OMNI April 2019
There hasn’t been too much new content added to Minor League Geek since February, but you may have have noticed a few changes to the overall structure of the site. I’ve been laying the groundwork for some more ambitious work as the MLG evolution continues outside of public view.
There was a slow but reasonably steady trickle of minor league happenings in the last two months. Let’s break it down.
New Name News
The Potomac Nationals are moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia next year. We’ve known this for a while, but it was unclear if they’d be keeping the regional Potomac place-name and Nats COTOB, or just hitting the reset button. Now we have our answer. The P-Nats will be defunct at the end of the current season. Look for the usual list of possibilities to pop up some time this summer. In the meantime, I like the way they chopped up the Potomac P into a Fredericksburg F.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Tigers of Norwich, CT are getting a new name for 2020 as well. The New York-Penn league club kept the COTOB identity when they moved from Oneonta about ten years ago, and apparent inertia has kept them the Tigers. It’ll be interesting if ditch the whole-state place name and go with Norwich. The name-change could also presage a change in parent club–the PDC with Detroit expires after 2020. We’ll see.
These two name changes (along with last year’s loss of the Helena Brewers and placeholder Buies Creek Astros) shrink the list of total COTOBs even smaller. About a year ago, I did this study and it looks like we are definitely moving ever more to the unique side. Others that I could see changing the next few years: St. Lucie Mets, Staten Island Yankees, Grand Junction Rockies, etc. It’ll be interesting to watch.
It looks like I’ll have to do some updating to the Endangered Teams list. Yikes!
There is word that a group is interested in buying the Orem Owlz and moving them to Edmonton, Alberta. As great as it would be to see Edmonton back in the ranks of affiliated ball, the travel distance in the Pioneer League would be nuts. Colorado Springs has already stretched the league’s footprint, but in the other direction. This one seems pipe dreamy at best, so I’ll just keep the Owlz as merely Endangered–the spot they’ve been since the Pueblo deal fell apart.
More serious news comes 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. So even though a move looks imminent, the Fire Frog identity is not going to be Critically Endangered. Just Endangered for now.
In Pawtucket, the city is fielding offers for use of storied McCoy Stadium once the PawSox bolt for Worcester. One of these offers (perhaps the most likely) is for an indy Atlantic League team to move into the old park. Another offer is for an undisclosed New York-Penn League team to bop on over to the Ocean State. People in Lowell, Massachusetts have been freaking out about the Spinners leaving for quite a while, but ownership is adamant that the team is staying put. Those could be cheap words, but other NY-Penn teams are probably more likely to move. The linked article mentions two of the league’s teams for sale. I know one is Batavia and I think the other is Auburn. Something to watch, but if I’m putting money on it, the Atlantic League has the inside track and could scoop up the Pawtucket market like they did with New Britain. Without major league parent club pressure, indy clubs are more willing to play in run-down stadiums and there would be no territorial-right hoops to jump through. But who knows? Are the Pawtucket Muckdogs on the horizon?
The Jackson Generals are looking for an extension on their lease of the former Pringles Park. The one thing that makes this worth watching is that if the extension is denied, it increases the already fairly high chance that it will be the Generals who will move into New Orleans and take up the Baby Cake mantle once the Triple-A franchise moves to Wichita.
This is a drawn-out saga, but there is ever more pressure put on the Beloit Snappers to either build a stadium or get out of dodge. This one really feels like it could go either way, but that’s been the case for several years now. Similar story with the Hagerstown Suns, who might be staying put after all.
Odds and Sods
Usually I don’t spend much time talking about the indy leagues, but it is worth noting that Miles Wolff has stepped down as commissioner of the American Association. Joshua Schaub is the new commish, but that’s not the story. Instead it is just another chapter in the life of a minor league legend.
Likewise, I usually don’t find much to say about the summer collegiate wood bat leagues, but this is pretty awesome. The Battle Creek Bombers of the Northwoods League are going to play as the Michigan Battle Cats this summer. The old Battle Cats franchise is now the Great Lakes Loons, and I wonder if the Bombers had to get some clearance for this promo. Either way, pretty dang cool.
OK, this one is nuts. I’ve often thought about how odd it is that when the Southern League’s former West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (of Jackson, TN) changed their name, they took on a straight copy of the former Texas League club in Jackson, Mississippi. But now, we will see the two teams square off…sorta. The Mississippi Braves play in Pearl, MS, a suburb of Jackson, and they apparently got permission to throw back to the Jackson Generals. On June 28, the Tennessee team is visiting Pearl and the M-Braves are going to be wearing the old Generals uniforms that we haven’t seen since 1999. The old Generals franchise is now the Corpus Christi Hooks, and it’s not lost on me how odd it is that the M-Braves of the Southern League are throwing back to an old Texas League identity. I’ll put this on my calendar and try to get some images for the next OMNI.
Nowadays, it seems like every spring we are bombarded with minor league promos. I think it’s healthy for the game, but I’m getting so sick of Star Wars nights and food-based alter egos and even the Copa la Diversión promos are getting old. But every year, there are a few wonderfully creative ones. Jackson Generals vs Jackson Generals takes the cake, but nothing made me laugh more than the Charleston RiverDogs announcing that they will be playing a game as the Moops. Seinfeld fans will get the reference, but even if you don’t, the Trivial Pursuit-based uniforms with “bubble boy” font are simply amazing.
See you in June.