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ESPN New York says the Binghamton Mets of the Double-A Eastern League will be relocating to Ottawa in time for the 2013 season.  Could this mean there will be a second Canadian affiliate for the Blue Jays minor league system?



Ottawa Stadium hosted the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx of the International League from 1993 to 2007.

The ESPN story cites a report from The Ottawa Citizen, which breaks down the upgrades needed for Ottawa Stadium.  According to ESPN, this is what will happen...
With the Mets' affiliation agreement expiring with Binghamton after 2012, it does not mean the Mets will be playing Eastern League baseball in Ottawa in '13. In fact, the report states Ottawa is likely to align with the Toronto Blue Jays. Instead, it means the Mets will be looking for a new Double-A affiliate for the 2013 season -- like they were when they relocated from New Orleans to Buffalo for Triple-A ball for the 2009 season. One in-the-know person speculates the Mets could wind up in New Britain in 2013, with the Twins moving to New Hampshire and the Blue Jays in Ottawa.
The theory that the Jays would move to Ottawa makes sense as its affiliation agreement with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats expires at the end of 2012.  However, The National Post's John Lott says the Jays are not planning to leave the Granite State according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos:
"Were thrilled with New Hampshire. They have the best ballpark in the Eastern League, unbelievable ownership and unbelievable management. It cant get any better for us than New Hampshire.
Meantime, the Binghamton Mets are saying they are not moving according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin.  B-Mets President Michael Urda:
"The Binghamton Mets have not been sold, and we have not been contacted by anyone interested in our club.  There's 12 teams in the Eastern League and we have to address it every single week. It's just conjecture."
Binghamton is expected to get the Batavia Muckdogs franchise in the New York-Penn League if the B-Mets head north.

The potential arrival of an Eastern League franchise in Ottawa could have an impact on the Intercounty League's Ottawa Fat Cats according to The Ottawa Citizen.

The Ottawa Stadium Group, which operates that Intercounty Baseball League team, has a lease agreement for the stadium that runs out next month, but has asked for an extension until October, which would allow the team to play there this summer.  Given the amount of work required on the stadium, the staff report says an extension should not be granted.

The Fat Cats have been in the IBL since 2010 and made it to the league finals in 2011.  They upset London and Barrie before falling to perennial powerhouse Brantford.  They averaged over 4,000 fans a game during its playoff run, including a league record 7,355 fans during Game 3 of the finals. 

Considering the Ottawa Lynx dismal attendance figures, one could argue it would be a better idea for the city to receive a short-season league team like Batavia instead.  If it turns out the Jays will be affiliated with Ottawa, perhaps there can be a return to the glory days when the Lynx were joined at the hip with the Expos when they had large crowds and won the International League title in 1995.  If memory serves, the Lynx were even outdrawing the Expos in attendance at one point.  However, given the city's inability to support other sports than hockey, I'm not so sure if baseball can survive nearly as long as the Lynx did this time around.  What do you think, Bauxites?  The floor is yours.

Affiliated Ball Back In Ottawa? Bingo Is Called? | 34 comments | Create New Account
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Matthew E - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 03:57 PM EST (#251742) #
I was talking with a guy here in Ottawa about that. According to him, the Lynx drew very well when they were well-run, and even when they weren't, they drew better than you'd think they should have. Similarly, the Rapidz attendance wasn't anything to write home about, but it was better than it should have been, and of course the Fat Cats have drawn extremely well for an Intercounty team. So I'm optimistic about the viability of a minor-league team here.
Mike Green - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 04:01 PM EST (#251743) #
Fascinating.  An embarrassment of riches when it comes to double A options, and no decent triple A options. 

Notwithstanding the great ballpark and ownership in New Hampshire, the Jays really would have no choice but to move to Ottawa.  Hop a train and spend a weekend seeing Anthony Gose, Travis d'Arnaud and Drew Hutchison?  Yes, I'll do that.  If I lived in Kingston, I would probably make that trip 3 or 4 times a year. 

I'd bet that having the affiliation with the Jays rather than the Orioles would make a huge difference for attendance in Ottawa.

Ryan Day - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 04:14 PM EST (#251745) #
I used to go to see the Lynx when I lived in Ottawa in the late-90s. It's a nice park, but sitting outside for 2-3 hours in April (or even May, sometimes) is not always pleasant. A short-season team would be a nice fit in that respect.

Of course, it would be foolish for the Jays to talk about changing affiliates until Ottawa gets all its i's dotted & t's crossed. I wonder if New Hampshire might get jittery about it, though - if they see the Jays inevitably moving to Ottawa, either in 2013 or a few years after that - they could pursue an affiliation with another team that might be a long-term fit.
Gerry - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 04:51 PM EST (#251746) #

It's in nobody's interest to admit to anything before the end of the season.  Major league team's don't want the bad publicity of leaving a location.  Players, managers and front office people don't want to have to answer "what does this mean" questions for 5 months.  Minor league teams don't want any negative publicity or lame dog type status.

Expect a news blackout, as much as the teams can.

Mike Green - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 04:59 PM EST (#251747) #
Definitely, Gerry. 

"Lame Duck" has an interesting origin, apparently being used originally for investors with no cash to spend.  Bulls, Bears and Lame Ducks.  Why you would use a duck to describe such an investor seems to be lost in the mists of time.

John Northey - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 05:06 PM EST (#251748) #
Perfect world would be to buy a AAA team and move it to Ottawa so the Jays could keep their solid AA setup and the AAA team could be close to home. However, I doubt that will happen.

Although in the world of Alex A whatever you think will happen won't and whatever you don't think up of will.
Mylegacy - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 05:38 PM EST (#251751) #
Why not move the double AA team in New Hampshire to Ottawa as our AA team and them move the LV team to New Hampshire as our AAA team in the International league? Ottawa wins, New Hamshire wins, LA - most likely - "Doesn't give a damn one way or the other."

I realize that most likely will require other moves by other teams - but - surely AA can work out a three way or four way switch somehow, someway.

whiterasta80 - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 05:40 PM EST (#251752) #
Ottawa's weather in April is no worse than Binghamton. As a resident I would kill for a AA team here, but Id like to see us do right by New Hamshire. Its Vegas we need to deal with. Are we sure Ottawa cant go AAA instead? Or NH for that matter.
cpfan - Friday, February 10 2012 @ 08:41 PM EST (#251754) #

Don't forget moving the 51s to Buffalo is another option, and one that is rumoured to be a possibility.  Living in Welland, that's the move that I would like.

In April 2010, we watched part of a Fisher Cats game in Binghamton.  Froze darn near to death.  Left after 6 innings.  In 2011, after going to 7 Spring Training games in beautiful weather, we didn't want go to any games that might be poor weather.

Wonder what Cleveland is like in early April?

Steve

 

#2JBrumfield - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 11:36 AM EST (#251760) #

The National Post's John Lott has more about Ottawa's push to get the Jays as an affilate.

Councillor Rick Chiarelli, a leading proponent of a plan to bring back minor-league ball to the city, said he met twice with Jays officials in 2010 to discuss how to make it happen. He refused to name the officials, and stressed that they pointedly declined to make a commitment to put a farm team in Ottawa.

The Ottawa Citizen also has more comments from Chiarelli.  The story notes that seating at Ottawa Stadium will be reduced by 2,000.

robertdudek - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 01:02 PM EST (#251765) #
Why not bring back a NY-Penn league team to Southern Ontario. Hamilton would work better than St Catharines (they once had the Cardinals A ball team), or why not put it in Toronto and have them play at the Dome until they can renovate Lamport Stadium.
Original Ryan - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 01:32 PM EST (#251767) #
I suspect that Toronto's commitment to the Vancouver Canadians will preclude the possibility of the Jays bringing a New York-Penn League affiliate back to southern Ontario, at least for the foreseeable future.
robertdudek - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 01:36 PM EST (#251768) #
No reason there can't be two short season A ball teams.
Original Ryan - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 02:17 PM EST (#251769) #
Wouldn't that be overkill? No other organization has two Short-A teams. Several teams don't have one at all.
robertdudek - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 02:29 PM EST (#251770) #
Only half of all franchises have two rookie ball teams, the Blue Jays among them. Simply scratch Bluefield and add an NYP team. Other organizations have had two A- teams in the past. Some have even had two A level teams (i.e. not including A- or A+).
robertdudek - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 02:32 PM EST (#251771) #
Not to mention the logical thing to do would be to renovate Nat Bailey and convert the Canadians into a AAA PCL franchise.  That solves the AAA Las Vegas problem.
robertdudek - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 02:54 PM EST (#251773) #
Dream affiliate list:

AAA-Vancouver, AA-Ottawa, A+ Dunedin, A (Midwest league) A- Hamilton, R+Lethbridge or Medicine Hat, R GCL Jays

Original Ryan - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 03:15 PM EST (#251774) #
The two Rookie teams the Blue Jays have are technically at different levels -- the Appalachian League is Rookie-Advanced, which is a bit higher than the Gulf Coast League. Only the White Sox and Royals have two affiliates at the same level (both Rookie-Advanced teams). Further, I believe the Blue Jays now own the Bluefield affiliate, and I doubt they'd be inclined to ditch it any time soon.

My understanding is that there were quite a few early-season rainouts when Vancouver was in the PCL, so it's probably best suited for its current short-season league. Regardless, one of the biggest issues with Las Vegas is the fact that it takes a day for the Blue Jays to call someone up, and Vancouver wouldn't fix that problem. Buffalo, if available next offseason, would be a far better AAA choice for that reason.

A Midwest League affiliate in London would work geographically for that league, but a new ballpark would need to be built.
StephenT - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 06:23 PM EST (#251781) #
Story from Nov 14/11 that Buffalo is unhappy with the Mets: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/36530/buffalo-may-boot-mets
Richard S.S. - Saturday, February 11 2012 @ 11:19 PM EST (#251785) #
I would prefer New Hampshire as an AA Jay team, as all indications are it`s as good as, if not better, than A.A. says.  That rarely happens for an organization, so when it happens , don`t piss it away just for another, soon to be failing, Canadian Jay team.  I saw the plans for the new AAA stadium in Las Vegas being proposed, below ground, open air, easily kept grass field, and still direct flights (often) to Toronto. 
gnor - Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 10:40 AM EST (#251788) #
I agree the most pressing issue right now is the AAA situation. I wonder what it would take for Rogers to buy the Buffalo team and solve the problem forever?

I mean, Mike McCoy could get a place in St Catharines and be home every night, plus be ready to go either way in the morning!

ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 02:57 PM EST (#251794) #
I used to go to see the Lynx when I lived in Ottawa in the late-90s. It's a nice park, but sitting outside for 2-3 hours in April (or even May, sometimes) is not always pleasant. A short-season team would be a nice fit in that respect.

I agree entirely about a short-season team. Anyone who sat through the painful crowds of 50-100 people (and not just in cold weather) for AAA ball in Ottawa knows that the Jays are not going to abandon an absolutely excellent minor-league franchise in Manchester, the heartland of baseball, in order to move it to where you simply cannot go to a game for the first 4-6 weeks of the season and where baseball has repeatedly failed. Ottawa had the worst attendance in the International League for 11 straight years after the initial novelty quickly wore off. The replacement semi-pro team went bankrupt.

Ottawa is not in the same climate zone as Kingston, let alone (heading south) Syracuse or Binghamton. Binghamton is much more like Windsor, Ontario, which in comparison to Ottawa resembles the Bahamas.

Short season A may work well for two reasons. One, it doesn't start in April when it regularly snows in Ottawa. Two, it's short and doesn't stretch the local market's baseball interest/attention span. But I doubt any short season minor league is interested in the logistical nightmare. The NY Penn League includes teams a very long way away.

You know the Chiarelli's, local Liberal politicos (brother Bob is a McGuinty cabinet minister), won't be spending any of their own money on this adventure, but you can start a stop watch for the time until they'll be complaining that Ottawa is hard-done by Rogers.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 04:21 PM EST (#251797) #
If the Jays can acquire Buffalo as an AAA site after the 2012 season, it would be ideal, otherwise wait for the new stadium in Las Vegas.   Leave the AA team in New Hampshire, seldom do you get as good a situation as this.   The A+ and RK- are the Blue Jay owned teams playing in Dunedin (a very common occurance).   Obviously the DSL, RK+, and A- aren't going anywhere.   First Full Season A, Lansing, is reasonably located travel-wise.   Relocating a team is easy, it's just not always right.   Travel time and costs of said travel can make teams financially non-viable.    Or, it's stupid.
StephenT - Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 11:04 PM EST (#251801) #
If it's the Ottawa Mets, New Hampshire would still visit for 10 games a year (based on the 2012 schedule), which would suit me fine.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 11:00 AM EST (#251806) #

As per weatherbase

Ottawa:

Average daily low in April: 1.6 degrees celcius

Average daily maximum in April: 11.9 degrees celcius

Average number of days below 0: 10.8

Average number of rainy days: 10.1

Average snowfall (cm): 7.5

Binghamton:

Average daily low in April: 2.6 degrees celcius

Average daily maximum in April: 13.7 degrees celcius

Average number of days below 0: 9.5

Average number of rainy days: 14

Average snowfall (cm): 6.3  

And just for comparison Windsor:

Average daily low in April: 2 degrees celcius

Average daily maximum in April: 13 degrees celcius

Average number of days below 0: 0.2

Average number of rainy days: 12.2

Average snowfall (cm): 4.3

 

For the record the May Data is even more bunched together

There is a dramatic difference between Ottawa and Binghamton (and Windsor) in terms of year-round climate. But April and May are not the months where this manifests itself.

Mike Green - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 11:30 AM EST (#251807) #
The Weather Network has the same kind of information.  Early April is indeed cold in Ottawa, but the average high in May is 19 degrees.  I'd gladly take my chances on Victoria Day weekend, and that's with a 4-5 hour train ride. 




ComebyDeanChance - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 12:09 PM EST (#251810) #
Here's the 10 day forecast for Ottawa.

http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Ottawa+Canada+CAXX0343

Here's the 10 day forecast for Binghamton.

http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Binghamton+NY+13905

in 6 of the 10 next days in Binghamton, the high is 37-40. In 0 of the next 10 days is that the case for Ottawa. The weather is not the same. It's even worse when you look at the lows. It's not the same weather in the two locations. Moreover, Binghamton doesn't have the history of failure of a baseball location that Ottawa has. The Jays are not going to voluntarily exit their best minor league location for one of, if not the, worst locations in North America. I'd love to see short season in Ottawa, but I'd hate to see the Jays abandon their best minor league affiliate to put a AA affiliate in Ottawa.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 02:36 PM EST (#251824) #

CBDC,

Once again, why do we care about the weather in February? I'm not disputing the discrepancies in temperature right now, just in April!  I'm not saying that short season ball doesn't make a sense with the unpredictable weather, I'm just arguing that we shouldn't dismiss full season ball in Ottawa if Binghamton (and for that matter Buffalo and Syracuse) currently support teams. The weather (IN APRIL/MAY) is comparable as the historical data shows!

I also made no argument about the potential for failure in Ottawa relative to Binghamton, nor did I make a case for leaving NH.  

For the record, even though I live in Ottawa I have no interest in deserting NH. I do think that the climate for baseball in Canada is changing and I do think that Ottawa can support a team if they can address parking issues at the stadium. I love the scenarios where Ottawa takes the AA team and NH moves up to AAA but from what I gather that is not allowed. Given that I'd rather see Ottawa either get a AAA team, or an A+ team.

hypobole - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 03:01 PM EST (#251825) #
whiterasta - No way Ottawa gets an A+ team. The leagues are in Florida, California and the Carolinas. Only possible A leagues that could possibly fit would be Low A Midwest or Short Season New York-Penn.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 03:22 PM EST (#251829) #

I thought Lansing was A+, no?

hypobole - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 04:31 PM EST (#251837) #
Dunedin Jays are in the A+ Florida State League. Lansing is in the low A Midwest League.
John Northey - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 05:01 PM EST (#251841) #
Basically in most of Canada I'd say a short season team is ideal. Fewer games to sell, all in warm weather. Outside of the die-hards you don't see many come out in April or early May when it is cold outside. Probably part of the problem for hockey in the US south - people want an experience but they don't want to freeze their butts off either.

So either the majors (Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver the only possible destinations) or short season A ball/independent leagues which normally are just summer anyways. Also works better for the fans as AAA teams tend to have a lot of churn (players going up, players coming down) while short-season teams and indy league ones tend to be more stable (ie: who you see opening day is likely to be there at the end of the season) which allows fans to identify with the players more and also avoids the whole 'is this team trying to win or not' issue.

Big time fans of baseball want to see the best possible players. Casual fans want a winner or something to cheer on. Canada has more casual, the US more addicts.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 08:35 PM EST (#251845) #

John I would agree with that sentiment overall. There is, of course, the third option of an indoor/convertible stadium.  It is by no means likely (based on cost), but I think that an indoor stadium does address alot of the concerns about temperature/precipitation.

cybercavalier - Monday, February 13 2012 @ 10:00 PM EST (#251850) #
I would agree with that sentiment at large. Is it possible to convert Nat Bailey Stadium into an indoor stadium or include a canopy structure that would circulate heating inside the stadium ?
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