A rumor has been floating around for a while. According to this rumor, the DBV (German Baseball Federation) is looking to change the format of the highest German Baseball League, the 1. Bundesliga.
In need of information, yours truly posted a question about the matter in a German Baseball Facebook group. And according to one of the answers, the DBV is discussing a change indeed.
Last year, the North Division lost a team because the Solingen Alligators were put back to a third-tier league due to problems with the board. As a result, the North Division had only seven teams instead of eight. For the 2023 season, several teams have pulled back due to a lack of quality players. In the North Division, the Dortmund Wanderers decided to step down one level, so that division now has only six teams left. In the South Division, the Tübingen Hawks made the same decision. As a result, the South Division now has seven teams, instead of the normal eight.
According to the rumor, the DBV is looking to merge the two divisions into one big league that contains fourteen teams.
This would mean a huge increase in travel costs, as every team, North or South, has to face all the other teams. And I have heard this is exactly the deal breaker for the smaller clubs in the 1. Bundesliga. With current gas prices, this will be a huge expense for these smaller clubs. Without a transport sponsor and/or hotel sponsors, it will be very hard to stay afloat.
But money isn’t the only obstacle in this case. What about the distances? For example, Haar (near Munich) and Hamburg. The distance between the two clubs is nearly eight hundred km. It takes close to, if not more than, eight hours to travel from one place to another. Baseball in Germany is a small sport, so traveling by plane won’t be an option. The car is the most likely means of transport here. Can you imagine sitting in a car for eight hours or more and then playing a game?
The travel alone will have a huge impact on the private life of the players. With distances like this, doubleheaders are not something you’d like to play as a player, so the games will be split. One on Friday and one on Saturday. Saturday and Sunday is another possibility. This would mean a player will be away from his family for the whole weekend.
So when it comes to travel, the North and South format is the best possible option.
But why does the DBV want to change the current format? For now, we can only guess. Does the Federation want to create a more professional structure? One of the persons that answered my question stated several clubs were not 1. Bundesliga worthy in the past seasons due to financial or organizational troubles. This could also be a reason for the rumored change.
I assume the DBV is acting in the interest of Bundesliga Baseball., but only because of the distances, I think this would be a bad plan. With travel by airplane being out of the question, the distances are simply too big for traveling by car. This works in tiny countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, where clubs in the highest leagues are only an hour and a half drive from each other (at most). If this “plan” will be imposed, it may lead to several smaller clubs throwing the towel. I cannot imagine this is what the DBV wants.
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