Put a 'W' for West in front of CCBL and you get the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. The WCCBL is 3,000 miles away from the Cape Cod Baseball League and yet there are similarities and of course big differences. I attended Sunday night's game between the Moses Lake Pirates and the Spokane River Hawks, played before just under 600 paying customers in eastern Washington state.
The similarities include the fact they are both summer collegiate baseball leagues. College players use wood bats and travel by bus from small market to small market. The fans are a mix of players' parents and local baseball fans. The quality of play is good. Although Sunday's attendance was just under 600, the team normally draws about 1,100. The outfield is full of banners and ads from paying sponsors. And Moses Lake, like Cape teams, operates as a nonprofit (IRS 501c3).
The differences are many as well. I saw no scouts in the stands on Sunday night, but I'm sure a few make the rounds. That is in marked contrast to the dozens you will see in the Cape League. Part of the reason there are little or no scouts has to do with the rosters and the Cape's connection with Major League Baseball. The players are good and fun to watch, but they are not the players who appear on the cover of Baseball America. Many come from schools in the Pacific Northwest, but there are also are players from southern California and elsewhere.
Jacoby Ellsbury played in the WCCBL as did a number of other pro prospects and Major Leaguers.
One difference also is the weather. Play was postponed on the Cape yesterday, but in eastern Washington dry, sunny heat soared into the high 80s. And fans were treated to a desert sunset over the centerfield wall.
The Pirates and the WCCBL teams operate a little more like minor league teams. The look and feel is that of a single-A franchise. The Pirates motiff is carried out well. Every time a Moses Lake player scores, "You are a pirate" from Pirates of the Caribbean blasts from the excellent sound system. In fact the whole experience is highly produced thanks to the expertise of owners Brent and Amy Kirwan. Brent is a former broadcaster who calls the action while Amy ably works the music and effects. Fans yell, "aargh" when there is a strikeout.
I wonder how competitors like the River Hawks and nearby Applesox celebrate?
The two umpires were decked out in very tasteful Hawaiian shirts
The final score last night was 10-7 with Moses Lake taking its first win. The Pirates last season won the league and was ranked among the best summer collegiate teams in the country. DC Legg from the University of Utah homered in the fifth. And Moses Lake pitchers kept it scoreless until the 8th inning when they gave 7 runs. Moses Lake allowed Spokane's Logan Boyd (Oregon State) to come to the plate in the 9th inning as the would-be tying run. But Boyd grounded out to end the game.