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?

Carlos, Fritz And The Box

…Not the name of an band or a film that played at Cannes, just three unrelated ideas that aren’t quite enough for their own post.

I went into this latest round of playoff with clear rooting interests (Cards & Tigers) but no real passion behind it.

Then I heard someone mention something about Carlos Beltran that I’d never realized…

1999 Upper Deck SP Top Prospects Carlos Beltran

This is Beltran’s 4th time in the NLCS – the previous times were 2004 with Houston, 2006 with the Mets, and last year with the Cards – but he’s never made it to the World Series.  That’s a shame because he’s such a good player in general, and has outstanding postseason numbers… In 42 postseason games, he’s batting .333 with 16 HR and 34 RBI.

I always liked Beltran in his 6.5 years with the Mets, and never blamed him for any team failures. So I’ve decided I’m not rooting for the Tigers or Cardinals… I’m rooting for Carlos!  Do it for Beltran!

Moving right along…

A couple of weeks ago I shared this recently-acquired 1969 Fritz Peterson card:
1969 Topps Fritz Peterson

It wasn’t until I was removing the card from my want list and putting it in a binder that I noticed the cartoon on the back:
1969 Topps Fritz Peterson Back

I’ve got a thing for baseball players who also played hockey, so this caught my attention.  “A top hockey player at Chicago”?  What does that mean?

It took a fair amount of Googling to find out what the cartoon was referring to, but I eventually found a reference to his playing semi-pro hockey in Chicago. OK, well, that’s less interesting than the cartoon made it sound.

The more interesting hockey fact I found out was that back in 1972/73, Fritz did color commentary on radio broadcasts of the New York Raiders of the World Hockey Association.  If you’ve never heard of the Raiders, that’s because they only lasted the one season under that name, changed its name to the Golden Blades and ended up leaving New York just 20 games into that second season.  While it would seem like a given that any wanna-be major professional league would have a team in New York, it seems that nobody in New York wanted anything to do with the WHA.

I wasn’t sure if there’d be any hockey cards which featured either the Raiders or Golden Blades, but I found an image of a 1973/74 Quaker Oats WHA card:

1973-74 Quaker Oats WHA Wayne Rivers

For what it’s worth, there’s currently a professional rugby team called the New York Raiders.

…and I didn’t even know there was professional rugby in the U.S.

And finally…

This past weekend I had the somewhat rare opportunity to attend a show, and my biggest purchase was this:
2013 Topps Series 2 Hobby Box

This is the first wax box I’ve bought in 10 years. Usually by the time I get the opportunity to buy a box, I’d already bought enough packs and blasters to make it somewhat pointless to make a major purchase.

This summer I’d gotten so caught up in organizing and blogging that I’ve bought relatively few packs, and I figured that instead of trying to play catch-up with retail blasters, I’d take a different approach.

I gave some thought to buying a hand-collated Series 2 set when I realized – Well crap, nobody makes hand-collated sets anymore.

Wax packs are more fun anyway… and I got this hobby box for… um… $32?  $33?  Something like that.

There were other things of interest I got at the show, but I’ll save that stuff for another time.

…and why is it that, whenever I have a couple of “small” ideas that I combine to make one post, they always grow when I write them out?