DEAR MR. CLAUS:
Thanks so much for all of the sports-related gifts you delivered in New Hampshire last year. You deserve a special thank you for dropping off that “Intro to Coaching Football” book at the Hufft residence on such short notice.
We’re still in need of a few things here. Although few of these are material gifts, we know you have a lot of pull so we would certainly appreciate any help you can provide with the following holiday wish list:
• No more acrimony between Major League Baseball and the minor league system: The MLB and MiLB’s professional baseball agreement is set to expire after the 2020 season.
MiLB recently issued a four-page memo that accused MLB of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing MiLB’s stance on a variety of issues in negotiations. MLB responded with the following statement that threatened to sever ties with MiLB.
“If the National Association (of Minor League Clubs) has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”
The Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats are our dog in this fight. We want what’s best for the Fisher Cats and the Eastern League.
• A healthy Sean McDonnell: I’m sure you’re aware of all the good work McDonnell has done with the UNH football program. There’s not much that would keep him off the sideline on game day, but his health forced him to step away from the team last season. We hear he’s battling back, and everyone is hoping he’s able to rejoin the program next season.
• One high school All-State Team per sport, per division: In some sports we have First Team, Second Team and Third Team selections, plus a list of players who are “Honorable Mention.”
Clearly these lists have lost much of their meaning.
• An attractive hockey tenant for SNHU Arena: We like good hockey, and we have a suitable home. We just need to put the two together.
• A new format for the NHIAA high school baseball tournaments: We took a step back when we reduced the number of teams that qualify for postseason play and implemented byes. There are lots of good options here (Mr. Demas has a long list), but we’d settle for any format that puts a premium on pitching depth and doesn’t allow one team to use one starting pitcher for the majority (or all) of its postseason games.
We’d like a format that identifies the best team, not the team with the best pitcher.
• More athletic directors who stand up to unruly parents: Basically, we’re talking about the no-nothing parents who care only about their child, and abuse coaches for selfish reasons.
These parents seem to be winning the war more than they used to, and high school sports is suffering because of it.
• Fewer signing day ceremonies: Not that long ago these were restricted to National Signing Day in February. Now they’re held multiple times a year. We even have schools holding signing day ceremonies for athletes who have nothing to sign (really).
Signing day ceremonies were created when an athlete who was signing a National Letter of Intent was a newsworthy event, like a basketball player going to Louisville, etc.
If a school wants to celebrate its students who will continue their athletic careers in college that’s fine, but when there’s no NLI and it’s not newsworthy there’s no need for a “signing day” ceremony.
• A new home for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl: Interest in the game has waned — at least in New Hampshire — since it was moved to Castleton (Vt.) University. Castleton has done a terrific job, but the event needs to find its way back to Dartmouth. It’s what’s best for the game.
• An early (and warm) spring: This would allow spring sports to start on schedule and give Granite Staters some extra time to begin working on their short game.
Thank you Santa, and please pass along thanks to the elves for us.
Happy Holidays everyone.