ISO­TOPES COULD WIN ‘COPA’ AWARD

Mari­achis pro­mo­tion set at­ten­dance record in ABQ

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - JOUR­NAL STAFF AND WIRES TANK­ING: METS:

“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.

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