Love this. Here’s the story in a nutshell…
… and here’s a brief summary: Because they’re an undesirable organization with which to be affiliated, the Mets were the last man standing last year when it came time to sign a contract with a new AAA affiliate (after the Mets were dumped by the Buffalo Bisons). Their only option? The Las Vegas 51s, the team whose home is located five miles north of the Strip, where the playing conditions are adverse, the playing surface is hazardous and scouting players is nearly impossible. Not to mention the fact that the team is located across the country from the big club.
The arid conditions, which in no way prepare pitchers for those they will face in New York or in most other major-league cities, not only make it hard for them to grip the ball. They make the field so dry and slick that grounders that should be easy outs routinely skip past infielders. They make the ball carry so far that pop flies become cheap home runs, even with an outfield wall that is 20 feet high all around and 433 feet from home plate in center field.
“It changes your mind-set,” Burke said. “You get in situations where you’re like, ‘I’m not looking for a double play here. I need to strike this guy out because I’m afraid of him putting it in play.'”
A watered-down playing surface would help allay those concerns , but with only two groundskeepers, there isn’t much the 51s can do.
Marty Brown, who managed the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A team in Las Vegas the last two years, said he would often have to water the field himself. During the ninth inning of one game, he said the sprinklers went off and groundskeepers were nowhere to be found. With puddles forming around his pitcher, he picked up a rake and started to repair the mound. “Those things happen there,” Brown said.
Another problem for hitters: Unlike most ballparks, the 30-year-old Cashman Field, the fourth-oldest of 30 Triple-A stadiums, doesn’t have an indoor batting cage. Hitters who want extra practice must leave the stadium and hit in an outdoor cage alongside the parking lot, where the afternoon temperature is often over 100 degrees.
“There are two types of amenities: player-development amenities and fan amenities,” Logan said. “And we’re lacking in both.”
The Mets, everyone.