Though there are still a few days left in the minor league baseball “PDC Frenzy,” the affiliations are all but set in stone. Sport Change will now analyze the affiliation changes and see how we did with predictions.
Here are the new affiliations:
TRIPLE-A (International and Pacific Coast Leagues)
-Buffalo Bisons now with Toronto Blue Jays
-Las Vegas 51s now with New York Mets
SINGLE-A (Midwest and South Atlantic Leagues)
-Beloit Snappers now with Oakland A’s
-Burlington Bees now with Anaheim Angels
-Cedar Rapids Kernels now with Minnesota Twins
-Kane County Cougars now with Chicago Cubs
-Peoria Chiefs now with St. Louis Cardinals
-Quad Cities River Bandits now with Houston Astros
-Lexington Legends now with Kansas City Royals
SHORT SEASON A (New York-Penn League)
-Batavia Muckdogs now with Miami Marlins
-Jamestown Jammers now with Pittsburgh Pirates
-State College Spikes now with St. Louis Cardinals
How Did Our Predictions Turn Out?
Sport Change published this post on September 16th, right before the first reaffiliations were formally announced. It was all but official that Kane County and the Cubs were teaming up, so that one will not count as a correct prediction. I put down some predictions of what I thought would happen, so let’s see how that all turned out. If you read through the comments, I also continued to make predictions as the results were announced, with varying success. Here is what I initially predicted to change:
-Buffalo Bisons with Toronto Blue Jays. Correct.
-Las Vegas 51s with New York Mets. Correct.
There were two Single-A scenarios, but I’m taking the benefit of the doubt and going with “scenario 2.”
-Kane County Cougars with Cubs. Correct, but was already known.
-Cedar Rapids Kernels with Twins. Correct.
-Beloit Snappers with Royals. Incorrect.
-Peoria Chiefs with Angels. Incorrect.
-Quad Cities River Bandits with Astros. Correct.
-Lexington Legends with Cardinals. Incorrect.
I predicted no changes for Short Season A, so those three were incorrect, I suppose.
Math be damned–I’m giving myself a 50% prediction rate. Went with my gut on the Bisons, and it panned out. Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities were largely hunches. Though I predicted no changes in short season, as soon as the State Collge/St. Louis affiliation was announced, I comment-predicted Pittsburgh and Jamestown. Triple A and Short Season balance each other and I batted .500 in low-A, if you include Kane County. Not bad. Don’t mean to brag–I’ve just never come close to being this correct with sports predictions.
Upgrade or Downgrade?
What do the new affiliations mean for all the clubs? Have they improved their lot or taken a step backward? Let’s go team by team, analyzing the new affiliations:
-Buffalo and Toronto. This is great for the Bisons, the Blue Jays, and both of the cities represented. Buffalo is more closely tied with Toronto than NYC, and the proximity of the two clubs is outstanding. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
-Las Vegas and New York Mets. You can bet that Las Vegas is happy to have the higher-profile Mets as a parent club, and you can bet that there are plenty of ex-New Yorkers in Vegas who will jump at the chance to cheer for the 51s. It’s hard to say how the Mets feel about losing in-state Buffalo, but baseball scouts are gamblers by nature and they’ll be catching plenty of cheap flights to the desert. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
-Beloit Snappers with Oakland A’s. Despite the increase in distance, I think this is good for Beloit. Beloit plays in the Milwaukee market, and the Twins were once a fierce rival of the Brewers; a rivalry annually renewed with interleague play. The A’s are a neutral parent club. For Oakland, there is basically no change, as Beloit and Burlington are essentially equal in distance and attendance. One serendipitous occurrence is that both clubs have the same teams colors. Another is that they both have crappy old stadiums. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
-Burlington Bees with Anaheim Angels. For the Angels, Burlington is a slight downgrade due to the fact that Cedar Rapids was a more successful club in a larger town. For Burlington, this is a slight upgrade in that the Angels are a more high-profile AL team. It’s a shame that the A’s and Bees are no longer together, but there is still serendipity here: the Angels now have both MiLB teams named the Bees: in single-A Burlington and triple-A Salt Lake. Plenty of buzz around the Angels. Sport Change Verdict: Push.
-Cedar Rapids Kernels with Minnesota. The closest MiLB team to the Twin Cities is Cedar Rapids, and the Twins were able to sever ties with Beloit, who play in a rival MLB market. The Kernels are also a pretty successful team, so the Twins have to be happy–especially with the chance to build a stronger fan base in Iowa. The Angels may have been higher profile for the Kernels, but game attendance may increase as Minnesotans may drive south to watch Twins’ prospects. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade
-Kane County with Chicago Cubs. Though many (most?) Cougar fans are White Sox fans, this will benefit both clubs long term. The distance is closer, and it will be easier to unify the greater Chicago area than the whole state of Illinois. It will be great for the Cubs to gain fans, and for the Cougars it is much more preferable than Kansas City. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade
-Peoria with St. Louis. For the Cardinals, this should be seen as an upgrade simply because the driving distance is shorter than the Quad Cities. For Peoria, this is a major downgrade. It hurts to lose the in-state Cubs, and switching to a division rival only rubs salt in the wound. Sport Change Verdict: Downgrade.
-Quad Cities with Houston. For the River Bandits, this may be seen as an upgrade. The Astros are lower in profile and success rate than the Cardinals, but I’m assuming that there are many Cubs fans in the Quad Cities; which are right on the Iowa-Illinois border. Houston is more neutral. For the Astros, this has to be a downgrade; if only for the fact that it’s a longer drive than Lexington. Sport Change Verdict: Push.
-Lexington with Kansas City. For the Legends, this is an upgrade. Missouri and Kentucky have more in common than Texas and Kentucky, arguably. I’d guess that Lexington is Cardinal country, but KC isn’t bad as a runner up. For the Royals, it may be a disappointment to lose the uber-popular Cougars, but at least they have a neutral site from which to draw fans rather than an affiliate within the market of the division rival White Sox. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
-Batavia with Miami. This isn’t official yet, but since Baltimore and Aberdeen are joined at the hip, it’s all but a slam dunk. Theoretically, the Marlins could totally forego Short-Season A, but they have no club in the Appalachian League or the Pioneer League. For the Marlins, it’s a slight downgrade from the Jammers; who better represented a flashy style. For the Muckdogs, it’s probably a slight downgrade since they lost the higher-profile Cardinals. So…Sport Change Verdict: Downgrade.
-Jamestown with Pittsburgh. For Jamestown, this has to be an upgrade considering the recent excitement around the (relatively) nearby Pirates. For Pittsburgh, it’s tougher to tell. They lost the in-state Spikes of State College, but they were also able to distance themselves from State College stigma. The Jammers are still close by and are a more fun club. Plus, both teams are alliterative. Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
-State College with St. Louis. For State College, it’s a little baffling that they would ditch their in-state Pirates, but the Cardinals are more successful. For St. Louis, the Spikes are closer in distance, but there is also the whole stigma thing. I guess we’ll call it a….Sport Change Verdict: Upgrade.
And that’s that. There weren’t too many changes, and there won’t be too many in MiLB until the next PDC frenzy of 2014. Sport Change will still post on the Minors periodically, especially to weigh in on the name the team contests. Other than that, we’ll probably reaffiliate with the Minors in the Spring. Thanks for reading.