Baseball Will Have A Different Look This Season
Posted March 19, 2020
Over the last couple of weeks there has been a monumental shift in our day to day lives as society struggles to stop the pandemic caused by Covid-19. Everyone is contributing to flattening the curve, social distancing and staying away from large groups of people with an understanding and hope that it will drastically decrease the amount of people affected by the virus in our communities. Sports has been impacted greatly by this shift, and the 2020 Powerline Baseball League season will more than likely be impacted as well.
Currently In the PBL
As of today, March 19, there have been no formal plans or proposals brought forward to the teams or the league executive. Everyone is in a holding pattern waiting for updates from Alberta Health Services, Baseball Alberta and local municipalities regarding what to do. The league will need to make a decision on what to do with the upcoming annual Spring Meeting on March 24. The meeting would consist of roughly 8-10 people and typically lasts around an hour to an hour and half.
This year the league would be working on a schedule, rule changes and any other items brought forward by the teams prior to the meeting. The league could easily postpone the meeting until a later date, hold a remote meeting with an online service or perhaps still run the meeting asking people who are ill to not attend and send someone else to represent the team. This is currently being discussed and will be the first decision for the league with regards to the impact of Covid-19 has had in our communities.
Options For The PBL Season
The 2020 PBL Season was scheduled to start, based on previous seasons, on Saturday May 9 or Saturday May 16. While those dates are typically debated because of the weather and the snow on the ground at this time of year, it feels like because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the likelihood of hitting those dates this season is very slim. Currently Baseball Alberta has put a stop to any sanctioned events with minor baseball associations across the province postponing evaluations, camps and team practices. Local recreation centres and facilities that would typically house these events in March/April have also been closed until the middle of April by government recommendations.
I feel like we have about a 1% chance of the PBL season, and other levels of baseball in the Province, being on the field in early May.
Another option, and more likely, would the delayed start of the baseball season. But delayed until when is the question. Would spring baseball be postponed until the summer? That would mean seeing the start of the PBL and minor baseball in July with the schedules running through August and into September for things like provincials. Typically the PBL sees it regular season ending in the first week or so of July with playoffs running until August long weekend. Would the league, and teams, try to start the season in July, end the regular season in the first week of September with playoffs happening throughout September?
Delaying the season to start in July seems like it would be tough for teams to pull together. If everyone was given the okay to re-start activities with certain guidelines in place for July, would players be motivated to hit the campgrounds, travel to get out of the house and spend time with family before school hopefully starts in September? As it is, many players are hitting the vacation trail in July when kids are out of school so would not having baseball until July with the possibility of school starting again in September be enough for those players to spend the summer playing baseball? For some maybe, but for everyone, I think that might be asking too much.
A delay to the start of the season is more likely to happen than it starting on time but with public schools being suspended indefinitely, it still feels like a lot of things need to go right for baseball in the summer to happen.
Worst Case Scenario
There is no 2020 baseball season. For anyone. It would be the worst case scenario for the sport in the province and probably mean that the bigger picture, away from the local baseball scene, we haven’t had the needed impact on stopping the pandemic as we were hoping for. A whole summer is washed out with the next hope for sports/recreation being the 2020/2021 hockey season. If the PBL season was cancelled, it would be the sixth season since 1933 that the league did not operate. The previous five, 1941-1945, were the result of World War II breaking out with many local ball players heading off to war. Even then, teams still operated in tournaments and fundraising picnics for the Red Cross.
College baseball south of the border ended their baseball and softball seasons for the rest of the academic school year, the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference announced this week that they are cancelling their 2020 season and CCBC World Series while baseball associations everywhere are holding their breath for any hope at seeing a 2020 season. In an update on March 17, Baseball Alberta said that they have “determined that it is prudent at this time to conserve cash resources and encourages our members to review their respective budgets for opportunity’s to reduce costs for the 2020 season” as the province tries to ride out the pandemic.
It is worrisome to baseball league, players, teams and fans that cancelling a season worth of baseball not only has a likelihood to it, but one that is currently as high as it is.
As of today and with the current level of unpredictability that we are seeing with something as severe and as impactful as the Covid-19 pandemic I feel that the very best case scenario is for baseball to see an incredibly short season in 2020 with a greater and greater likelihood of cancelling everything increasing every week that ticks by.