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 Pioneer League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 12, 2021 - Pioneer League (PL)


BASEBALL

Pioneer League: The Rocky Mountain Vibes (Colorado Springs) of the independent Pioneer League played a series this week as the Lloronas de Montaña Rocosaecos (Weeping Woman of the Rocky Mountains) from Latin American folklore. The Vibes' opponent, the Idaho Falls Chukars, took its alternate Latin nickname, the Idaho Falls Madres, for the series. The Vibes entered into an affiliation agreement this season with the Acereros de Monclova team in Mexico's top Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican Baseball League), so its roster consists of Acereros' prospects and Acereros-assigned coaches.

Texas Collegiate League: The summer-collegiate TCL started its 2021 season early last month with six teams. Two of the teams, the Amarillo Sod Squad and the San Antonio Flying Chanclas, are sponsored by the Amarillo Sod Poodles and San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Central League. The Amarillo and San Antonio TCL teams are playing their home games while the Double-A teams are on the road. Since Minor League Baseball did not play a 2020 season, affiliated teams in Amarillo, San Antonio, Frisco, Tulsa and Round Rock sponsored teams in the 2020 TCL with Amarillo and San Antonio returning in 2021. The TCL's Texarkana Twins did not return from last season but the league's Baton Rouge Rougarou returned in 2021 after sitting out the 2020 season.

Liga Norte de Mexico: Mexico's second-level LNM, or Northern Mexico League, decided not to play a 2021 season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The LNM last played in 2019 with five teams and added a sixth team for a 2020 season that also was never played. The LNM season usually ran from April to mid-July.

Liga Sudcaliforniana de Beisbol: A new Mexican minor baseball league known as the LSB is trying to form in Baja California Sud, the south portion of the state of Baja California. Currently, four potential teams called the Capitanes de Cabo San Lucas (Captains), Tiburones de San José del Cabo (Sharks), Pescadores de La Paz (Fishermen) and Navegantes de La Paz (Navigators) are listed.

Major League Baseball: Officials with MLB's Oakland Athletics are planning a third trip to the Las Vegas area to tour potential new stadium sites after plans for a new stadium in Oakland were not well-received by local officials. After playing 2021 home games in Dunedin (FL) and Buffalo, the Toronto Blue Jays have proposed a return to Toronto for home games by the end of this month. This could allow the Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A East League to return to Buffalo for home games after starting its 2021 home schedule in Trenton.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced the Daytona Racers will be a 2021-22 expansion team. The league also announced the Yeadon (PA) Kings team will move from the Philadelphia area to become the Atlantic City (NJ) Seagulls for the 2021-22 season.

BIG3 League: After cancelling its fourth season in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the 12-team BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league started it 2021 season this weekend with the same 12 teams that participated in 2019. Instead of touring multiple cities this season, weekend games for the eight-week 2021 season will be played in either Las Vegas or New Orleans.

National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA's Denver Nuggets announced its new G-League affiliate in Grand Rapids (MI) will be called the Grand Rapids Gold starting with the 2021-22 season. This will be a hybrid affiliation in which the team is under local ownership with the Nuggets running the basketball operations. The Gold replaces the city's Grand Rapids Drive, which had been the G-League's hybrid affiliate of the NBA's Detroit Pistons since the 2014-15 season. Last year, the Pistons purchased the Northern Arizona Suns G-League team that will be moved to a new arena in the Detroit area as the Motor City Cruise for the 2021-22 G-League season. Prior to the arrival of the Grand Rapids Drive in 2014, the franchise operated as the Anaheim Arsenal (2006-09) and the Springfield (MA) Armor (2009-14).

New Nation Basketball Association: The NNBA is a new semi-pro basketball league with plans for teams in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. The league plans to start its inaugural 2021 fall season late next month with six teams called the Memphis Rail Runners, St. Louis Trotters, Tennessee Sting (Nashville), Kentucky Rising Stars (Henderson), Henderson (KY) Hornets and Owensboro (KY) Cobras. The Trotters, Sting and Hornets played in the former Mid-States Basketball Association's last season in 2019 and the Rail Runners were part of the former Central Basketball Association. The Cobras are also part of the Professional Basketball Association's current 2021 spring-summer season.

FOOTBALL

Arena Indoor Football Alliance: Indoor football teams called the Carolina Predators (Fayetteville, NC), Tampa Bay Tornadoes, Pennsylvania Union (Harrisburg) and Mississippi Raiders (Hattiesburg) have left the American Arena League (AAL) to form the new AIFA that plans to start play in 2022. The owners of the AAL's Jersey Bearcats and Indianapolis Enforcers took over ownership of the AAL last month.

Canadian Football League: The CFL and the XFL have ended talks about possible future collaboration and there will be no formal arrangement between the two leagues at this time. The nine-team CFL will start its 2021 season early next month.

XFL: With the XFL and CFL breaking off talks on possible future collaboration, the XFL announced it is moving forward with plans for "international spring football" in 2023. The most recent version of the XFL played half a season in 2020 with eight teams based in the United States before shutting down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and eventually filing for bankruptcy. New ownership purchased the XFL out of bankruptcy last year and had discussed a return in 2022, but this has been pushed back.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL's new Abbotsford (British Columbia) team, which will be the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks, announced a delay in revealing the team's name until next week.

National Roller Hockey League: Nothing has been heard about the NRHL's 2021 season after the league cancelled its planned inaugural 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After the cancellation last year the NRHL proposed a 2021 season from May through mid-August 2021 with teams playing 24 to 32 games. The NRHL still lists four teams called the St. Louis Vipers, Detroit Dragons, Grand Rapids Warthogs and Port Huron Yeti.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS and Mexico's top first-division Liga MX announced the teams that will participate in the 2021 Leagues Cup single-elimination tournament starting next month. The MLS teams will include Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders FC and New York City FC. The Liga MX teams are the Tigres UANL, Pumas UNAM, Santos and Leon.

Liga MX: Mexico's first-division Liga MX will start the opening phase (Apertura) of its two-part 2021-22 Apertura/Clausura season on July 22 with the same 18 teams that played in the 2020-21 Apertura/Clausura.

Liga Expansion MX: Mexico's second-division league called the Liga de Expansión announced it will operate with 17 teams as its starts the opening phase (Apertura) of its 2021-22 season later this month. All 16 teams from the 2020-21 Apertura/Clausura will return along with the Raya2 club, which is based in Guadalupe (Nuevo Leon) and an affiliate of the Rayados de Monterrey club in the first-division Liga MX. The Club Irapuato, which won the third-division Liga Premier championship, was to be promoted to the Liga de Expansión but failed to meet financial requirements. Two other Liga Premier clubs in Matamoros and Durango were also under consideration for promotion but did not meet financial requirements.

OTHER

Premier Ultimate League: After cancelling its second season in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 12-team women's PUL ultimate frisbee league announced its 2021 season will consist of three tournament events next month in New York City, Portland (ME) and Milwaukee. Each event will feature 3 different PUL teams, so only 9 of the PUL's 12 teams will be participating as the Minnesota Strike, Atlanta Soul and Nashville Nightshade decided to opt out this season.

Western Ultimate League: The women's WUL, which was to start its inaugural season with seven teams in March 2020 but cancelled the season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is now planning a WUL Winter Cup exhibition event later this year with its first full season to run from March to May of 2022. Since cancelling its 2020 season, the Seattle Cascades team was renamed the Seattle Tempest and the Portland (OR) Swifts left the league so the WUL now has six teams. The other five teams are the San Francisco Falcons, San Diego Super Bloom, Los Angeles Astra, Arizona Sidewinders and Utah Wild.

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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