2020 has been a strange year in every possible way. COVID-19 spoiled many things, not only the baseball season. Besides all the victims that are not around us anymore, it caused a massive layoff of jobs. Compared to that, missing much of baseball is just a minor detail. Nevertheless 2020 was a tough year for us baseball lovers.
It must have been tough for those small baseball communities where Minor League Baseball is the only kind of professional baseball around. First the season was cancelled and because of that, the MiLB owners had to accept the deal that was shoved down their throat by MLB, which committed a coup d’état. Around 40 MiLB clubs were kicked out of organized baseball under the guise of poor facilities and too much travel. What really was the case is the fact that the Supreme Court ordered MLB to pay their minor league players the minimum wage. Since the MLB owners did not want to pay more than they already did, they decided to cut 42 teams, which equals about 1050 players that were released. As a result, the MLB owners will now pay their players the minimum wage without paying more than they did last year. Those players that were released can buy their way back into the MLB Draft League in an attempt to to make name for themselves. The players take a risk without being paid. The owner who came up with this plan is the owner of the Houston Cheatros, Jim Crane. Anyhow, you could read a lot about this money grab in the past weeks on this blog.
Also European baseball suffered from COVID-19. Many baseball federations postponed the season, some even cancelled the season before it was even started. The CEB (European Baseball Confederation) cancelled all European Cups. Eventually the Czech Extra Liga was the first baseball league in Europe to take off followed by others. Somewhere in August, the Belgian Baseball Gold league came to a halt as the government decided that no amateur sports games could be played due to a rise in COVID-19 contaminations. Eventually after four weeks, the league could move on again. In the Netherlands on the other hand, the season continued but the biggest blow was yet to come. The Dutch hoofdklasse had made it to the Holland Series, in which L&D Amsterdam Pirates had taken a 2-0 in games but then with the rise of COVID-19 cases, the Dutch government decided to ban all amateur games. As a result, the Holland Series was cancelled and the KNBSB (Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation) decided that the 2020 Dutch hoofdklasse would not have a champion. Looking to how the season developed, it was the best decision the Federation could make: Curaçao Neptunus dominated the regular season but fell behind 2-0 in the Holland Series.
The Dutch transaction period appeared to be the usual merry-go-around with many players moving to other clubs. In Belgium on the other hand, less players switched sides. Since players are not paid in Belgian baseball, you don’t see that many players move to other clubs. Lately it seems to be a trend to build a team from your youth development system.
Let’s hope that in 2021 things can go back to normal again. Let’s hope that people can stay healthy and those who were hit by COVD-19 and survived, will get healthy again. It is also important that people who lost their job will get a new function. And last but not least, let’s hope that shops, cafes and restaurants can open their doors again.
When it comes to baseball in 2021, I am craving for a new season in which I can visit games in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and perhaps some other countries.
To conclude, the Dutch Baseball Hangout would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe.