When Jan Esselman and the CEB threatened to ban L&D Amsterdam Pirates from the European Champions Cup, Amsterdam Baseball withdrew from the Euro League Baseball.
L&D Amsterdam Pirates was the main supplier of players to Amsterdam Baseball. Since Esselman allegedly adapted some CEB rules single-handed, L&D Amsterdam Pirates did not have a choice but to withdraw its players from the Amsterdam Baseball team because of those adapted rules.
The weird thing is that as soon as the CEB threatened to ban Amsterdam Pirates, the Dutch Federation, the KNBSB, also withdrew the permission that was previously given. In a reaction on my rant about this move, one of my contact persons within the KNBSB asked me how professional the ELB already was. How much players were paid. The ELB would be a professional league, but it wasn’t clear if any of the current players was paid. I had to admit that he had a point, and a very good one. But there was a strange thing. Before the withdrawal of the permission, the KNBSB only allowed non Dutch national team players to participate in the ELB…. What about Mike Bolsenbroek? He is playing for team Kingdom of the Netherlands but also participated in the ELB with the Regensburg Legionäre. Nothing happened to Bolsenbroek. He could play on and still pitch for team Kingdom of the Netherlands. Double standards or bluf poker?
The barking of Jan Esselman and the CEB appeared to be bluf poker as well. But thanks to that, the Euro League Baseball was forced to continue with only three teams: Regensburg, Brno and Munich-Haar. Eventually, Brno won the league with six victories and two losses. Regensburg and Munich-Haar finished second with three wins and five losses.
After the disappointing withdrawal of Amsterdam Baseball, the founders of the ELB wanted to focus on how to continue the league in cooperation with all federations and the CEB. But since the politics of the CEB was to stall discussions, there wasn’t much hope that the ELB could continue.
The other day, I spoke to the president of the Euro League Baseball, Wim van den Hurk. He told me that there have been some promising developments. First of all there have been some talks with the KNBSB. Now they seem to be open minded towards a participation of Amsterdam Baseball and even Rotterdam Baseball. Rotterdam Baseball would mainly be represented by players of Curacao Neptunus. Also Curacao Neptunus is very positive about participating in the league. The club seems to realize that next to baseball, it will be necessary to organize entertainment around the game and between the innings, just like minor league games in the USA.
Perhaps it is too soon to tell that the future looks bright. There are still some questions that need to be answered. But with the current development, the future of the ELB is a little bit more positive. Perhaps the initiative will be embraced by all governing baseball bodies in Europe now. And that is exactly what the game of baseball in Europe needs. A fresh initiative that is supported by all local baseball federations.