The fight to save the Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) from contraction was featured on a recent Today Show segment, shining a national light on the issue of MLB’s proposal to eliminate 42 MiLB teams.
The Spinners were among the 42 MiLB clubs that appeared on a November list of teams proposed for contraction by MLB as part of its negotiations with MiLB to replace the current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), which expires at the end of the 2020 season. MLB initially proposed the contraction of 42 teams, along with league realignments that include new Triple-A and Single-A circuits (in the name of lessened travel), new facilities standards (covering player facilities, including clubhouses, weight rooms and support spaces like kitchens and lounges), and a player-development arrangement that calls for rookies to spend time at MLB camps and not in entry-level leagues, with an additional year of service under team control.
Since that proposal surfaced, political opposition has been raised on the local, state, and national levels, particularly in Lowell–where local officials, Spinners owner Dave Heller, and U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA) have been leading the fight against contraction. In the case of Lowell, opponents of the contraction proposal point not only to the team’s impact on the community, but upgrades to LeLacheur Park over the past few years that include new high-grade LED lighting system and new turf. The public campaign raised in Lowell, along with the broader implications that MLB’s contraction proposal would have, were covered in a new Today Show segment.
Additionally, the potential for MiLB contraction continues to get press coverage on the local level, with the Today Show segment prompting further calls to save the team. More from the Lowell Sun:
“What we hope is that people across the country see this piece and it galvanizes them to come out and support their local minor league team,” Heller said in a phone interview with The Sun….
“This isn’t just a Lowell team. This is a Merrimack Valley team,” Trinity EMS President John Chemaly said in a phone interview with The Sun. He also co-chairs the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force.
Chemaly told The Sun he doesn’t understand why the Spinners, a “viable community asset,” would be cut.
While MLB officials have indicated that a previous list of contracted teams is now outdated, there are still many unknowns surrounding the current state of the proposal. Notably, MLB’s plans to increase MiLB player salaries at all levels in 2021 includes Rookie and Short Season A teams, as there has reportedly been some movement since prior meetings, with a scenario floated where Short Season A baseball could survive in an altered format. The next negotiating session is set for February 20. With the fluid nature of these negotiations, teams that could be affected by contraction face plenty of uncertainty surrounding their futures, which is why the public campaign against MLB’s proposal is likely to continue.
Also from the Sun: an editorial noting the national nature of the Spinners’ cause.
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