Two years ago, the top two divisions in Belgian baseball were merged, and the Division 1 was born. The intention was to play with twelve teams but eleven was the best possible thing. For 2023, a reconstruction is necessary, as three teams have decided to withdraw.
As written above, two years ago, the intention was to play with twelve teams. But before the start of the season, Royal Greys withdrew because the club could form a representative flagship team. So the 2021 season was played with eleven teams.
Before the 2022 season, it looked like the Division 1 would have twelve teams, as the Sunville Tigers earned a promotion. But unfortunately, Belgium’s oldest club, the Antwerp Eagles, faced the same problems as the Royal Greys in the previous year, so they withdrew as well.
A few weeks ago, a meeting of Division 1 clubs was held in Merchtem (home of the Division 1 club Merchtem Cats) to discuss the 2023 season. During that meeting, two clubs asked to be moved down to Division 2. A third club announced it’s flagship team would not play in Division 1 either, albeit it is not clear yet in which league they will play.
The two clubs that have asked for a demotion to Division 2 are the Ghent Knights and the Sunville Tigers. It is sad that this is happening but for yours truly, it does not really come as a surprise. If you have followed Division 1 in the past two years, you will have noticed that the Ghent Knights had a hard time to compete in Division 1. The same was the case for the Sunville Tigers during the 2022 season. Both clubs announced that it was very hard to stay alive with their roster. The balance of power between them and the other clubs was too big.
The third team that announced to withdraw from Division 1 is Brussels Kangaroos, much to my surprise. The club was a real competitor and almost made it to the Belgian Series this year. But, during the transaction period, most players left the club and moved elsewhere. Even club icons like the Desmedt brothers left. Kevin will join Hoboken Pioneers, and rumor has it Cedric has joined Deurne Spartans. It is not clear yet in which league the Kangaroos will play, since I haven’t been able to reach the club’s spokesperson.
The only positive thing about the withdrawal of three clubs is that there will be an even number of teams again: Eight. Yours truly heard about the 2023 Divsion 1, it may be a closed circuit, but possibly that’s only hearsay. The KBBSF/ FRBBS (Royal Belgian Basebal and Softball Federation) will come with a declaration about the league for the 2023 season. This declaration will be published before December 31st, and will shed some new light on the new structure of the league.