Softball Notebook

The Softball Channel’s Fastpitch Blog

11 2009

Survivor

Will the NPF Return in 2010?

By SpartanIlliniCub
TSC Contributor

There has been a lot of recent speculation about the NPF in 2010.  The turbulence of last season, including the New England Riptide folding and the Washington Glory moving to Florida, along with this season’s announcement that the Thunder will likely cease operations have led to doubts that the NPF will continue into 2010.

To determine whether the NPF will exist in 2010 and in what form, I will examine the websites of each team and determine whether there are positive indications that the team will continue in 2010. 

Chicago Bandits

The Bandits will continue operations in 2010.  The main headline on their website is an announcement that Aaron Moore, formerly of the Rockford Thunder, was named the new GM.  The press release included a statement from Moore that “the Bandits are in a great place moving forward for 2010 and beyond.”  Other positive indications of continued existence are the Bandits countdown banner until the 2010 season, and a press release stating prices for 2010 season ticket packages.  Yet another positive indication is that the Bandits have 1,258 fans on their facebook fan page AND regular updates by the Bandits.

Will the Bandits be around in 2010?  YES

Rockford Thunder

As noted above, the Thunder will likely cease operations for the 2010 season.  It’s possible that a group of investors will rescue the team last minute, but that scenario is just slightly more likely than pigs flying.  The updates on the Rockford Thunder site cease around August 31, 2009, roughly the same date the Lowe’s announced they will no longer operate the team.  The Thunder facebook page only has 269 fans and its updates also cease around August 31, 2009.  However, the facebook page DOES have a splendid picture of the team dressed in Rockford Peaches uniforms.  You can just barely make out Cat Osterman in the middle of the top row.

Will the Thunder be around in 2010?  NO

Akron Racers

The Racers website has several news stories that point toward continued operations in 2010.  First, Crystl Bustos was named the Racers new field manager on October 21, 2009.  The Racers posted a link stating that the 2010 NPF Championship series will be held in Sulphur, Louisiana, and they have posted a Sales Manager job for the upcoming season.  The Racers have not created a facebook fan page that gives any additional hints, but the information on their web page is enough proof that they plan to stick around in 2010.

Will the Racers be around in 2010?  YES

Philadelphia Force

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the Force website that points toward a return in 2010.  The countdown clock has not been reset from last season, and there are no news updates that refer to next season–the most recent news post was a September announcement that pitcher Stacy Birk will be a pitching coach for Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL.  There is also no new ticket information for 2010.  It’s possible that the Force have not yet updated their site, but you would expect some indication of plans to continue in 2010 with only 6 months to go before the season begins.

Will the Force be around in 2010?  Undetermined.  Pointing toward NO.

USSSA Pride

The Pride have no news posted on their site since June, 2009.  The news that is posted relates to the 2009 championship series.  The most promising piece of information is a statement on their site that says “Thank you for a great season!  We’ll See You In 2010!”  But this message is broad and isn’t very helpful in determining whether the Pride plan to continue operations in 2010.  The USSSA Pride have no facebook fan page, but they do have a Twitter page.  However the last update was in June, 2009.  It’s possible that, like the Force, the Pride have not yet updated their site, but with zero updates 5 months after the season ended their return seems doubtful.

Will the Pride be around in 2010?  Undetermined.  Pointing toward NO.

Upon review of the website and other outlets of the 5 NPF teams, the only team with concrete plans to continue into 2010 is the Bandits, and only 1 other team, the Racers, have given indications that they plan to exist in 2010.  The Thunder’s bowing out combined with a lack of updates or indications from the Pride and Force are not positive signs.  With the economy in shambles and only marginal commercial success for the NPF last season, we have to presume the worst.  I think the NPF as we know it is finished.

What will the NPF look like in 2010?

My best guess is that only the Bandits and Racers will exist in 2010.  I suspect that, much like Eileen Canney did when the Riptide folded, the best players will flock to the remaining 2 teams and create two all-star type teams.  For example, the Bandits pitching lineup may feature Jennie Finch, Eileen Canney, Cat Osterman, and Kristina Thorson.  The Akron staff may feature Monica Abbott, Sarah Pauly, Angela Tincher, and Katie Burkhart.  The Bandits and Racers will probably operate much like Team USA did in the Bound 4 Beijing Tour, playing local teams and playing eachother a few times per year. 

Fans showed up to see fastpitch’s greatest stars, as Team USA, playing local teams.  Perhaps fans will show up to watch fastpitch’s greatest stars facing eachother as the Bandits and Racers.  The teams would be able to terminate long term contracts with individual stadiums and play  at other stadiums while paying the house a cut of the ticket receipts. 

I predict that the NPF will cease to exist in its 2009 form.  I believe that only the Bandits and Racers will survive, and that all the best players will join these teams.  The NPF will no longer be an independent league; it will more closely approximate an annual “NPF Tour.”


2 Responses to “Survivor”

  1. Cat Osterman just announced the Thunder will be moving to Atlanta for 2010. This revelation throws a wrench into my conclusion in the short term, but not in the long term. I still think the NPF will eventually switch to more of a tour-based format. However, my prediction might not fully come into form in 2010. But rest assured the future is in the tour!

  2. You were certainly correct about the Philly Force. The team will not return for the 2010 season.

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