OMNI October 2018
I’ve noticed a trend. Whenever I do one of these OMNI updates, something newsworthy happens right afterward. Since things have been pretty quiet since the last update, I better publish this one so that I’ll have some new material for the next.
PDC Review Part II
I think it was a day after I did my last OMNI that the PDC season resolved itself completely. In that last update, I covered the changes at Triple-A and the short season levels, so that leaves Double-A and Single-A.
Let’s start with some action in the Southern League. It was a very quiet year for Double-A overall, but two pairs of teams swapped affiliates. Or swapped parent clubs, depending on how you look at it.
The Chattanooga Lookouts linked up with the Cincinnati Reds, who they were affiliated with from 1988-2008. This is particularly satisfying to me because I grew up seeing baseball cards with guys like Reggie Sanders for the Lookouts and always associating their red C with Cincy’s red C. It was weird for me to accept them as a Dodgers affiliate, let alone a Twins affiliate. Something has been put right in the world.
Speaking of the Twins, they are now the proud parent club of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Wahoos were reportedly entertaining a few suitors after breaking with the Reds, and ultimately chose Minnesota. This is what you might call a neutral arrangement, where both affiliate and parent club are like, “sure, why not?” One potential benefit for the Twins is that it will be a bit easier to shuttle their High-A players up the Gulf Coast from their Florida State League affiliate in Fort Myers. I could see this being a good long-term partnership.
Meanwhile, the Padres will be continuing on with the former San Antonio Missions franchise that is relocating to Amarillo. As of this writing, we still don’t know for sure if they’ll be the Sod Poodles or Boot Scooters or whatever, but we do know that San Diego prospects will be stocking the roster. This move is satisfying to me for two reasons. One is that this will give the Padres a neat little minor league colony in West Texas. I like it when teams do this–somewhat similar to what the Twins now have in Florida or what the White Sox have in North Carolina. The second reason is that Amarillo’s old Texas League team, the wonderfully-named Gold Sox, were a Padres affiliate. In fact, Tony Gwynn paid some dues in the Pandhandle.
Suffice it to say: good moves all around in Double-A. Now let’s jump to Single-A Full Season (a.k.a. Low-A) with some moves in the Midwest and South Atlantic Leagues. Things didn’t quite go so smoothly at this level.
First off, we had the announcement that the Clinton LumberKings and Miami Marlins had forged a bond. I was mildly disappointed, because I had grown accustomed to Clinton with Seattle and Miami with the Greensboro Grasshoppers. But still, it was no real big deal, and would have been fine had the Mariners and Grasshoppers linked up. But alas, this was not meant to be.
That grasshopper is wearing an eyepatch because…what?!…the Pirates signed on with Greensboro. While I have no inherent objections to this arrangement (besides having to break my Grasshoppers/Marlins association) the real stomach-churner is who the Pirates left behind in the coal mine–the West Virginia Power.
The Power were such a Pirates affiliate. Playing in the extended Pittsburgh market, in a mini-colony with the West Virginia Black Bears. Having yellow and black as team colors, and an alternate logo with a pirate motif. How. Could. This. Happen?
The Power and the Mariners were the last two at the dance, so now we have to get used to this confounding set-up. It seems that something like this happens every PDC season and it certainly keeps me on my toes.
And that’s that for PDC season. I thought there was a decent chance that the White Sox and Kane County Cougars would affiliate, but as it turned out, Arizona and Chicago both just let the clock run out and their affiliations renewed by default.
So be it. A pretty interesting shuffle overall. We’ll see what’s up again in September 2020.
Meet the S-Mets!
Meanwhile, we had our first (of five) expected new identities unveiled. It turns out that Andrew Cuomo spilled the beans correctly last winter. The International League’s Syracuse franchise dropped the Chiefs identity and went with a COTOB brand, based off the New York Mets. The Mets had purchased the franchise about a year ago, but Syracuse had one more year on their PDC with the Nationals. That expired in September, and the Mets were free to not only affiliate with their holding, but to mold them in their image.
The new visual brand seems surprisingly basic, even for a COTOB brand. I’m not sure if they did the designing in-house or used an outside agency, but it all looks like something that could be slapped together in a half hour using Microsoft Paint. The primary logo is the state shape of New York, with the team name rendered in Mets fonts. Cap logos are simply the letter S in the same font. Uniforms are very similar to New York’s.
I can’t help but notice how similar this color scheme is to the University of Syracuse’s. That home cap in particular looks like something you’d see fans of the “Orange” wearing at basketball games. It’s all certainly against the grain in the current era of minor league branding.
I can’t say that I have strong feelings about this identity change. It seems that many people on the internet are upset about it, primarily due to the historic Chiefs brand being shelved. There’s certainly a case to be made here, considering that teams called the Syracuse Chiefs played a whopping total of 72 seasons in the minors. That’s a lot of history, but just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s good–it’s not like we’re losing the Mud Hens or even the Red Wings. I think that part of my attitude stems from Syracuse’s previous dalliance with brand change, when they spent about a decade as the SkyChiefs.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see another Syracuse rebranding within the next five years or so, though it depends on how well the S-Mets will be received. If ticket and merch sales stay low, they may opt to give a company like Brandiose a call.
Speaking of Brandiose, the full logo package for the Southern League’s Rocket City Trash Pandas was released. I’m not sure why the branding for this franchise was fast-tracked, considering that they won’t move from Mobile until next year. It’s not uncommon for brands to be released a year or two before the team begins play, but I find it odd, considering that we are still waiting for several other 2019 brands to drop. Regardless, let’s break this down.
To begin, we have the primary logo for the Trash Pandas, which consists of a cute raccoon tucked in a metal trash can that has been retrofitted into a rocket. The raccoon is blasting off into space, approaching at an angle that will send him high over our left shoulder. For his comfort, there is a hole in the trash can for the tail to poke out. I must say that I really like this logo. I smiled when I first saw it, and it’s the best visual version of Rocket City Trash Pandas that I can imagine. I still wish they would’ve gone with Space Chimps, but this is OK.
The alternate logos…wow, there’s a lot going on here.
I like the custom font that is seen in the lower left and upper right portions of this display. I hope they use that for their jersey script. I also like the red CR in the shape of a rocket–I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as their road cap logo. The standing astronaut with the American flag (upper left) is pretty cool, but what in the world is going on with the raccoon’s ears? They are pinned back in such as a way as to resemble a red bow in its hair. This effect is even more pronounced in the the other two raccoon logos, which I think are hot trash. The one in the lower right, beyond a few non-descript stars, doesn’t say space at all. Instead, it looks like an angrily patriotic critter in a blue suit demanding that you respect the US flag. Also, it mentions Madison, Alabama, which is kind of problematic. Yes, the team will be playing in Madison, but Huntsville is the Rocket City in question. (Ugh. They should’ve just gone with North Alabama or Madison as the place name.) The other logo (lower center) looks like a snake with the head of a female raccoon wearing a red bow in her hair.
It’s a lot to take in, but at least we have a year and half to get used to it before we see Angels prospects getting their Trash Panda on.
But we won’t have that luxury of acclimation for new brands in Fayetteville, Amarillo, Colorado Springs, and Las Vegas, plus at least one uniform redesign (Nashville) in this off-season. I’ll break down at least a few of these in the next OMNI.
For now, thank you for reading.