One year ago, it was reported that the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets, were among the 42 teams that would lose their Major League affiliation under a proposed contraction plan. However, on Tuesday, the new leadership of the Mets announced that they have other plans for the team.
At the introductory press conference for new Mets owner Steve Cohen and recently rehired team president Sandy Alderson Tuesday afternoon, one sentence from Alderson put the fears of Binghamton baseball fans to rest.
“For us, we’re gonna be in Syracuse, we’re gonna be in Binghamton, we’re gonna be in St. Lucie and we’ll be in Brooklyn,” Alderson said.
Just one week after Cohen’s purchase of the team from Fred Wilpon, the new Mets leadership group has secured Binghamton’s place in the organization’s farm system, as wholesale changes are on the horizon for Minor League Baseball.
“We’re gonna lose some minor league franchises, and on its face I’m not really happy about that,” Alderson said. “I think that the minor leagues provide more than just players, they provide a presence in a lot of small communities that are able to make a connection between Major League Baseball and the players that are there in front of them.”
While Binghamton’s affiliation is now secure, the contraction plan is still being put into place, as is evident by the Mets and other clubs around the country. Alderson’s announcement also indicated that the Columbia Fireflies, the Mets’ Class A affiliate based in Columbia, South Carolina, would lose their affiliation with the Mets.
The Fireflies apparently learned of the decision after seeing reports of Alderson’s announcement on Twitter, quoting a tweet from MLB.com writer Anthony DiComo with the caption, “Did…..did we just get dumped via Twitter?!” The team later released an official statement confirming the news.
Despite losing their affiliation with the Mets, the Fireflies play in a robust facility built in 2016 and are expected to find affiliation with another Major League club prior to the start of the 2021 season.
The Kingsport Mets are the only other team to lose their affiliation, but they were already among the clubs expected to transition to an unaffiliated league.
Following the restructuring, Syracuse will remain at the Triple-A level, and Port St. Lucie will be the Low-A affiliate, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey.
Alderson also revealed at his press conference that the Brooklyn Cyclones would likely become a full-season affiliate of the Mets, presumably at the High-A level, but potentially replacing Binghamton as the Double-A affiliate, with Binghamton moving to High-A. However, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday that after confirmation with the Mets leadership, Binghamton would remain the Double-A affiliate.
“I have and will continue to work closely with the Mets, including their new owner Mr. Cohen, all local leaders and stakeholders to step up to the plate and ensure a successful season of America’s favorite pastime in Binghamton,” Schumer said in a statement.
In addition to Schumer, Binghamton Mayor Rich David led a contingent of local politicians to applaud the Mets’ decision to keep the Rumble Ponies as a part of their organization.
“I want to thank [Cohen] and [Alderson] for valuing this community’s long history of support for New York Mets baseball,” David wrote. “Binghamton has been affiliated with the Mets for nearly three decades. Our relationship will only grow with Mr. Cohen’s new ownership and vision.”
Congressman Anthony Brindisi, State Senator Fred Akshar and Broome County Executive Jason Garnar were among the other local leaders to celebrate the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
“[Keeping Mets-affiliated baseball in Binghamton] couldn’t happen without strong commitments, investments and cooperation at the state and local level with our local partners, Binghamton Mayor David and Rumble Ponies owner John Hughes,” Akshar wrote in a tweet. “A true team effort that I’m proud to be a part of.”