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Swine flu shuts down Mexican baseball team

The owner of the expansion Tijuana Potros says he’s dropping out of the Golden Baseball League because of concerns about the H1N1 virus and the possibility of small crowds this season.The independent Golden Baseball League announced today that the expansion Tijuana Potros have been forced to shelve their plans to participate in the upcoming 2009 Golden Baseball League season due to the impact of the health risk issues that have erupted throughout Mexico in the last few weeks. Sports facility closings, uncertainty of stadium availability, and government mandates limiting public gatherings have all contributed to an impossible business environment to launch and operate a professional sports franchise with the start of the season less than two weeks away.

"The H1N1 virus health risk and the necessary government response and actions have wreaked havoc with the economy and businesses small and large throughout the country," said Tijuana Potros President Jose Manuel Pena. "It is not possible to operate with this uncertainty that keeps sponsors from committing, fans from buying tickets, and the stadium unavailable to host public events. We know this will pass and the Potros will be ready for next year to bring exciting professional baseball back to the people of Tijuana, but realize the timing of this natural disaster has left us with no other choice."

With so little time left prior to the start of the season, the Golden Baseball League has amended the schedule to play with nine teams for this year. This solution leaves the schedules for all teams unchanged, with a few very slight modifications, with the exception of series that were to be played versus the Potros. Those series, which average just four home contests per team, are now open dates and will be used either for off days or may be filled with special games played outside of the official schedule — such as fundraiser games with military teams, or for other organizations that are suffering in these difficult economic times such as school districts, police and fire departments, and charitable organizations.

The GBL South Division will now be composed of the Long Beach Armada, Orange County Flyers, St. George Roadrunners, Tucson Toros, and Yuma Scorpions. The GBL North Division will be made up of the Calgary Vipers, Chico Outlaws, Edmonton Capitals, and Victoria Seals. The dates of the season remain unchanged, but due to the unbalanced nature of the original schedule some teams will have a few more games than others each half. The split season format remains the same, first half and second half champions will be decided upon by winning percentage and will advance to playoffs as already scheduled.

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