IBL State of the League

As we flip the calendar to 2021 we involved with The IBL look back at 2020 with no fondness whatsoever. Try as we might there was no chance to have IBL baseball last year, breaking a 100-season streak.

Baseball, more than any other sport, embraces a new calendar and circles Opening Day with excitement and optimism. Now that we are in 2021, with vaccines and a light at the end of the tunnel that has never more been the case than this year.

By the time we throw the first pitch in 2021, and we will throw the first pitch, it will have been 20, 21 maybe even 22 months since The Jack and Lynne Dominico Trophy was presented to the defending-champion Barrie Baycats.

While there has been no baseball for the longest period in IBL history, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. Currently, The IBL is putting together a number of schedule options for 2021. A later start seems prudent and extending the playoffs into September seems the most likely scenario.

From an operational standpoint, The IBL will have a new set of minimum standards for teams in 2021 and fans and players will notice a positive difference in the game-day experience.

Following the 2019 season, The IBL lost its Umpire in Chief when Andy Herrington died suddenly. Andy had served as the UIC for four seasons and was very loyal to the IBL and its principles and his death was a great loss to the league.

Scott Costello, who has umpired in the minor pros for eight years, was selected to head up our umpiring and is proposing some subtle rules changes that would bring our play more in line with professional baseball. Scott has also floated the idea of some more significant changes similar to what the majors piloted.

And of course, for those that follow the IBL’s social media messages, teams are already putting together their rosters for next year.

Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder but as you can see that’s not the only reason we are looking forward to 2021 with such excitement. It’s going to be a great season.

But as they say in those late-night television infomercials – “but what, there’s more!”

Broader interest in The IBL has never been higher and we have had conversations with several groups about bringing The IBL to their communities. We can say with some certainty that by Opening Day 2021 we will be announcing a new team for 2022. Also, given the conversations we have had with other interested groups in our footprint, there’s even a possibility we will have a 10th team.

But the question all of us are asking is – will The IBL be back to normal in 2021? That’s doubtful as it’s reasonable to expect some anti-COVID conditions dictated by provincial and regional health authorities.

But we have great confidence that there will be IBL games and a season and a champion in 2021.

Finally, good riddance to 2020 and to 2021, welcome and we’ll see you at the ballpark before we know it.

John Kastner
IBL Commissioner