This page is a continually-updating list of teams or team identities (see: 3 of 4 Rule) that are currently threatened in some way. This is a way to track existing team identities on their march to the DIA. To make it fun, I’ll use the conservation-status designations used for threatened species of animals: critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.
This is merely an attempt to keep tabs on these teams, but there will always be surprises. Oftentimes, especially in the case of rebranding, there is no advance warning or rumors surrounding an identity’s demise. The Tampa Yankees‘ identity, for instance, went belly up abruptly and unexpectedly, and never would have appeared on any portion of this list.
Note: if looking for sources/links to the stories mentioned, please refer to the latest versions of the OMNI by visiting the OMNI archives.
Those we lost in 2019. Find their entry in the DIA.
Fort Myers Miracle
New Orleans Baby Cakes
***2020 PBA note: The in-negotiation Professional Baseball Agreement holds the possibility of up to 42 teams being removed from the affiliated minor leagues. Before the news broke in Fall 2019, many of these rumored teams were already listed here on this page. But I am not planning to add in all the other teams, as it seems foolish to chase rumors. In all likelihood, I will not be making any major changes to this Endangered Teams page until an official announcement is released. For 2020 PBA coverage, check out these articles. For now, here’s basically how this page looked prior to the PBA talk.
Barring a miraculous turn of events, these team identities will become extinct within the next few years.
Pawtucket Red Sox (threat: relocation/rebranding)
After years of speculation, it’s finally happening. The PawSox are moving to Worcester, MA. The opening of the new park is slated for 2021. While that gives some time for snags and miraculous happenings, this appears to be a done deal. The “WooSox” are expected to keep much of the team’s current branding, but at the very least, the geography and place name will be changing. Thus, we will have a new identity.
These team identities have a strong likelihood of phasing out within the next few years, though there are factors that could lead to the identity being maintained.
Batavia Muckdogs (threat: relocation)
Ever since the Jamestown Jammers moved to West Virginia, the Muckdogs have been the prime target for relocation in the New York-Penn League. Add in the fact that they are now owned by the league itself, and all it will likely take is an interested and willing party to buy the team in order for them to relocate. This is particularly likely in the NY-Penn, where the geography has been stretched far enough to field teams from Ohio to Maryland to Massachusetts to Vermont. Somewhere in that wide and densely-populated footprint, there is a city that will want a team. If/when that happens, the Muckdogs identity is all but guaranteed to bark its last bark. Things could change, and the Muckdogs could be sold to local owners who get a new stadium built. It’s possible–I just wouldn’t bet on it. I predict that 2019 will be the last season of the Batavia Muckdogs, give or take a year, and there’s a decent chance that they land in McCoy Stadium in to-be-vacated Pawtucket, RI.
Orem Owlz (threat: relocation)
This team was slated to relocate to Pueblo, Colorado, but then that deal fell apart. Still, we now know that their owner is keen to relocate, so I expect that he will be looking for another city to send the Owlz. There is word that a group is interested in buying the Orem Owlz and moving them to Edmonton, Alberta, but that’s a pipe dream at this point.
Team identities that have cause for concern, but do not necessarily face imminent threats.
Jackson Generals (threat: relocation)
As of this writing, this pick is based more on speculation than anything else. When the PCL’s New Orleans franchise moves to Wichita, Kansas, there will likely be a Southern League team moving to New Orleans. I’ve been surprised before, but as far as I can tell, the Jackson Generals are the most likely suspect. This is one to keep tabs on. NOLA may not have affiliated ball for a year or two after the Baby Cakes leave.
St. Lucie Mets (threat: relocation)
The New York Mets have made some noise about leaving St. Lucie and find a new home for spring training if the city won’t pony up the right amount of funds. This could be some extortion bluster designed to get the shovels in the ground faster, but it’s something to keep an eye on. If the Mets left St. Lucie, that would spell the end of the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets.
Florida Fire Frogs (threat: rebranding due to relocation)
More news out of the Florida State League, with Osceola County squashing their lease with the Florida Fire Frogs after this season. The Fire Frogs are owned by the Atlanta Braves, who are well-known for strong-arming municipalities into meeting their needs. The County will fork over half a million dollars, and the Braves will be free to move the Frogs elsewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team move into Atlanta’s new spring training complex in North Port, FL. If or when that move happens, I assume that the recently-branded club will keep its nickname, logos, etc., but will they change their place name? Florida Fire Frogs works anywhere in the state, and maybe that’s why the Braves picked it in the first place. If they do move and keep the name and brand elements, they would have identity continuity with the 3 of 4 Rule, but it would be pushing the limits of the definition–sort of a South Georgia Waves situation.
Staten Island Yankees (threat: rebranding)
The SI Yanks have seen attendance and fan interest dwindle year-to-year, and this is a bit of surprise considering their market size and connection to massive local parent club fanbase. A few years ago, the team announced that they would change their name/identity, but then abandoned the idea. It now appears that this was more of a postponement of the inevitable name change, and the publicity they garnered from their one-off as the Staten Island Pizza Rats in 2018 may be enough to push the topic.
Auburn Doubledays (threat: relocation)
This kind of information is not necessarily public, but I’m pretty sure that the Auburn Doubledays are still on the market. There were some upgrades made to the stadium a few years back, and there’s a chance that someone will buy and keep them in Auburn. But at the same time, Auburn is another mid-size Upstate New York city, like the Jamestowns, Oneontas, and Uticas of the world. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see those stadium upgrades enjoyed by a summer collegiate team.
Hagerstown Suns (threat: relocation)
The Suns have been expected to move for so many years that maybe the inertia itself will keep them in Hagerstown in perpetuity. Their current lease expires in 2018, but there isn’t any new news here. The team will languish as “vulnerable” unless we get some more news one way or the other.
Erie SeaWolves (threat: relocation)
There hasn’t been worrisome news for SeaWolves fans for a few years, but I throw them on here because they are the most vulnerable of Eastern League teams. They were close to moving to Ottawa six years ago, and their situation hasn’t improved since. They are the perennial low draw in the EL, and their stadium isn’t getting younger. Of course, if the SeaWolves did move, the clock would begin ticking for the team to resume their more appropriate station in the New York-Penn League. If they kept the same brand, they would be the rare yo-yo identity.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (threat: relocation)
In their waning years as the B-Mets, Binghamton was even more vulnerable than Erie. They were close to moving to Wilmington, Delaware at one point. But then two things happened to improve their stock: 1. they rebranded, shooting up with publicity and merch sales, and 2. they had Tim Tebow on their roster for a season. But are any of these things enough to ensure that Binghamton is a viable Eastern League franchise in the long term? We’ll see how it looks in a few years. Of course, like Erie, Binghamton could find a new home in the NY-Penn, and bring the Rumble Ponies identity with them.