Can The 2020 PBL Season Be Saved?
Posted June 10, 2020
Excitement for the possibility of playing baseball in 2020 was stoked yesterday afternoon when the Government of Alberta announced that Stage 2 of the province’s re-launch plan would happen a week early and include lifting more restrictions than expected. One of those restriction lifts that was announced was regarding baseball as it appears teams would be able to form 50 person cohorts to play in mini-leagues effective June 12. But no one knows for sure.
The response to the re-launch of baseball in Alberta has been confusing at times, and yesterday’s announcement has simply added to the confusion around what can and cannot be done. On June 5th, Baseball Alberta announced there Return To Train guidelines which was permitting teams to gather on fields under strict guidelines to practice starting June 15th provided local facilities were open by local governments. Teams, players and leagues that registered with Baseball Alberta would also see their insurance coverage take effect on June 15th as well. The result was many minor baseball associations quickly gathering to set up practice guidelines for rep baseball in the province and begin planning on what house league/community league baseball would look like in the near future. Then came the announcement yesterday.
While the news and wording in the government’s announcement is positive for the game of baseball, it will take Baseball Alberta, baseball leagues like the Powerline Baseball League and local minor ball associations time to figure out exactly what it means for them. Currently of the Government of Alberta website it still states that organized sports games, competitions or league play is not allowed under the current guidelines. But yesterday’s announcement which should take effect on Friday June 12, states that baseball teams can form regional cohorts of up to 50 people for “mini-leagues”. So what does that mean exactly, we aren’t 100% sure but Baseball Alberta announced that their Return To Play committee is working with the changing provincial guidelines to determine a safe way to return to the field in competitions.
What Does This Mean For The PBL?
The cohorts of 50 people to form mini-leagues in a region is what has most people excited that baseball games will be played starting on June 12. There are some things that will need to be cleared up from Baseball Alberta regarding what a regional area is, how the 50 people limit is utilized and how to safely meet provincial and local social distancing and equipment guidelines.
Perhaps we will get to see 2-3 PBL teams with a roster limited to say 15 players each form a cohort with exhibition games occurring in a certain location. So for example the Camrose Axemen, Camrose Roadrunners and Armena Royals could each have a 15 player roster with 2-3 assigned umpires to that cohort for games in say Camrose. Once the rosters are set and submitted, no new players could join and the umpire crew would have to remain the same for the duration of the phase.
The league would have to come up with some guidelines around how to operate the game to meet provincial guidelines which could be as simple as no shaking hands after the game to as complex as having each team supply their own baseballs for when their team is in the field to teams would be responsible to wipe down any touched surfaces such as gates and locks at a ball field. Full lineup cards for attendance tracking might have to be utilized to meet with provincial guidelines and teams could be required to disinfect baseballs every couple of innings or so to reduce the risk of transmission. These are the type guidelines that the Baseball Alberta Return To Play Committee is expected to be working on both for minor baseball and member leagues like the PBL and Sunburst Baseball League.
So the short answer is no, the 2020 PBL season won’t saved by this decision but baseball is another big step closer to returning. Even if it is still a ways away from returning to normal.