I've already given my take on the NECBL coming to Lynn in the comments, but I'd like to discuss it further here on the front page.
You won't find many people who were as emotionally attached the Spirit as I was, and thus, you won't find many people who will miss them as much as I will next year. I'll miss the familiar players and familiar opponents, I'll miss the length of the season, and I'll miss all the roster quirks of independent baseball.
I can't imagine for one minute that I will ever care about this new team as much as I cared about the Spirit.
But with that said, I am very pleased that the NECBL is coming to Lynn, for several reasons.
First of all, here's something we can all be happy about: the presence of the NECBL will help keep Fraser Field the beautiful park that it is. I was afraid that it would go to ruin when only the city held games there. Now that the field is held by a group that needs to appeal to paying customers, they will keep it at least close to the glistening condition the Spirit had it in, and for that, I am grateful.
Secondly, many people have mentioned the quality of play. I do think that the quality of play will be much spottier than Can-Am League ball, but we will also see players in the NECBL that are better than CanAm guys, younger than CanAm guys, and with way, way more upside. We'll also see many worse players. But it won't be too bad.
Remember, many people wouldn't come support the Spirit - they would rather drive to Manchester or Pawtucket, or just stay in and watch the Sox on TV - because they scoffed at the idea of going to see low-quality independent baseball, refusing to believe that entertainment could be derived from watching the 'riff raff' of the Can-Am League. We know that that wasn't true at all.
As far as the league being 'small-time,' well, it is, but so was the Can-Am; average attendance isn't that much lower than the Can-Am's, save for Brockton and Quebec.
Additionally, I am approaching this season the way I approached the Spirit's first season early on in 2003. I never expected that I would wind up going to every home game, taking road trips all over, making a blog, etc. etc. etc. I was just pleased that not only would I have something to do 20-30 times during the summer, I'd be able to see affordable, live baseball in a nice ballpark. What could be better than that?
Who knows, maybe I will develop the same affinity for this group that I did for the Spirit, but even if I don't, I'll enjoy having baseball to watch close from home.
Also, the fact that an NECBL team filled the vacuum right away proves that people still view this as a viable baseball market - meaning that some owner might plunk down here with an independent team in a few years if we adequately support this team.
Finally, remember how we felt when the final out was made against Nashua? We felt awful for a number of reasons. Obviously, I was upset that we lost, and upset that the team was going out of business, but as much as anything, I was upset that I probably wouldn't see all of the people who comprised my 'Fraser family' ever again.
I can't speak for everyone, but it seems like we all had that same reaction. Who didn't get emotional when reading the story about our group in the Globe? I was going to miss the experience of going to Fraser with some great people. Fortunately, this won't be the case - not even one dormant summer will pass at Fraser Field.
I just can't wait to get back to Fraser and watch baseball.
Won't you join me?