Of Moose And Mets

No, this isn’t about a baseball-themed episode of “The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle”. Rather, it’s about a pair of recent minor league developments which I thought some of you might find as interesting as I do.

First off, I was very happy to hear about the return of the Manitoba Moose hockey team, even though their home base in Winnipeg is over 1500 miles from where I live. What can I say; I just love the name and the original logo, which dates back to when they were the Minnesota Moose playing in the IHL. I’ve even owned two different Moose sweatshirts, one of which is still in my wardrobe.

Manitoba Moose logo from my sweatshirt

Manitoba Moose logo from my sweatshirt (Carefully cropped to edit out the need for a “stain stick”)

When the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, the Moose moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland. After a couple of years of this arrangement, Jets management decided that having their top farm team playing in easternmost Canada (6 hours by plane) wasn’t cutting it, so they moved the team back and restored the Moose name. They don’t seem to be bringing back the cartoony logo that I favor, but that’s fine… I’m happy just knowing that the Moose is loose!

The other minor league news of interest involves Federal mediation of a dispute over the sale of the Mets’ AA team in Binghamton, NY. (Don’t worry, fans of the parent club… While this is an interesting story, it involves neither numbskullery nor devious behavior by anyone named “Wilpon”.)

2000 Blueline Binghamton Mets Ty Wigginton

2000 Blueline B-Mets team set

The Binghamton Mets are owned by a local group and routinely finishes near the bottom of the Eastern League in attendance, even last year when a very good B-Mets team won the league championship.

Back last fall, the B-Mets signed a Letter Of Intent with Main Street Baseball, a group that owns several minor league teams including the High-A Carolina League Wilmington Blue Rocks. Main Street’s intentions are to move the B-Mets to Wilmington, DE, essentially upgrading the Blue Rocks to a Double-A team. After the LOI was signed, Main Street conditionally sold the Single-A team to the Texas Rangers (who would move it to Kinston, NC), got approval from the Philadelphia Phillies (who have the right to deny any classification upgrade within their market) and started planning upgrades needed to bring Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium up to AA standards.

2002 Choice Binghamton Mets Heath Bell

2002 Choice B-Mets team set

The B-Mets allowed the six month period specified in the LOI to expire and then two days later announced that they had signed a LOI with another buyer for the team.  Main Street then filed an injunction against the B-Mets saying that Main Street had fulfilled all of the terms of the LOI, that the B-Mets were not negotiating in good faith and could not have entered into a legal agreement with another buyer that quickly without violating the terms of the first LOI.

A U.S. District Court Judge agreed that there were serious questions raised by Main Street and urged the sides to resolve this via mediation.  The sides agreed, and that’s where it currently stands.

So if it works out that Main Street does buy the B-Mets and move them to Delaware, what would be the fallout?

For New York Mets fans, their AA team would switch to Wilmington in 2016 and likely will be called the Blue Rocks… that name has been established in Delaware for over 20 years, I can’t see them throwing that away.

1994 Classic Johnny Damon

1994 Classic Johnny Damon

Several teams in the Eastern League would benefit, because it would bring the Mets affiliate within a 100 mile drive of natural rivals such as Trenton (Yankees), Reading (Phillies), Harrisburg (Nationals) and Bowie (Orioles).

The Texas Rangers would own their own Carolina League team and would be able to kiss the California League goodbye… I’m not sure how this pans out for the near future, because the A-ball Blue Rocks have an agreement with the Royals and the Rangers currently have a PDA with the High Desert Mavericks which runs through the 2016 season.

Kinston would get a team again after having lost their Carolina League team several years ago. I’ve never been to Kinston, but it seems like a nice town with a nice, old ballpark, and for them to get a team again would be… well… nice. (Frank Burns: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice!”; Margaret: “Don’t be a simp, Frank”.)

Finally, the B-Mets ownership has a lease with the City of Binghamton, but it doesn’t specify that NYSEG Stadium has to house a Double-A team. I would guess that they would bring in a team from the short-season New York-Penn League, and I’d bet a Donruss jumbo pack that the team would be the Batavia Muckdogs, who have averaged fewer than 1000 fans per game for the past three years.

1998 Blueline Binghamton Mets John Gibbons

1998 Blueline B-Mets team set

The baseball fans of Binghamton would suffer the greatest hurt, as they have been promised for years that the team is not for sale, and the lawsuit indicates that this has not been the case for at least four years.

As with the Manitoba Moose, this doesn’t affect me to any significant degree… but the business of sports intrigues me and I wanted to share the story.

How about you?  Are you affected by any of these changes?  Are you happy or upset about the potential fallout?

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