Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 5, 2021 - Pecos League (Pecos)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League announced the six California-based teams that will comprise the Pacific Division for the 2021 season are the Bakersfield Train Robbers, Wasco Reserve, Monterey Amberjacks, Santa Cruz Seaweed, Martinez Sturgeon and San Rafael Pacifics. Santa Cruz and Martinez were added as expansion teams and San Rafael was added from the Pacific Association for the 2020 season, but the Pacific Division did not play in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Pecos League tried to get eight teams in the 2021 Pacific Division to match the league's eight-team Mountain Division, but it was unable to bring back a 2019 team called the High Desert Yardbirds (Adelanto) and another new team called the Lancaster Sound Breakers. A once-proposed team for 2020 called the Pittsburg Anchors has disappeared as did the 2019 season's California City Whiptails.
High-A East: The Winston-Salem (NC) Dash of the High-A East league announced it will host a summer-collegiate team called the Carolina Disco Turkeys that will play 16 games at its ballpark this summer. The team will not be part of a specific league, but will play other summer-collegiate teams in the region. The team also plans to play in the 2021 All-American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament.
High-A West: Due to travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, the Vancouver Canadians (British Columbia) of the High-A West league will start the 2021 season by playing home games at Ron Tonkin Field, home of the league's Hillsboro (OR) Hops. Vancouver is the only Canadian team in the six-team High-A West and it will play home games when the Hops are on the road.
Major League Baseball: Due to cross-border travel restrictions, the MLB's Toronto Blue Jays will start the 2021 season playing home games at its spring training complex in Dunedin (FL) through May 24.
BIG3 League: After sitting idle in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 12-team BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced its 2021 schedule for its Fireball3 brand of basketball. The eight-week regular season will feature five events held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and three events held at Xavier University in New Orleans from July 10 to August 21, 2021. The league will hold two weeks of playoffs at locations still to be announced. The BIG3 started play in the summer of 2017 and played its first two seasons with eight teams before adding four more teams for the 2019 season.
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP announced 13 teams have committed to the league's 2021 season that will run from early September through October. The league has set July 5, 2021 as the final date for teams to finalize plans for participating in the 2021 season. Five LNBP teams sat out last season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) so it operated with 12 teams aligned in six-team East and West divisions. At least one of the five dormant teams called the Santos de San Luis Potosi plans on returning this season.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA recently added expansion teams called the Tampa Bay Panthers and the Greensboro (NC) Kaos. Women's Universal Basketball Association: The WUBA plans to add a new Los Angeles division next season and one of its team will be the Los Angeles OTNN Mambas.
American Arena League: The Reading (PA) Raptors announced the team has left the AAL and will be part of the Elite Indoor Football's 2021 season that starts April 17, 2021.
Champions Indoor Football: The Enid-based Oklahoma Flying Aces of the CIF unexpectedly announced the team will be inactive for the 2021 season due to workmen's compensation insurance issues. The Flying Aces will be replaced by a team called the Dodge City (KS) Law, which was supposed to be a 2022 expansion team and a re-launch of the Dodge City Law that left the CIF after the 2017 season and came under new ownership. The Law will take over the Flying Aces' schedule and team roster. The Flying Aces stated the team intends to return to the CIF for the 2022 season.
National Arena League: The NAL's new Albany (NY) Empire had threatened to sit out the 2021 season if it could not play home games with at least a 25 percent fan capacity. The team was apparently assured of its capacity requirements and will start its 2021 schedule next month as planned.
American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's expansion team called the Seattle Kraken will start play in the 2021-22 season and ownership is working to complete an arena in Palm Desert (CA) so its AHL affiliate can start play for the 2022-23 season. The ownership hopes to get local approval for a 9,900-seat arena this month with groundbreaking next month. The AHL team still does not have a name, but that is expected to be announced this summer after arena construction has started.
Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League: The 12-team SJHL, which is one of ten member leagues in the Junior-A Canadian Junior Hockey League, announced the cancellation of the remainder of its 2020-21 season due to provincial restrictions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Each team had played five or six games early in the season before play was suspended in late November 2020. The SJHL plans to return for the 2021-22 season.
British Columbia Hockey League: The 18-team BCHL, which is one of ten member leagues in the Junior-A Canadian Junior Hockey League, is reported to be leaving the CJHL for the 2021-22 season. The league was just able to start its 2020-21 season this weekend with 16 of its 18 teams. The 16 teams are aligned in four three-team pods in Vernon, Chilliwack, Coquitlam (Burnaby) and Penticton and a four-team pod in Port Alberni with each team playing a 20-game schedule. The Langley Rivermen decided not to participate in the pod-based season. The Wenatchee (WA) Wild, the BCHL's only non-British Columbia team, decided to sit out this season back in November due to state and cross-border travel restrictions.
United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced the addition of the Internacional Club Atletico to the West Conference for the 2021 season.
National Indoor Soccer League: The new professional NISL, which plans to start its inaugural 2021-22 season on December 25, 2021 with both Men's and Women's divisions, lists the Memphis Americans and the Fayetteville (NC) Fury as possible teams.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The professional Division-II USL Championship league announced its full 2021 season schedule that will feature 31 teams each playing a 32-game schedule from April 24 to October 3, 2021. The league's Louisville City FC stated the team will evaluate over the next six to 12 months whether to apply for a Major League Soccer expansion team, but it has no definite plans to move up to the MLS.
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL2 has expanded its remaining 2020-21 season schedule through July 11, 2021 for six teams: the Cleveland Crunch, Omaha Kings FC, FC Amarillo Bombers, Colorado Inferno (Colorado Springs), Wichita Wings and the Chicago Mustangs, who will play their first game next week. The league's seventh team called the Muskegon Risers is not playing a full schedule, but is hosting some games in the expanded Great Lakes Invitational. Winners of the three invitational series (Heartland, Rocky Mountain and Great Lakes) this season will make the playoffs along with the non-winner of an invitational with the best winning percentage. Teams must play a minimum of ten games to qualify for playoffs. The Wichita Wings and Amarillo Bombers are already eligible for the playoffs by winning the Heartland Invitational and Rocky Mount Invitational.
North American Rugby League: The new professional NARL, which will be playing the 13-man rugby known as "rugby league", announced plans to start play in June 2021 with 12 teams aligned in six-team conferences. The East Coast Conference will feature the Atlanta Rhinos, Boston Thirteens, Brooklyn Kings, Cleveland Rugby League, New York Rugby League and Washington Cavalry. The West Coast Conference will have the Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell and San Francisco Rush. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the NARL's two Canadian teams called the Toronto Wolfpack and Ottawa Aces will participate in a two-match "Canada Cup" this season and join the East Coast Conference in 2022. The league hopes to add future Canadian teams in Vancouver and Montreal, along with a team in Atlantic Canada. The professional Major League Rugby, which started play in 2018, operates under the 15-player rugby union format.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.
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Pecos League Stories from April 5, 2021
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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