While there will be some changes this season in the PBL, the one thing that will stay the same is that it will be a 7 team league. At least we think so. After leading the off season in tweets and website stories the Armena Royals were a no show at the annual general meeting. After it became apparent that no Royal representative was going to be present the remaining board members quickly made a motion that the Royals would be picking up the bar tab at the next meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
Items discussed, but did not see change was the league sticking with Baseball Alberta insurance, the All Star selection process, the 21 player rosters, and keeping the playoffs the same. It was decided that All Star nominations would be due on the same day rosters are due, the first Friday in June. The league schedule was finalized and will consist of 14 league games. Each team will play a home and home, with two extra games. The extra games were based on last season’s rankings with the non playoff teams facing each other, while the playoff teams face off. In terms of tournaments Leduc was looking into hosting one May 23-25, The Tri-Hosted Tourney was tentative for June 6-7, Bardo Sports Day for June 14, and Ryley Days for June 20-22. The regular season is scheduled to start Saturday May 10th, with the games in Armena and Bardo starting at 2:00pm, while the game in Holden is to start at 4:00pm with entertainment at the Holden Hotel to follow.
In terms of change, the first item on the docket was the infamous everyone bats rule. Long a lightning rod of controversy and misuse, not to mention its bush league slow pitch connotations, the rule is no more. The PBL will adopt the standard baseball rules of a 9 player batting order with standard substitution rules. The league did put in a clause to allow for an emergency re-entry for regular season games in case of injury to allow teams to get all their players in the game without having to worry about playing with 8 players if someone suffered an injury. The league also decided to keep the DH to allow managers flexibility in getting players in the game.
The next rule that was modified was the mercy rule, which was cut back to 10 runs after five innings, which brings the league in line with virtually every other league (and team sport for that matter). Since the introduction of wood bats and better league wide parity and pitching the massive blowouts that were common place in the past are now few and far between, so it made sense to make the change.
The next issue the league dealt with (sort of ) was the state of umpiring. It was decided that the league will look into a centralized umpire coordinator to assign all games, if not for this season, then hopefully for next season. With 3 teams already using the same coordinator the league was hopeful to get this put in place this season. At the very least the league is going to compile a list of umpire contacts and put them on the website so managers have access to more contacts when trying to schedule umpires.
The league also discussed the possibility of a three game series between the PBL champs and the Battle River champs. This pipe dream has been going on for five plus years, but the PBL recently reached out to both Heisler and Rosalind, and the two squads were very receptive of the idea and will be bringing it up at the BRL general meeting. Of course a lot of logistics would have to be worked out and finding a date that works for both league could be tough, but if there is enough will on both sides it could finally get done.
And finally the PBL will have a new fearless leader as Craig Neufeld of the Bardo Athletics is now sitting in the hot seat after Steven Pahl stepped down after 4 years of selfless service. Craig received unanimous support at the meeting, hopefully he gets the same amount of support when he has to deal with controversy. Trevor Pahl will be taking over Craig’s former duties of Treasurer, while Corey Epp will be the new Secretary, after filling in admirably on short notice for the absent Kevin Reinholt. Stephen Hrabec will continue on as vice president, so at least the executive will have at least some continuity. After the elections a motion was made to end the meeting and reconvene at the Brewhouse to discuss more important matters like fantasy hockey and the availability of Koughan’s trailer for Edson this summer.