With the short-season minor leagues opening play next week, this seems like a decent-enough time to review the team names that are changing this season. It's a short list, but it would have taken me forever to compile. Fortunately, I asked a friend who's also an expert and he sent me the four teams ...
Casper Ghosts move from Casper, Wyoming to become Grand Junction Rockies in Grand Junction, Colorado. (Rookie Pioneer League)
Well, the Ghosts didn't draw enough corporeal fans last season, averaging just over 1250 fans per game. That was not the lowest figure in the short-season Pioneer League; the Helena Brewers averaged fewer than a thousand per game. But it was low enough to endanger Casper's position in the league. And when Grand Junction came a-calling ... well, the minor leagues are a business, too. It's a real shame, though.
Carolina Mudcats move from Zebulon, NC to Pensacola, FL and become Pensacola Blue Wahoos. (Double-A Southern League)
What's a Blue Wahoo? Turns out the wahoo's a fish, and quite a fighter at that. Here's their logo.
It's really a shame to lose the Mudcats, though. Their longstanding logo has been, for many years, one of the best (and best-selling) in the minors. You just hate to see it go aw- wait, what? Oh ...
Kinston Indians move from Kinston, NC and become Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC. (High-A Carolina League)
How convenient (and confusing). Maybe Zebulon just wasn't a Double-A town. I'll bet it's a pretty good High-A town, though. And I'll bet they keep selling a bunch of t-shirts.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will play all games on the road in 2012 due to ballpark construction. Their name for 2012 only is the Empire State Yankees.
The Yankees are playing more than half their home schedule in Rochester, and also playing a bunch of "home" series against International League hosts Syracuse, Buffalo, Lehigh Valley (Allentown) and Pawtucket, in those teams' ballparks. However, it seems they've kept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in their official name this season (for example, in yesterday's official game story) and I can't find any Empire State Yankees merchandise at the team's official site ... though there are plenty of Empire State items available at Rochester's Web site. Go figure.
Oh, and my friend who supplied that list? His name is Tim Hagerty, he's got a silky-smooth voice, and this season he's calling games for the Pacific Coast League's Tucson Padres. More the point, he's got a new book that's a great deal of fun:
Here's more about the book, including ordering links. Tell 'em I sent you.