Toledo pitcher Kurt Spomer in the dug out before a game against the Indianapolis Indians on Monday in Toledo. A change in parent club could mean a better team and more fans in the stands. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
In a recent column, The Blade’s David Briggs asked Mud Hens CEO Joe Napoli about the possibility of changing affiliations in 2018, when Toledo’s current contract with the Detroit Tigers comes to a close.
You are welcome to click here and read the entire column, but here’s the cliff notes version: No chance.
That’s too bad, especially for Mud Hens fans and for fans of pro baseball in Toledo. The Tigers have done little to help the Hens, as evidenced by this season extending the Toledo franchise’s string of losing seasons to eight while also producing a team with a losing record for the tenth year in a row.
Even an August for the record books wasn’t enough to erase the struggles of this team in May, June and July. The problem is, losing seasons have become the norm, not the exception, with the Mud Hens.
One thing that would solve that is a switch to a parent organization that cares about winning at the Triple-A level. Take, for example, how the Indians have treated Columbus in the same 10-year span while the Hens were busy missing the playoffs: Four West Division titles, five playoff berths, three Governors’ Cup titles, and two wins in the Triple-A National Championship Game.
And while the Mud Hens constantly reiterate that attendance changes little whether the team wins or loses, at least one fact proves otherwise: Toledo’s three largest attendance seasons are 2006-08, which are directly on the heels of the last playoff run of 2005-07. Meanwhile the last three seasons have produced three of the four lowest attendance totals since the franchise moved to Fifth Third Field.
Are there more Tigers fans than Indians fans in Toledo? Sure. But if you combined Indians fans and fans of a winning Mud Hens team, you may have more fans than you do of a Detroit franchise that will lose fans — and interest — and it starts a long, ugly but necessary rebuild.
Would the Indians leave Columbus for Toledo? The answer could easily be no. But for fans of baseball in Toledo, it sure would not hurt to ask.