I’ve been writing for Baseball Prospectus’ Short Relief for a little over a year now. Unfortunately, Short Relief is being shuttered this week. I think the writing that took place for Short Relief is very important. To that end, I’m going to continue the same sort of Short Relief articles on this site. Usually less than 500 words, never following a specific format, but more esoteric and opinion than research or news-based. Either way, this is the first edition of the new Short Relief, Three Batter Minimum. I hope you can dig in and enjoy.
All sports are about community, it’s why they can so easily be perverted to something they weren’t intended to be. Politics are intertwined because of the communal aspect of sports. Teams, and leagues, come and go because of how important the community is to the survival of a team or league. No matter what one may think about sports, good or bad, community is at the heart of the sports world. I’d go so far as to say that community is the beating heart of sports.
A story like the one coming out of Florence, Kentucky occurs precisely because of community. The Florence Freedom are rebranding themselves as the Florence Y’alls. The short version of the story is that in 1974 a mall was scheduled to be built in Florence. A water tower adjacent to the mall read, simply, Florence Mall. Some residents of Florence were concerned about the water tower saying this without the mall actually existing yet. In a compromise, it was decided to change the M in mall to a Y and have the sign say Florence Y’all. From this simple act, the Florence Mall ended up being a smashing success and Florence took on the y’all identity willingly.
Florence has had some version of an independent professional baseball team since 1994 and the fans have largely embraced their team. The change to the Y’alls shouts loud and clear, “We are Florence.” Baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, is tied into the aforementioned idea of community. The management of the Florence franchise making this decision are doing it to make more money, but they are also no doubt enacting this change to further tap into the local community of Florence itself. There’s nothing wrong with making more money while better embracing the community you have been a part of for years.
As the Freedom Florence has come up just short on obtaining a Frontier League title the past couple of seasons. Perhaps the Y’alls will be able to win it all in 2020 and really drive this story home. No matter how the Y’alls do in 2020, or in the following seasons, the baseball community in Florence feels richer thanks to the name change. A healthy heart is what everyone wants, Florence has a particularly strong heart right now and you just love to see it.
Lead photo courtesy of Allen Burt – flickr