Last Week around the Leagues
by Fran Stuchbury
December 8, 2020 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
This past week the Major League Baseball Draft League was formed with five teams as founding members, the National Women's Soccer League awarded an expansion team to Kansas City, and the New York Liberty won the WNBA Draft Lottery for the second year in a row. Highlights from this week are from Major League Baseball Draft League, National Women's Soccer League, Major Arena Soccer League, United Soccer League Championship, United Soccer League One, Women's National Basketball Association, United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Indoor Football League, Women's National Basketball Association and Premier Lacrosse League.
Major League Baseball Draft League
Major League Baseball, Prep Baseball Report (PBR), and five founding members announced the formation of the MLB Draft League, which will become the first league in the country focused on top prospects who are eligible to be drafted by MLB Clubs that summer. With the 2021 MLB Draft moved back to July and being held as part of All-Star Week, draft-eligible players will have a unique opportunity to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to MLB Clubs and fans next summer. The founding members of the MLB Draft League will be the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears, and the Williamsport Crosscutters.
Trenton Thunder Continue Affiliation with Major League Baseball in New MLB Draft League
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers will be a founding member in a new league showcasing top MLB draft-eligible prospects
State College Spikes to join new MLB league
New York Penn League
The Staten Island Yankees are ceasing operations and have filed a lawsuit seeking legal remedies. The New York Yankees announced on November 7, 2020 that the Staten Island Yankees were no longer part of the Yankees minor league affiliation structure, even though the Yankees had made repeated assurances we would always be a minor league partner. Although we still have not heard this from the Yankees directly, it would appear from their press release that they would like us to go from the past arrangement in which the Staten Island Yankees were an affiliated minor league team of the New York Yankees - where we facilitated player development and brand exposure, among other benefits to the New York Yankees - to one in which we play unaffiliated baseball with no relationship to the Yankees whatsoever.
Major League Baseball and the Pioneer League jointly announced that the Pioneer League has been designated a "Partner League" of MLB. Starting in 2021, the Pioneer League will transition from affiliated status to an independent professional MLB Partner League that continues to provide high-quality baseball to the states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado. All eight members of the Pioneer League - the Billings Mustangs, the Grand Junction Rockies, the Great Falls Voyagers, the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Missoula PaddleHeads, the Ogden Raptors, the Northern Colorado Owlz and the Rocky Mountain Vibes - will continue participating in the league and will maintain their existing team names and brands.
The Frontier League's newest member, the Ottawa Professional Baseball Club has concluded its Name the Team Contest. The contest drew more than 1200 entries and nearly 700 different name proposals, leading to the final selection. Suggestions varied from concepts based on the city's rich history, to citizens showcasing their imaginative spirit. The Ottawa professional baseball team is proud to announce its new identity, the Ottawa Titans Baseball Club.
The American Association of Professional Baseball has unveiled a new league brand as the circuit prepares for its first season as a Major League Baseball Partner League. It is the first rebrand since the league was founded prior to the 2006 season.
National Women's Soccer League
The National Women's Soccer League announced that its board of governors approved an expansion team in Kansas City to begin play in 2021 and an ownership group led by wife and husband team Angie and Chris Long. The move follows the winding down of operations by the Utah Royals FC. All player rights, draft picks, and certain other assets formerly held by Utah Royals FC will be transferred to the new team in Kansas City.
Three years after the FCKC women's professional soccer team was shuttered, the Utah Royals of the National Women's Soccer League is now relocating to Kansas City.
Major Arena Soccer League
The Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), following a vote from its Board of Directors, has agreed to proceed with plans for a modified 2020-2021 regular season, with eleven teams choosing to participate in the campaign. The MASL regular season may start as early as December 31, 2020, with a final regular season date of April 18, 2021. The MASL clubs who have decided to participate in the 2020-2021 season are: Baltimore, Dallas, Florida, Harrisburg, Kansas City, Ontario, Rochester, San Diego, St. Louis, Tacoma and Utica. These teams will play a regular season of between 12 and 24 matches in order to be considered eligible for playoff participation. Mesquite and Turlock have joined Milwaukee, Monterrey and Sonora as members unable to participate in the 2020-21 campaign due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Eastern Conference held close with the Western Conference through two quarters of play but two runs of markers from the West powered their squad to a 9-4 win in the first MASL All-Star Game in front of an excited crowd at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, MO.
Here is the first goal of the game scored by the Western Conference.
Western Conference Guerrero Pino, from midfield, a set piece chip into the net.
United Soccer League Championship
2020 USL Championship Goal of the Year Winner - Tobenna Uzo, FC Tulsa
2020 USL Championship Save of the Year Winner - Joe Kuzminsky, Charleston Battery
United Soccer League One
2020 USL League One Save of the Year Winner - Joe Rice, New England Revolution II
Women's National Basketball Association
The New York Liberty won the 20th annual WNBA Draft Lottery and earned the top pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft in April. The Lottery was conducted at the NBA office in Secaucus, New Jersey, and the results were televised on ESPN during halftime of its telecast of the DePaul vs. Louisville women's college basketball game. New York, which won the WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm for the second consecutive year and for the second time in franchise history, entered the Lottery with the most chances to land the top pick (442 out of 1,000).
The New York Liberty secure the top pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft. The Dallas Wings earn the No.2 pick while the Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever earn No. 3 and 4 respectively.
NBA G League
Raptors 905 announced that Patrick Mutombo has been named the fourth head coach in franchise history. John Bennett and Brittni Donaldson will join Mutombo, serving as assistant coaches for Raptors 905. Jama Mahlalela will return to the Toronto Raptors as a member of Nick Nurse's coaching staff. Mutombo, 40, has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
The Jacksonville Icemen, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets and AHL's Manitoba Moose, announced that the team has added former University of Florida standout Tim Tebow, current Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker Myles Jack and former Jacksonville Jaguars star Reggie Hayward to its ownership team.
The Cincinnati Cyclones have announced that the team will opt out of competition for the 2020-2021 season as part of the ECHL's Covid-19 Voluntary Suspension policy. The safety and health of Cyclones players, staff, and fans has always been a top priority. The team fully plans to return to play for the 2021-2022 season.
In light of COVID-19's continued impact across Idaho and the United States, the Idaho Steelheads are announcing that they will be suspending the 2020-2021 ECHL season under the league's policy for COVID-19. The Idaho Steelheads will prepare to return in October for the 2021-2022 ECHL season.
The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks, announced the team is opting out of the 2020-21 season in conjunction with the league's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy. Following similar announcements from Atlanta, Norfolk and all six North Division teams within the last two months, the K-Wings voted to suspend operations for the season, joined today by the Cincinnati Cyclones and Idaho Steelheads. That brings the total number of ECHL teams opting out to ten so far.
United States Hockey League
USHL Plays of the Week
North American Hockey League
NAHL Plays of the Week
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced that the League is pausing its activities from December 1st, 2020 to January 3rd, 2021. The decision was communicated to QMJHL Members and General Managers during a meeting held earlier today.
QMJHL Plays of the Week
Indoor Football League
Green Bay Blizzard head coach Corey Roberson visits with the IFL's Fred Shaffer about the upcoming 2021 season. Coach Roberson discusses some of the new players who will be competing for a roster spot, the recently-released IFL schedule, and the team's season opener in the Hall of Fame Game against Sioux Falls.
Premier Lacrosse League
Archers defense Matt McMahon defensive highlights.
National Pro Fastpitch
Confronted with multiple COVID-related problems, the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) has decided to suspend games for the 2021 season, making this the second consecutive year the league has done so. NPF home venues either are not available, or are available only with restrictive conditions on attendance and COVID protocols, making individual team operations difficult. A season already curtailed by the one-year delay of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, is expected to be abbreviated further by quarantine requirements imposed on the international teams participating in NPF.
Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.
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Women's National Basketball Association Stories from December 8, 2020
- Last Week around the Leagues - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.