Something many Dutch baseball fans have been waiting for has been presented today by the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation (KNBSB). The new schedule is not revolutionary but it is different for sure.
First of all the competition will start on Thursday, April 7, 2022. In the first round, which will last nine weeks, all teams will face each other in eight series of three matches. Each team will play eight series but due to the odd number of teams (nine), it will take nine weeks to complete the first round.
After the first round, both the top four and the bottom five will play a continuation round. The top four teams will play six series of three games and will take the points of the previous round with them to decide the ranking. The home-field advantage will be based on this ranking. The top two finishers of this continuation round will face each other in the Wild Card Top round in a best-of-three series. Both teams will advance to the playoffs so the purpose of this round is a bit questionable. A continuation of games?
The bottom five teams will also play a continuation round. They will also take the points from the previous round with them and on this, the ranking is based as well. On this ranking, the home-field advantage will be based too.
The top two teams of the bottom five continuation round will play a best-of-three series in an intermediate round. The winner of this series will face the no. four finisher of the top four continuation round, the loser will face the no. three finisher of the top four continuation round. Both in a best-of-three format. The winners of this so-called Wild Card Bottom format will advance to the playoffs.
To me, this intermediate round is kind of useless, but it is a way to continue the games.
The winner of the Wild Card Top format will face the loser of the Wild Card Bottom format and the loser of the Wild Card Top format will face the winner of the Wild Card Bottom format, both in a best-of-five series. The winner of these two best-of-five series in the playoffs will advance to the Holland Series.
The two teams that were eliminated in the Wild Card Top format will play placement games in a best-of-five format.
What about the bottom three teams of the continuation round? They will play a continuation format against the top three teams of the eerste klasse (second-tier league): five times a three-game series. Nothing is at stake in this format since no teams can be promoted or demoted, but it is a way to continue playing and a way to see if the top three teams of the eerste klasse will be equal opponents. This aforementioned concept is a pilot, which makes it possible to adapt it where needed for the 2023 season.
This whole new concept is different for sure. One of the principles of this new format is to strive for a competition that has a higher quality with a competitive balance. The format has been created after talks between the KNBSB, the hoofdklasse clubs, and the players council.
There are three important parts of this new format:
1. Many teams between evenly balanced teams.
2. Many relevant games.
3. The possibility for many teams to clinch a playoff spot at a later stage of the competition.
In general, this new format looks good on paper. We have to see if it is as interesting as it looks, in reality. But something needed to happen, so perhaps this format will be the golden goose.
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