This is the inaugural edition of what may become a regular feature on Minor League Geek. I call it the Occasional Minor News Informational, or OMNI. The basic idea is an update of important (or potentially important) news and events in the MiLB world. Since the site has not gone public yet, if you are reading this, I either know you (hi, Leo) or you have accessed it via the MLG archives.
After bouncing this idea around for the past several years, I finally took the plunge in December and purchased the Minor League Geek domain and began building the site. It has gone much better than I thought it would, and I’ve had a good time putting together something to be proud of. My plan all along has been to have the core of the site be the Defunct Identity Archive, and thus far, I’ve done about ten or so teams. This process has been more labor-intensive than I was expecting, but I’m also holding myself to a higher standard of quality than I was expecting. I’ve also been able to do the cap/logo posters and a few other odds and ends on the site.
Extra! Extra! Red All About It
We have a new team! Though it took several months of lease negotiations, the Greeneville Reds were finally formally announced. We knew the MLB Reds purchased the team from the Astros in the fall, so it was just a matter of time. Like others online, I predicted that the team would use a “wishbone-C” Reds logo with the tongue added to make it a G. It was actually jarring to see it introduced because it was such an obvious choice. An additional pleasant surprise was the Mr. Redlegs with a coonskin cap. That is beautiful. Hats off to the Greeneville Reds!
In Ben Hill’s most recent edition of his excellent Batting Around series, he touched on a few newsworthy topics and rumors. We’ll save the rumors for later, but the news topics he mentioned in particular have to do with the futures of the Batavia Muckdogs and Pawtucket Red Sox. Though both are facing concerns, their situations are quite different.
The Muckdogs are simply an endangered team at this point. Going back in time to late 2012/early 2013, Batavia was considered a prime candidate for relocation to what would later be revealed to be West Virginia. The Jamestown Jammers ended up being the Black Bears, and since then, the Muckdogs have been the low draw in the NY-Penn League. The team is now owned and controlled by the NY-Penn League, so it’s merely a matter of time before they are moved to some new market.
In the case of the PawSox, the issue is the ballpark. McCoy Stadium is old and there have relocation rumors for years now–at one time, it was Providence, but lately, it’s been Worcester, Mass. Latest news suggests that a new ballpark would be built in Pawtucket. My feeling is that if they are going to replace historic McCoy (site of pro baseball’s longest game) then Pawtucket becomes less important to cling onto as a Triple-A market. I hope they hold on, but if they do move to somewhere else in Boston’s footprint, it would be OK, too.
This may not be official news, but the Mobile BayBears were sold to a group that is expected to move them to Madison, Alabama, in the same region that the Huntsville Stars recently occupied. The BayBears have struggled for years to fill seats, so it’s not all that surprising. Perhaps Hank Aaron Stadium will be used by a new independent or summer collegiate league team. It’s a little bit of a bummer that the Gulf Coast Biloxi-Mobile-Pensacola connection will be broken up, but Northern Alabama belongs in the Southern League too. It sounds like the team will be Mobile for the next two seasons.
In naming news, New York governor Andrew Cuomo spilled the beans that apparently the Syracuse Chiefs will be renamed to the Syracuse Mets for the 2019 season. Apparently, this was a faux pas on the governor’s part, because Syracuse’s GM immediately backtracked on the news. The GM did state that the team would change their name, however, so either way–the Chiefs will be added to the DIA after this season.
On the whimsical side, the iconic Hickory Crawdads announced that they would be changing their name to the Crawmoms for Mother’s Day this year. It’s creative promos like these that help me tolerate the boilerplate Star Wars/regional food/nostalgic promos that every team trots out these days. Let’s give the Crawdads a round of aclaws!
After 23 seasons in charge, Appalachian League president Lee Landers will retire after this season, though he will be around as President Emeritus. It remains to be seen if his replacement, Dan Moushon, will stir the pot much in the notoriously conservative Appy League. We haven’t had a unique identity in the league since the River City Rumblers in 1995. Could change be on the horizon? I probably shouldn’t start unfounded rumors.
No Matter Wichita Way You Go
For half a year, Jeff Longwell, the mayor of Wichita, Kansas has been declaring that the city will get affiliated minor league baseball once again. Though the city was well in the running for the to-be-relocated San Antonio Missions, they lost out to Amarillo. In December, he said that an announcement will come after the Winter Meetings. That didn’t happen.
Wichita is in a tricky place (literally) when it comes to affiliated ball. In the past, there have been teams (Aeros, Wranglers, et al) that have played in the Texas League, and that is comfortably the most suitable location for the city. The Southern League would be major stretch as would the Midwest League. The Pacific Coast League could be an option, but there don’t seem to be any likely relocation candidates for Wichita at the Triple-A level. My best guess is that Longwell had been in communication with the sellers of the Mobile BayBears of the Southern League.
If so, it would come as little surprise that no announcement was made in December, because as mentioned above, the BayBears are likely moving to Northern Alabama. This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems that the two stories could be interconnected. What other team would Longwell have been talking about? The geography may have been a sticking point against Wichita, as mentioned earlier. Unless the Southern League would have “traded” Wichita to the Texas League for, say, the Arkansas Travelers. Or if the two leagues merged and once again became the Dixie Association.
OK, I’m far enough into the weeds to call this the end of the first OMNI. Thanks for reading.