Thanks to the wonder of Twitter I learned earlier in the week that the Gary Railcats were headed to the American Association to join a group of teams that used to play under the Northern League banner. Three other teams left the Northern League with Gary to go back to the American Association. They are the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Kansas City T-Bones and Winnipeg Goldeyes. This leaves a cupboard that was already sparse pretty bare. Is the Northern League done? Four of the eight teams have jumped ship. Two teams the Lake County Fielders and the Rockford River Hawks left the Frontier League last season to come to the Northern League. I would think that the Frontier League might just absorb the four remaining teams into their fold. I have yet to see what will happen there.
For one I am excited about the Railcats move. I have enjoyed watching their games the past two seasons. Part of the trouble with getting excited to go to a game though was the fact that we seemed to always be playing the same teams. In a eight team league you tend to repeat opponents often.
The fourteen team league will be expanding its season to 100 games next season. The division information comes directly from the American Association website: “The league will feature three divisions for next season’s campaign, with Fargo-Moorhead, St. Paul, Sioux Falls and Winnipeg in the North Division; Gary SouthShore, Kansas City, Lincoln, Sioux City and Wichita comprising the Central Division; and El Paso, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Pensacola and Shreveport-Bossier making up the South Division.” Next season will be filled with excitement as new teams come to the Steel Yard for the first time. Old foes like Saint Paul, Sioux Falls, and Sioux City will also be back in town. It should make for a little more excitement in Gary.
Edit: In a letter sent to me dated October 18th the Railcats address the issue of moving to the American Association. They talk of how hard it was to move away from the Northern League, but also the great opportunity that lies ahead in the American Association. They are using the move to try and jump start the organization. I think the influx of new teams will make for an exciting 2011.