Last Week around the Leagues
by Fran Stuchbury
December 15, 2020 - International League (IL)
This past week Major League Baseball and its 30 teams announced a significant realignment of baseball's Minor League system, contracting from 160 teams to 120 teams across the country; Columbus Crew SC won its second MLS Cup; and the Women's National Basketball Association Dallas Wings named Vickie Johnson their head coach. Highlights from this week are from International League, Midwest League, South Atlantic League, Northwest League, Major League Soccer, United Soccer League Championship, United Soccer League One, Canadian Premier League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Indoor Football League, Canadian Football League Women's National Basketball Association and Premier Lacrosse League.
The magnanimous overlords of Major League Baseball and its member teams sent out invitations to the minor league teams it had chosen to remain in affiliated baseball. Many of the minor league organizations were at least taking the time to look over the invites before accepting, but their participation is largely a fait accompli.
The Miami Marlins have extended an opportunity to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp to become the club's Triple-A affiliate, effective beginning in the 2021 season. The move continues a rise for the city of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, which would field a Triple-A baseball team for the first time since 1968, when the club was an affiliate of the New York Mets. Jacksonville's current affiliation with the Marlins dates back to 2009.
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp headed to Triple-A what it means to the city. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are doing big things.
American Association St. Paul Saints are now Triple-A partners with the Minnesota Twins.
The New York Mets announced that they have invited the Syracuse Mets, Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Brooklyn Cyclones and the St. Lucie Mets to become the organization's four minor league affiliates under Major League Baseball's new player development structure set to begin in 2021. Three of the four teams invited to become affiliates are in New York (Syracuse, Binghamton and Brooklyn) and the fourth is the site of the Mets Spring Training home (Port St. Lucie, FL).
Major League Baseball Draft League
Major League Baseball in conjunction with Prep Baseball Report (PBR) have announced the formation of the all-new MLB Draft League set to launch in 2021. The league, which will include the Frederick Keys, becomes the first in the country focused on top prospects eligible to be drafted by MLB Clubs that summer.
The Midwest League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc. ("MWL") was formed in 1947 and has undergone many changes over the last 73 years. Major League Baseball ("MLB") has made its decision on the composition of the MWL for the 2021 season and beyond. Thirteen (13) of the sixteen (16) MWL Clubs will be invited to enter into a Professional Development License ("PDL") with a Major League Club. Those Clubs will be working in the near future to finalize the terms of the PDL being offered.
St. Louis Cardinals invite Peoria Chiefs to remain minor league affiliate.
South Atlantic League
The Columbia Fireflies announced that they have been invited to join the newly configured Minor League Baseball as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The initial term of the offered affiliation is ten years, assuring a long-standing relationship that will extend through at least the 2030 season.
Florida State League
The Charlotte Stone Crabs announced that the Tampa Bay Rays have notified the team they have chosen to discontinue their affiliation in the Florida State League. Their decision effectively ends the Stone Crabs' 11-year run in Port Charlotte.
Tony Torcato reacts to the news that the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes lost its affiliation with the San Francisco Giants.
Major League Soccer
In the final game at the legendary MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus Crew SC lifted MLS Cup 2020. Columbus beat the Seattle Sounders 3-0 to win their second-ever MLS Cup, becoming one of seven teams to win multiple MLS championships joining D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City and the Sounders. Lucas Zelarayan starred with two goals and assist in the victory, with Derrick Etienne Jr. also scoring. Columbus are one of the league's inaugural members and won their first MLS Cup in 2008. MAPFRE Stadium is MLS's original soccer-specific stadium. The Crew will move into their brand-new stadium in 2021.
Three years ago, Columbus Crew SC, Major League Soccer's original club, was on the verge of relocation to Austin, Texas. Now, Austin has its own team, and Columbus is celebrating its second MLS Cup triumph in club history. Two goals and an assist from Lucas Zelarayan, the Crew's record signing, sparked Columbus to its first league title since 2008 in a 3-0 rout of 2017 and 2019 champions Seattle Sounders, who were playing in their fourth MLS Cup in five seasons. Derrick Etienne, starting in place of Pedro Santos, put away the second goal for the Crew, as coach Caleb Porter secures his second MLS Cup.
Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has been named the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player. Pozuelo, 29, becomes the second player in Toronto FC history to be named the league's MVP, following Sebastian Giovinco who won the award in 2015. This season, Pozuelo scored 9 goals and added 10 assists, leading the league in combined goals and assists. He also led MLS in chances created (70) and game-winning goals (5) while becoming the first player in TFC history to start in every regular season match in a season. Toronto FC posted a record of 9-1-4 when Pozuelo scored and/or had an assist this season.
United Soccer League Championship
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC announced that the club has appointed Brendan Burke as the third permanent Head Coach in club history. Burke joins the Switchbacks FC with extensive experience in the USL Championship and Major League Soccer after winning the Supporters' Shield in 2020 with the Philadelphia Union as the club's Head of Recruitment Operations. The Supporters' Shield is awarded to the team with the best overall record throughout the regular season in Major League Soccer, which Philadelphia earned with 47 points from 23 games in 2020.
Colorado Switchbacks FC hire Brendan Burke as head coach
United Soccer League One
The United Soccer League announced it has awarded a USL League One franchise to Central Valley Fuego Futbol Club, led by the Ruelas family, with the club set to begin play in 2022. The locally-owned club also plans to construct a training and development center alongside a soccer-specific stadium in the Central Valley region, with construction planned to begin in 2021.
Here is a video talking about the team.
Canadian Premier League
United by You - York United FC Brand Reveal
Major Arena Soccer League
The Major Arena Soccer League will kick off their 2021 regular season in January, the league has announced dates which include six teams participating in a total of 14 games during the month of January. While the league is navigating ongoing changes and COVID-19 related restrictions, it anticipates announcing schedules on a month-to-month basis. The St. Louis Ambush, Kansas City Comets, Dallas Sidekicks, San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars and Florida Tropics have all committed to dates in January.
Idaho Steelheads cancel 2020-21 season.
Kalamazoo Wings voluntarily suspend their 2020/2021 season due to COVID
North American Hockey League
It's a pretty big number that not a lot of coaches see. But Aberdeen Wings head coach Scott Langer now knows what it feels like to have 600 wins under his belt. Langer picked up the milestone win over the weekend when the Wings played the Bismarck Bobcats on the road. 2-1 nail-biter that was snagged during a shoot out, pushed him into the illustrious spot.
NAHL Plays of the Week
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
QMJHL Saves of the month for November
Indoor Football League
Interview with Frisco Fighters head coach Clint Dolezel. Coach Dolezel talks with the IFL's Fred Shaffer about his outlook on the 2021 season. He comments on the Fighters' roster: a variety of players impacting the team with speed and size. That paired with the seasoned experience of his coaching staff, Coach is eager to get the season started. As Coach Dolezel says here, "The league is stacked. It will be great football in the IFL this year."
Canadian Football League
CFL Best in the League - the fastest. It's the age-old debate among players, who is the fastest in the CFL? This year, the man they call "Speedy B" has some company.
Women's National Basketball Association
The Dallas Wings have hired two-time WNBA All-Star Vickie Johnson to serve as the team's head coach, the organization announced. Johnson joins the Wings after serving as an Assistant Coach with the Las Vegas Aces franchise. Johnson, 48, helped guide Las Vegas to the best record in the WNBA this past summer. The Aces made the team's second consecutive trip to the WNBA Playoffs and earned a berth in the 2020 WNBA Finals.
Best blocks of the 2020 WNBA Season!
Major League Rugby
Major League Rugby (MLR) announced its 2021 season schedule, beginning with matches on March 20, 2021. Entering its fourth season, MLR will feature 13 teams competing throughout North America over 18 weeks. The conclusion of the regular season will bring the MLR Championship Series, with the top two seeds from each conference qualifying for the postseason. The playoffs will culminate with the Championship Final to be held August 1.
Premier Lacrosse League
Redwoods attack Matt Kavanagh 2020 Highlights:
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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