Category: 2020

League Franchises Change Under Covid-19

The North Central Alberta Baseball League has already suspended the official start of the 2020 regular season. The May 10th openers have given way to the possibility of an abbreviated regular season with a projected opening day of June 14th. Uncertainty over this later start still looms large as the corona virus continues to worry authorities due to the growing number of cases in Alberta. Despite these uncertainties, the NCABL has unveiled a three pronged strategic plan in the hope of salvaging the season. With the first of these options now behind them, the League has its hopes hinging on two possible starting dates. Should the League not deem the June 14th date to be a viable opening date, a third and final option would have the League begin the regular season on or about July 15th. Should the League proceed with the third option, regular season play would extend until the end of August with the post-season running into the first half of September. Commissioner Riopel does not see an August start to the regular season as a viable last choice for the League. “Our 53rd consecutive season is definitely under viral attack”, he mused.

In other major news from League Office, it was learned that rivalries were about to change within the League with the departure of the reigning League Champion Edmonton Blackhawks. Adding the sudden departure this Spring of the Stony Plain Mets, who were hoping to retool for the 2020 season, will spell new opportunities for those returning franchises who have not yet tasted postseason success. The Sherwood Park Athletics will be denied a third opportunity to dethrone their rivals, the Blackhawks; while the St. Albert Cardinals might not have to jump over their nemesis, the Red Lions, to reach the post season for the first time. Despite the impending threat from a long lasting pandemic, seven clubs have registered for the 2020 campaign. The returnees include the Edmonton Athletics, Edmonton Primeaus, Parkland Twins, St. Albert Cardinals, Sherwood Park Athletics, and Westlock Red Lions. The Fort Saskatchewan Reds, a new entry, will bring the total number of franchises to seven. With or without a regular season, the above clubs will be officially registered as members of the North Central Alberta Baseball League for the 2020 season.

NCABL Projected to House Junior AAA Dream Team

The St. Albert Minor Baseball Association (SAMBA) has long been producing players of high calibre through its tiered developmental system. Recent successes at the Midget AAA level have left SAMBA with an enviable problem of where to place these players after graduation such as to provide the organization with the best possible scenario for retaining them both in the game of baseball as well as on clubs which will properly develop them. Without an existing high profile junior league in which to play and with an overly crowded St. Albert Tiger roster, SAMBA is taking a giant leap forward in conjunction with the NCABL by establishing its own collegiate farm system. Graduating Midget players with existing ties to American schools or who simply wish to further their development in a highly immersed summer program with skilled coaching can apply to play on this club which will debut in the NCABL in the spring of 2021. The club, sponsored by SAMBA, will not be the first junior or collegiate club the NCABL has accommodated in its 53 year history. One of Alberta’s strongest collegiate clubs ever assembled and managed by Ray Brown found the NCABL to be the perfect league in which to hone player skills, providing them with a varied schedule, reduced travel and a well organized framework. Most of the players from the Morinville Pioneers went on to play for the St. Albert Tigers where they continued to dominate at the local level and excel at the national level. SAMBA is taking a courageous step which has been long awaited as the only one which can restore a successful future for senior baseball in St. Albert. The NCABL is looking forward to the partnership and will offer its invaluable experience to ensure the success of this recently announced program. According to SAMBA President Kurtus Millar, this junior aged club will also be entered into a few elite tournaments in Western Canada so as to challenge them even further. The NCABL is projecting a return to a normal season in 2021 with a minimum of eight franchises competing.