With virtually no chance of the Schaumburg Flyers operating in some form in 2011, the independent North American League is preparing schedules and plans for a league that may operate with 10 or 12 teams — and maybe a travel team in Texas.
Team officials and league insiders say work is being done on a 10-team schedule as well as a 12-team schedule; the difference is that the 12-team schedule is being prepared by officials with the former United League Baseball and includes a fourth Texas team, either a road team or, we hear, a team associated with McAllen (perhaps a travel team playing under the McAllen name). A 10-team schedule would take one of the western teams out of the equation.
There are a host of issues at play. After seeing the cost of plane travel — fares are very high, trades aren’t being offered, and owners are realizing you need to ship equipment as well as players and coaches — there’s a lot less enthusiasm for multiple long-distance road trips. (Indeed, one team is negotiating for the league picking up the tab of a second plane trip west because of costs involved.) There are also disagreements over a salary cap (the former Northern League teams are seeking a higher salary cap), who would use a DH (former GBL teams do not use one), and who pays the umpires (the league wants to see teams pick up that cost). And we’ve been told there’s still a chance the four ULB teams would break off and play their own schedule.
All of this means there’s still a lot up in the air regarding the merger of the Golden Baseball League, Northern League and United League Baseball. A decision on the future course of the league is expected as soon as Monday by many.
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