Home British baseball Roundshaw Hop: League format released

Roundshaw Hop: League format released

by Joe Gray

Roundshaw-Hop-(128x128)“Roundshaw Hop” is the new name for my column on the National Baseball League (NBL). This year, I am going to try to keep to opinion-style pieces on BaseballGB (last season, I mixed up opinion pieces with more factual pieces). You will be able to find more factual reports on the NBL once the season gets started under the British baseball leagues category on Mister Baseball. In this first instalment, I will look at the format of the NBL in 2009, details of which were released this morning. But before I do that, let me explain the new name and logo for the column.

Roundshaw Hop: What’s in the name?

I wanted to give this column a baseball-themed name that was specifically related to Britain. One term I’ve heard over and over during the past few seasons is “Roundshaw hop”, which describes the unexpectedly high bounce a gentle grounder can sometimes take (as depicted in the logo) on the field of the Croydon Pirates, the team I score for. I suspect that, owing to the unpredictability of infield bounces all over Britain, there are similar terms in common use: “Grovehill hop”, “Finsbury hop”, and “Connare hop” are just a few potential alternatives that spring to mind (the pun here is accidental, but it should be noted that these hops more often than not adopt brainward trajectories). One diamond said to have a reliable bounce in its infield was Pavilion Field, where the Brighton Buccaneers used to play, but burrowing bunnies in the outfield did their best to ensure that the field was not flawless.

The NBL format for 2009

Each time I’ve checked my email over the past few days I’ve been hoping to see a message with the NBL schedule. It came this morning.

It is now confirmed that the NBL will be exclusively southern teams this year, with the London Mets (last year’s national champions), the Richmond Flames (last year’s losing finalists), and the Bracknell Blazers and the Croydon Pirates being joined by the Herts Falcons, who were invited to join the top tier following their AAA championship in 2008. The schedule is 24 games long, with each team playing every other team in three double-headers. The season starts on Sunday 19 April with the Falcons visiting the Pirates and the Flames hosting the Mets.

Returning to the subject of the email I received this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find something else included among the attachments: a post-season structure. The top four teams from the five that make up the NLB will qualify, but a weighted double-elimination format will give an advantage to the higher-placed teams (see below).

National Baseball Championship format 2009

For the past few years, the post-season structure has been announced mid-season, and even then uncertainty about what a team needed to do to qualify remained. This was not good for players, managers, spectators, or writers.

Aspi Dimitrov, the new Southern Senior League Commissioner, deserves a lot of credit for the work he has put into the league and post-season structure. I feel confident that baseball across the south of England is going to benefit from Aspi’s talents, in the same way that the Herts Falcons (his club) have been benefiting in recent years.

The NBL National Baseball Championship will be played on the same weekend as the A-championship. The AAA- and AA-championships will be played the weekend after.

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Mark Tobin April 6, 2009 - 12:54 pm

I like the double-elimination format, it works well in US college baseball.

Joe Gray April 6, 2009 - 1:05 pm

I am a fan too.

It has certain flaws. For instance, a team could win all 24 games in the regular season, then have really bad luck in game two and then need to win three games on the second day to be national champions.

But no format will be perfect in a two-day four-team tournament, and I think this is just about as good a plan as could have been constructed.

A big plus is that it ensures the final will be a decider (having a clean sweep in a best-of-three final is a big anti-climax).

The pitching decisions are going to be fascinating because teams can afford to take more of a risk until they have had a loss.

Also, it’s a bonus that there’s a Bank Holiday Monday after the finals, as it should mean that spectators are less inclined to leave early and miss the final. I think the main reasons it’s been brought forward to the end of August is to give Great Britain enough preparation time for the World Cup. I am hoping that there will be some National Baseball League representation in the British squad; Alex Malihouside has a chance for instance.

Matthew Crawshaw April 10, 2009 - 12:25 pm

Glad its been brought forward, hopefully better weather will ensure all games are completed.

BaseballGB » British Baseball Beat: From the HSL to the NBC April 14, 2010 - 10:16 pm

[…] double-elimination format introduced last year has been retained for both the NBL and AAA National Baseball Championships; […]


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