Why the Rochester Red Wings Should Stay a Twins Affiliate

The Rochester Red Wings’ affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Twins ends this year. And while it’s entirely possible that it will be renewed, it’s also entirely possible it will not, as there is some discussion that, with the future of the Twins’ front office uncertain after the firing of Terry Ryan, now may be the time to again switch. This speculation is especially occurring because the New York Mets, one of the most popular MLB teams in the area, will also likely be available in the affiliation shuffle after this year, and the Mets are desperate to get a new affiliate closer to home, as opposed to distant Vegas.

However, I’m here to argue that the Red Wings should stick with the Twins, at least for another two years. Here’s why:

1. Don’t mess with success.

While it is true that the Red Wings have not had much postseason success during the Twins’ years, with only two appearances and no titles. However, this forgets that the Wings have been competitive for most of the Twins era and probably would have reached more postseasons if not for the tough IL North division and some bad luck. In 2014, for example, they were not eliminated until the final weekend of the year. 2015 saw something similar, and had the Red Wings finish with the same record as the previous two seasons, including the 2013 year where they made the playoffs. This season may see the Red Wings miss the playoffs despite currently having the third best record in the league.

It’s not the Twins fault that Rochester geographically lies in the International League’s toughest division, nor is it their fault that the IL doesn’t have a rule that kicks any team under .500 out of the playoffs, to be replaced by the Wild Card runner-up:

#ContractTheILSouth

#ContractTheILSouth

2. The Twins are a Better Farm System, from a winning perspective.

Here’s a look at the winning percentages of farm systems, as of August 3:

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.12.40 PMAs you can see, the Twins are a respectable 10th place. This is the entire organization, from AAA all the way down to the lowest of Rookie leagues. The Mets, meanwhile, are sub-.500 and are at 19th. And if you go level by level, the Twins have a better team in most of them: The AAA Twins (the Red Wings) have a better record than the AAA Mets (Las Vegas). The AA Twins (Chattanooga) have a better record than the AA Mets (Binghamton). The low-A Twins (Cedar Rapids) have a better record than the low-A Mets (Columbia). The rookie-ball Twins (Elizabethton) have a better record than the rookie-ball Mets (Kingsport). The Twins even have a better record in the Gulf Coast League! The only minor-league level where both organizations have teams and the Mets have a better record than the Twins affiliate is the High-A Florida league.

It’s been said that the two biggest determinants of minor league team attendance are also the two things the local GM (in the minors, the GM is more of a business position, not like the position in MLB) has the least control over: how the team is doing, and how the weather is. Except that isn’t really true, as the Minor League team CAN decide who it affiliates with. And when you look at the success on the field up and down the minors, the Twins clearly are the better choice when it comes to wins than the the Mets.

3. The Twins have better prospects overall than the Mets.

One of the neatest things about Minor League Baseball is that you can see the stars of tomorrow. And in this case, the Twins have a better case than the Mets. At the beginning of the year, MLB.com listed the Twins as the fifth best farm system in baseball. While obviously this has likely changed as players like Max Kepler and Byron Buxton have headed to the big leagues, it should be noted that the Mets were nowhere to be found in the top ten this year, and another site (which ranked the Twins 8th) put the Mets all the way down at number 20.

4. The Mets probably wouldn’t cause the big attendance boost some people think.

My fellow Rochester seamheads will remember the Empire State Yankees. In 2012, as their stadium was being renovated, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (now the Scranton RailRiders) played their home games on the road, mostly in Rochester. Before the season, some Yankee fans were declaring that the people of Rochester would love them and support them even more than they did the Wings, that it was a dream come true, etc. etc.

Well, here’s the secret: The Empire State Yankees were a bust. Look at this news report from back then:

Yes, the Baby Bronx Bombers were in town and, with the exception of a Andy Pettitte rehab assignment, they drew flies, despite the fact they had a very good team. And the Yankees are definitely far more popular in Rochester than the Mets.

Now, admittedly, the fact that they were the “Empire State Yankees” and not the “Rochester Red Wings, AAA Affiliate of the New York Yankees” probably had a lot to do with it. But when you consider that attendance wasn’t particularly skyrockety for the Buffalo Bisons when they had the Mets affiliation (although to be fair, the Mets system was even worse back then), I think it’s safe to say that in general the affiliation doesn’t drive attendance all that much- winning and weather does. And as I showed with number two and number three, the Twins are a better choice for that.

5. The Mets have horrible owners.

Red Wings fans still speak in hushed tones about Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Why, the only people who hate Peter Angelos more than Red Wings fans are Orioles’ fans! GET IN LINE, NATS FANS, THIS SPOT IS TAKEN! Peter Angelos’ interference with minor league operations, general incompetence, breaking of traditions, and favoritism (intentional or not) to other teams in the Orioles’ system (especially the AA Bowie Baysox) led to the end of one of the longest affiliations in baseball. Well, say what you will about Angelos, but to the best of my knowledge he never ended up drowning in debt after being caught up in a massive Ponzi scheme and as a result been unspeakably cheap for his team that was in the World Series last season and plays in New York City. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has Peter Angelos been sued for firing somebody because she had a baby out of wedlock and then resolved it before it reached trial. And while I’m sure he (like, sadly, seemingly every single MLB owner) would sign somebody who was suspended for domestic abuse, he hasn’t as far as I know. Yet.

But you know who has done all of this? The owners of the New York Mets! Now, full disclosure, I own a very small (essentially symbolic) portion of the Rochester Red Wings (I covered this before). Not enough to make a difference, but I do own some. But let’s say I did own enough. Would I want to do business with the Wilpons?

No. No I would not.

6. The Red Wings shouldn’t be like other Minor League teams

Many minor league teams change affiliation with relative regularity. The Red Wings don’t- they were Cardinals affiliates from the late 20s to 1960, and then spent the rest of the 20th century and the first two years of the 21st with the Orioles. That means that it should still be another decade or two left with the Twins. Perhaps I’m just being a romantic, ignoring the business nature of modern baseball. And, to be sure, if everything was bad and the Red Wings were doing horrible with no good hope in the lower minors, I’d agree that perhaps it’s time to move on. But the Wings have been one of the most successful minor league franchises in history by not changing course at the first sign of trouble, and I see no reason to start swapping every decade or so now.

So… I say: stick with the Twins and nix the Mets. The reasons to stay with Minnesota lay in the evidence, and the reasons to go to the Mets are nowhere near as high as they seem.

And, besides, if the Mets want to be in Rochester so damn bad, maybe they can call back in two-to-four years. By that point, maybe whoever has replaced Terry Ryan will have shown how he will treat the minor leagues. And maybe they won’t be owned by the Wilpons either.

 

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Death To Copy-Pasted Minor League Team Names

There is something that annoys me in Minor League baseball. And that thing is minor league teams that just copy what their parent club’s name is. It is, in a way, almost insulting to the city that hosts the team plays in, making it impossible for that team to truly build a unique identity. To be sure, there are exceptions- the Pawtucket Red Sox have been around since the 70s and it seems inconceivable to think of them as anything else- but in general, they are generic names that make it impossible for the team to truly represent the town it plays out of.

So, today, I declare war on most of the Copy-Pasted Minor League Team Names…. after the jump:

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(Blogathon ’16) Jessica Quiroli- The Minor League Baseball Lawsuit: Wealth vs. the Working Class

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Few things personify living the American Dream better than professional sports.

From poverty to fame and fortune, we’ve learned their remarkable stories, and drawn inspiration from them. Willie Mays was the son of a steel mill worker, and the grandson of a sharecropper. Joe Namath’s grandfather came to Ellis Island from Hungary, and he too, and later his son, worked in the steel and coal mills. LeBron James was raised by a single mother, who became pregnant when she was sixteen, then worked tirelessly to make ends meet. James credits her for his success and wealth. It was their specialness, their rare physical talents and physicality that led them there. Many make it, but many, many more fall through the cracks.

In baseball, the trick is not falling through the cracks. The minor leagues are made up of a few thousand players and player cuts are common. Reaching the majors isn’t. The minor leagues are the workshop, where players must condition their bodies and minds to play every day, and not burn out, or fall behind, because the next guy is trailing you and ready to replace you. The odds aren’t great they’ll see major league time for more than a few days or weeks, if at all. A Mother Jones study found that just 10% of minor league players make it to the major leagues. That stacked-with-odds challenge is one player’s commit themselves to. They room together, live with host-families; they take their meal-money per diem, $25 a day, compared to major leaguers who receive $100 a day. Minor league players start out making $1,100 a month in the salary pyramid.

Being major league-ready and transitioning to the highest level of the game is one part of the developmental experience. Add to that the challenge of remaining healthy and strong, well-fed, rested and able to care of themselves and anyone depending on them.

In December of 2014, at the annual Baseball Winter Meetings, Stan Brand, the VP of Minor League Baseball, delivered a speech addressing a lawsuit filed against MLB regarding wage and labor issues, Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. The meetings, a mix of social and professional engagement, are conducted with a drink in hand if you choose, as major trades are made and breaking news emerges from a high-end hotel full of players, ex-players, executives, reporters and those hoping to get in the business. Some attendees are just fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the action.

But as the usual business dealings transpired at the 2014 gathering, another story rose to the surface. Brand came forward to explain MiLB’s stance on the lawsuit. Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal reported Brand’s comments.

“In the coming year, we will be seeking legislation to clarify that professional baseball players are not covered by these federal wage and hour laws. Just as we did in the 1990s to save the antitrust exemption, we will need your help to explain to our legislators the importance of minor league baseball and their communities’ investments…I do not want to overstate the threat this suit presents, but I think my honest assessment is that it is equally perilous for our future…I will ask you to heed the clarion call, man the battle stations and carry the message to Congress loudly and clearly.”

Of Note: Major league players make a minimum of $84,000 a year. Minor league players make a maximum $2,150. Major League Baseball makes more than $8 million dollars annually, with the major league salary rising 2,500 percent in the last forty years. Minor league salaries have increased 75 percent.

The lawsuit was filed by three former minor league players, with the intention of applying the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act to minor leaguers. But to this point, MLB has an antitrust exemption. The lawsuit later expanded to include 34 former minor league players.

Brand could prove to be a tough opponent. A lawyer with a wealth of experience dealing with lobbyists and politicians is well-known in Washington, DC where he’s litigated cases for forty years, including Supreme Court cases. He clarified that, in major league baseball, minor leaguers must know their place. They weren’t expected to rise up and disrupt the framework of the minor league business model, but to continue working as contributors to the wealth that eludes them. Brand’s speech presented minor leaguers as an enemy among them in baseball. His determination to protect the financial interests of Major League Baseball, in effect, established an us-against-them class war.

Leventhal filed a second report for Baseball America in April of 2015, in which Brand “contends that playing minor league baseball was never meant to be a career.” Leventhal wrote that Brand likened playing in the minors to an internship.

The corporate system of Major League Baseball seems impenetrable, but Garrett Broshuis emerged as a willing fighter. The former San Francisco Giants minor leaguer, a pitcher and 5th round pick in 2004 retired from professional baseball and began practicing law. He’s not just one of the players that took part in the original filing; he’s also representing them collectively.

Broshuis responded to Brand’s winter meetings comments, laughing at first, amused or baffled, maybe both, then, after some thought, sought to describe Brand’s stance.

“It’s fear-mongering,” Broshuis said by telephone in mid-January. “It’s inconceivable that a $10 billion dollar a year business is lobbying congress for an exemption.”

They’re men without a union. The powerful MLBPA, with all its protections can wield power in any number of situations, making sure major leaguers are treated fairly and reap the financial benefits of their work.

Brand first portrayed the minor leaguers suing as some kind of outlaws wreaking havoc on a quiet town. He later tried to sell an idea that minor leaguers are comparable to college interns. For the numerous players who went to college and proudly don the cap of the major league team that’s drafted them for the cameras, that’s often news to them. The minor leagues are for developmental time, acting as a unique step ladder to the majors. But they are no amateur hours. And the interns are in the office.

With the annual earnings MLB pulls, working class baseball fans aren’t likely to deeply sympathize with MLB and view it as a sacred institution being threatened by big bad minor leaguers making meal money. Sure, some fans scoff at minor league players asking for more, viewing them as spoiled. But if they regard them within the context of major league greed, maybe they’d see the fight differently. They might see themselves in those guys, working for a giant, money-making company where thousands of employees make a miniscule percentage of those at the top.

All of this doesn’t rest on Brand’s shoulders, however. He’s the voice of the cause, not the leader. Fans know that MLB is full of corporate greed. They knew when they learned that MLB was a willing participant in the use of steroids in the game, by doing little to nothing to stop the problem. Had they done anything, they would’ve risked losing a cash windfall from fans high with baseball fever in the late 1980’s, and throughout the 90’s.

Brand’s speech simply served as a reminder of what’s been proven. But this time, there were no gods of baseball being torn down. Players with little money and an uncertain future were being belittled, ridiculed and shamed. Brand’s word choice made the face of this fight the Grinch, or, perhaps, that fictional hero of Wall Street, Gordon Gekko. Brand could’ve easily bellowed, ‘Greed is good, now let’s play ball!’

Gleaning the meaning behind his words isn’t so tough: minor league players are worthless.

Minor league teams are worth everything. The players are the component, the trusty cog, which allows MLB to continue to adding increasing its considerable wealth. We’re given to understand that minor league baseball players, by asking for a living wage, would hurt the community, the employees in the stadium they play in, and the entire way baseball’s run. Minor League Baseball is a community-driven enterprise. Hurt the system as it is, hurt the community. Essentially, they’d ruin everything.

One player, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reached out privately the same January weekend that Broshuis spoke about the lawsuit.

“I need to make sure that if I do sign up that it would not affect my opportunity to play in the big leagues, or have me being released because of it,” he said.

MLB’s powerful hand has to be a driving factor for any players considering, then re-considering, joining the lawsuit. Why risk it? They might ask themselves. The players fighting for a fairer wage aren’t making millions and have no sense of job security. Those high-ranked players can clearly see the payday. They aren’t treated as disposable.

“I’ve considered it. The amount we get paid is deplorable,” the player said.

But he points out that that’s not enough for him to join. He indicated uncertainty about how the outcome would impact teams and players. Knowing the truth might not be enough to motivate players to put themselves on the front lines.

“I’ve felt mistreated. But I think that’s the reason so many guys push themselves to get better [and] get out of the minors. It almost acts as motivation for us to move up as quickly as we can,” he said, then continued, “even though that’s not up to us. It’s survival of the investments teams make, and who can help them now. It’s cutthroat. But it’s a business.”

And business is good.

As reported in a 2015 report by Lindsay Kramer, minor league baseball drew the third-highest attendance in its history, also marking the 11th consecutive year MiLB drew over 41 million fans.

The driving force of the community-driven entertainment of minor league baseball is based on the tested theory that if you build a stadium, employment will come. When a stadium’s built, or a team affiliate is established or moved, the hope is that fans will show up for an affordable summer activity. For families, particularly those with multiple kids, seeing a sporting event for less than twenty dollars is a very big deal. It relieves parents of the school’s-out dilemma, and allows them to see a baseball game with their kids. If all goes well, a major league player’s injury could lead to his rehab at the stadium they’re attending. Oddly put, but a rehab appearance by a top player in the majors draws crowds. Maybe a young kid’s never seen his favorite player in a big league game outside of on TV. In the minor leagues, he or she not only gets a glimpse, but an intimate one.

A minor league team as a business works for many, including interns gaining experience working in professional sports and executives looking for a foot in the door. The players, for their part, suit up and play the game. They fit in the business model that serves families and communities. They work for everyone else’s families, but struggle to support their own or even themselves.

“For the long term, we should all be able to come to the table and strike an agreement,” Broshuis said.

The business is clicking along, a well-oiled machine in no danger of losing fuel. The rich definitely get richer. The poor, well, they stay the same, get poorer, or try to figure out a new way. Soon, retirement is unavoidable; maybe before the age of thirty. Few can become those icons of sports history, Mays, Namath or James. Few can make it to even elite status. But minor league baseball players know what they’re up against. At a certain point, just surviving and getting a uniform must be preferable to giving up the dream altogether.

Many play out their professional careers, notable, known, and with a considerable amount to retire with. Many, many, many more scrap, scrape, hope, and work to get the hell out of the minors, with even the possibility of a cup of coffee in the majors often a glimmer. Those are the players Broshuis is fighting for; brandished as trouble-makers.

A scout once said something about the minor leagues while standing in the press box of then Waterfront Stadium, home of the Trenton Thunder. Watching the game, with a distant look in his eyes, without arrogance or joy, he said. “The top prospects need guys to play with.” It was a clarifying moment, impossible to forget. That’s the reality.

Broshuis described the process as now in the “discovery phase”, the longest portion of building a case.

A few weeks after initially speaking, in response to follow-up questions, the player who’d requested anonymity said he was still on the fence about joining the lawsuit, explaining that he had to be “careful.”

“I haven’t decided,” he said. “I’m an outsider in professional baseball.”

Broshuis said that they’re now in the “discovery phase”, the longest portion of building a case. The trial is set for February 2017. The outsiders, those rabble-rousers looking for a living wage, will have their day in court.

Jessica Quiroli is a Minor League Baseball writer/reporter and the creator of ‘Heels on the Field: A Minor League Blog‘. Her work has appeared on MiLB.com and FanGraphs and in Junior Baseball Magazine. She is also the screenwriter of the so-far-unfilmed screenplay, “Minor League Guys.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

(Blogathon ’16) CONTINUUM CLASSIC: 2007 AAA BASEBALL HEROES

This piece from the blog’s archives is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Originally published June 19, 2013.

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

I warned you. I told you it was coming. You could have gone away, but, no, you had to go and actually come here and read this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture. This is a very special Bizarre Baseball Culture, as, for the first time, it’s something that I actually have in my very small personal collection of comic books. You see, in 2007, each Triple-A baseball team had a day celebrating superheroes, and as a giveaway, there was this comic:

2007GiveawayComic copyAnd, as you can probably guess, I was at that game and got the giveaway. And so, it sat in a drawer for almost seven years, ignored. Until today. Yes, true believers, tremble and prepare yourself for the 2007 edition of Triple-A Baseball Heroes, featuring the superheroes of Marvel Comics.

Now, a few notes before we get going here:

  • All of the images in this post were scanned by yours truly, and any problems with the quality of the images are my fault.
  • All characters and logos in the comic are property of their respective owners (such as Marvel Comics or Minor League Baseball). The excerpts from this comic used in this post are being used under fair use doctrine and are meant merely to support and enhance the opinions and facts stated in said post.
  • Click on any of the images to make them bigger.
  • To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get this comic nowadays is to find it on eBay or have gone to the games that had them released.

Now, go below the jump for the rest of the post:

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(Blogathon ’16) Musings on AAA Baseball

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

And now, random musings about AAA Baseball:

AAA baseball is the best baseball in North America outside of the Major Leagues and perhaps certain fall/winter leagues (it varies). This is not in doubt. The athletes who play in cities like Sacramento, Buffalo, Charlotte, New Orleans, and Rochester are some of the best ballplayers on the planet.

However, they are not necessarily the best prospects. This is something often forgotten. Oh, to be sure, many of the best players in the majors have stopped in AAA for at least some time, but the idea that the minors is a ladder where players go up rung by rung is for the most part out of date. The truth is that, with certain exceptions, the vast majority of players in AAA are not prospects anymore, but rather players who have reached or are close to reaching their ceiling, but aren’t good enough to play for their MLB club. AAA has the most accumulated talent outside of MLB, but it doesn’t have the players with potential talent. No, it’s increasingly common that those players with the potential talent skip over AAA, only going back if they get injured or are clearly out of their league in the Majors.

Most people, however, don’t realize that. They still expect that every major prospect will come through, regardless. When Miguel Sano and (for a time) Byron Buxton skipped over Rochester last season, some fans took it as a betrayal. Never mind that, at the time, the Red Wings were pretty set in outfield and third base, or that the two of them were so clearly better than AA that only a fool wouldn’t call them up to the big leagues to help in an unexpected playoff hunt, as the Twins were in.

The solution to this, if there even needs to be a solution (aside from the fact that it might be in baseball’s best interest to have the more-populated cities of AAA see more future stars than the less-populated AA cities, there really isn’t a true problem to be solved), is unknown. Perhaps eliminating the very lowest of the minor leagues- the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues, could recombobulate the systems a bit and lead to it becoming more of a rung-by-rung set-up again. Who knows?

Perhaps because of the fact that you are watching the-best-who-aren’t-the-best in front of crowds filled with people just there for beer and/or fireworks, AAA can be a surreal place, especially if you sit behind the visitor’s dugout.

I have heard the late Jose Lima tell a group of half-drunken bros to be polite to the ladies and to remember that kids are around. I have seen Dmitri Young talk down a heckler and then proceed to hit for the cycle on a rehab assignment. I once spent something like 18 innings watching a game with the immortal Corky Miller standing in front of me, his mullet protecting him from a chilly Rochester night.

All of this for the price of a ticket that probably wouldn’t even get you in the door at many MLB stadiums, much less close enough to hear a reliever swear and throw his glove after a bad performance, inevitably leading to Mary, the first lady of the third-base side, telling him that it wasn’t the glove’s fault.

That there is not a Mike Trout Zooperstar is obscene. I mean, c’mon, it’s so obvious.

At one point, Jenny Finch’s husband, Casey Daigle, was a member of the Red Wings. Hopefully their kids get their mother’s arm, because it felt like every time he came on the mound, something bad happened. I don’t know if this is statistically true, but it sure felt like it.

Finally, a story. The Rochester Red Wings are owned by shareholders in the community, the result of lawyer Morrie Silver’s stock drive to buy the team from the Cardinals, who wanted to move the team.

However, I never had been able to get stock. While in practice the shares have no true value, in reality they can be really expensive and it’s really hard to get active shares. This is mainly because many of them have lapsed in the half-century-plus since the stock drive and many that do go up are reportedly bought by the Silver family. In addition, there is the fact that, unlike other community-owned teams like the Packers, there have never been additional sales of stock, which is kind of ridiculous from both a PR standpoint as well as the fact you’d have to imagine that the sales of shares could help fund stadium improvements (this, by the way, is why the Packers did their most recent shares-drive).

At one point, I thought I’d gotten one, but it turned out that it had expired and been given to the state (in theory I could have gone through New York State to get it back, but that would have required me finding the heir of the guy who had bought it originally and a bunch of other complicated things). But, this past year, I finally got one. I became a owner of Rochester Community Baseball:

RCBstockWhat does it mean? Officially, nothing. One share isn’t enough to get me a personal luxury box, or give me the power to demand that they bring back those Abbott’s Milk Shakes, or even get me a ring if they were to win a Governor’s Cup next season. But it does provide something that is unique about small-city baseball in America: a sense of ownership.

You see, when I go to the ballpark this summer, I’ll be going knowing that, in a very small way, this is my team, my field, and my souvenir cup with Kyle Gibson and Logan Darnell on it (well, that’s what it was last year, probably will be different this year). Fans in St. Louis or Boston can claim they own their favorite team, but they are only speaking in metaphor. For me, it’ll be reality, no matter how small or insignificant that reality is.

And that’s something that AAA will hopefully always have over the majors, no matter how many uber-Prospects jump directly from AA.

(Seriously though, if any Twins front office members are reading this, can we at least have Max Kepler for a month before he gets called up? Please?)

At 5 PM: The Sliding Scale of Fictional Baseball Realism

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

(2016 Blogathon!) Famous For Something Else: Eddy Alvarez, Silver Medal Speed Skater

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

This “Famous For Something Else” is notable because the player in question has a chance of maybe one day becoming best known for baseball. It’s Eddy Alvarez, a middle-infielder in the White Sox organization who won a silver medal in the 5000 meter relay in short track speed skating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He’s hit very well, but the fact he’s two to four years older than most people in the leagues he is in probably hurts his chances. Still, you never know.

Here are his stats:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF
2014 24 3.6 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A CHW 45 210 182 32 63 11 1 5 26 9 10 27 34 .346 .433 .500 .933 91 4 1 0 0
2014 24 4.4 White Sox ARIZ Rk CHW 27 130 110 20 32 5 1 2 12 5 6 20 24 .291 .400 .409 .809 45 3 0 0 0
2014 24 2.5 Kannapolis SALL A CHW 18 80 72 12 31 6 0 3 14 4 4 7 10 .431 .488 .639 1.126 46 1 1 0 0
2015 25 3.2 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ CHW 123 553 450 88 133 29 7 5 53 53 15 88 85 .296 .409 .424 .834 191 8 2 8 5
2015 25 3.5 Kannapolis SALL A CHW 89 410 330 64 94 23 6 2 39 42 8 69 68 .285 .408 .409 .818 135 8 2 6 3
2015 25 2.4 Winston-Salem CARL A+ CHW 34 143 120 24 39 6 1 3 14 11 7 19 17 .325 .411 .467 .878 56 0 0 2 2
All Levels (2 Seasons) 168 763 632 120 196 40 8 10 79 62 25 115 119 .310 .416 .446 .862 282 12 3 8 5
A (2 seasons) Minors 107 490 402 76 125 29 6 5 53 46 12 76 78 .311 .421 .450 .872 181 9 3 6 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/27/2016.

At 2 AM: Baseball Card Haiku

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The Rochester Red Wings went all-in on their “Miracle on Ice” theme last night

Themed nights are a mainstay of Minor League Baseball, and at times Major League Baseball. Superhero Night! Throwback Night! (Insert Cultural Group Here) Appreciation Night!

However, a lot of times, these nights are half-hearted. Maybe there will be some music changes, some special guests, or a specially themed firework display. And, yes, there usually will be some sort of special uniform, auctioned off for charity. But few of them are willing to combine every single one of these aspects.

But last night, the Rochester Red Wings went all out for their “Miracle on Ice Night” event, in honor of the 35th anniversary of 1980’s Miracle on Ice. There were….

Special Guests!

Not one, not two, but three members of the Gold-Medal team came: Mike Ramsey, John Harrington, and Ken Morrow. They signed autographs, sure, but they also slap-shotted their first pitches:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd did a post-game interview about the 1980 Olympics and other topics. The biggest difference between Miracle and the real events, by the way, is that the real Herb Brooks wasn’t as nice as Kurt Russell’s version. Ha!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSpecial Uniforms:

Presumably because the Syracuse management wouldn’t have liked to have their players and managers wearing CCCP jerseys, both teams wore 1980 Team USA jerseys.

The Red Wings wore the white jersey, the Chiefs wore the blue ones… and the umpires wore hockey-style stripes. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI have to say, given that these uniforms are based off the uniforms of an entirely different sport, they didn’t look half-bad. And plus it allowed everyone to see the amazing site of Mike Quade in a Team USA argue and be ejected from the game by a umpire dressed like a hockey ref, which isn’t something you see every day:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSurreal.

Food and Little Touches

At the ballpark last night was something called the Hat Trick, which the Wings website described as “Consisting of a 1/2 pound cheeseburger, a 1/4 pound hot dog and a 1/3 pound Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a DiPaolo sub roll”. I didn’t eat it, but I was able to take a picture of it:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn addition, little changes were done throughout the game. Instead of the usual “Mario getting a coin” sound when the Wings scored, the stadium played a hockey arena horn. Instead of having a little league team be introduced before the game, they had a pee-wee hockey team be honored. Highlights of the game were given between innings and a replica of the newspaper from the day after the game in 1980 was given out. Also, to fit with the 1980s theme, all of the walk-up music was replaced with music from the era. Oh, and on the scoreboards they made it so that the players looked like they were in hockey gear:

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Note: James Beresford is Australian and it is entirely possible that he has never seen a game of ice hockey in person his entire life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Fireworks!:

And, finally, the fireworks show consisted entirely of music from 1980. I can’t remember them doing that before. Here’s pictures of fireworks to end this:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAll in all, a well put-together night. Well, other than the fact the home team lost 10-4.