourth incarnation of the South Atlantic League moved up one level, from Class A. and as part of Organized Baseball’s re-organization of the minor league system, became one of three Double-A leagues. The following year, 1964, the South Atlantic League (IV) changed it’s name to the Southern League (II).
Click on image below for list of Southern League statistics – 2009 average attendances; 2010 average attendances; teams’ metro areas and metro area populations; tenure [age] of teams and length of time the team has had their current MLB-affiliation; and each team’s Southern League titles…
milb_southern-league_metro-areas_attendance2009_2010_mlb-affiliations_titles_segment_.gif

The Southern League annually plays one official league game in the oldest operating ballpark in the USA – Birmingham, Alabama’s Rickwood Field {from Baseball Pilgrimages site, ‘Rickwood Field, opened 1910′}. For the 2011 Rickwood Classic on June 1st, spitball pitcher Gaylord Perry will be guest of honor, and the teams – the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts – will be wearing throwback uniforms of the 1961 Southern Association teams the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts. 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Southern Association season. The 1961 Southern Association season was the last season of the now-defunct Southern Association, a league which the present-day Southern League is heir to, in terms of it’s minor league level and in the similarity of the locations of it’s teams. I think the organizers of the game this year at Rickwood Field ignored the fact that some anniversaries should not be honored. Because in 1961, 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and 15 years after black ball players were playing on minor league baseball teams in other minor leagues, the 1961 Southern Association was the only professional baseball league in the USA that was still segregated. Wearing uniforms from that period, in this celebratory manner, honors, by default, the institution those uniforms came from. And in 1961, the Southern Association, by still clinging to a policy of segregation, was a racist institution. The Southern Association in 1961 was acting in a manner that would become outlawed by an act of Congress 3 years later (the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

The first Southern League existed for just 5 seasons in the late Nineteenth century, from 1885 to 1889. 13 years later, the Southern Association filled the void in the region left by the passing of the original Southern League of the 1880s. The Southern Association started in 1901 and existed for 61 seasons, from 1901 to 1961. The 8 original charter members of the Southern Association in 1901 were these 8 ball clubs (with no MLB affiliations [ie, all the 8 teams were Independents])…Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts, Little Rock Travellers, Memphis Egyptians, Nashville Vols, New Orleans Pelicans, Selma Christians, Shreveport Giants.

The Southern Association was initially graded Class B in 1901. In it’s second season, in 1902, the Southern Association was moved up a minor league level to Class A (from 1902 to 1935). The Southern Association then was raised a level to Class A1 from 1936 to 1945; then raised another level to Class AA from 1946 to 1961 [Class AA was the equivalent of modern-day Double-A level ball.] The ball clubs in that first season that the Southern Association was a Class AA league in 1946 were (with MLB affiliations listed)…Atlanta Crackers (Independent), Birmingham Barons (Pittsburgh Pirates), Chattanooga Lookouts (Washington Senators), Little Rock Travellers (Chicago White Sox), Memphis Chickasaws (Independent), Nashville Volunteers (Chcago Cubs), New Orleans Pelicans (Boston Red Sox).

At the same point in time as this, the minor leagues saw it’s first black players play, in 1946, for the the Brooklyn Dodgers’ highest farm team, the Class AAA Montreal Royals of the International League. Those two players were Jackie Robinson and Johnny Wright. Also in 1946, the Brooklyn Class B farm team the Nashua (New Hampshire) Dodgers also had 2 black players on it’s roster – Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella. The reason for this was baseball visionary Branch Rickey, who, as General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers National League ball club, opposed segregation on moral grounds and felt that it was well past time for American society to see black players play in the Major Leagues…and besides, it was foolish to not tap into such a deep pool of talent that Negro Leagues ball players represented. Some of his colleagues in baseball felt otherwise, some very strongly; and some of the paying public felt otherwise, some very strongly – but those sort of people belonged in pointed white hoods. The following season, Jackie Robinson was called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and broke the color barrier. Two months later in June, 1947, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first black player to play in the American League. Four years later – by May, 1951 – 6 Major League teams had integrated – the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, and the Chicago White Sox {from en.wikipedia.com, see this, ‘List of first black Major League Baseball players by team and date‘}. By 1955, 13 teams had integrated. The holdouts were: the Philadelphia Phillies (integrated in April 1957), the Detroit Tigers (integrated in May 1958), and finally, because of a racist owner in Tom Yawkey, the Boston Red Sox (in July 1959). {see this, ‘Baseball color line‘}.

Similarly, through the early-to-mid-1950s, all the many and varied minor leagues throughout North America became integrated following the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm system’s example, with one notable exception – the Southern Association was never integrated. By way of comparison with other minor leagues from the South…the Carolina League was integrated by 1951, and the South Atlantic League was integrated by 1953 (with one of the first 5 black players there being Hank Aaron). Eight years after that, into the 1960s, the Southern Association – the highest level minor league in the South at the time – still kept black players off their teams. For this reason, it was pretty much for the best that the Southern Association shut down after the 1961 season. The reason for it’s demise is still debated.

There is no doubt that minor league attendances were dropping pretty much everywhere in the era of the late 1950s and early 1960s. A popular theory is that the Southern Association went bust mainly due to sharp declines in attendance exacerbated by fan indifference as a result of television broadcasts of Major League ball games, which had became widespread by the late 1950s. But baseball writer Alan Barra, in his book ‘Rickwood Field‘, insists televised MLB games were not the reason. However, his point that there are a plethora of Major League ball games on most every night these days, and that doesn’t hurt minor league baseball today, fails to account for the novelty factor of televised baseball in the 1950s. Barra does feel that segregation contributed to the Southern Association’s declining popularity, and rightly points out that black fans in the South would have had a big incentive to stay away from segregated minor league ball games when black stars in the Major Leagues could be followed on television or the radio. Boycotts led by Civil Rights leaders in several Southern Association cities also contributed, most notably in New Orleans, where the demise of the Pelicans after the 1959 season is blamed specifically on the boycott that saw attendance plunge dramatically. The following season, 1960, Memphis also saw attendances decline to the point that they were only drawing around 670 per game, and the ball club folded. Plus, two teams, New Orleans and Mobile, saw their Major League affiliations dropped, and were forced to become Independent. New Orleans was dropped by the Yankees after the 1958 season; Mobile was dropped by the Indians after the 1960 season. In each case, the following season these teams had losing records and went bust at the end of the season.

Another factor could have been the rise of Little League participation, replacing the family outings to minor league ballparks. College football’s rise in popularity in the South by the late 1950s was yet another factor in undermining interest in minor league baseball in the region. There also is the fact that by the late 1950s, many minor league ballparks were in decline and were in areas that had become run down and viewed as being unsafe. Finally, there is the fact that MLB teams stopped going to Southern Association ballparks and playing the widely popular exhibition games that were a big part of the minor league experience back then, because the MLB teams’ black players would be barred by Jim Crow laws from playing. This contributed to the pall that began to hang over the increasingly empty ballparks in the league. Barra, while ultimately insisting that nobody really knows why attendances fell off so bad in the late 1950s and the early 1960s in the Southern Association, does concede the following in a footnote on page 165 – that writer Willie Morris told him “The combination of air-conditioning and television did keep a lot of people in the South from the ballparks during the summer”. This is a good point. But I think all the factors mentioned above contributed to wounding the condition of the Southern Association, but the stake to the heart was the refusal to integrate. I am holding out for the essential decency of most people, and saying that attendances dropped so precipitously because maybe enough baseball fans in the South knew deep down that, at a time when black MLB players like Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Hank Aaron, and Ernie Banks were winning Most Valuable Player awards, that a segregated baseball league in the late 1950s and the early 1960s was an enterprise that was just wrong, and should not be supported.

Perhaps sports writer Sam Heys, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said it best, “The Southern Association chose death over integration.”

With the Southern Association gone after 1961, this left only the Texas League as a Class AA league, meaning in 1962 there were only 12 Class AA teams in all of minor league baseball. At the time, the Major Leagues were comprised of 20 teams (10 in each league), so just 12 Class AA farm teams supplying players to 20 big league ball clubs was a problem. To address this gap, the president of the Class A South Atlantic League, Sam Smith, led the drive to elevate the South Atlantic League (IV) (aka the “Sally League”) up one level to the Class AA status as a replacement for the defunct Southern Association. Just as this was happening, before the 1963 season, minor league baseball was re-organized, with the modern-day classifications introduced, so the South Atlantic League became a Double-A (AA) league in 1963. It would change it’s name the following year, 1964, to the Southern League (II). [Note: the South Atlantic League (V), still affectionately known as the Sally League, would be re-born 17 years late, in 1980, as a Class-A league.]

In 1963, the 8 teams from the old South Atlantic League that moved up a minor league level to AA were…Asheville Tourists (Pittsburgh Pirates), Augusta Yankees (New York Yankees), Charlotte Hornets (Minnesota Twins), Chattanooga Lookouts (Philadelphia Phillies), Knoxville Smokies (Detroit Tigers), Lynchburg White Sox (Chicago White Sox), Macon Peaches (Cincinnati Reds), Nashville Volunteers (Los Angeles Angels). Augusta and Nashville dropped out after 1963, and in 1964 when the league changed it’s name to the Southern League, two additional teams were created in Birmingham, AL, and Columbus, GA. Birmingham’s new team was again called the Barons, and was an Oakland A’s affiliate. Columbus’ team was called the Confederate Yankees. Confederate Yankees? In a league that replaced a segregated league?… Sigh. None of these original, modern-day Southern League teams remain, but 3 of those metropolitan areas – Birmingham, Chattanooga and the Greater Knoxville area have teams in the current, 2011 Southern League. [With respect to Knoxville, the current Southern League team the Tennessee Smokies can be considered as being from Greater Knoxville (they play home games 22 miles east-south-east of Knoxville, in Sevier County, in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains).]

Going back further in history, there are 5 cities that had Southern Association teams, and that currently have teams in the Southern League as of 2011. They are…Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Mobile, and Montgomery. Half of the current Southern League is comprised of teams from cities that have Southern Association history going back 8 decades or more, and in the case of Birmingham, Chattanooga, Mobile, and Montgomery, these four cities had ball clubs in the Southern Association going back more than 100 years ago. And in the case of the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts, even the nicknames have remained the same.

The map itself shows each team’s location with their home ball cap logo. At the lower right of the map page, 2010 Southern League home regular season average attendances are shown. At the right of the map page, each team’s home cap logo is also shown in larger size in the team’s profile box. Just below that is listed the ball club’s metro area population (and home-city [or town] population, if the team plays on the outskirts of a larger city). The profile boxes also include a photo of the team’s ballpark, the team’s year of establishment, and their year of joining the Southern League. 2010 home regular season average attendance is also listed along with ballpark capacity, and the year the ballpark opened. Finally, the profile boxes include each team’s Major League Baseball parent-club, and the length of time the team has been part of that MLB team’s farm system. The Birmingham Barons have the longest-running affiliation, 26 years now, with the same MLB team – the Chicago White Sox (1986-2011).

[Note: with minor league baseball being fundamentally a developmental entity, and not a competitive end in itself, titles are not really considered to be of the prime importance that they are in the Major Leagues. But if you are curious about titles won by the Southern League teams, that can be found at the far right on the second gif in this post, here.
...
The longest-running team in the Southern League is the Jacksonville Suns. The Suns are also the reigning back-to-back champions, winning the 2010 Southern League title (as well as winning the 2009 title). The Jacksonville Suns are entering their fourth decade of consecutive play in the Southern League. The Suns are also the highest-drawing ball club in the Southern League these days, drawing 5,141 per game in 2010. Counting the 2011 season, the Jacksonville Suns have played 42 consecutive seasons now in the Southern League [although for a 6-year period the Jacksonville Suns were known as the Jacksonville Expos]. This team was formed in 1962 and played 7 seasons as a Triple-A team, as the Cleveland Indians top farm team in 1962-63; then as the St. Louis Cardinals top farm team in 1964-65; then as the New York Mets top farm team from 1966 to 68. The Jacksonville Suns went on a 1-year hiatus in 1969, and then dropped down to the Double-A level and joined the Southern League in 1970, as a dual Montreal Expos/Milwaukee Brewers farm team. After a short return back to the Cleveland Indians’ farm system in 1971, the Jacksonville Suns began a 13-year affiliation with the Kansas City Royals in 1972. The Suns were a KC Royals farm team from 1972 to 1984. After that, Jacksonville became part of the Montreal Expos farm system again, this time for 6 seasons – from 1985 to 1990. During this period the team was called the Jacksonville Expos. A notable Jacksonville player from this era was future-Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. The 6’10” left-handed pitcher, who later became known as The Big Unit and won 303 games in the Major Leagues, spent 1987 in Jacksonville, going 11-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 starts.
In 1991, Jacksonville became called the Suns again, and began a 3-year stint as a Seattle Mariners farm team (1991-93). Then from 1994 to 2000, the Suns became a Detroit Tigers farm team. In 2001, the Suns began an 8-year stint as a Los Angeles Dodgers farm team. Finally, in 2009, the Jacksonville Suns became a farm team of a Major League Baseball team in the same state that Jacksonville is in, when they began their current stint as a Florida Marlins farm team [the Marlins' Triple-A team is the New Orleans Zephyrs of the PCL]. There is speculation that the Jacksonville Suns might return to Triple-A status in the near future.

Photo credits -
Carolina Mudcats/Five County Stadium…Aerial photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Chatanooga Lookouts/AT&T Field…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Huntsville Stars/Joe W. Davis Stadium…Photo from CityVoter.com, here.
Jackson Generals/Pringles Park photo from MinorLeagueBaseball.com, here.
Tennessee Smokies/Smokies Park…Photo from InsideSevierville.com/ ‘The Tennessee Smokies‘.

Birmingham Barons/Regions Park…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Jacksonville Suns/Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville photo from MinorLeagueBaseball.com, here.
Mississippi Braves/Trustmark Park aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view, here.
Mobile BayBears/Hank aaron Stadium aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Montgomery Biscuits/Montgomery Riverwalk stadium aerial image [facing est], from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Southern League (baseball)‘.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, ‘Southern League (AA) Encyclopedia and History‘.

2009 attendance figures from BizOfBaseball.com/Minor League Attendance Database, here. 2009 and 2010 cumulative and league-average Southern League attendance from Baseball-Reference.com, here.
2010 Attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)
Unincorporated community of Kodak, Tennessee population from Fizber.com.

No thanks to whoever wrote the following article at the MiLB/Southern League official site, ‘League History – History of the Southern League‘. This article touches on the history of the South Atlantic League that morphed into the Southern League, as well as the history of the Southern Association. But it should have been mentioned in this article that the Southern Association was never integrated. This is where a lot of people are going to get their information on the history of minor league baseball in the South, and this sort of white-washing of history is dangerous. The thing is, saying that the Southern Association was never integrated does not harm the reputation of the Southern League, because the Southern League came from a league that WAS integrated.

April 12, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the 3 Double-A leagues…the Eastern League, the Southern League, and the Texas League. Map, with all 30 teams’ 2010 average attendances, locations, and MLB affiliations.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 11:56 am

Please note: there is a more recent map of this (2016) here…
Affiliated Double A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 3 leagues, the Eastern League, the Southern League, the Texas League (2015 attendances)/+ the 3 new teams in Double-A baseball since 2011 (Pensacola, Biloxi, Hartford)/+ illustrations for the 4 highest-drawing Double-A teams in 2015 (Frisco, Birmingham, Richmond, Reading).
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milb_aa_double-a_baseball2011_post_c.gif
Double-A Baseball map – 3 leagues/30 teams, with 2010 attendances and each team’s MLB affiliation



Below – list of Double-A teams’ metro-area populations
[Note: click on image below to enlarge]
milb_metro-area-populations-of-double-a-teams_2010attendances_.gif

The map shows the location of all 30 Double-A teams. There are 3 Double-A leagues in Organized Baseball. Each Major League Baseball team has one of the 30 Double-A teams in its farm system. The Double-A, or AA level of baseball, is two steps below Major League Baseball. These days, however, Double-A baseball often is the launching pad for young talent that is on a fast-track to the Major Leagues.

Each team’s home ball cap logo is placed on the map next to the ball club’s location.
The regions in the United States that the 3 Double-A leagues themselves are based in can be seen via the thin black lines on the map which serve to separate, geographically, the three leagues’ teams.
The 12-team Eastern League covers all of the Northeastern USA, plus eastern Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. The Eastern League averaged 4,663 per game last season.
The 10-team Southern League covers the region of North Carolina west through Tennessee, and south to include Mississippi, Alabama, and northern Florida. The Southern League averaged 3,188 per game last season.
The 8-team Texas League covers the region of south-western Missouri, south through Arkansas, south-west through Oklahoma, and, of course, Texas. The Texas League averaged 5,264 per game last season.

The teams’ average attendances are within their league attendance list. Next to each team’s 2010 home, regular-season average attendance is their home ball cap logo, and the logo of their Major League Baseball parent-club. [At the very top, center of the map page are all the MLB teams' logos - listed alphabetically with the team name under it (in case you are not familiar with MLB iconography).]

Below, the highest-drawing Double-A ball club – the Frisco RoughRiders
[Note: to see a full-screen view, click on images below.]

frisco_roughriders_dr-pepper-ballpark_i.gif
Photo credits – Skyscrapercity.com thread ‘Little Ballparks‘. Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye view. FriscoMovers.info.

Of the 3 leagues, the Texas League draws the highest these days. The Texas League pulled in an average of 5,264 per game in 2010. It must be pointed out, though, that 3 of the 8 teams in the Texas League come from pretty large metropolitan areas (the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex; San Antonio, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma). That being said, no one has ever called Springfield, Missouri or Corpus Christi, Texas large cities – and the Springfield Cardinals and the Corpus Christi Hooks (an Astros farm team) both draw above 5,000 per game. Both these two Texas League teams share the marketing advantage of being a farm team of a relatively close-by MLB team – Springfield, MO {metro population ~430,000) is 191 miles south-west of the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, MO; and Corpus Christi, TX (metro population ~431,000) is 184 miles south-west of the Houston Astros in Houston, TX.

The Frisco Roughriders, a Texas Rangers farm team, are extremely close-by their parent-club. Frisco is located 23 miles north of Dallas, and 34 miles from the Texas Rangers’ home in Arlington, TX. The Frisco RoughRiders drew the highest of all 30 Double-A teams in 2010, pulling in 7,886 per game. That is now the sixth-straight year that the Frisco RoughRiders led all 30 Double-A teams in average attendance. Furthermore, Frisco had a higher average attendance than 20 of the 30 Triple-A teams last year, and had the 12th-highest average attendance among all minor league teams in 2010 [Note: list of entire 2010 minor league teams' average attendances (334 teams) is linked to at the end of this post.]. The second highest-drawing Texas League team in 2010 was the Tulsa Drillers – a Colorado Rockies farm team, who drew 6,185 per game last season.

The Eastern League draws the second-best of the 3 leagues, with an average of 4,663 per game in 2010. Like the Texas League, the Eastern League also has some pretty large metro areas, including the Greater Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD metro area (where the Bowie Baysox of Bowie, Maryland come from); the Greater Cleveland/Akron, Ohio metro area (where the Akron Aeros come from); the Greater Richmond, Virginia metro area (where the Richmond Flying Squirrels come from); and the Greater Hartford, Connecticut metro area (where the New Britain Rock Cats come from). Also, like the Texas League, there are several mid-sized cities in the Eastern League with 300,000 to 600,000 metro areas (4 teams). Unlike the Texas League, the Eastern League has teams that come from small cities with metro areas lower than 300,000 (4 teams).

In the Eastern League there is a factor that on first glance might seem to deflate attendances but seems to increase fan interest and attendance. That is the fact that every Eastern League ball club is within less than a 2-hours’ drive to one or more Major League ball clubs, with the exception of the Binghampton Mets (who are about 2 and a half hours away from the New York Yankees and about 3 hours away from their parent-club, the New York Mets). The near proximity to MLB teams that Eastern League teams have does not seem to depress attendances, especially when you compare gate figures with the lower drawing Southern League. I think easy proximity to an expensive outing at, say Fenway Park (home of MLB’s Boston Red Sox), encourages many folks in New England to instead follow the Red Sox on television and actually go to a ball game in Manchester, NH or New Britain, CT, or Portland, ME – for about one-quarter of the expense. But the Eastern League’s decent gate figures despite being surrounded by so many Major League teams might be more a case of the fact that sports fans in the Deep South don’t really follow baseball as much as sports fans in the Northeast do.

Having said that, it is ironic that the Eastern League’s best-drawing team last season was a team from the South – the brand-new ball club called the Richmond Flying Squirrels – a San Francisco Giants farm team, who drew 6,626 per game. [The Richmond team came from Norwich, CT, where they were a NY Yankees affiliate. They moved to Richmond, filling the gap left when the city of Richmond lost their Triple-A team after the 2009 season, when the Atlanta Braves moved their Triple-A team to Gwinnett, Georgia - a county adjacent to Atlanta.] The Reading Phillies are the second-best drawing Eastern League team. Reading pulled in 6,615 per game last season. The Reading/Philadelphia Phillies’ partnership has gone on for 45 consecutive seasons, and the Reading Phillies now have one of the two longest-running-affiliations with one Major League ball club (the other 45-year partnership is the affiliation of the Lakeland Tigers of the Class-A Florida League with the Detroit Tigers). [The previous longest-running affiliation was the Appalachian League (Rookie League) Bluefield Orioles with the Baltimore Orioles, which lasted 53 years, from 1958 to 2010. The Bluefield Blue Jays, as they are now known, were dropped by Baltimore over the winter and are now part of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system].

With teams such the Reading Phillies and the Frisco RoughRiders, MLB teams have seen the synergistic effect of placing a minor league farm team close to the parent-club’s location – Reading, Pennsylvania is just 47 miles west of Philadelphia. Other Eastern League teams that drew above 5,000 per game last season were the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs – a Red Sox farm team (that is 99 miles north-east of Fenway Park); the New Hampshire Fisher Cats – who are a Toronto Blue Jays farm team; the New Britain Rock Cats – who are a Minnesota Twins farm team; and the Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankees farm team (that is 64 miles south-west of Yankee Stadium).

The Southern League draws the lowest of the three Double-A leagues, averaging 3,188 per game in 2010. Southern League ball clubs generally come from 400K to 600K metro-areas, with 3 locations – Jacksonville, FL (the Jacksonville Suns); Birmingham, Alabama (the Birmingham Bulls); and Raleigh/Durham, NC (the Carolina Mudcats) being the only relatively large-sized metro-areas in the Southern League. The only Major League team at all close-by for 90% of the teams in the Southern League is the Atlanta Braves, with the exception of the western Tennessee team called the Jackson Generals being closer to St. Louis than it is Atlanta. Jackson, TN is also the smallest Double-A city, with a metro population of around just 107,000. Even the Jacksonville Suns are closer to Atlanta than their parent-clubs’ location in Miami, Florida. The Jacksonville Suns, a Florida Marlins farm team, were the highest-drawing Southern League team last season, drawing 5,141 per game.

In the following weeks, I will have posts on each of the 3 Double-A leagues, with ball club profiles including ballpark photos and metro-area populations.

Here is an interesting list, from the Ballpark Digest site, ‘2010 Baseball Attendance by Average [Minor Leagues]‘.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Minor league baseball‘.

Attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)

April 6, 2011

Argentina, 2011 Clausura.

Filed under: Argentina — admin @ 4:59 pm

argentina_2011-clausura_post_.gif
Map of Primera División de Argentina – 2011 Clausura


Hasta El Gol Siempre [Argentina football coverage from Sam Kelly].

Primera División de de Argentina table {Soccerway.com).
2010 Aperuta champions were Estudiantes de La Plata. In the 2011 Apertura, eight rounds (of 19) have been played, and Estudiantes again have the lead, albeit by goal difference over River Plate. River have not won a title since the 2008 Clausura, and are coming off a good 4th place finish in December, yet so bad have they been in the previous two seasons that los Millionarios must still concern themselves with the relegation table (more on that later). Six other clubs are within touching distance of first place, including two, Vélez Sarsfield, and San Lorenzo, who would go top if they won their game in hand. In other words, it is shaping up for another tight, wide-open, and interesting campaign in Argentina.

The maps on the map page show the locations of the 20 clubs in the 2011 Clausura of the Primera División de Argentina. 4 of the clubs’ crests are shown on the main map, and 16 of the clubs’ crests are shown on the inset map of northern Buenos Aires Province which is centererd on the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires. Each club’s profile box shows the club crest, the club’s current kits, and information on the club including – year of formation, location; stadium name and capacity; national professional titles (and year of last title); Copa Libertadores titles (and year of last title); total appearances in the Copa Libertadores competition (and year and result of their last appearance); the length of consecutive seasons the club has currently spent in the first division (and year the club was last promoted); and where the club finished last December in the 2010 Apertura.

The enlarged inset map of the northern region of Buenos Aires Province includes the autonomous city of Buenos Aires [which is a Federal District similar to Washington, DC in terms of it's political status]. Usually around 70% to 80% or so of the top flight clubs in Argentina are from this concentrated region – that is…the autonomous city of Buenos Aires (7 clubs currently), Greater Buenos Aires (7 other clubs currently), and the nearby city of La Plata (2 clubs currently). For the 2010-11 season (ie, the 2010 Apertura and the 2011 Clausura), 16 of the 20 clubs come from this region. All Argentine professional titles have been won by clubs from this region, with the exception of the 9 titles won by two clubs from the city of Rosario, Santa Fe Province (those two clubs being Newell’s Old Boys, with 5 titles; and the currently-second-division-club Rosario Central, with 4 titles). Speaking of the title drought suffered by the other provinces, I should mention the recent rise of an Argentinian club that is pretty far removed geographically from Buenos Aires, and that is Godoy Cruz, who hail from the far western province of Mendoza, which is way closer to Santiago, Chile than it is to Buenos Aires. Godoy Cruz made a credible run for the title a year ago, in the 2010 Clausura (finishing in 3rd place, 4 points behind champions Argentinos Juniors), and are again in competition for their first-ever national title. Godoy Cruz are also playing in their first-ever Copa Libertadores, and have a chance of advancing to the Round of 16 (if they win in Quito, Ecuador next week versus LDU Quito [note: they lost, and are now eliminated from the 2011 Copa Libertadores, along with Independiente]).

There are structural aspects which make Argentinian top flight football unusual…the split season that produces 2 champions per season, and the 3-year average which comprises the relegation process.

As to the split season, a random element is introduced when a championship is decided based on a schedule where a club plays the other clubs just once (and not twice, as is of course the usual case). The bottom line is that the competition becomes very wide-open. Eleven different clubs have won a title in the last 10 years in Argentina, and two clubs have won their first-ever championships.

Primera División de Argentina recent title winners, since 2001-02 (the last ten seasons/ and the last 20 championships)..
11 different title winners
Boca Juniors, 4 titles (last in 2008 Apertura).
River Plate, 4 titles (last in 2008 Clausura).
Estudiantes, 2 titles (last in 2010 Apertura).
Vélez Sarsfield, 2 titles (last in 2009 Clausura).
Argentinos Juniors, 1 title (2010 Clausura).
Banfield, 1 title (2009 Apertura).
Lanús, 1 title (2007 Apertura).
San Lorenzo, 1 title (2007 Clausura).
Newell’s Old Boys, 1 title (2004 Apertura).
Independiente, 1 title (2002 Apertura).
Racing, 1 title (2001 Apertura).

Clubs that won their first National title in the last 10 seasons…
Lanús.
Banfield.

{2010-11 Primera División de Argentina Relegtion table, aka the Promedio here (en.wikipedia.org)}.

As to the other aspect of Argentine top flight football that makes it stand apart from most other first division leagues – the Promedio, or 3-season relegation table – there is no way on earth that I am going to defend this cynical system. It is by definition ant-democratic, because it rewards the status quo and creates a non-level playing field for top flight survival. It has been said that the three-year average as a basis for relegation was introduced in 1983-84 because both Boca Juniors and River Plate were under threat of relegation then (the old fashioned way). Since relegation is now decided on a 3-year average, it makes it much harder for newly-promoted teams to stay in the first division. The big clubs love it, because one bad year is not going to send them down, and they don’t have to worry about unloading too much young talent to European clubs, and then suffer a bad season, because there will be future seasons where they can bring their points average back up above the drop zone. None of the Big 5 – Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing, River Plate, and San Lorenzo – have gone down since the Promedio system was introduced in 1983-84. The 3-year average as a basis for relegation is grossly unfair to small and often provincial clubs, who battle to finally get a chance in top flight football, only to see themselves go straight back down because they didn’t finish in or near the top half of the table. This season all three recently-promoted clubs – Quilmes, All Boys, and Olimpo – might suffer relegation, and for more than one of these clubs it will probably be because of the Promedio. Olimpo, a club from the southern, and much colder, region of Buenos Aires Province, has seen this before. In 2007-08, Olimpo finished in 16th place in the 2007 Apertura, and then 15th place in the 2008 Clausura – and were relegated. That showing would have kept them up in most any other country. In 2006-07, the aforementioned Godoy Cruz ended up with 43 points (when the 2006 Apertura and the 2007 Clausura points were added together), which was better than the points total that season of 5 other teams…Banfield, Belgrano, Gimnasia La Plata, Newell’s Old Boys, and Quilmes- and Godoy Cruz were still relegated, thanks to the three-year average [Godoy Cruz gained promotion back to the Primera División the following season (2007-08)].

A 3-year system of relegation, as opposed to a one-year system of relegation, rewards entrenched interests who have gained competitive advantage over other less powerful interests by fiat, so that the less powerful interests must therefore overachieve to stay on an equal footing with the elite. It is no surprise that the only other prominent place a multi-season system of relegation in football has also been adopted is in Mexico, where the elite have been stacking the deck against the disenfranchised for centuries.

Meanwhile, at this time of the season, when the Clausura campaign is starting to shape up, there is the fact that 4 or 5 clubs must juggle their league campaign with their Copa Libertadores campaign. That can stretch thin a club’s resources and negate a real chance at a Clausura title. In the 20 seasons since the Apertura/Clausura league system has been instituted, no Argentine club has ever won a Clausura title and a Copa Libertadores title simultaneosly.

The 5 Argentine clubs in the 2011 Copa Libertadores Second Stage [ie, the group stage]…
Argentinos Juniors [final match at home v. Fluminense on Wed. 20 April - in contention for advancement {see this}],
Estudiantes [Advanced to Round of 16 as 2nd place in Group],
Godoy Cruz [eliminated in Second Stage],
Independiente [eliminated in Second Stage],
Vélez Sarsfield [Advanced to Round of 16 as 2nd place in Group].

Independiente, the club that has won the most Copa Libertadores titles, with 7, has a third thing which the club must concern itself with – the threat of relegation. Independiente would probably be in a much better position if they weren’t also in the Copa Libertadores, but there you have it – in Argentina, a club can simultaneously be in the final 32 of the most prestigious competition in South America, yet still be around only two bad results away from being relegated to the second division. Independiente find themselves in this situation after stretching their squad in their successful 2010 Copa Sudamericana campaign, which, as winners, secured their place in the 2011 Copa Libertadores. But in concentrating so much on gaining admission to the Copa Libertadores, Independiente finished in last place in the 2010 Apertura, and are now in the bottom third of the current Promedio table.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Primera División de Argentina‘.
Thanks to RSSSF, and the contributors to this list, ‘Copa Libertadores 1960-2010 Club Histories‘.
Thanks to NordNordWest for the blank map of Argentina, here (en.wikipedia.org).

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