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British Baseball Beat: Postseason dreams

by Matt Smith

bbbHlsqWe’ve reached the point in the British baseball season when playoff predictions start coming to the fore.  Not that anything has been decided yet – far from it, there’s still plenty to play for -  but the teams have now played enough games that you can get a good idea of who is going to be in the postseason mix.

There are two main stages to the British baseball postseason in 2010.  The ‘playoffs’ stage takes place on Saturday 21 and 28 August, the first Saturday being an A and AA league exclusive round and then all four leagues being represented on the 28th.  The playoff games are there to determine the entrants to the marquee event of the British baseball season: the National Baseball Championships (NBC), taking place on 4-5 September. 

National Baseball League

Six of the eight NBL teams will head on to the playoffs.  The top two teams go straight through to the NBC and it would be a shock if those places are taken by any teams other than London Mets (15-2) and Bracknell Blazers (13-2).  They both won their double-headers last Sunday, against the Herts Falcons (4-11) and Essex Arrows (2-13) respectively, continuing the impressive form that has made them the class of the top-tier so far.  Richmond Flames (9-4) didn’t play over the weekend as their scheduled opponents Mildenhall Bulldogs (4-9) are struggling to field a team right now, but the Flames look likely to finish third as the first of the four ‘playoff’ teams.  Southampton Mustangs (9-8) made it five wins in a row after earning two victories over Croydon Pirates (4-11) on Sunday and that form gives them a great chance of making the playoffs in their debut NBL season. 

That leaves four teams battling for two spots: the Pirates, Bulldogs, Falcons and Essex Arrows (2-13), the last of whom probably won’t quite be in the playoff mix.  Coincidentally, those four teams come together on Sunday, with double-headers between the Pirates and Arrows and the Falcons and Bulldogs.  The Mets host the Mustangs, while the Blazers host the Flames.

Full details and reaction from last Sunday’s games can be found in Simon Fitzjohn’s report.


It’s a simple equation in the AAA-North League as the top two teams go straight to the AAA NBC and the rest are left to think of what might have been.  That promises to be a fascinating battle as there are four teams, all closely matched, vying for those two spots.  Liverpool Trojans (13-5) had dropped 3 of their previous 4 games to see their advantage in the standings whittled away by the chasing pack, but the tables were turned on Sunday.  The Trojans won twice at Bootle Stadium against Glasgow (1-15), while Harrogate Tigers (10-4) and Menwith Hill Patriots (10-6) split a double-header and the surging Manchester A’s (11-5) surprisingly lost their second game of the day against Halton Jaguars (3-13) to be left with a split.  

The top games come thick and fast in the AAA-North as the A’s host the Patriots, while the Tigers take on the Trojans this Sunday.

It’s just as competitive in the South.  Here, the top team goes straight through to the NBC, but the second and third placed teams have a single-game showdown to determine who joins them there.  Oxford Kings (9-1), Bracknell Inferno (9-3) and Herts Eagles (8-4) hold the top three spots currently, with Bristol Badgers (4-2) in fourth and having four games in hand on the Kings and six on both of the other two.  The Badgers’ next six games include four against the Kings, including two this weekend, and two against the Inferno, so we’ll soon have a good idea of how they shape up against the competition. 

While the playoffs will be beyond them this season, due credit should be given to Essex Redbacks (4-6)who followed up their first two wins of 13 June with another double-header sweep on Sunday over London Metros (2-8). 

AA and A

It’s easier to look at these two together as there is some overlap when it comes to who qualifies for which level of postseason play.

The AA-Midlands league contains five teams and four of them will head on to the playoffs: the top two to the AA playoff round and the third and fourth placed teams to the A playoff round.  The Leicester Blue Sox 2 (2-8) rookies are expected to be the team to miss out in their first year, they lost twice to their first team counterparts by a combined score of 51-0 on Sunday, although the struggles Mildenhall Bulldogs 2 (2-5)have had in fielding a team may ultimately mean that the Blue Sox 2 gain some playoff experience.  Results so far suggest that Birmingham Maple Leafs (8-3) should be in the top two,and if so the main battle will be between Leicester Blue Sox (6-4) and MK Bucks (4-4) to determine which joins the Leafs in the AA playoff and which goes on to the A playoff instead.  The two teams meet for an important double-header on 4 July.  This Sunday, the Blue Sox are scheduled to face Bulldogs 2 at RAF Feltwell.

The AA-North league works in the same way as the Midlands league, with only one of the five teams set to miss out on extending their season.  That team will be Oldham North Stars, who slipped to 0-13 after Bolton Robots of Doom (9-3) beat them twice on Sunday.  The order in which the other four teams will finish is still completely up for grabs.  Bolton and Sheffield Bladerunners (7-3) hold the ‘AA’ spots, with Manchester Torrent (8-6) one game further back and Humber Pilots (5-4) having the potential to catch up if they win their games in hand.  The Pilots host Torrent this weekend, while the Bladerunners and Robots meet in a top-of-the-table clash.

The AA-South and A-South leagues each contain two pools (A and B) and quite simply the top two teams from each pool go through to their respective level of the playoff rounds.

In AA-South, the top two spots in Pool A appear to be going the way of Poole Piranhas (8-1) and Windsor Bears (7-3), particularly after the Bears beat the fourth-placed Croydon Pirates III on Sunday and the third-placed Thames Valley lost twice to Sidewinders.  Richmond Knights (8-1) should qualify from Pool B as champions and the other spot will be a battle between Sidewinders (8-3) and Essex Archers (6-3).  The Archers host a double-header against Thames Valley Bisons on Saturday as part of the Waltham Abbey Town Show, while Sidewinders play two games against the 0-10 Brentwood Stags on Sunday.

In A-South, there’s just half a game between Richmond Dragons (7-2) and Guildford Mavericks (6-2) at the top of Pool A following Guildford’s 17-13 win over their rivals on Sunday.  Both teams are in pole position to qualify for the postseason, but Southampton Mustangs II (4-3) could still catch one of them.  In Pool B,  Braintree Rays (5-2) and Old Timers (4-3) have the advantage over Chelmsford Clippers (5-4) owing to the latter having played more games than their rivals.  The Clippers and Old Timers face struggling teams this Sunday (Bracknell Pyros and Herts Raptors respectively), while the pool-leading Rays host Pool A leaders the Dragons.

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Matt16 June 24, 2010 - 8:50 am

Thr Robots of Doom lead the AA North
Standings W L F A W% GB
Bolton Robots of Doom 9 3 168 68 .750 –
Sheffield Bladerunners 7 3 120 85 .700 1

Snailtrainer June 24, 2010 - 3:16 pm

I live in Oxforshire, where can i go watch a game ?

Matt Smith June 24, 2010 - 6:13 pm

Hi Matt. The Robots are doing so well that Peter Crouch and Pringles have teamed up to celebrate! At least I think that’s what it’s for!

Snailtrainer. Presumably your best bet would be the Oxford Kings, who are having a great season this year (top of their respective league). You can check out which teams are nearest to you by using the ‘Baseball Map’ on the British Baseball Federation website:

Adam Brown July 5, 2010 - 3:05 pm

Apparently the BBF have decided that this year’s postseason games will be played on a Saturday rather than a Sunday, meaning that many players all over the country will now be unavailable due to other sporting committments (generally saturday league cricket). Why do this? It’s shortsighted, bordering on deliberate sabotage.

Michael Jones July 5, 2010 - 8:46 pm

Great stuff again in the blog – it’s good to see that every level of the game is represented here.

I apologise on behalf of our team not being able to play last Sunday against Bracknell, as chronic unavailability and injury has cost us that one and postponed the game against Tonbridge for a week; we were the only team in our half of the country to have 12 consecutive weeks scheduled, and it was inevitable that we’d lose out on at least one in our full debut season.

It’s been a great learning curve for us and we hope to take it all the way if we can, so here’s hoping that the Clippers can get to the playoffs to do Chelmsford proud.

Kudos too to the Essex Redbacks for getting going – they’ve put in a lot of work on the diamond that we share and they fully deserve a chance at success in their first year as well.

Matt Smith July 5, 2010 - 9:11 pm

Hi Michael. As noted, my intention was to make sure all levels got a decent bit of coverage here to go along with the informative NBL special report on the BBF website. Glad you like the column.

You were certainly dealt a tough schedule and deserve a lot of credit for still being in the playoff mix after getting through it. I’m also always appreciative of your game reports which are probably the most detailed and useful of any team. Good luck the rest of the way!

Matthew Crawshaw July 7, 2010 - 12:49 pm

Ref playoffs

I think Saturday has been selected as first choice and then if it is rained out, there is a second chance on the Sunday.

Last year they were scheduled for Sunday (only) and then if rained out the team with the better league win record went through, which on balance is even less fair I guess!


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