An underreported story last month: The Mets and the Buffalo Bisons, their AAA affiliate, were splitting up. What was underreported was the reason. This wasn't a matter of the Mets growing tired of Buffalo or anything like that; it was the exact opposite. Buffalo, like former Triple-A affiliate Norfolk four years ago, had decided that it had grown "disenchanted with the quality of the product and the attention given by the Mets." (It might seem backward, but MLB teams have to find AAA teams to align with, not vice versa.) Buffalo was likely going with the more logical Toronto Blue Jays when the contract was up, and the Mets had to find another team to use as an affiliate. There was only one left. Because the Mets were dumped by their AAA team.
The Mets officially announced last night that their AAA affiliate starting next year will be the Las Vegas 51s, the longtime affiliate of the Blue Jays. Many teams, including the Blue Jays, don't enjoy having Las Vegas as a AAA team because the offensive environment dramatically influences statistics; it's basically like old Coors Field over there. But the biggest problem for the Mets is that Las Vegas is, you know, on the other side of the country; if the Mets need an emergency call-up, having the next level down be a four-plus-hour flight away is far from ideal.
But after getting fired by the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets had no choice.
Some fun facts about the Las Vegas 51s franchise:
- The team, yes, is named after Area 51; the logo is, in fact, an alien with a baseball for a forehead. It basically looks like Mr. Met after some sort of radiation-based experiment went terribly wrong.
- Famous 51s alumni include Ozzie Guillen, Matt Kemp, Kevin McReynolds, Russell Martin, and Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Tony Gwynn.
- If you're in Vegas at some point over the summer and want to catch a game, you're gonna need a long cab ride. Cashman Field is about eight miles away from the Strip.
Anyway, you can probably count on Johan Santana rehabbing some injury here, at some point.