What is the best league system for British Baseball?

The 2014 league champions in the various BBF leagues have been determined and attention now turns to the 2015 season. The Annual General Meeting of the British Baseball Federation will be held on 15 November in Leicester. This event usually sees a large number of proposals and initiatives being considered with a view to implementing them in the new season. Over the years some of these proposals have contributed to the growth of the league which we are enjoying at present (Number of adult baseball teams reaches 20-year high, 15 August 2014).

Herts Baseball Club has revealed that it is considering submitting a motion to the BBF AGM for the introduction of a system for the promotion and relegation of teams in the various BBF leagues. The Club has decided to make the first draft of this motion public in order to encourage a discussion on the subject and invite feedback which may help Herts decide whether or not to submit this motion to the BBF AGM and, if so, to determine whether this first draft could benefit from one or two amendments taking on board different perspectives from the wider British baseball community.

The first draft of the motion is shown below. Herts members can submit their views on the Herts Baseball Forum. Representatives of other clubs can post their views on Facebook.



Over the last few years promotion and relegation of teams in the BBF senior leagues has been determined not on the basis of a team finishing in the pre-determined promotion and relegation places in the top or bottom of the standings, but instead the process involves clubs submitting a written request to the BBF after the end of the season.

If a system is introduced where teams are promoted or relegated based on where they finish in the standings, this is expected to bring the following benefits to the BBF and its members:

• more exciting league;

• removes the ambiguity over the BBF’s decision-making process which is currently in place;

• teams have a clear understanding of what they must do to secure promotion or avoid relegation;

• dramatic reduction in the number of meaningless games, especially in the second half of the season when a large number of teams are already eliminated from the postseason race;

• reduction in the number of meaningless games will also reduce the number of forfeited games – a problem which the league is still struggling with. In 2014 there were 61 forfeited games in the 4 leagues (NBL, AAA, AA, A). In addition, there were another 66 games which had no scores reported which may imply that some or most of them were forfeited. 82% of the forfeited games were in the second half of the season (June to August) when a large number of the teams learn that the results of their remaining games do not matter as they are out of the race;

• the option to introduce relegation-promotion playoffs would provide postseason drama for teams which have missed out on the postseason playoffs;

• the British media gets very excited when their home town team is involved in a promotion or a relegation battle. In such circumstances we have seen how communities rally behind their local team and this could provide much needed publicity for clubs and British baseball as a whole;



With effect from the 2015 BBF season to introduce a promotion and relegation system with the following parameters:

1. The rules and format which will determine the promotion and relegation of teams in the BBF senior leagues shall be announced before the start of the season;

2. One or more teams which are ranked highest at the end of the season of their respective league are to be awarded automatic promotion to the next higher league tier of the BBF. They shall take the place of the team or teams ranked lowest in that higher league tier, which shall in turn be relegated to the next lower league tier. As an alternative to automatic promotion/relegation, the BBF, at its own discretion, may introduce a promotion-relegation playoff between or amongst the highest ranked team(s) of the lower league tier and the lowest ranked team(s) of the higher league tier. Promotion-relegation playoffs are recommendable especially when there is a significant disparity in the standard of play of the two league tiers and thus reduce the risk of a weaker team being promoted to a higher league tier in place of a stronger team;

3. If promotion and/or relegation is to be determined in a playoff with teams from the same or higher/lower league, such game(s) are to be played after the end of the season at a venue and with a format to be determined by the BBF. Such game(s) is to be treated as a postseason game with all the resulting implications such as postseason eligibility of players etc.;

4. To protect the integrity of the National Baseball League (NBL), which is the BBF’s highest league tier, a team from a lower league shall not be promoted to the NBL if another team affiliated to the same club already competes in the NBL. In such circumstances the promotion place, or promotion playoff place, shall be awarded to the next eligible team in the standings.

5. The restriction in article 4 shall not apply to league tiers below the NBL;

6. The BBF may from time to time introduce minimum requirements which may apply to teams competing in a specific league tier. Such minimum requirements may relate to ballpark and other facilities, youth development, financial stability, etc. The BBF shall have the right to relegate a team to a lower league tier if that team fails to meet the applicable minimum requirements in their respective league tier. Such minimum requirements shall be announced by the BBF in advance in order to give teams adequate time to satisfy them.

7. Teams are permitted to apply for transfer from one conference to another e.g. from Central to North, but must remain at the same league tier. If the conference which the team is moving to does not have that particular league tier, they shall be assigned to a league tier at the discretion of the BBF;

8. The BBF may change the number of teams in a particular league tier or pool or division within such league tier. Such changes shall be announced one year in advance with confirmation of the promotion and relegation implications. For example, if the BBF decides that in 2016 the Triple-A North division should increase from 6 to 8 teams, the BBF must make an announcement before the start of the 2015 season indicating the promotion and relegation process which will be put in place, e.g. award two extra promotion places to Double-A North during the 2015 season.

9. A new team or club which enters the BBF leagues shall enter the lowest league tier. If such new team or club feels that they are better suited to play at a higher league tier, they have the option to approach team(s) in a higher league(s) with a view to acquiring their licence or right to play in such higher league. For example, if a new team wishes to enter Triple-A, they must reach an agreement with a team from the Triple-A and a team from the Double-A league tiers to each move one league down, to Double-A and Single-A, respectively. In all cases, such transfers of the right to play at a certain league tier shall be subject to approval by the BBF and will be valid only if all teams involved in such transaction comply with any minimum requirements applicable to the league tier which they intend to move to;

10. If, for any reason and during or after any season, any team ceases to participate in or to be a member of the BBF, the BBF may take such steps and make such determinations as to league position and/or promotion and/or relegation and participation and/or results in and outcome of any competitions or games and any and all such further or other steps or measures as the BBF shall consider appropriate in the circumstances.

11. If the system of promotion and relegation is deemed to be unsuitable for one or more of the league tiers or conferences e.g. North or Central, the BBF may decide not to adopt that system in those conferences and/or tiers.



• Pages 27 to 30 of this document contain some additional information which may be relevant.