I received a few emails this weekend asking me to weigh in on the Mets and their Triple-A affiliation with Las Vegas which expires at the end of this season.
Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger, recently gave a good rundown of the situation that included some perspective from Las Vegas President and COO Don Logan who said he and Sandy Alderson spoke several weeks ago about the expiring agreement and that both suggested that a resolution will be decided upon at the appropriate time.
“We’ll get to it when it’s time to get to it,” Logan told The Star-Ledger. “It’s been a good alliance for us, I can tell you that.”
Alderson said Saturday that he would not discuss what the options for the future are for the Mets’ Triple-A club, saying that the this past weekend was about promoting the team’s ties with the 51s.
“We’ll just have to see how things develop,” Alderson said when asked if he anticipated the Mets’ affiliate being in Vegas. “Let’s face it, we didn’t anticipate being here last year, so. The last thing I’m going to do is speculate about next year. But we’ve got a good relationship with the 51s staff here. I’ve known Don Logan a long time. There are some positives aspects to being out here frankly.”
The only chance the Mets have to leave Las Vegas and bring their Triple-A team closer to home would be with Rochester.
But after speaking to one person familiar with the situation, I’ve learned that Rochester is quite happy with their relationship with the Minnesota Twins and that the two parties are likely to renew their agreement at some point this season.
Another person contacted me who happens to be a season ticket holder with Rochester and he said, “I’m a season ticket holder in Rochester and I ask management here about it a lot. I don’t see them switching. They are happy with the Twins.”
The pitfalls of the Mets ending up with the least desirable affiliate in Triple-A has been picked apart ad nauseum for the last 12 months and I have no desire to regurgitate it all again for the umpteenth time.
The real problem is not that our prospects are playing in a decrepit dump 2,200 miles away from the team, but how they came to be at Cashman Field in the first place.
Two words. Jeff Wilpon.
While some would prefer to hang onto this fallacy that Norfolk and the Baltimore Orioles were destined to be together given their geographical proximity to each other, the fact is the Norfolk Tides took no joy in severing a 38-year relationship with the Mets – the second longest in baseball history.
Does it surprise you that out of 30 Triple-A affiliates, the Mets end up with the one at the bottom of the barrel that nobody wanted, after enjoying a longterm partnership with one of the best ranked affiliates in the minor leagues?
The reasons for that are no less different than why the Mets now broadcast their games on conservative talk show radio WOR 710 AM. This after getting ousted by the number one sports radio outlet in the country, WFAN, broadcasting in both AM and FM frequencies.
In an article written a couple of years ago in the Wall Street Journal, Dave Rosenfield, a longtime Norfolk Tides executive, sums it up quite nicely.
“They’re undesirable, nobody wants them.”
Rosenfield was Norfolk’s general manager when it became the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in 1969 (it was named Tidewater then) and was still on the job when the Mets left in late 2006.
He told the Wall Street Journal that the relationship soured after Jeff Wilpon became the Mets’ chief operating officer in 2002, after which communication with team officials became “virtually nonexistent.”
“When he became involved in everything was when things changed,” Rosenfield said. “I dealt with him on some things and somebody always had to go to him if you wanted to do anything. He had his nose and hands in everything.”
So while everyone is conjuring up a variety of economical, geographical and logistical excuses for why the Mets play in the armpit of minor league baseball, they all seem to ignore the real reason the team is in this predicament.