At its core, the city of Las Vegas is a portrait of transience. This fact is exemplified with the history of baseball in the city, and once again, the affiliation of the city's AAA franchise changing hands.
Baseball in Las Vegas, Nevada
Saturday September 29th, 2012
Moving on from four years as the last stop in the minors for Toronto Blue Jays farmhands, the latest iteration of minor league baseball in the city shifts to the blue and orange of the New York Mets, beginning the 2013 season.
It will be the fourth major league team to make Pacific Coast League roots in the city since 2000, and the sixth since 1947, when Las Vegas saw its first professional sports team, the Class C Wranglers squad of the Sunset League, courtesy of the Boston Braves. While the changing of the guard with respect to the parent club is not news to any minor league team, in Las Vegas, it brings forth a number of questions regarding the present and the future of professional baseball in the town, and questions as to why baseball remains a fleeting side note in the history of the city.
In baseball circles, Vegas is not only known for its status as a revolving door of affiliations, but also the steadfast mediocrity of its teams, regardless of the names on the front of the jerseys. In the 38 years of minor league baseball in The Meadows, teams have won an uninspiring 49% of their games, with the Blue Jay affiliated 2002 51's holding the best winning percentage of any season of professional baseball seen in Vegas, winning 59% of their 144 games that year. On the flip side, the 1994 Las Vegas Stars, then a San Diego outpost, brought home a 39% winning percentage. Overall, the Las Vegas affiliates have brought home two championships, in 1986, and 1988, when they were the Stars of San Diego. It was an era that saw San Diego in a period of mediocrity in its own right, but with a respectable stable of up and coming prospects. The '86 and '88 Stars squads had such MLB luminaries as John Kruk, the Alomar brothers, and Benito Santiago, garnering post season hardware, under the watchful, even keeled eye of manager Larry Bowa. While this Mojave Desert outpost has experienced many a year of winning droughts, there has been the occasional oasis of success scattered across its barren baseball landscape.
Looking at overall team records, we see again a model of average consistency. The best team showing while within Vegas city limits comes courtesy of the Toronto iteration of the 51's of the last four years. Their career winning percentage? A robust 50.3%. Using this as a high water mark, let's have a look at the 'success' of the other Las Vegas affiliates:
To go with their just-a-game-under -500 regular seasons, Las Vegas has seen their AAA teams perform in the postseason at a pedestrian 17-23 record, which comes out to a winning percentage of..43%.
Over the years, Las Vegas baseball fans have seen fairly steady seasons from their teams, with a couple of playoff appearances smattered about, most recently in 2002, a first round exit under the ephemeral tutelage of Brad Mills. Fairly vanilla showings, which in a town built upon the pursuit of the adrenaline, and excitement of extra curricular debaucheries, doesn't make fans, current, or potential, rush to the turnstiles.
Speaking of turnstiles, let's ruminate briefly over the destination of the fans of these teams since 1983. Cashman Field is at best utilitarian, a stark contrast to the gaudiness, and excess that define the rest of the city. Yet, Cashman shares in the excess of the city, in the form of excess seating in the stadium. A stadium that can fill 9,334 fans, the seats over the years remain half full yearly, with the average year seeing about 4600 fans per game. As an enigmatic aside, the highest average attendances seen at Cashman came during their 58-85 1993 season (58% capacity), while their lowest attended games came in the PCL Championship winning 1986 season (44% capacity). From the ticket sales, the seats in the stands, to the clubhouses, and location, Cashman remains an afterthought of a stadium.
Much has been made of the desire to bring a major league professional franchise to the city over the last several years. From a MLB team, to the once promising idea of relocating the NBA Sacramento Kings, numerous attempts have been made to make arrangements for a franchise to plant new roots in Las Vegas.
However, if the past, and present of the AAA teams of the city are any indication of the success of another professional franchise in Vegas, aside from minor league baseball, the people of the city will welcome it with a shrug of the shoulders, and an indifference that the Wranglers, Stars, and 51's of days past have embraced, and embodied. In a landscape where the bombastic and exotic are the normal, minor league baseball in Las Vegas has made itself stand out through its unique mediocrity.
by tokentoys on Tuesday October 9th @ 7:12PM
Soon they will have a major league team ID bet on it
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