MiLB: The Independent League Curse Claims the Pittsfield Colonials

Devon TeepleAnalyst IOctober 7, 2011

The Pittsfield Colonials are the latest victims in a long line of Independent League teams that have failed to make the cut. 

And as per usual, money and fan support continue to be the major contributing factors that set everything in motion. Those are usually the death knell for any club. Yet, it always slays me when a city is lucky enough to have a team so near and dear, and they all let it slip away. 

You can’t always blame the lack of fan support; however, in this case it did play a major role. 

The Berskshire Eagle report on the Colonials attendance is a real eye-opener considering Pittsfield, MA has a population of almost 45,000 and ranks as the third largest Municipality in Western Massachusetts, 

“The Colonials brought up the rear in Can-Am League attendance for the second consecutive season, but their season average of 844 fans in 44 dates was an improvement over 2010's average of 717 in 42 dates. The Colonials were only 153 fans per game behind Newark, as the Bears averaged 997 in 52 openings.” 

The Colonials have only been playing in the Can-Am League since 2010, yet the elusive championship every team hopes for never made it to Pittsfield. To stay positive, the finals were in the Colonials grasp in both years. 

In 2010 the Colonials won the second half championship and did reach the finals, but lost to the always formidable Quebec Capitales. This past year, despite playing nearly .600 ball, again they came up short in their quest losing to the eventual runner-up, New Jersey Jackals. 

What is always sad in these situations is when the final details are discussed when the final curtain is closing. 

According to the Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield was unable to bring its $200,000 credit line in check, causing a league wide vote that, of course, did not go in their favour. 

With Pittsfield without a team, what happens to the current roster? 

A league-wide dispersal draft will supplement the rest of the league, giving the Colonials players a second home. No date for the draft has been reported at this time. 

Please note that this is the second team the Can-Am League has lost in the last two years, the Sussex Skyhawks being the first. This still makes me wonder what having all the Independent Leagues under one umbrella would do for the financial state of other teams struggling just like Pittsfield?

The amalgamation concept is at least something to think of, because the rise and fall of these teams can’t go on forever. Sooner or later the financial struggles will come to a head and the leaders of the Independent world need to step in and lead it in a new, hopefully, more profitable and secure path.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals and Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.

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