Over the last few years, I’ve grown accustomed to Minor League Geeky news bites popping up throughout the course of the baseball season, and a couple months ago I had commented on how eerily quiet this summer had been. At a minimum, I assumed we’d at least know which Southern League team would be sliding into New Orleans and maybe some other unforeseen hot relocation rumors. But there was nothing. What was going on?
Well, now we know. At some point in the summer of 2019, Major League Baseball floated their initial proposal for radically realigning Minor League Baseball. Baseball America broke the story recently and outlined the broad strokes of the proposal. There were many things of note, but the headline-grabber is a proposed elimination of 42 affiliated teams. Minor league clubs spent much of the summer digesting this information, and that’s the likely reason that we had essentially no news for those months. There’s a lot to unpack, but if you’re interested in reading about 4000 words on it, here is my response article.
This news caught me somewhat by surprise, and I had expected this OMNI to feature a different response article, one riffing on Travis Sawchik’s article for FiveThirtyEight back in September entitled “Do We Even Need Minor League Baseball?” I’ll spare you the saltiness here, but if you’re interested in the MLG hot take on the hot take, check out my response.
But let’s talk about some fun stuff.
Minor League Dribs and Drabs
I can’t believe how little new team news we have at this point, and going into November I don’t even know for sure which teams are going to be added to the DIA’s class of 2019. I think the New Orleans Baby Cakes are defunct. Wichita will start play next year, and no NOLA successor in the Southern League has come to pass. The Mobile BayBears are toast, though the news has been less about their demise and more about the rise of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Missoula and Connecticut (Norwich) are expected to have new identities by the end of the year, but the MLB proposal puts both franchises in the crosshairs. For what it’s worth, Norwich announced some finalists for the new name. My money’s on Sea Unicorns. It’s hard to say how all this will play out in the wake of the PBA proposal and subsequent counter-proposals. For now, let’s check out the two new team identities that we already know about.
The Potomac Nationals played their last season in Woodbridge, VA and their last season as the P-Nats. The team is moving just up the road to Fredericksburg, VA, where they will be known as the Fredericksburg Nationals. The Fred Nats (an official nickname) are continuing the COTOB path laid out by Potomac, and that seems like a good move, especially as Washington’s fanbase is energized with this year’s World Series run. They’re finding some great ways to branch out creatively within those parameters, though. Studio Simon designed the logos and wordmarks, which are clearly influenced by Washington. The cursive F looks stylish and the little George Washington swinging a cherry tree-chopping ax-bat is terrific. I tip my powdered wig to the Carolina League’s newest member.
Meanwhile, down in the Sally League, the Kannapolis Intimidators announced that they will be called the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers as they enter the 2020 season in a new ballpark. The “Cannon” part is a reference to Cannon Mills, the textile plants that literally put Kannapolis (originally called Cannonopolis) on the map. If you ask me, pretty cool way to include a cannon in the name without going full-on militaristic. Plus the little cannonball guy with the Dale Earnhardt mustache is pretty cool. Studio Simon did this design as well, and they put on the ‘stache intentionally in homage to the Intimidator. There was a ton of backlash when the team announced they would be changing their name, but the owners clarified that they do not own the Intimidator brand and “could not confidently build around it.” Supposedly, the estate of Dale Earnhardt is pretty protective of their trademarks, so it made sense to take it in a new direction. And that direction is up. Caps off to Kannapolis!
In Wichita, Kansas, the new Pacific Coast League team has yet to reveal their identity. They spent the summer teasing different ideas with mock-up logos, changing their Twitter profile name and picture in an apparent effort to stir up some publicity. But in October, they changed to Wichita (Unknown) and put up a professional-looking logo featuring a covered wagon with sales and an interesting color scheme of purpleish, gray, pinkish, and orange. Their identity will be revealed in mid-November. Wichita Prairie Sailors? Wichita Western Wind Wagons?
There were some promising early-fall developments for threatened minor league markets such as Beloit and Erie and Pawtucket, but everything has been quiet since the PBA proposal. Another thing I would’ve been intrigued by before the PBA proposal is that Marshall University in Huntington, WV has acquired property to build a new ballpark. Huntington hasn’t seen an affiliated minor league club since the River City Rumblers in 1995. I would’ve said that the market would be good for the Appy League or the NY-Penn League in a simialr scenario as the West Virginia Black Bears. Instead…maybe it would work in that ridiculous Dream League idea?
Hey, I said I’d keep it positive!
Usually I start an OMNI post with news of what’s going on here at MLG, but this installment felt different. Plus, there’s not too much to report. I keep building up the site brick-by-brick and one of my recent bricks is the Charlotte Knights page. In the DIA, I started drilling into the nineties and the first entry into this decade is the Idaho Falls Braves. I’ve also been doing a lot of quality control on some team pages I made about two years ago. Live page construction and revision continues as I find the inspiration. The MLB team pages are more fleshed out. They’re not all done, but check out this one and this one and this one. Beyond that, I realized that the teens decade is coming to a close, and I thought I’d put together a “decade in review” article about minor league goings-on since 2010. Look for that in the December OMNI coming up around Christmastime.
I really get a lot of joy and pleasure from the whole process of making this site great. I don’t have any intention of going fully public any time soon, but I’ve noticed that people are finding the site–mostly through image searches. I have no idea if I have any regular readers, but if you are one of them, feel free to reach out. I may not respond right away–this is a hobby and I have several other inboxes that demand more daily attention–but I would be glad to hear from you.
Thank you for reading!