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professional baseball

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball

This article refers to the modern Atlantic League. For the original incarnations of the Atlantic League, which operated between 1896 and 1915, see Atlantic League (1896-1915)

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. The Atlantic League requires cities to have the market for a 4,000 to 7,500-seat ballpark and for the facility to be maintained at or to exceed AAA standards.

The Atlantic League exists so that professional baseball players who are not signed by a Major or Minor League organization could have another chance at playing at a higher level. Although the level of Atlantic League play can be categorized as between AA and AAA, players in independent baseball are usually not scouted heavily by Major League teams. Many former Major League ballplayers have called Atlantic League teams home in an effort get back to the Majors. The league also caters to players who are not quite talented enough to play at a higher level.

History

In 1998, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season. The creation of the league was the result of the New York Mets' objection to Frank Boulton's proposal to move the former Albany-Colonie Yankees to Long Island. The Mets objected to the move because of its territorial rights to the region. Boulton, a Long Island native, decided to create a new league that would have a higher salary cap for its players and a longer season than most of the other independent baseball organizations. He modeled the Atlantic League after the older Pacific Coast League, with facilities that exceed AAA-level standards. Boulton also emphasized signing players of Major League Baseball experience for all Atlantic League teams, raising the level of play above other independent leagues.

With the success of the Atlantic League and his hometown Ducks, Frank Boulton hardly regrets the New York Mets' rejection to his proposal to move an affiliated team to Long Island. Boulton knew he would not have any say over the on-field performance of the players, or whether or not he could maintain his roster with promotions and delegations. The Long Island Ducks continue to be a strong draw in the region, averaging 400,000 fans a season, and have seen the likes of such Major League alumni as Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Borbón, Jr., José Offerman, Donovan Osborne, Bill Pulsipher, Armando Ríos, John Rocker, and Mark Whiten. In 2007, Frank Boulton expressed his contentment with the Atlantic League and the Ducks to Baseball America, saying: "The Long Island Ducks are the best thing I've ever done in baseball."

Possible expansion

  • Bergen County, New Jersey: legal issues have plagued Steve Kalafer's attempt to bring the Bergen Cliff Hawks to a new ballpark in the Meadowlands Xanadu complex. Kalafer sued the former ownership of the Xanadu complex, the Mills Corporation, after reneging on their agreement with him. In 2008, Kalafer agreed to drop the lawsuit against the Mills Corporation in lieu of the Meadowlands Developer Limited Partnership, the current ownership of the Xanadu Meadowlands complex, conducting a nine-month feasibility study for the ballpark.
  • Northern Virginia: The Atlantic League is holding off on releasing its 2009 schedule while it determines its expansion options. One of those options include a new, Opening Day Partners-owned team in the Northern Virginia market, specifically Loudoun County. The potential team would play in a temporary stadium until a ballpark of its own is constructed.
  • Richmond, Virginia: Peter Kirk, the president of Opening Day Partners, is proposing a $40-million, 8,500-capacity ballpark in the city of Richmond. The stadium would include the Brooks Robinson Life-Skills Center, a skateboard park, miniature golf, and a bumper boat pond. The new ballpark could potentially host either a dedicated or interim Atlantic League team, or a Major League-affiliated team could lease it from Opening Day Partners.
  • West Chester, Pennsylvania: Both the mayor of West Chester, Dick Yoder, and Opening Day Partners are considering a $35 million-dollar ballpark for an Atlantic League team, or a possible relocated New York-Penn League franchise.

Structure

League leaders: A player must have a minimum of 340 plate appearances (at-bats, walks, hit-by-pitch, sacrifices and catcher interference) to qualify for batting categories. (2.7 x 126 games)

Disabled list: Any player placed on the disabled list must sit out for at least seven games. The first day on the disabled list is the day after the player's last game.

Designated hitter: A hitter may be designated to bat for the pitcher in any spot in the batting order in any game without affecting the status of the pitcher. The DH must be selected and be included on the lineup cards presented to the umpires prior to the game. The DH is locked into the batting order, but may be removed for a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner, who in turn immediately becomes the DH. While still in the game, the DH may be used defensively, but the pitcher must assume the batting of the replaced defensive player, thus terminating the DH role.

Pinch hitter: A player shall be considered a pinch hitter only if he enters the game as a substitute batter, and then only on his first time at bat, which must be before he becomes a fielder.

Regulation game: A regulation game consists of nine innings, unless extended because of a tie score, or shortened (1) because the home team needs none of its half of the ninth or only a fraction of it, or (2) because the umpire calls the game. EXCEPTION: A double-header consists of two seven inning games, in which the rules applied for the ninth inning are applied to the seventh inning. If a game is called, it is a regulation game: 1- If five innings have been completed. 2- If the home team has scored more runs in four or four and a fraction half-innings than the visiting team has scored in five completed half-innings. 3- If the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score. If each team has the same number of runs when the game ends, the umpire shall declare it a "tie game." If a game is called before it becomes a regulation game, the umpire shall declare it "no game."

Expansion drafts: When a new team joins the league, the existing teams must protect a given number of players from their end-of-season roster (active and disabled). The new teams will draft The Atlantic League negotiating rights to a selected number of players from the existing teams' rosters. No team can lose more than two players.

Open tryouts: The Atlantic League holds a league wide open tryout in Florida every winter. Each team in the league has the option to hold open tryouts for the ballplayers to attempt to make the team. Participants must be at least 18 years of age and have prior baseball experience for tryout for the team. Players signed by the open tryout are invited to spring training, but not guaranteed a place on the teams' roster.

Salary guidelines

Players in the Atlantic League typically make under $3,000 a month. While the $3,000 per month maximum is not a salary cap, Joe Klein, Executive Director of the Atlantic League said that "(The eight teams) do their budgets together," Klein said, "It's hard to get them all in the same room, no less to agree on the same number." according to Mike Ashmore of the Hunterdon County Democrat.

Playoffs

The Atlantic League plays a split season format in which the first half and second half winners of each division will play in a best of three Divisional Series.

In the event a club should win both halves of their division, their opponent for the best of three divisional playoff shall be the club, regardless of division, designated as the WILD CARD, that has achieved the best overall record for the entire season. In the event of a tie between 2 or more clubs, the normal tiebreakers would be in effect.

Double Wild Card

In the event the same clubs win both halves of their respective divisions there are two scenarios:

l. If the two Designated Wild Card entrants (teams with next best overall record) are in separate divisions, they shall play the Division Champion in their respective division (regardless of record) in order to ensure each division having a representative in the Championship Series. 2. If the two Designated Wild Cards are from the same division, then and only then would a seeding system come into play, by won loss record with one playing four and two playing three with all ties decided by the tie breakers system described above.

The winners of the two Divisional Playoff Series will meet in a best-of-five Atlantic League Championship Series.

Current franchises

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Division Team Founded City Stadium Capacity
Freedom Lancaster Barnstormers 2005 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Clipper Magazine Stadium 6,200
Newark Bears 1998 Newark, New Jersey Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium 6,200
Somerset Patriots 1998 Bridgewater, New Jersey Commerce Bank Ballpark 6,100
York Revolution 2007 York, Pennsylvania Sovereign Bank Stadium 5,200
Division Team Founded City Stadium Capacity
Liberty Bridgeport Bluefish 1998 Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard 5,300
Camden Riversharks 2001 Camden, New Jersey Campbell's Field 6,425
Long Island Ducks 2000 Central Islip, New York Citibank Park 6,002
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 2008 Waldorf, Maryland Regency Furniture Stadium 6,000

Former teams

Team City Stadium Capacity Years History
Aberdeen Arsenal Bel Air, Maryland Thomas Run Park 1,000 1999-2001 Replaced by the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles Class-A affiliate)
Atlantic City Surf Atlantic City, New Jersey Bernie Robbins Stadium 5,500 1998-2006 Moved to Can-Am League
Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds Quakertown, Pennsylvania Memorial Park 800 1998-2002 Became Pennsylvania Road Warriors.
Nashua Pride Nashua, New Hampshire Holman Stadium 4,375 1998-2005 Moved to Can-Am League.
Newburgh Black Diamonds Newburgh, New York Delano-Hitch Stadium 3,100 1998-1999 Moved to Quakertown, Pennsylvania to become Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds.
Pennsylvania Road Warriors Pennsylvania     2002-2004 Dissolved by league to make way for the Lancaster Barnstormers
Road Warriors       2006-2007 Dissolved by league to make way for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs

Current standings

Liberty
Team Wins Losses PCT GB Streak L10
Long Island 21 13 .618 W4 8-2
Southern Maryland 18 17 .514 3.5 L8 2-8
Bridgeport 16 19 .457 5.5 L3 3-7
*Camden 14 21 .400 7.5 W3 5-5
Freedom
Team Wins Losses PCT GB Streak L10
York 21 15 .583 W1 9-1
*Somerset 17 17 .500 3.0 L1 5-5
Lancaster 17 18 .486 3.5 L1 4-6
Newark 16 20 .444 5.0 W1 4-6
* - First Half Winner + - Second Half Winner @ - First And Second Half Winner

Yesterday's Games:

Winner Runs Loser Runs
Camden 9 Bridgeport 5
Newark 8 Lancaster 6
Long Island 5 Southern Maryland 0
York 3 Somerset 2

Atlantic League Championship Series

Year Winner Division Games Loser Division Games
1998 Atlantic City Surf South 3 Bridgeport Bluefish North 1
1999 Bridgeport Bluefish North 3 Somerset Patriots North 0
2000 Nashua Pride North 3 Somerset Patriots South 0
2001 Somerset Patriots South 3 Newark Bears North 2
2002 Newark Bears South 3 Bridgeport Bluefish North 0
2003 Somerset Patriots South 3 Nashua Pride North 2
2004 Long Island Ducks North 3 Camden Riversharks South 0
2005 Somerset Patriots South 3 Nashua Pride North 0
2006 Lancaster Barnstormers South 3 Bridgeport Bluefish North 0
2007 Newark Bears North 3 Somerset Patriots South 1
2008 Somerset Patriots Liberty 3 Camden Riversharks Freedom 1

see Atlantic League records

Alumni

(past and present)

 

References

See also

External links

Team websites

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