Could changes threaten rural roots?

Posted October 10, 2009


Could changes threaten rural roots?

A league that has gone relatively rule-less for its entire lifespan of more than a century deserves some props I suppose.

The charm and rural-like organizational skills, or lack-there-of I guess, of both the Powerline and Battle River Baseball Leagues are what make them so special.

But like everything in this world that grows and evolves, certain things pop up after several decades of slugging it out on the sandlots of north central Alberta.

A rule that didn’t even come into play until the late part of 2000, but has been hotly debated for almost a decade, has changed again. The infamous “3-game” rule is no more – at least for now. It has some frightened at what could happen, especially with the possible addition of new teams and new people who know how and where to find baseball talent in the Edmonton area.

Say it ain’t so though! 

As appalling as it might sound, would a team reserve two of their roster spots for so-called “Ringers” just to win a Powerline Baseball League game? What happened to the innocence and honesty of playing with your hometown boys and friends?

But it’s true, the new rules – although much cleaner and simpler could technically produce some sticky situations if teams want to go out and “acquire” talent.

At the end of the day, however, the “3-game” rule’s intention, which was genuinely instituted to maintain the integrity of the game as simply as it could, was instead creating more controversy and hamstringing teams and players (some of which who have played in the league for years) from playing with their buddies and hometown hurlers toward the end of the season and playoffs.

Let’s remember, had it not been for a deletion of some of the words in the translation of the rule between 2005-2007 (Doesn’t matter how it happened – might have even been my fault – although all us teams had a chance to review it and make possible edits at both the 2008 and 2009 spring meetings), at least two if not more teams of the six would have had to either play with eight players or forfeit a game in 2009 due to the now-very-former rule interpretation.

Having a roster rule helps keep things clean, and begins to put names with faces for future reference, especially as a couple new teams might be entering the fold. The new rule gets us back closer to possibly having that group of guys who everyone, including opponents, knows could and possibly will show up on any given night.

The number “18” was seen as small enough to hopefully prevent people from the very “Ringer” scenario I imagined earlier. Yet large enough to accommodate a couple emergency players we all have to use throughout the season. 

For example, Armena used 17 players last year in regular season play – and the 18th (Wes Wilson) would have shown up if it were not for family reasons. Several games we had only 9 or 10 players so we cannot afford to reserve spots for people who could possibly not show, or only show for one game instead of true players. It could end up costing us a game and of course, a playoff spot – not to mention a team full of players who mistrust and are not happy about “hired guns” who show up when it’s convenient for the them or…the manager.

All that said, let’s just hope everyone can keep the spirit of the Powerline Baseball League as a recreational league in perspective. While at the same time, all us old-timers can realize that adding more talent will only make for better games and a better league in the future.

Posted on October 10, 2009 by Jason Buzzell

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