Last week, Mother Nature handed us approximately 69cm of snow in a matter of hours, but days earlier the managers of the NCBL handed us several new rule changes, and several interesting ideas for changes that could become official at the next league meeting in March.
I, Shaun Keay, was not at the NCBL Winter Meeting, but I’ve heard from several well-placed sources who were including: representatives from all 4 of the tiers, multiple high-ranking umpires, and even a Sportsplex custodian who overheard some of the meeting when the managers began yelling at one another. NCBL Secretary Bond also accidently saved the minutes of the meeting in the SweatSox cloud, so I downloaded that to get his perspective too, since he never tells me anything. So, accept what I’m about to tell you as undeniable facts.
The first order of business was promoting the probationary Russell Blue Jays to full status members of the NCBL; despite protests from the Tier 2 Red Sox who had issues with their field lighting. As a gesture of goodwill, the Blue Jays agreed to play their home games against the Red Sox at McCarthy, which as we’ve all recently learned is the favourite field of one of the Vallejos brothers.
Commissioner Beelen then took the mic and started busting some rhymes. He rapped about the competitive balance in all the tiers, the great job everyone did setting up, entering, and maintaining the stats, and despite some shady price gouging tactics by the Pineview Municipal Golf Course, how we managed to turn a profit at the banquet last year.
League Treasurer Cornell was busy accumulating extracurricular dad hours over at youth basketball (so he can skip out on some soccer games this summer), so the Commish had to break down the financial projections for 2019. He reminded everyone that 2 years ago we were marching towards the line, and last year we were inching towards the line, but this year we are ever so close to the line. Fees are going up.
The umpires then took the stage and hyped how great a year they had in 2018; in fact, they once again achieved 100% coverage! That must mean they had all the umpires there by the end of the games, because there was certainly at least one game last year when a certain award winning umpire, who may or may not currently play for the Red Sox (and the Expos before that), was like 4+ innings late. Let’s just call it 99.69% coverage.
It was then revealed that Maxime Leroux (Craig’s all-time 3rd favourite umpire) had stepped down as NCBL Head Umpire. Sources from inside the Operations Committee tell me Leroux has decided to focus his full 2019 officiating attention on mixed league softball. The SweatSox would like to wish Maxime the best of luck in all his future endeavours.
This set the stage for Fred Malo and a resurrected Jean Lazure to reclaim their spots at the head table by being the only ones who wanted to be the new Umpire-in-Chief, and inaugural Deputy Umpire-in-Chief #2, respectively. When reached for comment, former Deputy Umpire Neal Phadnis couldn’t believe his former colleagues didn’t include him in this clear and obvious coup.
Sadly for some, the Bill Beelen era isn’t over just yet. With nobody there to oppose (well, except for the Winchester lady who demanded Bill “do his job”), Sir William was acclaimed into his 9th consecutive term as NCBL Commissioner. We will be sure to hold him to his campaign promises of chalked foul lines in the playoffs, equal rights for all teams (including those with Cat-themed names), and never, ever, decreasing the amount of games in the NCBL regular season.
There were few surprises when it came to teams declaring their unofficial tier intentions for the 2019 season. As expected, the Mudd, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Capitals are all hoping to stay in their 2018 tiers; while the Coyotes will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the 2005 SweatSox by moving up to Tier 3 and winning it that same year. The other easy automatic move should be the Misfits moving up to Tier 2, but they seemed hesitant to even make an unofficialdeclaration at the meeting; the only explanation is they’re waiting for Gauthier to confirm his 2019 Misfit status. The Dukes also shocked the world by announcing their intention of dropping to Tier 4; the only explanation is Larry must’ve quit. Finally, the Black Sox showed that unlike a slumping Pedro Cerrano, they do indeed have marbles, and are looking to move up a tier when they don’t technically need to. Respect.
So here is your projected 2019 Tier Structure:
Capital City Cubs
Cornwall River Rats
Marc Sports Gatineau
Russell Blue Jays
** a new team? **
The great thing about the NCBL Winter meeting is it’s the only time we’re allowed to make changes to the Constitution; so this is where teams overreact to incidents from the year before and try and make new rules that could benefit them down the road. The Lumberjacks want to make it so a late inning ejection doesn’t necessarily mean a next game suspension, the Red Sox want to make it so any type of unwarranted playoff cancellation results in immediate expulsion, the SweatSox want the Social Media Committee eliminated, the Mavericks want to thin out the competition and send every pennant and championship winners up a tier, and some crazy team even wanted to change the fundamental rules of baseball and forfeit their offensive half of the inning if they so choose (FYI- just stand in the box and swing at 9 straight pitches if you want to speed things up).
Due to time constraints, all of the above was tabled to the next meeting, thanks in part to a new constitutional rule that we can now change the constitution at both the winter and spring meetings. So you’ve got a few weeks to get your popcorn ready – should be a fun one; I, Shaun Keay, may even go too.
There was enough time to get 2 new playoff rules locked-in for 2019 though. There is now a standard mercy rule in the playoffs, which actually would’ve helped us last year in Game 1 against the Misfits when we waved the white flag and surrendered in the middle of the inning (which they kindly accepted). Also, the playoff continuation rule appears to have gone from 6 or less runs to 4 or less runs. 4 is better than 6 I guess.
According to an email sent earlier this week from Commissioner Beelen, the next NCBL meeting is officially scheduled for Sunday, March 3rd. I can also officially confirm that the Capital City Cubs “Got it”.
Final NCBL Winter Meeting Notes/Thoughts:
- The Cardinals sent 2 representatives to the meeting. Dow wondered off after about 5 minutes and never came back, Delorey went to look for him 10 minutes later and never came back either. RIP Cardinals.
- Registrar (Joe) Beelen was balls deep in a 1986 ORBL yearbook and forgot about the meeting.
- If there is actually going to be some kind of Summit between the Umpires and Tier 1 managers, I’d like to be there too.
- The winning team likes the plate umpire more (60%) than the losing team.
- The losing team likes the base umpire more (53%) than the winning team.
- Brockville has shown some interest this offseason about joining the NCBL. Pidhirny better not be a part of it.
Shaun Robert Keay IV
2nd All-Time in NCBL Strikeouts