After last summer’s abbreviated two-month baseball season in July and August, officials from the Carillon Minor Baseball Association (CMBA) are planning for the league to return to some semblance of normalcy this season.
The fact there even was a season last summer was a nice respite following the first three months of lockdowns as COVID-19 was just getting underway in the spring of 2020.
No one could have predicted that one year later, COVID-19 is still having a major effect on society, and of course all sports have been dramatically affected.
In most years, the thriving CMBA, one of the largest baseball regions in the province, starts their season locally in the beginning of May, if conditions allow.
With no provincial championships last year, which are usually run in July and August, those months were instead used for regular season play. It at least allowed the players to compete in games and continue in their development.
Louis Cote, who is the co-president of the CMBA along with Don Meilleur, says right now they only plan to begin the season in late-May or early June.
In all, there are 15 communities from the southeast that field teams in the CMBA, which totals more than 100 teams in all on an annual basis.
Registrations for the coming season will be accepted until April 1. Please see the CMBA ad on page 3C of this week’s sports section for registration details from each community.
Last year with the reduced programming, the entry level Rally Cap and Grand Slam programs, did not operate. And although overall they had a reduced number of teams in the league last year, Cote expects those numbers to return to normal levels this season, even though things will not be completely back to normal.
Cote says there are a couple of reasons for delaying the start of the season by a month this year. "Normally our players can train indoors at the schools but they have not been able to do that this year, so they wouldn’t by ready to start a season in early May." He says this will hopefully give the players an opportunity train outside in April and May when conditions allow.
Another reason is that they just don’t know when restrictions will be eased to allow for games, so by waiting until later in the spring the hope is that they will be able to begin playing games, as they did last summer.
"It is very important we start our programs as we would any other year," said Cote. "The delayed start to the season does not mean a delayed start to the baseball programming. Actually, the month of practice/training should lead to a better program for our players and ultimately a better season, as they will be better prepared to play games than in a typical season."
Normally, minor baseball provincials are held in July. As a result, some of the CMBA schedule of games for some of the age groups will go into July this year. It is hoped those provincials will be able to procceed as scheduled this year.
For teams in the age groups of 13U to 18U they will have a season that runs from May 31 to July 23, on weekdays only. The 11U season, also on weekdays, will run from May 31 to July 14.
For 9U teams, Rally Cap and Grand Slam, their seasons will not go into July.
But Cote again stresses that the May 31 start to the season, is for the start of games only. He expects the season to begin hopefully several weeks earlier as teams can train outdoors as the weather and conditions allow.
"We are confident that Baseball Manitoba and Manitoba Health will approve teams to train in an outdoor setting as soon as our weather allows, ideally by mid-April. We encourage all our associations to start their practices at this time."
Meanwhile, the Carillon Sultans are preparing for the upcoming season in the Manitoba Junior Baseball League. Although the start date for the league this year is still to be determined, Sultans’ coach Curt Brandt says he expects all eight teams to return the league this year.
He is also confident there will be an ample of number of players interested in competing this year for the Sultans, who will again play their home games in Steinbach.