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Despite Wilpons’ Attempt, the 2012 Scranton Yankees Not Severely Affected by Gypsy-Type Season



By Joseph Delgrippo ~ January 27th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees, Yanks Minors.

A few weeks ago, several writers were asked by Mike Silva to write a small piece on “The Most Intriguing Yankees Prospects for 2012,” not necessarily the top guys, but guys who are at a crossroads or as I thought, need to have a big impact this season for the future of the parent club.

Within this piece, Chuck Johnson wrote as his #5, the Scranton starting rotation. The reason for that was Scranton is redoing PNC Park, their home field, and the SWB Yankees will be a traveling circus for the 2012 season, a team without a true home field.

I had forgotten about that fact, and the last I heard, the New York Mets had blocked the Yankees idea to play their home games in Newark, a perfect fit for an organization’s Triple-A affiliate. It was both close to the parent club and to loads of Yankee fans. I assume this was why Scranton isn’t playing their home games in Staten Island, home of the Yankees New York-Penn League affiliate. Both the Scranton team and Staten Island are owned by the same company, Mandalay Sports.

It is assumed that the Mets didn’t want the Yankees so close to the Mets, so as to draw fans away for the Mets major league team. The Mets owners are losing money so fast,  they have to sell partial ownership shares and drastically cut payroll . Realistically, the few hundred fans the Mets MIGHT lose will not help them in their $386 million Madoff-related civil suit trial, which begins March 19 of this year.

Amazingly, a few years ago, the Mets were trying to get their Double-A team to play on Long Island, which would have needed Yankees approval. That move was declined not by the Yankees, but by the Long Island voters, presumably the Mets base of fans. In addition, after the Brooklyn and Staten Island teams were set in the NYPL, the Mets wanted to move their Double-A team from Binghamton to Brooklyn on a permanent basis, but the Yankees said no.

The Yankees really wanted for the Newark Bears  to be the Yankees Triple-A team FOR ONE SEASON, to replicate the past. At one time, the Newark Bears were the premiere minor league team, and in the 1940s, many people thought they were better than several major league teams, such as the St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia A’s.

The Yankees tried three times with the Mets, but the Mets said no every time, worried that future fans would become Yankees fans. With their current dismal team, past epic late season collapses, worst GM in history’s (Omar Minaya) moves still affecting the team, his protégé Tony Bernazard threatening to fight minor leaguers, losing their top player in Jose Reyes (and possibly David Wright, too), and that tiny little Madoff lawsuit situation, the Mets had much worse things to think about.

It is apparently obvious that the very condescending Jeff Wilpon (check out this quote) holds very deep grudges.

Another classy move by one of the worst ownership groups in all of sports. Even Donald Sterling sometimes laughs at Fred and Jeff Wilpon, especially Jeff.

Since the Mets said no to the Yankees request, the Yankees decided to have their Triple-A affiliate play most of their home games in a variety of parks in upstate New York, namely Rochester and Batavia. With other “home” games are to be played at either their opponents home park such as Pawtucket and Lehigh Valley.

For home games, the Scranton team will play 37 games in Rochester, 10 games in Syracuse, eight games in Allentown, PA, seven games in Batavia, New York, six games in Buffalo, New York and four games in Pawtucket, RI. They will also play away games in all these same fields, except Batavia, which will host Scranton home games, when the Rochester Red Wings have their own scheduled home games.

According to Scranton’s Director of Media Relations, Mike Vander Woude, the Rochester and Batavia teams are closely related, and have gone out of their way to accommodate the Yankees.

In my opinion, even more so than the New York Mets ownership group does. One of the weirdest situations occurs in mid-June when the Scranton team plays the Louisville Red Birds. The first three games (Sat/Sun/Mon) are played in Rochester, while the fourth game on Tuesday is played in Batavia. As the Red Wings are not playing at home that Tuesday, I can find no reason why the game is moved to Batavia, where the NY-Penn League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals plays.

Batavia is 35 miles away from Rochester.

I originally thought the Yankees were making a mistake by having a gypsy-type Triple-A team, primarily due to the rich pitching talent they have at this level. A long term baseball season (140 games) is never a fully structured environment, but the more structure you can create, the better it will be for the players and coaches. But the more I became informed on the situation, the  initial concern on my part was lessened.

All Scranton players home base will be Rochester as they play the most games there. Rochester’s Frontier Field has the usual home and visitors’ clubhouse, and also an auxiliary clubhouse, making three separate team facilities. The Red Wings will be assigned the Home clubhouse, the Scranton team will be assigned the permanent Visitors’ clubhouse, and all visiting teams to play either team will use the auxiliary clubhouse. This means the Scranton players do not have to pack up all their gear on a daily basis.

Since their home base of Rochester is closer to three divisional teams, the actual long term travel is lessened, but with Syracuse and Buffalo each about 1.5 hours away I thought maybe the team might make daily trips for series instead of staying in local hotels. Hour plus long daily bus trips is not conducive to proper rest and creates many stiff backs. Mr. Vander Woude assured me the team will stay in local Buffalo and Syracuse hotels, and not traveling by bus each day to those further destinations. The Scranton team will only make the daily 35 minute trip to Batavia for those seven “home” games.

Most minor league teams have a steady group of local families and groups which provide housing for most of the non-married players. These homes and apartments are usually consistent from year to year. However, now playing in Rochester, the housing issue becomes tricky in finding new housing in an unfamiliar area. According to Mr. Vander Woude, the Rochester organization has been instrumental in helping Scranton obtain local housing for the players, another way the Minnesota Twins Triple-A organization went out of its way to accommodate the Yankees.

Maybe the Twins think the Yankees might take it easy on the parent team next time they meet in the postseason.

With all the facts regarding team travel, housing and having their own clubhouse, it appears this one-year permanent road trip is not as much a problem for the players as I had originally thought. This gypsy-type Scranton team is probably going to be more difficult for their front office personnel, who likely will have to spend many more days and nights away from their Scranton-based families.

Yet, Fred and Jeff Wilpon will sleep comfortably in their local beds, that is until March 19, 2012 comes around, furthering my joy into St. Joseph’s Day.

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Joseph Delgrippo is an aspiring sportswriter and TV baseball analyst. He played NCAA baseball, at tiny Marietta (OH) College, participating in the Division 3 World Series. In addition, he's coached baseball at the high school level. His knowledge of this game goes far beyond what is shown on television.

2 Responses to Despite Wilpons’ Attempt, the 2012 Scranton Yankees Not Severely Affected by Gypsy-Type Season

  1. Russ Cress

    I still say that the best solution would be to play in Somerset.

    They are indy league with a new park and want the Yankees AAA team to play there. Due to some weird rules thing, they are considered “Phillies territory” even though they are closer to NY (but only 35 miles from the Penn border). It’s close enough to Scranton to draw from that fan base.

    The Yankees think the park is too small, supposedly but the lack of all that travel should make up for that

  2. Piazza

    I’m certainly not a Wilpon fan (faaarrr from it), but anything to make life slightly more uncomfortable for the Yankees and their fans is worthy of my respect. Kudos, Jeff.

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