What Will The PBL Look Like In 2021?
Posted November 1, 2020
Teams like the Tofield Braves and Rosalind Athletics will soon, if not already, be facing this problem. The Braves have an aging core of players, with limited access to players so far in the Tofield area due to a growing but younger minor ball association. The team will need to work hard to expand their recruitment into areas like Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan to look for players willing to play 30 minutes away. Rosalind has made attempts in the past 2-3 seasons to back fill long time veteran players leaving with young players out of Camrose. So far it has been successful but can they continue to rely on young players traveling 30 minutes for home games when there are two teams in Camrose also as options? If they can, the A’s might find themselves staying active and competitive in the PBL for years to come, but someone will have to organize the team as well.
It feels like the window for these two teams is closing rapidly and is compounded by the lack of interest in baseball by players after their minor baseball days come to an end. Especially with more and more growth in the urban areas of the province and what seems like a growing desire, need perhaps, to not have to travel very far for anything these days. This is definitely something that needs to be looked into more by teams and perhaps the league to ensure there is some sustainability moving forward.
The Armena Royals, Camrose Axemen and Vegreville Blue Jays are still in the senior sports happy zone in terms of age, provided they can stay organized and committed. Players are still able to commit fully, or at least to most, of the team functions given their youth and not too many off field distractions. The Camrose Roadrunners are an anomaly. After years of on again, off again appearances in the PBL the Roadrunners have been a stable franchise in the league since the Tofield Lakers moved to Camrose to become the current Roadrunners. A move that was made to better accommodate the situation of their players and one that has paid off for the franchise.
While the Edmonton Expos are fairly new to the league, and have battled outsider's questions about their player commitment, there appears to be hope that being from the largest centre in the league will help make them a sustainable franchise for years to come. However there is fear that they are following the path of the Sherwood Park Athletics who only managed two seasons of complete baseball before having to fold in the early portion of the 2019 season due to player commitment despite having one of Alberta’s largest minor ball associations in their backyard.
Without trying to sound too doom and gloom, the league will have some work to do in order to see all their franchises return in 2021, should there be a baseball season. Tofield, Rosalind and the Roadrunners are with aging cores to their team, Edmonton has been hit and miss with their roster and lineup throughout their two seasons in the league and the Axemen struggled to field a young team in 2019 because of player commitment issues. An entire season off will put stress on the players who were a year or two away from hanging them up and without baseball at the forefront of a spring/summer, the players who are flakey and waiver on committing to a team are hopefully now excited to play baseball after missing it for a season.
After losing PBL baseball in 2020, fans are hoping that the league will find a way to play some sort of cohort baseball should the situation with Covid-19 remain next spring and summer. Last season it was the rule changes and requirements of the on field operation of the league and the game, created by Baseball Alberta, that caused many players and teams to back away from an attempt to have some sort of salvaged season. The North Central Alberta Baseball League and the Foothills Major Baseball Association, both not affiliated with Baseball Alberta, offered their teams and players a modified season with what appears to be a large amount of success by all accounts.
Here is to hoping that PBL baseball is back in 2021!