ISOTOPES COULD WIN ‘COPA’ AWARD
Mariachis promotion set attendance record in ABQ
“Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico” promotion makes franchise one of five finalists to win honor at baseball’s Winter Meetings.
The Albuquerque Isotopes are one of five franchise finalists in Minor League Baseball’s inaugural Copa de la Diversión (Fun Cup) event series that took place during the 2018 season. The winner will be announced on Monday, at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Isotopes already will bring home hardware from Las Vegas. On Sunday night, they receive the 45th annual John H. Johnson President’s Award, which has been presented annually since 1974 to honor the complete baseball franchise.
The Copa de la Diversión (“Copa”) promotion was established to connect minor league franchises with their diverse communities.
The Isotopes were one of 33 franchises to participate. As the Mariachis de Nuevo México, the ’Topes set a single-game attendance record (16,975) for their first-ever Mariachis home game on May 5. Albuquerque led all Copa-participating teams in most attendees gained per game, averaging 5,000 more fans each Copa game compared to similar dates in 2017.
Other Copa de La Diversión finalists: The Eugene Emeralds (Monarcas de Eugene); the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino (Cucuys de San Bernardino); the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City), and the San Antonio Missions (Flying Chanclas de San Antonio) .
For the 2019 season, some 72 franchises will participate, Minor League Baseball has announced.
Baseball players are concerned the Seattle Mariners have become yet another rebuilding team and may be joined by others following a season of steep attendance drops among clubs that faded early and never contended for the playoffs.
Union head Tony Clark and new collective bargaining director Bruce Meyer said Wednesday their members also are concerned about rapid change in the way games are played, such as the increased use of relief pitchers, and are willing to speak with management this offseason about whether counteracting changes are needed.
But Seattle’s decision to trade Robinson Cano, James Paxton, Jean Segura and Edwin Diaz raised concern among players already angered by Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Miami and Pittsburgh jettisoning veterans.
“We have seen some things that are eerily similar to last offseason,” Clark said. “One of the concerns in general has to do with the level of competition or interest in competition across the teams in general. … When you have teams who are as we’ve seen already moving considerable amounts of their roster and/or other teams who are talking about doing so, it raises concerns about how that’s going to affect the market.”
Hours after Clark spoke, Arizona dealt AllStar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis for prospects, perhaps signaling an exodus of veterans from the desert.
Players have taken to calling the process tanking, while management calls it the type of normal rebuilding that has been going on throughout Major League Baseball’s history. There were three 100-loss teams this year for the second time since 1985 and eight 95-loss teams for the first time in big league history.
“There are teams that are effectively announcing at the beginning of the year that they’re not going to be competitive that year, and in some cases that they’re not going to field the best players that they have,” Meyer said.
Celebrity outfielder Tim Tebow is still a Met, and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon talked him up during their appearance on WFAN Wednesday.
“We need him at Syracuse,” said Wilpon, referencing the Mets-owned Triple-A affiliate.
Tebow, 31, is indeed slated to open 2019 at Syracuse. Van Wagenen broke down his baseball future in straightforward terms: If the Mets have a need at Tebow’s position, and if Tebow is the highest-performing option at that position, Tebow will be called up to the majors.