2020 Season Scenarios
Posted April 21, 2020
With more and more municipalities and health authorities extending their Covid-19 restrictions into June, it is highly likely that the 2020 Powerline Baseball League Season will not begin until July at the earliest. If at all. We are living in such an unpredictable time right now where there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel signalling normalcy.
So what would a PBL season with it’s Opening Day in July look like? Here are some potential things that the league needs to consider.
A full fourteen to sixteen game PBL season is almost completely out of the question with a July start. Assuming there is no rainouts, a total of seven to eight weeks would be needed to complete the regular season, taking the league into the end of August with playoffs yet to come in September. There is zero chance of this happening even if the league got it’s July start due to harvest season as well as shortened daylight hours and the desire for summer holidays.
Perhaps a twelve game season would work in 2020. It would be a schedule that would see each team play each other twice, home and home, throughout the summer with the season potentially ending on August 11. Two rounds of the best of three series playoffs and the league could crown a champion in late August. Of course this means that the season starts on Thursday July 2, allowing two games per week for teams and no rainouts or bad weather.
Would the league abbreviate the season even more? Down to say eight or ten games if need be to get some sort of season in before teams played in the playoffs. In a seven team league perhaps teams play everyone once, with an extra game or two against rival teams in the standings. It doesn’t feel ideal but it could take only a month or so to run through If the weather held up and still would allow for a playoff series to happen.
One concern that the league surely has is the commitment level of players should restrictions be lifted enough to allow baseball to happen. It would likely mean that the restrictions for other activities and perhaps some travel would also be lifted. After a few months of being cooped up, a lot of players may take the time to disappear for some family time before school (hopefully) starts in September again.
Playing senior men’s baseball is also a financial commitment that current circumstances may hinder player’s ability to hit the field in the summer. Fields, umpires, equipment and travel are all expenses that fall on the player to pay their share of. With so many people having modified work or even worse, no work, there may be a number of players who are looking to save some money and time for the remainder of the year.
Should a team be unable to field a full 21 player roster due to a handful of players unable to commit this season, would the league see more mergers of teams to play out the season? Even if just temporary for one season, could you see teams in close proximity to one another pool together to form a team in 2020 and compete in a 4-5 team league?
The Return of Weekend Baseball?
At one point in time, weekends were often filled with senior men’s baseball tournaments and games on a Sunday afternoon. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was fair to say that those days were long gone. Should everyone get the okay to hit the fields in the summer, it is highly unlikely that the PBL would be able to accommodate a normal length of schedule by adding weekend games or double headers. The appetite for those weekend games isn’t there at the best of times and once again, after months of being cooped up the summer weekends will be the best opportunity to get out and enjoy the summer with family and friends for many of the players in the league.
The restricted spring/summer will also hamper the tournament efforts of the Rosalind Athletics and the Tofield Braves. The A’s traditionally host their Athletics Invitational Tournament the third weekend of June while the Braves have revived the July 1 Canada Day Tournament in Tofield.
What If July Isn’t A Realistic Timeframe?
In the worst case scenario for the league, it is likely that there would be no 2020 season if we didn’t get an all clear to return to outdoor activities in early July, maybe mid July at the latest. If people aren’t allowed to hit the baseball fields and soccer pitches in early July, running a season schedule of any length of time to make it worth it, doesn’t seem like it will happen.
Since the Powerline Baseball League started in 1933 there have only been five summers without baseball over that 87 year span. From 1941-1945 the PBL did not operate due to the Second World War as a lot of local players had left the area to join the military. Teams did however still form from time to time for events such as Red Cross Picnics, Sports Days and exhibition games. Should there be no 2020 season for the PBL, it would be the first time in 74 years that the league has not operated.
When you take a step back and look at everything that has happened over the last couple of months, it is hard to grasp how we went from there to here it such a short amount of time. To make things worse, and seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, is the unpredictable and unprecedented nature of the times were are in right now. There is no playbook for something like this and there is no way to give a for sure date on when we can return to some level of normal. For the time being we will have to work in the two week or so increments of announcements that we are currently dealing with.
President Stephen Hrabec, the PBL Executive and the team representatives will have a few big decisions to make in the near future.