As part of the Nolan Ryan takeover in Texas, Chuck Greenberg was pushed out as Rangers CEO in March 2011. The Pittsburgh native has since been rumored to be interested in buying the Pirates, but owner Bob Nutting reportedly does not have his team on the market.
One club Greenberg does own is the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League. St. Louis Cardinals fans may be familiar with that name as the Spikes were affiliated one year with the Cardinals back in 2006. Previously, the franchise was located in New Jersey, sold and relocated to a brand new, state-of-the-art complex on the campus of Penn State, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Altoona Mirror, the home paper of one of Greenberg’s other clubs, the Altoona Curve, posted an article about the Greenberg organization’s dissatisfaction with the constant losing at State College. The only season the Spikes had a winning record was the year the Cardinals were there.
For 2007, despite the Cardinals being satisfied with the relationship, St. Louis was pushed out of State College. The area ties to the Pirates made that affiliation change a logical one. But after six years of consistently below-.500 baseball clubs provided by the Pirates, Spikes officials are reconsidering, making noise about looking for a new affiliation this fall.
Negotiations with other organizations cannot begin until September, so there is still plenty of time for maneuvering and rhetoric as well as negotiations on any number of fronts.
The Mirror notes the appeal of the Pirates returning to the Phillies’ current location in Williamsport, where the Bucs’ NY-Penn League club resided from 1999-2006. Williamsport’s player development contract with the Phils also expires after this season. One might guess that Williamsport ownership would prefer to stay with a winning organization like the Phillies, but that is just speculation on my part. One clear downside is that their ballpark, Bowman Field, is one of the oldest in baseball.
Speaking of old facilities, consider Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. St. Louis’ agreement with the Muckdogs also runs out at the conclusion of the 2012 season. (The Cards had moved in when the Phillies moved out.) The future of baseball in Batavia is tenuous at best, with below-standard facilities, league-low attendance and annual bottom line losses.
With rumors of a corresponding relocation, the Muckdogs have been for sale for many months, but there are no clear plans for 2013 and beyond. While it is solely me connecting dots that may not be connected, a return of the Cardinals to the top-notch facilities at State College would seem to be a major step up for both parties.
Here’s hoping the two at least talk this fall.