Strong rumors have surfaced that a group led by Nolan Ryan is buying the Binghamton Mets and moving them to Ottawa. The Mets signed an extension of their affiliate agreement with the B-Mets late last summer which locks the Mets to the franchise no matter where they are located. Here is another example of the current ownership selling out their overall brand for whatever short-term financial gain they might make (key word: might). This is a sad pattern of the Fred, Saul, and Jeff years, where no decisions are ever made with regard to the franchise’s overall value.
Having a Double A team in Binghamton provided a connection to the major league team through midwestern New York state. I have spent time in Binghamton, Oneonta, Elmira, Corning, and Syracuse in the last few years and been pleased to have always had access to SNY and surprised to find many Mets fans. When I have inquired with people, the Binghamton connection has usually been why these folks with no local major league team of their own follow the Mets. In an era of regional networks this expansion of your footprint helps revenues whether these fans are close enough for regular visits to Citifield or not. SNY makes its money from regional cable operators who pay for the right to include SNY on their networks. Abandoning the upstate region completely endangers this revenue as upstate fans will no longer have an interest in following the kids who passed through their town. And it is hard for me to imagine people in Ottawa ever finding a way to relate to a big league franchise a country away. Maybe not as hard as, say, Las Vegas, but hard.
What bothered me the most was the insinuation that the Wilpons had no choice in this matter, that it was being done by the current B-Mets owners. Although that technically might be true at this time, what about when the Mets struck their affiliate agreement with Binghamton? They didn’t include any provisions against moving the team against their will? Why not? Would Burger King let you move your Burger King franchise wherever the hell you please?
Having our Triple A team in Las Vegas and Double A in Ottawa might not be as important as a lot of our other current issues. But it is another sign that every facet of this organization is mismanaged and that the Mets need new ownership like I need a glass of good bourbon when Frank Francisco is on the mound.