Then, in April, Jose Canseco and his brother Ozzie were hired to play for and hang out in the dugout of the Yuma Scorpions.
Two weeks ago, the Scorpions traveled to Zion, Illinois (home of the Lake County Fielders) and I made the journey to watch a game. As the story goes, Jose Canseco was a no-show, shenangins on and off the field were hinted at and in the process...The Hall became the scourge of the Lake County Fielders Facebook group.
But...whatever. Who cares really?
What happened next is/was one of the craziest things to have happened to any baseball team...Major League, Minor League, real, fake or otherwise.
And by now, you've heard the stories about the ownership issues with the Fielders. Hell, you've probably even heard play-by-play man Qumar Zaman's public resgination (if not, the best part is excerpted below)...there's no need to re-tell the tale.
That said, here is what Zaman had to say the day following his epic final radio broadcast for WKRS-AM..."The Voice of Lake County".
HOVG: You detailed the story of what happened that first month on the road...but when did you first suspect that something was going on?
ZAMAN: Well, before I even joined the team, I knew there had been issues with the team in 2010. I didn't know to what extent, just that there wasn't a permanent stadium, which was going to be completed when we returned from the six-week long road trip that started the season. As for when things got bad on the road, I think it happened when we were in Maui on the first trip and the team barely covered meal money for much of the players. It progressively got worse and worse at each place we visited. When we were in Edmonton, the Fielders couldn't give us meal money, but luckily the Capitals' organization stepped in and offered to cover meal money for our entire team throughout our stay.
HOVG: I've been following this circus for the last couple of weeks and saw, in just one trip to Zion, some crazy things. What has to happen to make the Fielders a success on and off the field?
ZAMAN: In my opinion, there are things that need to be in place before a franchise is granted. One of those things is a permanent stadium, which is something the Fielders have. They cannot be successful having temporary structures. Another thing that affected me personally was the location of the press box in that temporary stadium. Because of the way the temporary stadium was structured for the 2011 season, the press box was located down the right field line, where I could barely see the batters box and make out pitches. It's imperative for my job to be in a locale to see these things, in order for me to give the best possible description. Off the field, the coaches and players that started the season were incredible. They put out a first place record before we even played a home game. But, as for making a team profitable, there needs to be enough capital in place to withstand paying players, travel expenses and other league fees that come with having a team. I can't speak for how much is needed for a team like the Fielders to play in the North American League, where you have to fly to each location to play road games. That's very difficult, and it does take a LOT of money to cover those costs. Needless to say, it's not my business to know exactly how much money is needed to cover those costs and make a profit. But, those in charge should know and they should be responsible enough to know if they can make it work.
HOVG: I'm not asking you to blast the fans because, obviously, some of them have been super supportive of you and the team. That said...do you have a message to the ones that are out there, seemingly, blindly following the Fielders?
ZAMAN: I don't have a message to those that are "blindly following" the Fielders. As I have said before, people do need to support the team, because if they don't, the new players and coaches won't get paid either. It's not their fault and they shouldn't have to suffer a similar fate. If they don't go out and support the team, then there won't be a team there anymore. I'm sure that's something the people of Lake County don't want to have happen. They just want someone responsible enough to run the team efficiently.
HOVG: What is that other job and what's next for you in broadcasting? Are you holding out for that next baseball gig...or has this one pretty much left a sour taste in your mouth?
ZAMAN: I still have a job, working part-time at STATS, LLC, where my responsibilities focus on golf. As for what's next in broadcasting, I'm going to take a break for a little while. I will need to produce another demo tape based on my work with the Fielders. It is my hope that any potential employers know that this particular circumstance was a very oddly unique one. I assure you that if I was paid on time, I would not have done what I did. I gave the Fielders ample opportunities to explain themselves and try to make some form of amends, but they did not. I even informed them of my last night of work if they did nothing to help with my financial obligations. I kept quiet about the problems with the team, despite the fact that it was all published in local newspapers. I did what I did because I needed to explain what happened firsthand, because the players and coaches had already left. I was the only one there. If I had left the team and not explained why I left or the reasons behind it, I would've been a coward. I may have gone about what I said the wrong way, but the point needed to be made. Potential employers shouldn't have to worry about me doing something similar with their teams. As long as I am paid on time, or if teams can explain their financial situation and its affects on me to me, I assure you that I won't be a problem.
HOVG: Any thoughts on the comparisons between your exit and CM Punk's rant from a while back?
ZAMAN: I've been reading so many people's comments about what I said. I'd like to put it out there that I did take some lines from both Punk and Joey Styles (who had his own exit speech in 2006) and inserted them in my own speech. I did this not to plagiarize them (which technically you can't, because it wasn't published), but to accentuate my feelings. I was inspired by the way they handled having to leave something they love. I love what they do and similarly, I have a passion for what I do. I didn't want to harbor any bad feelings with anyone, but rather explain the situation. And, I always feel that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I just hope that CM Punk and Joey Styles feel flattered that they were inspirations for my speech.
HOVG: One last question and, admittedly, it is completely self-serving. You've read my account of what happened July 7 when I hit the Yuma-Lake County game...did you notice Ozzie coming out in Jose's jersey? Do you think it was an accident or do you think some shenanigans might have been afoot?
ZAMAN: As for the whole Ozzie/Jose thing, I can't speak on that. I try not to concern myself with their issues. They're eccentric enough on their own to wonder why they're playing the double switch game.