Teams Meet For 2020 Spring Meeting
Posted March 25, 2020
There are uncertain times ahead for the 2020 Powerline Baseball League season. When will it start, if it gets to start at all this season due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has turned our world upside down in the last month or so. On Tuesday night the league gathered and held it’s annual Spring Meeting to plan for what they hope will be a 2020 season.
The league decided to hope for the best and plan for a regular start date in early May, however it was decided that the league would follow the direction of Baseball Alberta when it came to when they would be able to hit the field this spring or summer. The league decided to plan a Saturday May 16 Opening Day with a 16 game regular season if restrictions are lifted in the next expected Baseball Alberta update in mid-April. Currently Baseball Alberta has indicated that all sanctioned events would be cancelled until April 30, 2020 with an expected update at some point in mid-April. The league discussed the possibility of reducing the schedule down to 12 games and push the start of the season back should Baseball Alberta also push their start dates back as well. Discussion around the cancelling of a full season would likely have to take place at some point in late May or early June if it appeared that the Covid-19 pandemic would effect the rest of the summer as well.
Because of the uncertainty when it comes to when the season will start and how long the season will run, the league decided to wait before deciding on when the annual Harry Andreassen All Star Challenge between the PBL and the Battle River Baseball League would take place. The plan is to once again hold the game on a Sunday afternoon in Camrose at Harry Andreassen Field, but more clarity on dates for the league need to be established first. The game would more than likely have to be held prior to third weekend in August as the City of Camrose likes to get a head start on the conversion of the baseball field to the football field.
Blue Jays On The Move
As expected and alluded to last season, the Holden Blue Jays put forward a motion to play full time in Vegreville starting this season. As players are from the area and a better field maintenance schedule existing in Vegreville, the Blue Jays will now call the Riverview Diamonds home. It was an unanimous vote by the league as over the past two seasons a handful of games didn’t appear to cause too many issues for the teams with regards to travel. It is also an opportunity for the Blue Jays to be more involved with local minor baseball associations and provide a place for those players to play once their minor baseball days are over.
Rule Changes For 2020
There were a handful of rule changes that were passed by the league last night. Some having a bigger impact than others but all will be implemented for the upcoming season.
- Forfeits - it was a hotly discussed topic in 2019 after the Sherwood Park Athletics folded only five games into the season. The league elected to keep their record at the time of them stopping operations and apply 7-0 forfeits for the remaining eleven games under the idea that games were played and the season had started, so the record needed to stay. Last night teams voted 4-2 to not allow a motion to have all games wiped from the record should a team forfeit in the first half of the season or had not played every team in the league once. For 2020, the league will continue to keep the game record at the time of the team ceasing operations and apply 7-0 forfeits for the remaining games. To help with teams folding during the season, the PBL will institute a performance bond for teams, which they will not get returned if they fold during the season.
- Courtesy Runners - with a handful of active catchers who are solid base runners in the league, the PBL passed a motion to eliminate the mandatory courtesy runner for a catcher with two outs in favour of a rule that allows catchers to remain on the base paths and teams supplying warm up catchers for their pitchers in a timely fashion. Teams may still use the courtesy runner rule for their catcher if they choose, which would require the second out and only the second out of the inning taking their place on the base paths.
- Wild Card Game - the PBL, with what appears to be a seven team league for 2020, elected to eliminate the Wild Card Game from it’s playoff schedule partly due to the expected shortened season and partly because with a four team playoff system, the league would see more than 50% of the league make the playoffs without the Wild Card Game. The Wild Card Game was officially instituted into the league for the 2018 season when the nine team Powerline Baseball League looked for ways to incorporate more teams into playoff races down the stretch and into the playoff system itself.
- Called Playoff Games - in 2019, after back to back seasons of playoff games being called or should have been called, due to weather or darkness, the league created rules around how a playoff game can end and how it would re-started to ensure that teams and umpires weren’t travelling for, potentially, half an inning of baseball. For 2020 the teams elected to allow games that would be called after the completion of five innings to be continued on the next available playoff date with the same score, same inning and same lineups being used. So if a game is called in the sixth inning due to rain or lightning, the score will revert to the score to start the sixth inning as well as the position in the lineups for both teams, and the remaining two innings will be played the following playoff date and potentially followed by the start of the next game in the series immediately after. Games that are called prior to the completion of five innings will re-start the following playoff date with a new game in the top of the first inning with fresh lineups and a 0-0 score.
- Playoff Tie Breaker - in 2019 there was a unique rule in the PBL that would have saw two teams, the Roadrunners and Braves, settle who gets the final Wild Card spot via coin flip versus a one game elimination. Luckily the Tofield Braves were able to win their final game preventing the league from seeing this happen, but the rule needed to be changed. Effective for the 2020 season, the PBL will now have a Play-In Game to start the first playoff week between two teams who are tied in the standings with points for the final playoff spot. Should three or more teams be tied for the final playoff spot, a tie breaker will be used which includes points, wins against other teams and a coin flip if need be, to eliminate all but two teams who would then play in the Play-In Game.
- Re-Scheduling Games - teams will now be required to notify the opposition a minimum of six hours before the scheduled first pitch to re-schedule a game due to player availability. This was implemented to try and combat the need for a team to forfeit due to players being called in to work or being otherwise unavailable.
- Rosters - there was discussion around implementing a minimum games played rule to the twenty one player roster however it was ultimately decided that the league does not have the logistics in place to collect and monitor lineup cards for every game at this time therefore the current rule will continue in 2020.
All of the new rules as well as the old rules, will be featured in the new and more robust rule book that outlines tie breakers, playoff seeding, forfeits, roster rules, line up rules and almost everything that a team can think of. The goal of this will be to assist teams in trying to eliminate the need for interpretation on vague rules. 2020 will be the first year that this is sent to the teams and is in the final draft stages now.
New Executive Members
In tradition of teams cycling through the roles in an effort to have every team contribute to the operation of the league, the Tofield Braves and Rosalind Athletics have provided the newest members of the PBL Executive. The new Vice-President of the PBL will be Corey Epp of the Tofield Braves who had extensive secretarial experience from past PBL Executive administrations. Epp will take over the role from Stephen Hrabec from the Vegreville Blue Jays, who is now the PBL President. The Rosalind Athletics nominated Steve Enright to be the next PBL Treasurer. Enright will mark the first time a Rosalind Athletics player has been on the PBL Executive since the team joined the PBL for the 2015 season. He takes over from Trevor Pahl of the Leduc Milleteers who was kind enough to extend his term after the folding of the Sherwood Park Athletics who were set to provide the Treasurer in 2019. All terms are three years.
The 2020 season will be the first season that the Powerline Baseball League will provide league awards to players and managers as voted on by the team reps. The first season of the regular season awards will see the following recognition being handed out;
- PBL Most Valuable Player
- PBL Top Pitcher of the Year
- PBL Top Rookie of the Year
- PBL Manager of the Year
It is also expected that the PBL will hand out a PBL Playoff Most Valuable Player Award at the conclusion of the PBL Championship Series.
Tournaments in 2020
The Rosalind Athletics will once again, hopefully, be holding their annual tournament in late June. The tournament generally attracts teams from the PBL, Battle River Baseball League and the North Central Alberta Baseball League. This tournament, like all the tournaments, will completely depend on the Covid-19 situation. The Tofield Braves are also discussing the possibility of a small one day tournament that might move away from the traditional July 1 date, but more details were needed to be worked out still.
There was a proposal that should the league see a drastically reduced schedule, perhaps no schedule at all, that the league look to put together an all-star team for tournaments throughout the area. There was a general consensus and interest from all the teams at the meeting with some logistical work needed, however it would again completely depend on the Covid-19 situation.
That was the 2020 PBL Spring Meeting in a nutshell. The league is hoping that everything returns to normal for the baseball season however there are plans in place for future discussions around reacting to information from Baseball Alberta and Baseball Canada regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is hoping to baseball in 2020.