October 22, 2021

League cancels 2020 season

File photo Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer

The Cortland Crush will not play games at the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex this summer as the NYCBL has canceled the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The league will resume play in 2021.

Add another summer family activity to list of things affected by COVID-19.

On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Collegiate Baseball League announced its 2020 season was canceled.

NYCBL commissioner Joe Brown released the following statement to the media and had it posted on the league’s website:

“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) would like to thank all of our franchises, players, coaches, communities and sponsors for their support during these times. We are proud members of the National Alliance of Collegiate Summer Baseball (NACSB) and have had a deep history since 1978. We explored multiple options to try to play some version of a 2020 summer season. The NYCBL announces the cancellation of the 2020 season. Safety is our ultimate concern for everyone as we continue to follow both local, state and federal guidelines. We look forward to being stronger than ever for the 2021 season.”

The NYCBL teams, including the Cortland Crush, met in a conference call Sunday night to discuss options for the 2020 season.

“We talked about what could be done to play,” Brown said. “There were just too many unknowns. We had a good conversation about all the teams’ representatives. Many of the teams were having trouble with fielding teams and it would be tough running a league with just five or six teams. There are still phases to go through as New York state looks to reopen and canceling the league was the right call for all the right reasons.”

Brown admitted there was a lot going on behind the scenes, not just the NYCBL.

“While deciding with what the NYCBL needed to do, I was dealing with my players losing their season as the SUNY Cortland head coach,” Brown said. “There were several calls with the NACSB which oversees the summer college leagues. There were calls with Major League Baseball was helps the league. It was really a tough decision to make.”

The decision means there will be no games for the Cortland Crush this summer at the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex which gave local families an affordable opportunity to watch some of the excellent college baseball from May through August.

TAKING ‘A STEP BACK’

“We know many local economies will be hurt by this decision,” Brown said. “It’s the local businesses that will feel the impact of not having their teams play this summer. We had to consider that and knew it was best if we just took a step back this season.”

With the Crush and other teams bringing in players from all over the United States, there were many things to consider.

“You wondered if a player needed to be tested before he left his state,” Brown said. “Would he need to be tested once it got to his team. Would the team need to be tested before each game? What if a player tested positive? Do you quarantine the entire team for 14 days?”

That is a lot of the uncertainty and is a lot to consider for a roughly 10 to 11-week season if league play could start in June.

BILL McCONNELL is the head coach for the Cortland Crush and the NYCBL president.

“The Crush wanted to play,” McConnell said. “We wanted to find some normalcy for the fans and the community. Baseball is one of those things, but it became very apparent that there are many protocols that still need to be defined and would still need to be put in place. Those protocols include traveling to games on buses, testing of players and the possible quarantine of players and teams. Ultimately, the health and safety of players, fans, staff and community are the most important thing.

“The Sunday meeting did include the league attorney and a local medical doctor,” McConnell added. “We had four teams in the West Division that were not going to be able to play because of issues with the facilities that play on were not going to be available and some of them use host families. Again, it becomes an issue of protocols. We decided to stand down and stop operations with our Crush team and made the decision not to play.”

McConnell praised the effort of Brown as commissioner and he praised John McNerney at the Cortland Youth Bureau.

“Joe has done a great job communicating with the league, the NACSB and Major League Baseball which funds the league,” McConnell said. “John McNerney has seen three different options for our league and made sure the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex fields will be available for us because he oversees the scheduling there.

“We have a new slogan, “Crush Strong in 2021”,” he added. “We want to be strong for our players, fans, sponsors and community in 2021. I have talked with all the players and their families on this year’s roster and we want them to play for us in 2021. We had some great talent this season with players from around the country and locally.”