It's been a week now since Sharon-ing a lovely evening, Taryn' up time, and enjoying some of the most Greg-arious company Citi Field has ever had to offer. Parts of those stories are in words and pictures here and here, respectively, but I will try to get back and give them more of a happy recap before this summer completely falls away.
Fine. Have a picture.
In the week since then, however, other Met things have happened. Few of them involved scoring runs, as the home plate drought in Queens threatens to overwhelm even the worst of the one in the Midwest. When your weekly run totals against two of the worst teams in your league are 1, 2, 2, 0, 1, 3 and 2, and you still somehow manage to win the last two of those games? Something is terribly rotten in the neighborhood of Chop Shops.
Yet all of that, you know. It's as plain as the no's in your run column. What you may not know, though, is that a potentially beautiful friendship is about to come to a sudden end and it is only going to make things worse for the Mets in years to come: tomorrow night, in all likelihood, is the final home game for the Buffalo Bisons under Mets affiliation. The starter will be last Thursday's Citi Field Flavor of the Week Collin McHugh, one of the five Met pitchers with a good claim against ownership for failure to provide support; he did a little better in his last Bison appearance, the one I saw him in at Fenway weekend before last, where he pitched six strong shutout innings with only two runs to show for it. (Unlike the parent bullpen's usual results, that lead held up in the end.)
It was Wally Backman who spilled the beans the day after that game:
Backman pretty much confirmed late Sunday afternoon what has been plainly obvious for several weeks: These are the New York Mets' final days as the parent club of the Buffalo Bisons.
Speaking to The News following his team's 4-1 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium, Backman pulled no punches when asked if he was disappointed he couldn't produce a playoff club in Buffalo. That was probably the only way the Mets could get an extension of their player development contract.
"I would guess that's true," Backman said when asked if he expected the homestand that begins Monday night to be the Mets' final one in Coca-Cola Field. "It's a shame for us, really. Buffalo is a great city but I don't envision us coming back, from the things I've heard from the grapevine."
The Bisons are 62-67 and headed to their third losing season in four years with the Mets. Backman is convinced things would have been different if not for injuries, both in New York and Buffalo. The Bisons have gone through 61 players and 154 roster moves this season.
And the next thing the Mets are almost certainly going to go through is the Pacific Coast League:
Teams execute player development contracts for either two or four years, and the Bisons are the only International League team not signed for the period covering the 2013-14 seasons. They are expected to sign next month with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Buffalo became the lone holdout when Rochester surprised some observers by signing a two-year extension with Minnesota on Friday. Their agreement dates to 2003 but seemed to be in jeopardy after the team posted horrendous records of 49-95 and 53-91 the last two years but bounced back this year to get within 3½ games in the wild-card race.
Bisons officials face fines from Minor League Baseball if they discuss affiliation switches prior to the opening of the 15-day window to make those deals on Sept. 16. At that time, Buffalo is likely to make the move to the Blue Jays. The Mets will thus be forced to the Pacific Coast League, to either replace the Blue Jays in Las Vegas or perhaps step in for the Houston Astros in Oklahoma City.
Which gets us back to the bad old post-Norfolk years, where the Mets prospects will not only be based far away (a switch to the Red Wings had seemed likely until they re-upped with the Twins) but won't even be passing through Buffalo or Rochester as visitors. These past four years have been a shotgun marriage at best, with little love coming from the parent club this year in terms of past-player appearances or career-minor-leaguer signings. At this past weekend's 25th anniversary celebration of the downtown era of the team, the old-school red-and-green Bison uniforms were much more in view than they'd been in the Met-color era.
The short, and soon to be ended, era.
You might think the Blue Jays would be a logical choice for us, given how close Toronto is. (Unless your name is Taryn, anyway:P) You would be wrong. Their cable-package games are not televised here; their major league stadium is atrocious from a playing-field standpoint; local sports fans hate the city for their snooty ownership of the Maple Leafs and their poaching of one of our annual Bills home games; and the Jays ownership basically wore out their welcome in Syracuse prior to the Vegas move after years of neglecting the affiliate. Yet the local ownership seems determined to go with the devil they don't know rather than with the Wilpons they do.
After the past week of agony, can you blame them?
Crack investigative reporter peers into Mets Executive Offices and finds lights on, nobody home.
Weather permitting, I will join McHugh and Nickeas and possibly Valdy for one last Met hurrah tomorrow night. I fully expect the focus will be on the distant past and on the future rather than on these past four years. And that's a damn sad reflection on what might have been.