(Long Island, N.Y.) For an organization that expects to qualify for the postseason every year, missing out on two separate chances is an alarming occurrence. The Long Island Ducks failed to win the division in either half in 2010 and manager Dave LaPoint paid for it with his job.
Known as ‘Pointer,’ the former Yankee pitcher had spent three years as Ducks manager (2007, 2008, 2010) and served on the coaching staff prior to that. He also spent a campaign as the field boss of the Bridgeport Bluefish and earned the 2006 Atlantic League Manager of the Year Award.
“We appreciate Dave’s efforts and professionalism during his years as a Duck,” said general manager Michael Pfaff. “At this time, however, we thought it best for the organization to move in a new direction.”
That direction led to Kevin Baez, the former Duck player and coach. “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity,” he said. “The fans of Long Island can look forward to seeing a strong ballclub on the field next year.”
This will be Baez’s seventh year with the Ducks, and he also played for the Mets. The former infielder played a total of 63 games in the major leagues and 1,750 in the minors.
LaPoint will be missed and was very popular with the fans of Suffolk County. His career managerial record on Long Island was 213-191, but he was 0-4 in the postseason. The Ducks were a playoff team from 2004 to 2009 and had four first place finishes during that span. This is a team that expects to win – year in and year out. Even someone as beloved as LaPoint is expendable when it comes to making a move with a return to the playoffs in mind.
The Ducks have been a team of continuity since their inaugural season in 2000 when Buddy Harrelson managed them. Don McCormack was on the staff and was named manager as Harrelson – also a part owner of the team – took over first base coaching duties at home games. ‘Mac’ remained as field boss for five years and was in charge during the Ducks’ only championship in 2004. LaPoint was his pitching coach since 2002 for four seasons before he took over in Connecticut. In 2007, LaPoint returned to Long Island as manager and McCormack stayed on as bench coach. LaPoint remained with the team when Gary Carter was named manager in 2009 and then was promoted again a year later. That trend continues with the naming of Baez.
The Ducks have led the Atlantic League in attendance 11 consecutive seasons and regardless of who gets the job, they should be able to continue that trend. The Suffolk County Sports Park (formerly EAB and Citibank Park) is at or over capacity most games and the fans have been supportive of everyone who puts on the uniform. But it is still a business and winning is a major part of it being a successful one.
There have been too many dates to count where the Ducks are over their seating capacity of 6,002. On July 3, 2009, they set a team attendance record when 7,308 fans witnessed a 12-5 win over Bridgeport.
Hopefully Beaz will experience successful times such as that more often than not.