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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Continuucast 8 with @SethTweets!

It’s time for yet another Baseball Continuum CONTINUUCAST! This time with Twins’ prospect expert, Seth Stohs! Hit play above, download by right-clicking here, follow the RSS feed here or follow on iTunes here or Stitcher here (if the latest episode isn’t up yet, it will be shortly).

 

It’s a Minor League Baseball installment of the Continuucast!

 

First, Dan talks to Twins’ prospect expert Seth Stohs about the Minnesota, the Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota’s farm system in general, and the appeal of Minor League Baseball. Please note that I had some technical difficulties during the conversation, but I have used software to clean it up and make it as good-sounding as I can. Apologies!

 

Then, Dan does another belated “30 Teams, 30 Posts” by talking about how Trevor Story’s amazing first week with the Rockies in some ways is proof of just how fun and unexpected the minor leagues are, since they can provide great surprises even from non-top prospects like Story!

 

Come back next week when Dan will welcome the “Evil Empire” onto the Continuucast and speak to Yankees Blogger Stacey Gotsulias!

 

Music/Sounds Featured:

“The National Game” by John Phillip Sousa

“We’re Gonna Win Twins”

The instrumental music played in the background of Rochester Red Wings commercials

Excerpt of “Pennant Fever” from the Major League soundtrack

All sound and music used is either public domain or is a short snippet that falls under fair use.

 

(Blogathon ’16) Rochester Red Wings Programs of the Past: 1990

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.

The 1990 Rochester Red Wings program was, in a word, a bit boring, at least relative to the previous two I’ve looked at. It is not a giant leap like going from 1981 to 1989, and it doesn’t have anything too weird or amazing either. As a result (and also of my blogathon process with these later posts), this one is a bit shorter than the previous installments.

Still, it definitely has some neat things.

Good Stuff

First off, the cover is fantastic:

90wingscoverThat is a cool looking cover. The Red Wings should bring back artsy covers like this. Nowadays it’s usually a picture. Last year had Miguel Sano on it prominently… and then he skipped Rochester entirely. Whoops.

With the new decade, the Rochester Red Wings decided to take a look back at the 80s with an article by Josh Lewin (now the radio announcer for the Mets and Chargers, who I covered a bit on in the 1989 program lookback) that included this snippet:

90wingspieceoflewin80slookbackIt’s sort of odd that three of the five most memorable games of the 1980s were losses.

Also nice is that they finally gave the mascot his time of day, even if it was Homer, the worst mascot in Red Wings history (not counting the times when they had people dressed up as Indians):

90wingshomerFred Costello’s lists:

R90fredlist

Interesting Stuff:

Brady Anderson:

90wingsbradyJose Mesa:

R90mesaThe Columbus Clippers featuring Kevin Maas, Bernie Williams and Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens:

R90columbus

Russ Brandon, now the President of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans, and thus one of the most powerful people in Western NY sports:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.43.55 PM

Weird Stuff:

Okay, this Big Bird advertisement is vaguely unsettling: 90wingsbigbirdMaybe it’s the black-and-white printing mixed with Big Bird’s eyes. It’s like he’s looking deep into your soul as he asks if your child has visited his best friend today. Also, why “his”, why not “their”? Jeez, Big Bird, don’t be sexist.

For some reason, some players literally had Hagerstown baseball cards as their profiles, like Leo Gomez here:

R90LeoGomezThe many looks of Josh Lewin:

R90lewinWait… Cheers was a chain?

R90cheersFuture Red Wings GM Dan Mason with a mullet:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.43.42 PMAnd, finally, the horribly racist logo of the Indianapolis Indians (although the rest is pretty cool):

R90indianapolisSo how did the season go? The 1990 Rochester Red Wings, led by Leo Gomez, Chris Hoiles, David Segui and 36-year-old Danny Boone, would go on to win the Governor’s Cup after a 89-56 record. It would be the final Governor’s Cup title in Silver Stadium history.

Next time: 1991

At 11 PM: The worst post ever.

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.

(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.

Rochester Red Wings Programs of the Past: 1989

In 1988, the Rochester Red Wings won the Governor’s Cup championship under the helm of Johnny Oates and a team that included young guns like Steve Finley (would lead the league in batting, Pete Harnisch and Craig Worthington (who would be that year’s IL MVP) as well as veterans like Dale Berra and Jerry Narron, all while dealing with plenty of movement between AAA and the Orioles, who were infamously in the middle of their worst season ever. And while they lost a AAA championship with the American Association champion Indianapolis Indians, it remained the Red Wings’ first IL title since 1974.

So, it makes sense that that would be on the front of the following year’s program. Oh, it’s sort of bland, but it gets the message across: The Red Wings were defending champions!

WingsCover89

Now, this program I have is a bit beaten up, and is missing a few pages, but most of it is intact, so go below the jump to read about what was in the 1989 Red Wings program, and click on any picture to make it bigger:

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Rochester Red Wings Programs of the Past: “Summer Fun in ’81” (and misspelling Cal Ripken’s name)

In this recurring piece, I look at the programs and yearbooks of my hometown Rochester Red Wings. This is the first part of the series.

In 1981, the Rochester Red Wings were, if nothing else, notable. They played in the longest game in baseball history- a 33-inning loss against Pawtucket that was begun in April and finished in June. Cal Ripken played his last full season in the minor leagues for Rochester. Future All-Star and Gold-Glover Mike Boddicker also played for Rochester that season.

So it’s as good a place as any to begin our look back at Rochester Red Wings programs/yearbooks.

(GO BELOW THE JUMP TO SEE)

Continue reading

Coming Soon: A Retrospective on Rochester Red Wings Yearbooks/Programs

Coming soon will be a new feature on this blog, in which I look back at the programs and yearbooks of the Rochester Red Wings, collected over the years by myself, my father, and in some cases myself through other means (like eBay or Red Wings yard sales).

Among the fun things that we shall see:

  • Famous ballplayers when they were younger!
  • Unintentionally comedic advertisements, prospect previews, and hairstyles! Hey, hindsight is always 20/20.
  • The fall of the Orioles-Red Wings marriage!
  • The rise of the Twins-Red Wings marriage!
  • Special appearances by two current MLB announcers and one of the most powerful people in Buffalo sports, amongst others!
  • And also a look at the 2000 AAA All-Star Game program!

So look out in the coming days as we begin back in a mysterious time known as…. THE EIGHTIES!