It's the bottom of the ninth for the Staten Island Yankees, one of 42 minor league teams that would lose their Major League affiliation under a sweeping proposal to reorganize professional baseball.
"It would be devastating for certainly the team here,” says the team's general manager, T.J. Jahn. “But also the local community and again the borough of Staten Island; I can’t stress that more, how disappointing and devastating it would be."
If the team folds, more than 100 full- and part-time workers would their jobs.
And it also could be a shutout for several local businesses, like Flagship Brewery, which sells Staten Island beer at the Yankees' games, and Mark's Bake Shoppe, which supplies baked goods. The bakery's owner says the partnership has helped the bakery build its brand and keep staffers on during the slow summer months.
"Sometimes there’s not enough stuff to keep people, everyone busy so we have to cut hours and stuff. But with something like that, I’m always able to keep people busy and it’s good for both ends of my business because I have some revenue coming in and I’m keeping people busy," says the owner, Mark Intoccia.
Built with $29 million in city funds in 2001, the Richmond County Bank Ballpark was an immediate hit with fans, routinely selling out. But as the novelty of minor league baseball in New York City wore off, the crowds waned.
Even with a marketing campaign renaming the team the Pizza Rats for selected home games, attendance drooped to 65,000 last year, the lowest ever.
The minor league reorganization plan proposed by Major League Baseball could be the death knell.
The Baby Bombers and the other 41 teams losing their affiliation would be able to join a lower-quality Dream League featuring undrafted and released players. But that would diminish the teams' cachet and market value; experts say many of them would fold.
"There’s a professional sports team in every borough in NYC and we’re the only one here on Staten Island and it’d be a shame if we weren’t here anymore," says Jahn.
The Brooklyn Cyclones, the city's other minor league team, would not be affected by MLB's plan.
The president of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine, says the Big League club supports the Staten Island Yankees and the public should let the negotiations over MLB's reorganizations unfold before speculating about the team’s future.