Yankees end relationship with Clippers
Friday, September 15, 2006
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
If the Columbus Clippers are to be affiliated with a New York team next season, it will have to be the Mets and not the Yankees, their major-league partner for the past 28 seasons.
The Yankees informed Columbus Baseball Team Inc. last week that they will explore other triple-A options, possibly moving their top prospects to Moosic, Pa., in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
The Clippers, who are owned by Franklin County, have until Sept. 30 to forge a new player-development contract. Three majorleague clubs remain unsigned for next season: the Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.
"I can guarantee we will have baseball in Columbus next season," Clippers president Ken Schnacke said. "We’re entering an entirely different era of baseball."
The planned Arena District ballpark will be a lure to a potential affiliate, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks said.
"We are, from what I understand, much sought-after," she said.
Huntington Park is scheduled to open sometime in 2008 but possibly as late as the start of the 2009 season. The Clippers are looking for a two-year deal, but it won’t be with Cincinnati or Cleveland. The Reds (Louisville, Ky.) and Indians (Buffalo, N.Y.) have working agreements through 2008.
Schnacke would not rule out pursuing those clubs in the future.
There are 30 major-league teams and 30 teams in two triple-A leagues. The Clippers are a member of the International League.
Major-league teams looking elsewhere for minor-league affiliations have a limited pool of potential partners, International League president Randy Mobley said.
No one gets left out, he said.
Many in baseball thought the Yankees would stay put as long as former Columbus resident George Steinbrenner owned the team. However, Clippers employees can’t recall seeing either Steinbrenner or Yankees general manager Brian Cashman at Cooper Stadium the past two seasons.
Cashman issued a "no comment" yesterday when asked about the split.
He is thought to be behind the push to move the Yankees to the Scranton area because of its location, approximately 120 miles west of New York.
The Philadelphia Phillies informed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons this year that they were pulling out to build a new stadium in Allentown, Pa. The Phillies are expected to replace Baltimore in Ottawa until the Allentown site is ready in 2008.
The other minor-league teams in the market for a major-league affiliate are Norfolk, Va., and New Orleans.
The Clippers returned pro baseball to Columbus in 1977 after a seven-year absence. They had two sub-.500 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates before signing with the Yankees in 1979 for the first of three straight International League championship seasons.
Columbus also won playoff titles in 1987, 1991, 1992 and 1996 while sending future stars such as Bernie Williams, Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter to the parent club.
Eighteen players with the Yankees’ 1996 World Series championship team also played for the Clippers.
The status of Clippers manager Dave Miley and coaches Kevin Long and Neil Allen is unclear because they are under contract to the Yankees, Schnacke said. There are no plans to change the Clippers nickname, Schnacke said, and any color or uniform alterations likely would wait until after next season. Dispatch reporter Robert Vitale contributed to this story.