Domino effect to come, or just a one-off?

Posted November 28, 2012


Domino effect to come, or just a one-off?

Off the radar and not in this league, it was a sad day for a small town north of Edmonton.

Why you ask?

Their men’s baseball team is packing up and heading to the big city. No longer do their players live or work in the small community of Legal, so the decision was made to play in Edmonton a couple weeks ago, announced officially at the league meeting.

The archives show a Legal team competing since the standings were posted online, back in 1999. It now begs the question: How many more will follow?

This is particularly a touch-and-go subject for the PBL where I can confidently say, no team has even half its players living in the town in which they play out of. Maybe even a third or less. Some are close by. Some have relatives in those small towns. Some even live in the next town over. But the league is a commuter league. Has been for years. But it’s now reached epic proportions.

Often discussed, each year teams contemplate leaving the league or their diamond for warmer waters.

The Tofield Lakers and the town couldn’t come to an agreement on maintenance and went to Camrose a couple years ago. Leduc would prefer to play out of Millet but no diamond is adequate enough. Bardo continues to fight the fight, but current players off the record say they grow weary and look fondly on moving to Sherwood Park or playing in the over 30 league perhaps. Many of Holden’s players come out of Vegreville. Armena and Ryley are what they are.

But all it takes is one to crack. Camrose has had a team for many years, so the Tofield move wasn’t seen as a big deal. But what if Bardo or Ryley moved into the city. What if a team folded again and chose to enter a team in the Over 30 league.

It was once said the charm of the league was playing on small diamonds with informal games and best friends on both sides of the field. Has that charm now reached a point where it’s not worth the drive or the effort? Is it too difficult to keep this going? Is it ultimately a losing battle we fight where the last few hangers-on are destined for a Legal decision? No pun intended.

And why do we keep the teams in these towns going? What connects us when most of the connections are gone? Is it simply the freedom to have a beer on the field after at most places? I doubt it. But I am sensing more and more allure for players to bolt or start a team in a bigger city with less travel and someone else maintaining the diamond.

Is it just me, or could the Legal decision be a watershed moment for all men’s baseball in Alberta? Especially the PBL.

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Jason Buzzell

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