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Contraction in Flux, as Lowell Spinners May Escape Dream League

Lowell SpinnersWe may be seeing some effects from a bipartisan Congressional group opposing contraction, as the Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) are reportedly escaping an exile to an independent Dream League and instead could be upgraded to a full-season franchise.

Yesterday community supporters of the Spinners gathered at LeLacheur Park to show support for the Spinners. As you’ll recall, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts), who represents Lowell, was a leader is creating a bipartisan Congressional group opposing MiLB contraction, and there’s little doubt that her efforts were key in potentially keeping the Spinners in affiliated ball as an full-season team. And you can also include Spinners parent Boston Red Sox as playing a part in Lowell’s potential reprieve. From the Boston Globe:

An industry source said Tuesday that the current thinking from Major League Baseball is that it would retain Lowell as a full-season Single A affiliate, but that it is too early in negotiations between MLB and Minor League Baseball to declare if the Red Sox or another big-league club will be that affiliate….

Dan Halem, MLB deputy commissioner and lead negotiator in the contentious talks with MiLB, said in San Diego last month and again on Tuesday that the list of 42 teams, initially presented last March, is factually incorrect now.

“The list leaked by Minor League Baseball is inaccurate, and Major League Baseball is committed to keeping baseball in Lowell,” Halem said in an e-mail.

What is a win for Lowell may be a loss for a market that could potentially keep MiLB, however:

Dave Heller, owner of the Spinners, saw a glimmer of hope in the potential development of keeping affiliated baseball in Lowell, although he was qualified in his support if it negatively impacted Minor League Baseball somewhere else.

“Our immediate goal in Lowell is to protect the Spinners and continue having affiliated baseball in Lowell, that’s our top priority,” said Heller. “And if that means going full season, so be it. We want to make sure the Spinners exist, first and foremost. But we also believe very strongly that contraction is a terrible idea on many levels, and if this plan is simply, ‘We’re going to take one of the teams that is on the 120 list and move it into the discard pile, and replace them with Lowell,’ well, that’s good for Lowell, but it’s not really good for baseball.”

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