My vision since I began coaching youngsters back in the early 1990’s has been to use baseball as a conduit to build better communities. Along the way, I have created a number of projects to better serve my conviction. Here are a few that I have constructed during my journey.
PROJECT 421 – CURACAO
Designed to bring an academy structure to the Caribbean island of Curacao, Project 421 gets its name from 4 academies in 2 complexes in 1 campus. Its goal was to alleviate pressures in international recruitment of players that exist in the Dominican Republic. Curacao is a tropical paradise situated off the coast of Venezuela and is part of the Dutch ABC chain of islands.
CURACAO WINTER LEAGUE – CURACAO
I constructed the Curacao Winter League to promote Project 421 and bring additional baseball revenues to the island of Curacao. The initial goal was to create a winter league for players outside the academy structure of Project 421 to better assist the government of Curacao in its attempt to stimulate sport economics for the island. The league was to consist of 4 teams that would compete during October to December with the league champion advancing to play in the Latin America Association Series.
PROJECT JOHNNY VRUTAAL – CURACAO
Project Johnny Vrutaal is the third Curacao project I designed to further stimulate baseball on the island of Curacao. The beauty and history of the Johnny Vrutaal complex in downtown Willemstad, the island capital, would give a home to the Curacao Winter League and cement the island as a true baseball destination.
QUISCAYA BASEBALL LEAGUE – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
I conceived and developed the concept of a league that would assist younger players in the Dominican Republic to better serve their development. Because I was an international scout, I didn’t want to create any potential conflict of interest, thus I acted as a consultant to help younger players better develop their skills in a game setting away from the traditional model of showcasing.
BASEBALL ASSOCIATION OF ACADEMIES AND TRAINERS (BAAT)
Prior to MLB’s proposed Trainer Participation Program (TPP) I initiated steps to address issues that have long plagued the Dominican Republic. My goal was to create a certification process that would license baseball participants in the Dominican under a self-governing association with oversight from MLB. BAAT (Baseball Association of Academies and Trainers) would allow for background checks, education, standards of conduct, training guidelines, player education and drug testing. The benefits of BAAT included expedited visas, eligibility for player option contracts (explained below) and MLB credit accounts, equipment discounts, and official recognition with professional leagues.
INTERNATIONAL PLAYER OPTION CONTRACTS
International Player Option Contracts (IPOC’s) were designed to entice participation in BAAT by offering financial incentives related to July 2nd player agreements. Currently, July 2nd player agreements between buscones and teams are conducted as far out as two years or more in under-the-table deals that that are contrary to MLB rules. IPOC’s would bring needed transparency to these agreements while creating financial incentives and reducing risks associated with international recruitment for all parties.
The option contracts pay 20% premiums up front to agents with the other 80% paid in escrow 30 days prior to option expiration (which also signals intent to exercise the option). This eliminates under-the-table deals that are risky to both teams and agents. If an option expires without being exercised, then the player becomes a free agent on July 3rd. Also, teams that allow options to expire without exercising the option on July 2nd are unable to sign the player who they held an option on for 60 days for the agent to reestablish market value.
MLB benefits by creating a better recruitment system that includes drug testing and player accounting data, as well as making money by charging 10% fees for creating a market for teams and agents. Teams benefit by securing players with options.
Chambacu Stadium – Cartagena, Columbia
Building on the projects in Curacao, I proposed a new home for the Cartagena Indians of the Colombian Professional Baseball League (CPBL), Along with Thomas Denneny, a well known international architect, Chambacu would host international baseball events and venues that will inject new life into the popular tourist area of Cartagena.
A MODERN BASEBALL CONVERSATION – BOOK
Having been involved at every level of baseball spanning six decades, I have engaged in countless conversations about the game with many voices across many borders. I discovered long ago the power baseball contributes to transforming lives and communities for the better, but I also found serious issues that threaten the viability of the game moving forward. I wrote A Modern Conversation to engage seasoned and casual fans with important topics effecting the game.
Baseball has an illustrious history that dates back over 200 years in the United States that has been well chronicled and discussed. As the game has evolved so too has the divide between tradition and the future. While the traditional game struggles to use “pace of play” rules to keep fans engaged, younger generations are turning to alternative sports with more action on the field and online. The time is now to update the conversation and use the past to appeal to the future.
As moderator of a Modern Baseball Conversation, I include issues directly proportional to MLB. But the game of baseball is the larger target under discussion. I have always believed that the greatness of the game is bigger than any name or entity connected to it. Thus, I have divided a Modern Baseball Conversation into four sections:
Section 1 begins with the organic development of baseball and its connection to the growth of America and how it became uniquely our pastime. Section 2 is an overview of MLB’s “One Baseball Policy” that threatens to consolidate all of baseball under its vision for the future and how baseball has integrated technology to its decision-making process with little regard for traditional operations. Section 3 attempts to answer questions from Section 2 and the need to appeal to a younger generation of fans including my revolutionary 7-player game. Section 3 speaks to the future and the opportunity to take the past into the future with an exciting new 7-Player game. Section 4 is a roadmap that brings fans into the strategy of baseball using technology.
I have pioneered the rearrangement of data to provide fans an advanced involvement with pitch-by-pitch action via my revolutionary “BaseballLIVE” application.
BaseballLIVE measures the likelihood of events prior to each pitch and affords fans, in real time, a never experienced engagement at the ballpark and at home with probability measurements and rewards.
This application can be accessed via smartphones, tablets or stadium display kiosks with sponsorship capabilities that elevate corporate brands. Once established, BaseballLIVE will create an exclusive economy allowing consumers the opportunity to accumulate points through probability engagement inside their BaseballLIVE accounts.
These accounts can then be monetized as commerce transactions online, at ballparks or entertainment villages throughout every team/league franchise.
The ability of patrons to monetize points from their probability accounts via concessions, merchandise, game tickets, events or with any vendor in the associated entertainment villages will dramatically increase sales and drive additional traffic to advertisers and subsequent team/league revenues. Understanding the ability to engage fans with action technology and to monetize its great capability is our focus.
BASEBALL 7 ON 7
My interest in player development led me to an innovative model using 7 players to increase game skills. Today, I have taken the concept and created 7-player baseball that increases player development while appealing to younger audiences. The Baseball 7 On 7 League (League 7) connects a fast-action game with innovative technology to answer important questions facing traditional baseball. League 7 is played with 7 players as opposed to the traditional 9 player game. This unique and innovative style of baseball is centered around space and numbers. With less defenders and more space for hitters, runs and hits will lead to exciting game action. The League 7 operates as a single-entity professional independent league with all its franchises owned by the league.
Each League 7 franchise operates independently but connects interdependently. Franchise members apply league directives of stadium construction, technology integration, data collection, gamification, marketing, and baseball operations to create a new model of baseball entertainment.