Spikes, NY-Penn face contraction

The State College Spikes and Williamsport Crosscutters could be in real danger of contraction, along with the entire New York-Penn League.

Major League Baseball has a proposal to eliminate 42 minor league franchises and reorganize the remaining 120 teams beginning with the 2021 season. That groundbreaking news broke last month, and on Sunday, the New York Times published the list of the 42 teams being considered for contraction.

State College and Williamsport are both on the list. They compete in the short-season New York-Penn League, and nine of that league’s 14 teams are on the list.

In the Eastern League, Erie and Binghamton are on the list, so the Curve could be losing those two close road trips in their circuit.

Baseball’s reasons to possibly contract franchises include ballparks that aren’t up to standard and travel concerns. The Spikes play at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a top-notch minor league facility, so that is not the reason why they are being considered for contraction.

The bigger issue is that the Spikes are part of the New York-Penn League.

First, MLB appears to want to get rid of many short-season teams. The New York-Penn League is vulnerable there, and also because it has so many older ballparks. If many of the league’s teams are contracted, the Spikes could be out of luck because of their location, since much of their nearby competitors would be gone.

By comparison, the Curve would continue to be safe from contraction because of their close proximity to so many teams in the Eastern League. That, and the fact that the Curve play in an exceptional facility.

If Erie and Binghamton are dropped from the Eastern League, two cities would have to be added. One of them likely would be Brooklyn, according to the New York Daily News.

The West Virginia Power, Hagerstown Suns and Frederick Keys are among the other minor league teams close to Altoona that are on the contraction list.

This is all still just a proposal, and no final decisions have been made about contraction. But it is considered to be a serious matter that Major League Baseball is strongly considering.


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