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Published: Friday, 9/15/2006

New York teams on affiliate search

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mud Hens left fi elder Ryan Raburn is thrown out on an attempted
steal of second base in the fi rst inning last night.
Mud Hens left fi elder Ryan Raburn is thrown out on an attempted steal of second base in the fi rst inning last night.
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While Toledo and Rochester are locked in their duel for the Governors' Cup, there have been other rumblings that will directly affect the International League next season.

The first came Wednesday when IL president Randy Mobley confirmed that Ottawa will not have a team after the 2007 season. The Lynx, an attendance straggler who this season ranked last in the 14-team IL with an average of fewer than 2,000 fans per game, will move to Allentown, Pa., in 2008.

But the real movement next season will come with franchises changing their affiliation with major league organizations. The first change came during the season, when Philadelphia announced it would leave Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and affiliate with the team moving to Allentown.

The Phillies will be in Ottawa next year, then move with the team to Allentown.

The biggest news on this front came yesterday, though, when the New York Yankees announced that they would end a 28-year association with Columbus, currently the fifth-longest affiliation in the IL

That was the second-longest affiliation agreement that will end this year. The New York Mets ended the third-longest association in the IL when they closed the book on their 38-year association with Norfolk.

That makes the New York teams two of four still searching for a new Triple-A affiliate. The others are Baltimore and Washington.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has the most interesting decision to make. Sitting roughly two hours away from New York, the Red Barons expect to be courted heavily by both the Yankees and Mets.

Norfolk also will be popular, as it is near both the Orioles and Nationals. But Tides owner Ken Young is expected to hook up with the Orioles.

Besides Columbus, the only other Triple-A franchise without an affiliation agreement is New Orleans, a member of the Pacific Coast League.

FAMILIAR FACES: With the parent Tigers having a day off yesterday, a band of Detroit players made the trip to Fifth Third Field to watch the Mud Hens play.

Among the Tigers at the ballpark were outfielders Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames, infielders Kevin Hooper and Chris Shelton and pitchers Jason Grilli, Joel Zumaya, Jordan Tata, Zach Miner and Nate Robertson.

Broadcaster Rod Allen also was at the game, as was former Hens manager and Tigers coach Bruce Fields and Perrysburg native Jim Schmakel, Detroit's home clubhouse attendant.

THE BIG NUMBER: Last night's crowd of 6,760 at Fifth Third Field was the largest in the 2006 International League playoffs. The Mud Hens' four home games have produced the four highest playoff crowds in the IL this season.

THREE-DOT DATA: Today's starters will be a pair of right-handers, Pete Munro (0-0, 6.23 ERA in the playoffs) for Rochester and Brian Boehringer (0-0, 3.00) for the Mud Hens. If the series goes to a fifth game, the Red Wings will rely on first-game starter Mike Smith (1-0, 3.46) while Toledo will counter with Corey Hamman (0-1, 12.27). With last night's loss the Mud Hens' record in playoff games since 1967 is 25-25.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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