October 20th, 2020

WCBL hopes to play ball


By Woodard, Dale on April 7, 2020.

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

sports@lethbridgeherald.com

The Western Canadian Baseball League hasn’t been ejected yet.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic taking down summer activities and leagues, the WCBL is dusting off their cleats, stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at the possibility of a summer on the diamonds across the league.

“We did a video conference with all the governors in the league and discussed the situation and where we’re at,” said WCBL president Kevin Kvame. “Not knowing a lot of the information, the majority of the governors want the season if it’s possible and it’s going to be safe. So we don’t want to make any snap decisions. The same story seems ever-evolving and ever-changing day-by-day. But we’ll give it as much possible time as we can to play the full season and then if that date goes then there are a couple of options for a shortened season. I think the players are really going to be itching to play baseball. They pretty much lost their spring season, so it would be bad to lose the summer one as well. But of course, we’re taking our guidance from health and government officials.”

The board set a date of May 2 for the go-ahead to play a full season.

Provisions are also set in place for a shortened season that would start on or about Father’s Day or Canada Day.

Similar dates are set for three or four weeks prior to these shortened seasons for plans to be put in place.

“We had to pick a couple of options, so we thought around Father’s Day and Canada Day are probably the options B and C, respectively,” said Kvame. “There was no real science to the decision other than it’s a couple more dates down the road that if something happens in the next two to three weeks of each date then we could rapidly put together a revamped schedule and get a season off the ground going if it’s permitted.”

The governors have agreed that if by early-June health and travel restrictions are still as such that the WCBL can’t solidify a start date the the 2020 season would be cancelled.

Also in place is an emergency leave-of-absence option for those teams which may not have the resources to field a team this season due to the pandemic playing havoc with fundraising activities.

“It’s on a community-by-community basis,” said Kvame. “The majority of the teams in the league want to play. There are a couple that are somewhat relying on fundraising initiatives they do in the spring and those have dried up on them so they’re re-looking at everything to make sure they don’t run a season that puts them into financial jeopardy for the long term. We have a special provision for this year that allows teams, once they see if and when something gets put in place to operate a season, that they would have the ability to take an emergency leave for one year if they need to based on their own situation within their community. But we think it’s the only fair thing to do other than absolutely bind them to play and jeopardize their long-term viability.”

Kvame noted a business-like vibe in Sunday’s meeting.

“Everybody could see everybody else on the Zoom call and there was a little bit of chatter about what the conditions are like in each centre. For the most part, most of the centres in the WCBL are in not bad shape as far as the pandemic goes. But nobody was completely down about it, it was business-like. We have to deal with this stuff, make some decisions and protect the franchises and the league for the future.”

The WCBL will issue further press releases as they learn more in the coming months.

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