Mr. Manfred, What Are You Thinking?

By Jeremy Donovan
When people ask me who my football (hockey or basketball) team is, I answer: The Mets. I always get a confused look and, “ummm, they’re not a football (hockey or basketball) team.” Yes. I’m aware. But for me, there is no other sport than baseball worth dedicating a significant of time to watch and follow on a regular basis. I love baseball. It’s poetry in motion. It’s art on a diamond. The game, at its core, is perfect. Why do I love baseball?
I love baseball in part, because I played it, in some form from three years old on. I love baseball because I grew up with the game. Since 1992, when I was four years old, my hometown of Binghamton has had the privilege of having the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets. While I can’t put a number on how many games I’ve attended, it’s easily in the thousands. I always say I grew up in Section 12. I’ve met lifelong friends who I call my “summer uncles” and “summer aunts.” I’ve spent several summers working for the team in different capacities and even when I was a member of the local media I covered the team religiously throughout the summer. Even now, I’m at dozens of games each year taking pictures. I’ve seen the likes of David Wright, Jose Reyes, 2x Cy Young Winner Jacob deGrom, Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, and hundreds of other Mets stars come through Binghamton. Those in the visiting dugout have been just as impressive: Madison Bumgarner, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Torii Hunter, to name just a few.

Sweet Memories. David Wright signs autographs as a Binghamton Met in 2004. It turned out to be his last game in Binghamton, as, after wearing a camouflage jersey on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, he was promoted to Norfolk the next day!

The B-Mets/Rumble Ponies have often been the subject of relocation rumors. In 2011/2012 they were moving to Ottawa. In 2015/2016 they were moving to Wilmington, DE. Neither of those, obviously, happened. Neither of those really ever scared me. I knew, somehow, that they were nothing more than rumors. But, now, I’m starting to get worried.

Major League Baseball’s and Minor League Baseball’s agreement expires at the end of the 2020 season and MLB wants to eliminate 42 MILB teams. Binghamton’s has been mentioned as one of those.
Why would MLB want to do this?

THEY SAY it’s to make travel easier for players. THEY SAY it’s to be able to afford to pay minor league players more. THEY SAY it’s to be able to have higher quality facilities throughout minor league baseball.

I SAY… greed.

Major League Baseball teams are owned by multi-millionaires or billionaires. All 30 MLB teams are worth at least $1 billion, according to the StadiumTalk article published in October of 2019. Why look to small town America and the grassroots origins of the sport and its fan base to level the playing field, or should I say bank accounts, of the league? Instead, why not focus on how to level out the league itself?
Last off-season, three players (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado) signed contracts worth over a combined $1 billion. Are you kidding me? Of the four major North American sports leagues MLB is the only one that does not have a salary cap. The MLBPA is one of, if not the strongest labor union in the country and has fought a salary cap every time the CBA comes up. That’s their right. But I think the time has come to institute one. No one person is worth as much as some of these guys are making (players and owners alike). You want a level playing field? Force the $90 million payroll Rays to spend a set minimum and force the Yankees to spend under a set maximum.
The $400,000-$500,000 a year’s worth of salaries it takes for a full minor league roster are a drop in the bucket for these owners who pay some of their superstars that much for one base hit.
So, rather than try to fix the problem at the richest levels of the sport, the plan is to decimate communities that, for some, have had minor league teams for over a century.
Every year articles are written about how attendance numbers at major league games are in decline. “Baseball’s too slow.” “Baseball’s boring.” “Games take too long.” Do you want to know where games aren’t boring? In the minor leagues.
Between every inning there is no lack of entertainment. Between theme nights, games on the field, games on the video boards, crazy mascots, there’s something for everyone. The ballparks are smaller so no matter where you sit, you’re closer to the action. The players are young kids looking to make their marks. They aren’t spoiled, pampered celebrities. They’re willing to sign more autographs, take more selfies, and talk to the fans. Sometimes connections players make with fans in the minor leagues last them the rest of their lives regardless of if they never make it to the bigs or if they make it to the Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t until I was 10, 11 years old or so that I realized exactly what having a Double-A team in my hometown meant. “Hey, these guys that are playing for the New York Mets used to be B-Mets. I have to start watching the New York Mets more.” My mom grew up a Mets fan, so I came by it honestly, but having the B-Mets in town certainly didn’t hurt.

What would have happened to me if the B-Mets had never come to town in 1992? Would I have kept playing the game all through school, hoping, praying that I’d one day play in the big leagues at Shea Stadium? Would I get giddy with excitement every February when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and feel that excitement build up until it bursts with pure joy on Opening Day (both for MLB and in Binghamton)? Would I have even pursued a career in broadcasting with the original goal of eventually taking over for Gary Cohen calling Mets games on SNY? It may sound overly dramatic, but a large part of who I am today is because I grew up in a minor league baseball town. I liked the game as a young kid. I didn’t love the game until after I started regularly attending B-Mets games.
How many kids (or adults for that matter) will turn away from baseball after Commissioner Rob Manfred and the 30 MLB owners choose their wallets over the good of the sport and take a beloved team away from a passionate community? Worse yet, how many young kids will never be given the chance to fall in love with baseball because their local team disappeared before they even had the chance to discover it?
I applaud Minor League Baseball and its owners for its combined show of support and vow to fight this proposal.

I implore Rob Manfred and the MLB owners to look big picture at the long term ramifications of this plan and realize that in no way is this good for the sport. Stop thinking about your bottom line and think about the fans. Not your luxury box season ticket holders, the little guys. The ones that come to one, maybe two of your major league games a year, and it’s the highlight of their summer. The same fans that show up night in and night out to support players that some day might play for you in the bigs and others that will never even get a cup of coffee. Those fans sit through 30-degree April nights, 95-degree July afternoons. They sit through rain, snow, you name it. The minor leagues are the lifeblood of baseball. Don’t bleed yourself dry to save a few dollars.
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Annual Booster Club Picnic a Big Hit

The annual Binghamton Booster Club picnic with the Ponies took place from approximately 5:00 to 6:30 on June 2nd, after a first game loss of a scheduled doubleheader against Portland. Almost immediately after the first game, a heavy downpour caused postponement of the second game, allowing the boosters and players to enjoy a fabulous meal at a decent hour!

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Harol Gonzalez, who sports a 3-1 record with a 2.94 E.R.A., poses for the camera with NYSEG Stadium in the background. 

Booster Club President Kevin Healy was the master of ceremonies while Rumble Pony owner John Hughes also addressed the attendees. Kevin thanked the entire staff of the Rumble Ponies for putting on the picnic and had high praise for the players, reminding the players that they were following in the footsteps of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Tim Tebow; all whom attended the picnic last year.

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Anthony Kay is all smiles as he holds his winning raffle ticket and the door prize of a Wegmans gift card. 

The food was plentiful including hot dogs, hamburgers, baked chicken, and make your own tacos. Plenty of salads and desserts also filled the buffet table!  Thanks to the Rumble Pony staff and the players for sharing a great afternoon with the boosters!

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Though the Ponies lost the game that preceded the picnic by a 6-5 score, the game was a good one, filled with many positive moments, including Ali Sanchez tagging out Tate Matheny. 

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The Binghamton Baseball Booster Club Now Accepting Applications for its 2019 Sports Management Scholarship!

The Binghamton Baseball Booster Club is once again proud to announce it is accepting applications for its annual Sports Management Scholarship. All local college students majoring in sports management  (or a related field) and all high school seniors planning to major in a sports management field are elgible to apply.

To apply, just click on th “2019 Scholarship Applications” in the banner at the top of this page and copy the application into a Word document; then submit it to the address listed on the scholarship form.

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Binghamton Baseball Boosters Raffling Off a Rumble Ponies Skybox Suite for May 1st!

The Binghamton Baseball Booster Club (BBBC) is selling raffle tickets for a Skybox Suite at NYSEG Stadium for May 1st, when the Rumble Ponies take on the Akron RubberDucks. Tickets are $5.00 and all proceeds go into the treasury of the BBBC so that the BBBC can continue its community enrichment events, including the awarding of an annual sports management scholarship, monthly membership meetings, and  other baseball-centric events. SEnd an email to BBBOOSTERS17@gmail.com to purcbase your raffle tickets–they’re only five dollars and if you win, you get to entertain a dozen or so of your friends with an all you can eat buffett in a Skybox Suite!

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Here’s a snapshot of the raffle ticket…

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BBBC Bus Trip to Citi Field—See the Mets Take on the Braves on 6/30 and get a World Series Ring!

  • Large, 50-seat bus leaves NYSEG Parking Lot at 1:30 PM for 7 PM game against Nationals. Seats in Section 137.
  • 1969 World Series Replica Ring Giveaway Day Sponsored by the Mets
  • A Mets jersey and a N. Y. Mets cap will also be given to all trip attendees by the N.Y. Mets
  • Reserve your seat now with a $10.00 non-refundable deposit (and $10.00 membership in Binghamton Baseball Booster Club); send an e-mail to bbboosters17@gmail.com to reserve your seat!
  • Full payment due by June 1st.

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Congratulations to John Mora, Player of the Month for June!

The Binghamton Baseball Booster Club, in its closest voting in the history of its Player of the Month Award, selected center fielder John Mora as the Player of the Month for June. Mora hit .313 for the month, while also hitting three home runs and knocking in nine runs. He edged out Tim Tebow, who hit .301 for the month of June, with one home run and eleven RBIs. Mora’s excellent outfield defense swung the close vote in his favor. Shelagh Goodrich, the Treasurer of the Binghamton Baseball Booster Club, presented John with his award in between games of the doubleheader against Portland on July 17th.

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John Mora is all smiles as he receives his award. Shelagh’s grandson helped her present the award. 

 

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Binghamton Boosters Offering $7.00 Tickets for 7/16 and 7/21 Rumble Pony Games!

On July 16th and July 21st the Binghamton Baseball Booster Club will sponsor two more theme nights, where we provide discounted tickets for all fans and cheer on the Rumble Ponies! We have purchased a number of tickets in Section 105 so that we can all sit together and root on our Ponies. We are selling the tickets for $7; we also have custom “Let’s Rumble!” T-Shirts available for $10.  We will also “bundle” a package that includes a ticket to that game, a T-shirt and a 2018 Membership for $20!  So for anyone who may have been contemplating joining our Booster Club, now would be a great time!

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The cheering section for the boosters was out in force on June 25th. 

Tim Szczesny will be taking orders for your tickets and your T-shirts, along with new memberships.  Please let Tim know at “tszczes1@binghamton.edu” the number of tickets and number of T-Shirts (along with sizes) you need. Tickets will be left at WILL CALL.

This event coincides with our next Membership Meeting! Thank you….and LET’S RUMBLE!

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General Manager John “JB” Bayne (glasses on top of head) has served as a “body guard” of sorts for Tim Tebow throughout the year.  Tebow has drawn a crowd wherever he has gone this year, but there’s no doubt that Binghamton loves its Rumble Ponies!

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