The British Baseball Federation has published the 2023 line-ups and schedules for the four league tiers.
National Baseball League
The Herts Falcons are making their return to the NBL which will feature seven teams this season. Arrows, Bruins, Capitals, Falcons, Mets, Vetra and the East London Latin Boys who are the other new team to enter the NBL following their promotion as the Triple-A national champions last year.
Each team will play 24 games in the regular season – 12 doubleheaders – facing each of the other six teams home and away. The postseason format and playoff qualification has not been announced yet but it is expected that the top four teams in the regular season standings will qualify for the playoff semi-finals on August 20th with the winners meeting in the NBL championship best-of-3 series on 26 and 27 August.
The Falcons will make the long trip to Sheffield on Opening Day to face the Bruins on Sunday, April 16th. Their home opener is a week later on Saturday, 22 April, when they host the reigning NBL champions, London Mets.
We understand the Falcons and the Latin Boys have submitted a request to the BBF to switch their series from June 18th to Sunday July 23rd at Grovehill Ballpark to enable the Latin Boys to take part in the Croydon Tournament. If the BBF approves this request, Herts plans to make this a special event. There are no games in any of the four BBF leagues on that weekend and Herts current and former club members and fans are advised to save the date – Sunday, 23 July.
As announced back in December, the 2023 NBL season will feel very different for Herts Falcons players and fans as the club is running the NBL Pilot Project and all their home games will be ticketed. Now that the game schedule has been published, ticket sales will be launched in the coming days.
The Herts Falcons go into the season as the rank outsiders but it is difficult to make any predictions at this stage as the roster has not been announced. We may have more information about their chances after we see the team in action for the first time in the HSL next week.
Similar to the Falcons, the Herts Cardinals start the season by making the longest trip of the year away at the Bristol Badgers on Sunday, 16 April. Their first home game of the season is on April 30th when they welcome their cross-town rivals, the London Metros.
Last year the Triple-A league consisted of two pools. This year it has been merged into one pool of eight teams. The Croydon Pirates are the new addition after they won the Double-A national championship last year.
Each team will face their opponents home and away in a regular season with a total of fourteen doubleheaders which will continue all the way into September.
Herts Baseball Club was not represented in the Double-A league last year. This year they will have two teams in that league. The Herts Hawks have been promoted after reaching the Single-A national semi-final last year. They will be joined by the club’s expansion team – the Herts Ducks – who will play their home games at the club’s Basing Hill branch in north west London.
The offseason saw a surge of teams moving up from Single-A to Double-A and some moved down from Triple-A to Double-A so there will be four Double-A pools this year.
The Herts Hawks are in the “Central & East” pool alongside the Cambridge Lancers, Essex Archers, Milton Keynes Bucks and the Norwich Iceni. The Herts Ducks are in the “South” pool where they will compete against the Latin Boys (AA), Formosa Islanders, London Musketeers, London Meteors and the Sidewinders.
The Hawks open their season away at the Archers on 23 April while the Ducks are at home on 16 April against the Meteors. There will be no inter-pool matchups in Double-A so there will not be a Herts derby between the Ducks and the Hawks but they can hope to meet in the postseason.
With the Hawks promoted to Double-A, Herts will have three teams in the Single-A league this year. The BBF has chosen to minimize travel for teams and has allocated all three Herts teams in the same pool where they are joined by the Essex Redbacks (A) and the Milton Keynes Bucks (A). Surprisingly, the BBF has also decided to remove the inter-pool games from the regular season schedule which will reduce the variety of opponents in favour of less travel.
The Herts Eagles open their season away at the Bucks on 23 April. Raptors’ first game is on 7 May at home against the Eagles while the Herts Ravens will have to wait until 14 May to get their season underway at the MK Bucks.
With three Herts teams in the same pool, there will be nine Herts derbies to look forward to. We have to wait until the postseason format is announced to see whether having three Herts teams in the same pool will reduce the probability of seeing Herts teams in the playoffs.
But before the BBF league season commences, we will have the opportunity to see 17 of the teams play their first games of the year in the 2023 Herts Spring League which is played over two weeks starting on 1 and 2 April (see HSL preview article).
New players are still able to join six of the seven Herts teams. A waiting list system is in effect for the Herts Raptors, but players can be assigned to the other Herts teams while they are on the Raptors waiting list. For more details, contact us.