What has been obvious to many for months has finally been officially confirmed by the AWBL. After dancing with eight cities, five ownership groups, hopeful players, coaches and fans; the trail of broken promises and unpaid bills has come to an end.
On Wednesday, just weeks before the league was to open the season, it issued as press release that ended the charade.
Here is the press release in its entirety;
“The Commissioner Sean Smock will replace Michael Cummings as the new CEO and shall remain also as the Commissioner. With all of the team changes and new ownership groups, the league has decided it would be in the best interest of players, cities, ownership groups and the league to reschedule our inaugural season to 2014. Our goal has always been to operate a league however, it has also been our goal to do it right, from the beginning and many would say that we did not accomplish this goal. However, we believe by postponing our season it will give us the opportunity to do it correctly and professionally.
American West Baseball League would like to thank all the individuals, businesses, media and cities that supported us and let them know that we will continue working towards the Inaugural Season in 2014.”
After all the damage done by the AWBL, it is hard to believe that this is all it has to say for itself. The last dance was with the town of Bisbee, which was announced as the fourth league site just weeks ago. On Monday the AWBL missed a deadline to secure insurance to use Warren Ballpark. Two days later the league folded without ever having thrown a pitch.
The debris field of the American West Baseball League includes; Las Cruces, N.M.; Douglas, Ariz.; Bisbee, Ariz.; Fullerton, Calif.; Yuma, Ariz.; Mesa, Ariz; Long Beach, Calif.; and North County (San Diego area), Calif.
Left holding the bag for the AWBL’s broken promises and questionable business practices are team owners Tim Ferguson (Yuma); DC Sports and Entertainment (Long Beach); Jim Hoynes (North County Cannons); Albie Lopez and Eddie Marin (Mesa); and other investors including shareholders of Embark Holdings. That is not to mention coaches and managers such as Hal Lanier and Kelly Stinnett, and all of the players who paid to participate in tryouts that turned out to be nothing more than fund-raisers for the AWBL’s principals.
League founder Michael Cummings is still facing legal challenges and is unlikely to surface on the independent baseball scene again. New CEO and commissioner Sean Smock is saying that the AWBL will play in 2014, but don’t count on it. Undoubtedly it will be much harder for cities and investors to swallow again.
Beyond the lives of people and the hopes of municipalities that have been damaged by the American West Baseball League, the reputation of independent baseball has also been stained. The failings of he AWBL only serve to make it even more difficult for honest businessmen to create legitimate operations in an already brutally tough market.