by Matt Steinberg

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and greet the Mets…

busterbisonmrmetIf it’s the beginning of April in Western New York, then Opening Day for the Buffalo Bisons must be just around the corner. Even more than the removal of the Ice Boom from the Niagara River, our hometown ballclub’s initial contest each year signals the imminent return of warm weather. Playing in one of the finest parks in all of the minor leagues, Coca-Cola Field, the Bisons are one of the oldest franchises in professional baseball, joining the National League in 1879. More recently, the club has been an International League power, winning a string a division titles earlier this decade, capped off by a Governor’s Cup championship in 2004.

2009 will be a year full of change and excitement, the biggest difference being their new affiliation. After spending the last 14 years as the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Herd open the year as the top farm team of our downstate neighbors, the New York Mets. The Mets, who have baseball’s best mascot (after Buster T. Bison, of course), have fielded a very good team the last few years, which hopefully promises a good roster for the Bisons. But no matter what their record is, an afternoon or evening at the downtown ballpark is Buffalo’s best entertainment value – general admission tickets start at $7.50, and the best seats in the house can be had for only $11! The best place to park is at the Adam Ramp on Washington Street ($3), then walk a few blocks to the diamond, get some great ballpark food, and enjoy our national pastime. Some of the players you see in person in Bison blue could be All-Stars in the near future!

One of my favorite parts of following the team is watching major league games and picking out who used to play for Buffalo. I drive my wife crazy by compulsively saying “former Bison” every time I see one. The Thruway Cup Series is another great part of Bison fandom – since 1998, it’s pitted the Herd, the Rochester Red Wings and the Syracuse Chiefs in a battle for the 150 mile stretch of highway that connects them all together. Since the inception of the competition, the Bisons have enjoyed most of the bragging rights. After watching Rochester win in ’98 and Syracuse claim victory in ’99, the Herd took over. Buffalo has won the Thruway Series in six of the past eight seasons, claiming the Thruway Cup as symbol of their triumph.

For tickets, call 716-843-4373 or visit their website at www.bisons.com.

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