WBSC Women’s, U15 World Cups Postponed


Press release from WBSC.

PULLY, Switzerland / TIJUANA, Mexico; 23 February 2021—The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has asked the Tijuana Organizing Committee and the Mexican government to postpone the 2021 WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup® and the U-15 Baseball World Cup to later this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated international travel restrictions.

The two Baseball World Cups, which were set to take place in Tijuana this March, were originally part of the 2020 international baseball calendar.

“The WBSC is greatly disappointed for the teams and their athletes regarding this difficult decision,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “The WBSC remains in close contact with the Local Organizing Committee, the concerned National Federations/Teams and the respective authorities to determine the next course of action.”

A final decision has yet to be made as to when the next editions of the Women’s and U-15 Baseball World Cups will take place. The biennial global tournaments were last staged in 2018.

The 2021 WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup remains on schedule for 24 September to 3 October in Mexico.

Qualified teams to the respective 2021 Baseball World Cups:

WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2021
  • Africa (1): South Africa
  • Americas (6): Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, USA and Venezuela
  • Asia (2): Chinese Taipei and Japan
  • Europe (2): Germany and Italy
  • Oceania (1): Guam
WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2021
  • Americas (4): Canada, Mexico, USA and Venezuela
  • Asia (3): Defending World Cup Champion Japan, Chinese Taipei and Philippines,
  • Europe (1) France
  • Oceania (1): Australia
  • Wild Card (3): Cuba, Dominican Republic and Netherlands
WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup 2021
  • Africa (1): South Africa
  • Americas (4): Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua
  • Asia (3): Japan, Chinese Taipei and China
  • Europe (2): Czech Republic and Germany
  • Oceania (1): New Zealand
  • Wild Card (1): Korea
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BREAKING: Italy Awarded 2021 U23 Euros, Apparent Qualification

The Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) has been awarded hosting rights for the 2021 Under-23 (U23) European Championship. Italy will now host the Senior, U23, and U18 tournaments, the first time ever that one country will host Europe’s top three men’s baseball events. In fact, it is only the second time since records are available in 2007 that one country hosted three European national team events at any level. The announcement also served as a postponement to the tourney’s original dates.

Hosting a Treble
The U23s will now be the penultimate European baseball tournament of the summer. Originally due to start Aug. 3 or 4, the event will run from Aug. 24 to 28 at two sites in greater Verona. The northern Italian city is home to a Roman amphitheatre generally regarded as the best preserved in Europe. Two weeks later (beginning Sep. 11 or 12), the action will move slightly west to the Piedmont region for the senior men’s tournament. Meanwhile, the U18 title bout will run from July 5-11.

The feat of hosting three continental championships in one year is a very rare one. No country on any other continent can claim that feat for at least a decade and, quite possibly, ever. In Europe, it was common between 2007-2016 for a country to host two national team events (every year except 2009)—with the Czechs the most frequent—but even that feat has become uncommon of late. A treble of tournaments, however, is historic.

In 2012, the Czech Republic hosted three continental competitions. That year, the Central European nation welcomed teams to the U12, U15, and U21 (the predecessor to the U23) Championships over three consecutive weeks. It is worth noting that the Czech Republic is also the only other country in Europe to host the senior and U23/U21 championships in the same year (2014).

Italy’s Mysterious Qualification
All of this discussion of historicity, however, obscures the fact that Italy will somehow host a tournament—for which one has had to qualify since 2018—without ever fielding a team at the U23 level. Although it competed in the initial U21 European Championship in 2006, it has not sent a team since. The press release today [link] by FIBS announced a “newly-created U23 baseball division”, led by manager Alberto d’Auria, which will “have the daunting task of putting together a squad that will win the inaugural U23 European Baseball Championship”.

Yet Italy has not qualified for the tournament it will host. The CEB ‘Competition Rules’ document [link], last updated in 2019, states in Article 23B (EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS U23: Participants: ‘The participants are the 6 first classified of the previous championship and the 2 first classified of the last Qualifier.’

Given that Italy did not compete in the previous championship or qualifiers, a solution to its inclusion in the championship cannot be found in Article 23. The article concludes with Section D, Promotion and Relegation, which declares, ‘The teams that finished 7th and 8th place are relegated to the next Qualifier. The winner and the runner-up of the Qualifier in the following year are promoted to the next Championship.’

Article 26 (QUALIFIER FOR THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS U23, JUNIORS U18, CADETS U15 AND JUVENILES U12) further clarifies the preceding statement. In Section B (Promotion and Relegation), Clause 1 (Qualifier for the European Championships U23, Juniors U18, Cadets U15), the CEB affirms that ‘The winner and the runner-up of the qualifier competition is promoted to the next championship. In case the qualifier is played in two different countries, the winner of each group is promoted to the championship.’

The Search for a Qualifying Loophole
The possible exemption to Article 23B and D and Article 26B is contained in 26A: ‘For these qualifying competitions, the CEB Technical Commission will decide yearly the format of the competition based upon the number of subscriptions.’ Given that two U23 Qualifiers were meant to be held in 2020, it is possible that this has been applied as a ‘Pandemic Exception’ and the 2021 U23s will feature a number of other unqualified teams.

Unlike the senior men’s and women’s tournaments and the U12 Championship, this also indicates that there is no set formula for the number of subscribed U23, U18, or U15 teams to automatically trigger the creation of either a qualifying round or whether that qualifier should be split into two pools. In fact, given a directive in Article 26A “In case the qualifying competitions for the Championship Juniors and/or Cadets are played in two different countries,” the U23 Championship is the only CEB tournament with no guidance on how to form a multi-pool qualifier. Moreover, unlike the aforementioned three tournaments, there is no suggestion of a third-tier qualifying tournament and, instead, the Technical Commission has more leeway to determine format.

A tweet yesterday from FIBS provides little more information, with the ‘Consiglio Federale’ (Federal Council) in question that of Italy’s federation, not the CEB (as tweets from the hour previous make clear). The wording of the tweet suggests that FIBS’ Federal Council chose the two Veronese sites, rather than the confederation’s executive committee. 

It is worth noting that in Article 20B (EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Participants), the CEB ruling for senior men’s tournaments is that the 10 participant teams are the top nine from its most recent edition, the winners of the two qualifying pools, and “the organizer country”. The clause also provides instructions for the allotment of the tenth place team should one of the top nine serve as hosts. The senior men’s championship is the only tournament for which an “organizer country” is mentioned.

Deciphering CEB’s Decision
CEB Europe Baseball LogoSeveral assumptions have been made in this piece. First, that Italy will field a team in the tournament. Second, that CEB members have not voted to allow an exception given the unusual circumstances of the last year. Third, that a document not available on www.baseballeurope.com stipulates an automatic birth for any host nation, regardless of qualification. The most likely of these theoretical or actual missing documents is the ‘Host Agreement’, first drafted for the 2012 Congress [link] and referenced in the ‘Competition Rules’. The ‘Site Request for CEB Competitions 2019’, and ‘Statutes’ (last updated 2017) are silent on the matter of qualification.

The date of the ‘Competition Rules’ document (“Valid for 2019”) and its stipulation of a 12-team Euros, however, provide clues that the CEB’s rules for competition may have been updated, given the Aug. 17 announcement by the confederation that the men’s European Championship would expand to 16 teams. What seems most likely is that—despite the postponement of the 2021 WBSC (and CEB) Congress to November 2021—European federations have revised the ‘Competition Rules’ to allow for a guaranteed spot for an ‘organizer country’ at the U23 category, and possibly others.

At least two federations to whom we spoke were unaware of a new provision for host nations to gain an automatic berth in tournaments other than seniors. Should this change not have taken place, then the two relegated countries from the most recent championship in 2019 (Croatia and Ukraine) and the remaining teams from the 2018 qualifier (Austria, Belarus, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Switzerland) may have cause for a grievance. Other teams already in the championship might also take issue as well, given as it as a 2022 U23 World Cup qualifier. 

On the other hand, the U23/U21 tournament has always been the unique one since its creation in 2006, with teams regularly making sporadic appearances. For example, Spain hosted the tournament in 2008 and then did not reappear until 2017. Israel made its only appearance as hosts in a four-team 2016 championship, and Hungary and Malta materialised in the inaugural event, never to be seen since (as with Georgia since 2017). Given the unusual path the tournament has taken, with tournaments as large as 16 teams and as small as four, perhaps a few idiosyncracies should be expected.

Action shots copyright Extra Innings UK.

 

The Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) has been awarded hosting rights for the 2021 Under-23 (U23) European Championship. Italy will now host the Senior, U23, and U18 tournaments, the first time ever that one country will host Europe’s top three men’s baseball events. In fact, it is only the second time since records are available in 2007 that one country hosted three European national team events at any level. The announcement also served as a postponement to the tourney’s original dates.

Hosting a Treble
The U23s will now be the penultimate European baseball tournament of the summer. Originally due to start Aug. 3 or 4, the event will run from Aug. 24 to 28 at two sites in greater Verona. The northern Italian city is home to a Roman amphitheatre generally regarded as the best preserved in Europe. Two weeks later (beginning Sep. 11 or 12), the action will move slightly west to the Piedmont region for the senior men’s tournament. Meanwhile, the U18 title bout will run from July 5-11.

The feat of hosting three continental championships in one year is a very rare one. No country on any other continent can claim that feat for at least a decade and, quite possibly, ever. In Europe, it was common between 2007-2016 for a country to host two national team events (every year except 2009)—with the Czechs the most frequent—but even that feat has become uncommon of late. A treble of tournaments, however, is historic.

In 2012, the Czech Republic hosted three continental competitions. That year, the Central European nation welcomed teams to the U12, U15, and U21 (the predecessor to the U23) Championships over three consecutive weeks. It is worth noting that the Czech Republic is also the only other country in Europe to host the senior and U23/U21 championships in the same year (2014).

Italy’s Mysterious Qualification
All of this discussion of historicity, however, obscures the fact that Italy will somehow host a tournament—for which one has had to qualify since 2018—without ever fielding a team at the U23 level. Although it competed in the initial U21 European Championship in 2006, it has not sent a team since. The press release today [link] by FIBS announced a “newly-created U23 baseball division”, led by manager Alberto d’Auria, which will “have the daunting task of putting together a squad that will win the inaugural U23 European Baseball Championship”.

Yet Italy has not qualified for the tournament it will host. The CEB ‘Competition Rules’ document [link], last updated in 2019, states in Article 23B (EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS U23: Participants: ‘The participants are the 6 first classified of the previous championship and the 2 first classified of the last Qualifier.’

Given that Italy did not compete in the previous championship or qualifiers, a solution to its inclusion in the championship cannot be found in Article 23. The article concludes with Section D, Promotion and Relegation, which declares, ‘The teams that finished 7th and 8th place are relegated to the next Qualifier. The winner and the runner-up of the Qualifier in the following year are promoted to the next Championship.’

Article 26 (QUALIFIER FOR THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS U23, JUNIORS U18, CADETS U15 AND JUVENILES U12) further clarifies the preceding statement. In Section B (Promotion and Relegation), Clause 1 (Qualifier for the European Championships U23, Juniors U18, Cadets U15), the CEB affirms that ‘The winner and the runner-up of the qualifier competition is promoted to the next championship. In case the qualifier is played in two different countries, the winner of each group is promoted to the championship.’

The Search for a Qualifying Loophole
The possible exemption to Article 23B and D and Article 26B is contained in 26A: ‘For these qualifying competitions, the CEB Technical Commission will decide yearly the format of the competition based upon the number of subscriptions.’ Given that two U23 Qualifiers were meant to be held in 2020, it is possible that this has been applied as a ‘Pandemic Exception’ and the 2021 U23s will feature a number of other unqualified teams.

Unlike the senior men’s and women’s tournaments and the U12 Championship, this also indicates that there is no set formula for the number of subscribed U23, U18, or U15 teams to automatically trigger the creation of either a qualifying round or whether that qualifier should be split into two pools. In fact, given a directive in Article 26A “In case the qualifying competitions for the Championship Juniors and/or Cadets are played in two different countries,” the U23 Championship is the only CEB tournament with no guidance on how to form a multi-pool qualifier. Moreover, unlike the aforementioned three tournaments, there is no suggestion of a third-tier qualifying tournament and, instead, the Technical Commission has more leeway to determine format.

A tweet yesterday from FIBS provides little more information, with the ‘Consiglio Federale’ (Federal Council) in question that of Italy’s federation, not the CEB (as tweets from the hour previous make clear). The wording of the tweet suggests that FIBS’ Federal Council chose the two Veronese sites, rather than the confederation’s executive committee. 

It is worth noting that in Article 20B (EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Participants), the CEB ruling for senior men’s tournaments is that the 10 participant teams are the top nine from its most recent edition, the winners of the two qualifying pools, and “the organizer country”. The clause also provides instructions for the allotment of the tenth place team should one of the top nine serve as hosts. The senior men’s championship is the only tournament for which an “organizer country” is mentioned.

Deciphering CEB’s Decision
CEB Europe Baseball LogoSeveral assumptions have been made in this piece. First, that Italy will field a team in the tournament. Second, that CEB members have not voted to allow an exception given the unusual circumstances of the last year. Third, that a document not available on www.baseballeurope.com stipulates an automatic birth for any host nation, regardless of qualification. The most likely of these theoretical or actual missing documents is the ‘Host Agreement’, first drafted for the 2012 Congress [link] and referenced in the ‘Competition Rules’. The ‘Site Request for CEB Competitions 2019’, and ‘Statutes’ (last updated 2017) are silent on the matter of qualification.

The date of the ‘Competition Rules’ document (“Valid for 2019”) and its stipulation of a 12-team Euros, however, provide clues that the CEB’s rules for competition may have been updated, given the Aug. 17 announcement by the confederation that the men’s European Championship would expand to 16 teams. What seems most likely is that—despite the postponement of the 2021 WBSC (and CEB) Congress to November 2021—European federations have revised the ‘Competition Rules’ to allow for a guaranteed spot for an ‘organizer country’ at the U23 category, and possibly others.

At least two federations to whom we spoke were unaware of a new provision for host nations to gain an automatic berth in tournaments other than seniors, while a third was uncertain. Of these teams, one has qualified for the A-Pool and two have not sent teams. Should this change not have taken place, then the two relegated countries from the most recent championship in 2019 (Croatia and Ukraine) and the remaining teams from the 2018 qualifier (Austria, Belarus, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Switzerland) may have cause for a grievance. Other teams already in the championship might also take issue as well, given as it as a 2022 U23 World Cup qualifier. 

On the other hand, the U23/U21 tournament has always been the unique one since its creation in 2006, with teams regularly making sporadic appearances. For example, Spain hosted the tournament in 2008 and then did not reappear until 2017. Israel made its only appearance as hosts in a four-team 2016 championship, and Hungary and Malta materialised in the inaugural event, never to be seen since (as with Georgia since 2017). Given the unusual path the tournament has taken, with tournaments as large as 16 teams and as small as four, perhaps a few idiosyncracies should be expected.

The CEB website and social media accounts have yet to be updated with the announcement (and, indeed, the Twitter has been silent since September—and May, excluding retweets) for a while. In the meantime, we will keep you updated as more details emerge. 

Action shots copyright Extra Innings UK. Hat tip to Cam McHarg for his assistance in gathering information. 

 

Posted in CEB, Europe, Italy, U23 European Championship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hong Kong Postpones International Open until March

BREAKING: The Hong Kong Baseball Association has officially postponed its annual International Baseball Open (HKIBO). The decision means that only one more international baseball tournament is still left on the 2020 calendar, The World Comes to Palm Beaches, still scheduled for November.

The HKIBO has occurred annually in December since its first edition in 2012. According to the federation, the 2020 edition is now scheduled for March 2021, assuming public health conditions permit.

The event grew out of the Zhujiang Cup International Invitation Baseball Tournament, an event held since 2000 and featuring smaller teams from Southeast Asia. It alternated between a men’s event and one for youth, eventually focusing only on the latter. According to the 2007 programme [link] (and a little help from Google Translate), “The name Zhujiang is employed to lay down our hope to develop baseball to all walks of people like the forever flow of Zhujiang [The Pearl River].”

A team has represented the Philippines in many of the Zhujiang Cups for men and HKIBOs, most commonly the Ateneo University Eagles. Other club teams have come from Australia (Sydney University), China (Shenzhen, Lanzhou), Russia (Vladivostok Tigers, often playing as “Russia”), and Taiwan (Brett, Da-Ho). Clubs have even represented Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.

Since 2013, the HKIBO has usually included the national teams of both Hong Kong and Singapore. Last year, Hong Kong defeated “Russia” 20-4 in the final. Recent coverage of the event can be accessed below.

HKIBO 2019 [link]
HKIBO 2018 [link]
HKIBO 2017 [link]

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U18 Asian Championship Postponed Again, U12s Moved to March 2021

BREAKING: The Under-18 and Under-12 Asian Championships have been postponed until 2021. The U12s were recently confirmed for December, after having once been listed in September. Taiwan will retain hosting rights to both tournaments. 

On May 11, [link] Baseball Federation Asia (BFA) confirmed that the U18 tournament would be held from September 6-12 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Federations were told to submit applications for participation on May 20. However, on June 11, BFA postponed the event until December 18-26 [link]. Today, it seems, the board decided to postpone the championship to 2021 through a Facebook post, declining to pose a date. No press release was issued. 

A fortnight ago, the Under-12 Championship was pushed to March 2021, apparently as a combined decision by BFA and the host Chinese Taipei Baseball Association [link]. In the release, BFA President Tom Peng took the sensible position that “The exact date of the event next March has yet to be decided as we will continue to monitor the situation with the pandemic and review the best timing to organize the BFA U12 Championship.”

We will include the two tournament in our 2021 calendar once further details emerge. 

 

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Police Win Third-Straight Bangladesh Men’s Title

2020 Bangladesh Men's National Baseball Championship  বাংলাদেশ বেসবল-সফটবল সমিতি

Believe it or not, Bangladesh has held contested a men’s national baseball championship each of the past seven years and Friday’s title match marked the tenth time a team has been crowned. Although the sport was only introduced to the South Asian country in 2006, growth since 2014 has been significant and the men’s national team has won a game in both tournaments in which it has played.

This year’s tournament, which following the standard three-day, two-group, single-elimination format, was billed as the VII Walton Men’s National Championship. In reality, it is the seventh since the federation came out of dormancy in 2014. It featured the usual powerhouse teams of Bangladesh Police and Bangladesh Ansar (a uniformed service in charge of security), perennial contender Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP, the National Sports Institute), and regulars Dhaka District. Playing for the first time since 2014 was Solaiman Sports Club, while Savar Community Club made its second consecutive appearance. Sand Angel Baseball Club followed its women’s debut this year with its men’s debut. 

Groups and opponents were chosen by lot, though the Police and Ansar teams were almost certainly assigned to separate pools. BKSP was grouped with Ansar, which feels like the spot for a No. 3 seed. There were no surprises in the group rounds or semifinals, with BKSP’s 9-0 loss to the Police showing how far other clubs are behind the uniformed services teams. Savar did earn its first win ever, though. 

Although previous Police-Ansar finals have been nailbiters (9-8 in 2018, 4-3 last year), the Police jumped out early and coasted to a 19-4 victory. It was the club’s third-straight title in as many attempts. In fact, in three national championships and two friendlies, the Police have never lost a game in 11 tries and have outscored opponents 13-2 on Bangladesh Men's National Baseball Championships Historyaverage. Ansar are hardly chumps, having battered other teams 93-7 in its other six games, but the rest of Bangladesh has a long way to catch up to the Police. 

Make sure to give the Bangladesh Baseball-Softball Association a like on its regularly updated Facebook page [link].

Results
Group A
Bangladesh Police
Dhaka Commerce College (DCC)
Sand Angel
Savar Community

Group B
Bangladesh Ansar
Dhaka District
Solaiman (SSC)
BKSP 

30 SeptemberMen's 2020
BD Police 11 – DCC 0
BD Ansar 10 – SSC 0
Savar Community 6 – Sand Angel 2
SKSP 14 – Dhaka District 0

1 October
Semi: BD Police 9 – SKSP 0
Semi: BD Ansar 16 – Savar 2

2 October
Final: BD Police 19 – BD Ansar 4 

Photo copyright BBSA. 

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Olympic Qualifier: Netherlands – Italy

Game 15 of the Olympic Qualifier between the Netherlands and Italy was expected by many to be the de facto championship, but instead, the Netherlands used it to claim a place in the Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Here are our two live threads from the game, including plenty of pictures and analysis.

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BBF Press Release: GB U23 Coach Spencer Promoted

The following is a press release from the British Baseball Federation. We will have more imminently as the situation develops. 

The British Baseball Federation is excited to announce the appointment of Mr Drew Spencer as the Lead Programme and Seniors Manager of the Great Britain National Baseball Team. Spencer succeeds Mr Liam Carroll who resigned after 16 years with the programme.

Drew joined the Great Britain Baseball coaching staff in 2019, as Manager of the programme’s U23 team, which achieved its highest ever finish (5th) in the 2019 U23 European Championships. The U23 campaign included a 2-1 victory over the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a first in British Baseball history in any age group.

Drew has also managed the London Mets baseball team to consecutive National Championships in the British Baseball Federation’s top division, the National Baseball League (NBL).

Mr Jason Pearce, the National Teams Director at the BBF, said “Over the next few years, GB Baseball has some significant competitive opportunities ahead of us, from European Championships to the World Baseball Classic and even the Olympic Games. We are excited about Drew’s track record of success and his ability to unite and motivate players to reach new heights for British Baseball”.

As a player, Drew was a 4-time All-Ivy League selection at Dartmouth college. At the time of his graduation, he held career records in 11 offensive categories. He also played for two seasons in Orleans in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League

On his appointment, Drew Spencer said, “I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get started. Being part of the programme so far has been a tremendous source of inspiration and pride for me, and I have the utmost respect for all that have come before me and whose contributions have helped to make the programme what it is today. The chance to take GB Baseball forward and build on the strength of what Liam Carroll has done is one that will require the very best that I have to offer, but I know I won’t be alone. We have an amazing group of players, coaches, staff and an entire community involved. We will raise the bar together, along with a few trophies along the way!”

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BBF Press Release: Liam Carroll Resigns

The following is a press release from the British Baseball Federation. We will have more imminently as the situation develops. 

Mr Liam Carroll, Great Britain Baseball (GB Baseball) Seniors National Team Manager(*), who has been involved in the programme from 2004 has decided the time is right to move on to new challenges. Mr Carroll leaves the programme in great shape to continue to develop.

Representing Great Britain has been the greatest honour. From the first time I was selected to play in 1996 all the way to managing the 2019 European Championship squad and preparing for the what-if 2021 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, I have given the programme my very best. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and how we’ve grown, especially while having had the privilege to be the caretaker of the Senior age group over the last few years.

Most importantly, I am humbled to have had the best seat in the house to witness the incredible efforts made by so many players, coaches and support staff to Inspire, Develop and Perform for Queen and Country.

Great Britain Baseball will always be inside of me, and although I’m ready to explore some exciting opportunities outside of the programme, I am looking forward to supporting the continued growth of the programme in the future,” said Mr Liam Carroll.

Mr Jason Pearce, National Teams Official for the British Baseball Federation, said: “We are so thankful for Liam’s many contributions throughout the years, we know his future is bright”. He went on to say, “On behalf of Great Britain Baseball and the British Baseball Federation, we wish Liam all the success in his future endeavours.”

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Bangladesh Ansar Claim Fourth Women’s Title in Four Years

Baseball was only introduced to Bangladesh in 2006, but it has already now held four women’s national championships. While that number might seem insignificant, it is the eighth largest total for any country and ahead of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the U.S. Although women’s baseball does not boast many players in the world’s most densely populated non-microstate, it has grown quickly since the first tournament in 2017.

The class of women’s baseball in the South Asian nation is Bangladesh Ansar, the sporting side of a federal uniformed service that provides village security. Joining them in the tournament were Bangladesh Police, plus returnees Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP, the National Sports Institute), Dhaka District, and Savar Community Club. Debutants included Gazirchat, Narail District, and Sand Angel Baseball Club. The eight teams were divided into two groups in a single-elimination format.

The 2020 edition was dominated once more by Ansar. It breezed through the first two games easily and then defeated perennial silver medalist Bangladesh Police in the championship game, 17-10. Sand Angel claimed the bronze through run differential in its first appearance, the fourth straight year in which a rookie club took third place, though time will tell whether Sand Angel will follow their lead and fail to return to any other tournament.

In four tournaments, Ansar has yet to lose a game in 12 tries and has outscored its opponents 177-34. The Police team are no minnows, either, going 8-0 with a 107-20 run differential against all other teams while holding a separate national championship just for police clubs.

A feature on women’s baseball in the country will be released in October. In the meantime, this week’s results follow.

IV Women’s National Championship (2020)
Group A
BD Ansar
Dhaka District
Sand Angel
BKSP

Group B
Gazirchat
Narail District
BD Police
Savar Community

9 Sept.
Police 16 – Gazirchat 1
Sand Angel 18 – Dhaka District 0
Ansar 22 – BKSP 0
Savar 3 – Narail 0

10 Sept.
Ansar 29 – Savar Community 4
Police 15 – Sand Angel 4

11 September
Final: Ansar 17 – Police 10

Photo courtesy of Yubaer Bin.

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Baseball Euros to Expand in 2021, Qualification Changing

After hosting the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier in September, Italy will next welcome the European Baseball Championship. The 2021 edition will be the first with 16 teams and is the first major baseball tournament scheduled for next year to be confirmed for its original date. The Baseball Euros will take place in the Piedmont region of northern Italy next September, with venues to be announced.

It is noteworth that the senior Baseball Euros will not, as of now, be postponed because of the pandemic. This year’s B-Pool and C-Pool tournaments were postponed to 2021, along with the U23 Qualifiers, U18 Championsip, and U15 Qualifiers. This means that the senior level championship will be played in the same year as the Olympics (likely around six weeks later), plus the above tournaments and, possibly, some other events previously scheduled for 2021.

Six Additional Teams to Join Europe’s Top Level
Qualification has yet to be announced, but given the uncertainty of public health issues even 12 months from now and the fact that the Olympics will be played only six weeks before, it seems unlikely a separate qualification tournament would be held.

Instead, it would make sense if all 12 teams returned from the 2019 Baseball Euros (above figure). Adding Lithuania, which lost a qualifier to Israel, would make 13 teams. Given the time frame, it is likely that at least the runners-up of the B-Pools (Ukraine and Russia) would join (below left), though perhaps the three highest-rated teams in Europe might be automatically added.

Interestingly, despite the record number of teams (the Euros have included 12 teams since 1997), only one, Lithuania, would make its debut in this scenario. All but two returning teams have appeared at least six times. The exceptions are Israel, which debuted in 2019, and Austria (two appearances). For those curious, Ukraine has appeared six times, most recently in 2010, and were it to play at Europe’s top level, it would cap a remarkable rise from the C-Pool in 2018. Russia has appeared in 12 of the last 14 editions, including nine in-a-row between 1991 (months before officially becoming the Russian Federation) and 2007.

There are, however, two other solutions to qualification for the European title. Should the Confederation of European Baseball wish to retain only the 10 non-relegated 2019 teams, one of two things could happen: 1) A qualification tournament of other teams or 2) Fill the final spots based on WBSC rankings. Each has its issues.

Of the two options, the former would create a situation in which six teams would need to qualify. That would surely a necessitate an event with, at least, eight teams, if not another full set of B-Pool qualifiers with the top three sides advancing. The composition would have to include the two relegated teams (Croatia and Sweden), the losers of the qualification round (Lithuania), and some of the other 13 nations that competed in the B-Pools.

In the second scenario, which could also be used in the situation described above, which cancels relegation, WBSC rankings would determine who automatically advanced from the B-Pool. According to the latest poll (shown to the left with world rankings numbered), the six highest non-qualified teams are Russia (No. 9), Ukraine (No. 12), Lithuania (No. 13), Slovakia (No. 14), Poland (No. 15), and Greece (No. 16). This would, of course, be further bad news for relegated Croatia (No. 17) and Sweden (No. 20). It would mark the first appearance at the continent’s top level for Lithuania and Poland.

Federation sources indicate that the two paths most likely to be followed are the initial setup in which no teams are relegated and four teams added, unless competition next summer is possible, then a regular B-Pool Championship would be played in June or July.

Possible 2021 B-Pool Contestants
Assuming a best-case scenario with the pandemic no longer a threat by early next summer, we can theorise what a B-Pool tournament might look like. As stated above, somewhere between three and six teams will need to qualify.

The difference of three in those figures depend on whether Croatia, Lithuania, and Sweden are given automatic births to the A-Pool. Let us assume they will not and a minimum of six teams will earn promotion. Given that number, maintaining the two pools of six as in recent years would make sense.

That would leave us with the inclusion of 11 of 13 countries from the last B-Pool, depicted above, meaning two would not make the cut (Romania and either Bulgaria or Finland). In all likelihood, two federations will simply not enter teams because of a lack of funds or, perhaps, each pool would have seven competitors.

Additional Effects of Expansion
There will, however, be significant effects of expanding the European Championship. In recent years, there have been three tiers of baseball in Europe (which includes Israel, Turkey, and the Caucasus), with the bottom two teams from the top level trading places with the top two from the B-Pool. The top two teams from the C-Pool move up the B-Pool. There is no formal relegation from B-Pool as not all countries send teams each time their current level of qualification is contested, mainly due to extremely tight budgets. As many as five teams have been promoted from C-Pool in a single year (2018).

The B-Pool has consisted of multiple groups in different locations since 1984, with anywhere from two to five groups. Since 2013, it has held steady at two groups, usually with six teams in each group (with last year’s eight in Slovakia the exception). The C-Pool was instituted in 2014, with eight teams competing in a single location. In 2016 and 2018, the lowest tier was split into two groups of five in different locations.

In total, the most recent editions of each tier featured a total of 30 countries, including 12 in the A-Pool, eight countries that competed only in B-Pool (leaving out Israel, which moved up a tier, and five countries that also played in C-Pool), and 10 in C-Pool. With four more teams in the highest level tournament it leaves only 14 nations from the last qualification cycle below the top tier. This could result in the two qualification levels being combined into one after 2021, almost certainly at two locations.

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