So ... what's up with the Albany Quails?

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

The Peach State League independent minor-league baseball organization will play its first-ever game -- in its first-ever season -- tonight when the Macon Pinetoppers host the Warner Robins Aviators at 6 p.m.

But what about the Albany Quails -- the PSL's fourth and final team it added to the fold earlier this year?

It's a great question.

Unfortunately, however, I do not have an equally great answer to give all those Southwest Georgia baseball fans who have flooded us with calls and e-mails the past two weeks wondering:

1) What's the Quails' schedule?

2) How many games will be at home?

3) Who are the team's players?

4) Have they hired the manager and coaching staff?

5) And where can I buy tickets?

But here at The Herald -- one of the conduits between the team and the public -- we're not alone in being left somewhat in the dark about the Quails, who are Albany's latest attempt to host a minor-league franchise after a number of successes and failures in recent years.

Suzanne Davis, the Director of the Albany Recreation and Parks Department who has spearheaded the push to bring professional baseball back to area, was also unsure where things stood when reached by The Herald on Friday afternoon.

"I haven't heard anything," she lamented before vowing to make a call after we hung up to PSL co-founder and owner Bill Larsen.

So how'd that phone call go?

"He just said that right now they're focusing on trying to get ready for (tonight's) season opener and that's it," Davis said. "He said he'd call me Monday."

And while that news is ambiguous, at best, it's better than what The Herald and other media outlets have been able to get from the league. Repeated phone calls to the Peach State headquarters and messages left for Larsen have gone unreturned for more than two weeks now, including a call Friday. And to compound the situation, there's conflicting news about where the Quails stand.

Last month, PSL officials came to Albany to iron out the final details of the Quails' franchise, set the schedule and strike a deal with the city. At the time, the plan was for the Quails to play a shortened, 15-game season -- all at Paul Eames Park -- because the PSL wanted to first gauge the interest and community support for the team in 2010 before deciding whether to make them a full-time member in 2011. That line of thinking is certainly understandable on the PSL's part, considering the last four leagues in Southwest Georgia have opened up shop, only to shut down no longer than a few years later in each case. The most recent, as many know, was the South Coast League, which started play in 2007 -- saw the South Georgia Peanuts win the inaugural SCL title -- then promptly folded a year later, leaving everyone from local businesses, to players, coaches, front-office staff and fans high and dry.

But here we are today: The PSL is opening its season and the Quails have no schedule, no manager, no coaching staff and no players to speak of -- or at least no information regarding any of those topics that the PSL is sharing with the media. Furthermore, the league's web site curiously stated in a press release last week -- when it unveiled the Quails' logo (a sure sign they're playing, right?) -- that all four PSL teams would not only play a 42-game season, but "all games will take place at Macon's historic Luther Williams Field."

Wait ... what? I'm confused.

Then there's this: According to the only schedule the PSL has released (which was for the Pinetoppers), the Quails open the season on the road a week from today at Macon. Although, after just 30 players were signed at the PSL's first -- and only -- tryout two weeks ago, it's not clear who, exactly, will be taking the field. Thirty players is barely enough to fill out the rosters of the two teams in tonight's season opener.

Albany City Manager Alfred Lott has made it clear that a strong first impression would be the key to this latest organization's success in Southwest Georgia.

"We're looking forward to it and I hope (the Quails) get a good reception," Lott told The Herald last month. "And I hope they market themselves effectively and have a stand-up reputation."

I agree with Lott on all those points.

But while minor-league baseball would be a great addition to the area sports scene, the reality is this: Thus far, it's been an inauspicious start.

So what happens from here?

That's another great question.

And let's just hope by next week, we'll actually have an answer.