Catching A Break – The Tribulations of Owning The Bisons
By – Mack Ade
The current contract which binds the New York Mets and Buffalo Bisons expires at the end of this season and the general consensus is that current Bisons ownership have had enough.
The Bisons decided after the 2008 season to leave their association with the Cleveland Indians and signed a two-year agreement with the Mets. A two year extension to that agreement went into effect in 2010, which expires in October.
The change did not go over well with local fans, which had followed the Indian’s affiliate for 14 years. This included nine playoff appearances and winners of the division championship in 1997, 1998, and 2004.
Indians that played on Buffalo include Travis Hafner, Chad Durbin, Grady Sizemore, Rafael Perez, Shin-Soo Choo, Fausto Whatever His Name Is, and Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Bisons have not made the playoffs as a Mets affiliate in the past three years and team rosters have quickly evaporated due to multiple injuries on the parent team.
It seems that the roster is strong at the beginning of each season, but, as members of the parent squad go down, the phone call is made to Buffalo and a top Bison departs.
The Mets then tend to leave their key prospects in AA-ball to mature rather than replace those that have existed Buffalo. Instead, ‘AAAA’ players are signed and locals are robbed of watching future major league baseball players develop.
This season’s squad includes 32-year olds P Justin Hampson and OF Vinnie Rottino, 33-year old 1B-OF Val Pascucchi, and 34-year old IF Bobby Scales. All are capable AAA players, but also offer the Mets no projected options other than emergency fill-ins.
Both Scales and fan-favorite Pascucchi are off to a fast start, but the fans have already lost prospect OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the parent club.
Even their 2011 manager, Tim Teufel, was snatched and is now the third base coach in Flushing.
I asked team officials for a comment but was informed that the league’s rules prevented them from going there. Don’t think they would have anyway. Know I wouldn’t have.
Bisons History: Fans may not realize this but Buffalo were an MLB team from 1879 to 1885 (no, Julio Franco did not play on that team). They were original members of the International League beginning in 1886… at times, they were members of the Western League (1899), back in the majors (1900), and became the Winnipeg Whips in 1970. They returned to Buffalo in 1979 as an AA team, became a AAA team once again in 1985, and rejoined the International League in 1997… since 1979, the Bisons have been affiliates with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1979-82), The Chicago White Sox (1983-84), Cleveland (1983-83, 1986-2008) and the Mets (2009-12).