OMNI Early September 2018
It’s only been a few days since the last OMNI, but there are too many stories unfolding too quickly. I’d rather get some of these out of the way now, and then focus on PDC news later this month.
We have a new team identity. When the Mobile BayBears move to Madison, Alabama in time for the 2020 season, the team will be called the Rocket City Trash Pandas. I can’t say that I’m thrilled about the name, but it certainly fits in with the minor league branding zeitgeist. I feel that if the name was going to be Trash Pandas, it would’ve been better as the North Alabama Trash Pandas, which sort of rhymes and is funny in a self-deprecating sort of way. I’m not a big fan of city nickname place names, and this one, along with Down East, reflect the whimsical branding trend that is sweeping the minors these days. Let’s pour one out for the Space Chimps and make a wish that no other team ever decides to have a separate vote for place name and nickname. The two need to match, people!
In more important news, it sounds like there are some loud rumblings about affiliated baseball returning to Wichita, Kansas. MLG has covered this before, but the latest rumors are kind of nuts: Wichita is poised to land a Triple-A team. I first heard this rumor from a random person on a message board earlier this summer, and I hadn’t considered the possibility of a non-Texas League team landing in Wichita. When that person mentioned Triple-A, I thought that maybe the Tacoma Rainiers would be a top possibility. But now, we have this–from the Ballpark Digest report: “word is that the city has reached an agreement with a Class AAA Pacific Coast League team to move there. As part of the move, the PCL ownership group would buy an existing Class AA Southern League team and move it to their present market. It sounds like the arrangements on the MiLB side are close to final…“
That is absolutely bonkers. If that is true, it means that the relocating team would have to be a PCL team that plays in the footprint of the Southern League. When I heard this news yesterday, I thought that it could only be two possible teams: the Memphis Redbirds and New Orleans Baby Cakes, with New Orleans being the most likely candidate. Indeed, that seems to be the case. This is big news, but won’t be too earth shattering for the minors. New Orleans is certainly a Triple-A caliber market, but their stadium is over 20 years old and their attendance draws play better as a Double-A team. Plus, they would be geographically comfortable with nearby Biloxi, Pensacola, etc. nearby in the north Gulf Coast. Of course, the other big question is: which Southern League team would be moving to New Orleans? Process of elimination is fairly easy in the SL, and the only team that I can conceive of moving is the Jackson Generals. I think I need to add them (and the Baby Cakes) to my Endangered Teams list.
Speaking of that list, I have a bunch of updates to make. Since the minor league season is over, five teams need to be moved to the Extinct section, where they will sit as they await entry into the DIA. On the other side of the spectrum, I think I can move the Beloit Snappers off the list, as it sounds like a new stadium is likely. Another change that I’ll make is moving the Batavia Muckdogs from Vulnerable to Endangered. One well-connected writer hears that there are a rumors of the team being bought up and moved into vacated McCoy Stadium in Pawucket. If that happened, and the Lowell Spinners were pushed out of an affiliation with the Red Sox, it would certainly hurt Lowell’s brand. Even though that writer thinks that would spell doom for the Spinners, I don’t yet see an reason to add them to the Endangered list.
Hopefully I won’t need to do another update before PDC season wraps up, but I can’t make any promises, given all the big developments lately. Thanks for reading!