The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are looking for a place to play the 2012 season while their ballpark, PNC Field, undergoes renovations. And so the New York Yankees came up with a solution for their AAA club: They worked out an arrangement with Essex County that would have allowed the team to play at Newark's Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium next season. Nostalgic types could appreciate seeing a Yankees farm club in Newark again, if only temporarily, while Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo was excited about an International League team rejuvenating local interest in the sport.
The relocation, however, couldn't happen without permission from the Mets, and Jerry Izenberg writes today that Mets blocked the move. Via NJ.com:
Under baseball's rules, the exclusivity of the Yankees and Mets territory is shared. The Yankees called the Mets and asked permission to put their Triple-A team in Newark for only a single year.
The Mets declined.
The Yankees tried again. They pointed out that it was only for a single year.
The Mets declined again.
The Yankees tried once more. They repeated that this was just for a single year. They said that if the Mets agreed for just that one season they would offer an evergreen matching proposal. In essence, they would give the Mets the same shot if they had a team with a minor league park in jeopardy, no matter how many eons into the future.
The Mets declined, saying their organization would only do something like that with mutual and immediate reciprocity as they did when the Yanks put a minor league team in Staten Island and allowed the Mets to do the same in Brooklyn.
It's not hard to come away from Izenberg's article thinking that the Mets are the bad guy here. But as intriguing as it would be to see the Yankees' top prospects in Newark — just as they were back when Yogi Berra played in the minors — the Mets are within their rights to block the move. Perhaps the Mets are afraid they'd attract fewer fans from New Jersey with such a high-level team playing there next year. Perhaps they view the AAA team as an opportunity for the Yankees to market themselves to suburban fans. Or, who knows, maybe the Mets just don't want to do the Yankees any favors, regardless of what it means to Newark. (Not that this necessarily factored into the decision, but Matthew Artus reminds us over at Amazin' Avenue that the Yankees once blocked the Mets from bringing a minor-league team to Long Island, albeit on a permanent basis.)
A Mets spokesperson confirmed to Izenberg that the club had blocked the move, saying only it was within their rights. So the then question is this: Is blocking the Yankees AAA team from playing in Newark bad karma, or good business?