The Mets have said “Let’s go,” so the Columbia Fireflies will be affiliated with a new franchise in Major League Baseball next year.
The Mets announced Nov. 10 that they would have just four affiliates next season, and Columbia was not on the list.
The Fireflies learned of the change through a sportswriter’s tweet that listed the Mets’ 2021 affiliates.
“Did.....did we just get dumped via Twitter?!”, the team tweeted back.
Most if not all major league clubs are winnowing their minor league systems as the clubs deal with the financial losses of a short and spectator-free 2020 season.
The Yankees and Mets this week became the first clubs to announce their plans. The Yankees ended its ties to the Charleston RiverDogs over the weekend.
The Mets announced Nov. 10 that they would no longer be affiliated with teams in Columbia or Kingsport, Tenn. The Mets will have three affiliates in New York and one at their spring training site in Florida, relying on clubs closer to home.
“We had a feeling that our affiliation might change,” Fireflies CEO John Katz said.
The Fireflies are working on a new major league affiliation to be announced later, Katz said. While some minor league clubs might not get a new affiliation, the Fireflies are on solid ground with having a major league partner, he said.
There will be 120 minor league affiliates, and Columbia has been listed consistently as one of those, Katz said.
One advantage for the Fireflies is Segra Park, which ranks as one of the top two or three parks in the Class A level of the minors, he said. The ballpark, built by the city of Columbia, is the centerpiece of the BullStreet District redevelopment project near downtown.
The franchise has been affiliated with the Mets since 2007, dating back the club’s time in Savannah, Ga. Even before the team moved to the Capital City in 2016, Columbia previously has been home to other minor-league teams that were were Mets affiliates when games were played at Capital City Stadium.
The Mets’ more recent ties to Columbia will always be remembered for the 2017 season when former college and pro football star Tim Tebow played outfield for the Fireflies.