by Riccardo Schiroli
I do believe that this European Championship for Clubs has a lot of potential. I was in Nettuno and Matino during the tournament and I am well aware of the difficulties faced by the 2 pools.
In Nettuno they decided to play late afternoon games because they feared cold nights, that can always happen in March. Of course late afternoon games on work days are not fan favorites.
In Matino they did not fear cold nights, but experienced a couple of good ones. This is not the worst that happened in Matino, by the way. Where the field was not ready to host games on day 1 of the competition and the format of the tournament was changed to fit it into a 4 day schedule instead of 5.
The level of play, let’s admit it, was not very high. The teams basically used the Euros to get ready for their seasons. At least, this is the impression they gave to me. Especially the Italian teams. Another problem that these teams had was the fact they could not count on their whole potential.
All of the teams in the IBL count on 4 import players and some of them have signed also foreigners from EU countries. San Marino, for instance, had to cut from their roster pitcher Gregorius, catcher Kirindongo and outfielders Duran and Jansen. Nettuno could not play slugger Camilo, pitcher Hernandez, catcher Navarro and outfielder Nunez.
It is very likely that European baseball cannot afford a top competition in the month of March. Most of the players are not going to be ready and most of the fans are definitely not ready to go watch baseball. Still, I do believe this tournament has a lot of potential.
A European Championship for Clubs that involves 12 teams is definitely something important for Europe. The format probably has to be discussed, but 5 days of competitive baseball for a start and a Final Four that highlights the best teams in the Continent are something we haven’t had for a while.
What concerns me the most is when this tournament should happen. And this takes back a discussion all of baseball needs to do about the overall schedule. And this is not a discussion that can involve Europe only, but needs to be done together with the whole baseball community worldwide.
A schedule that helps baseball is the one that does not kill National Leagues. I do not think major international tournaments should happen in June, July and August. These are the summer months and all of the action in the National Leagues should happen in these months. What the National Leagues can afford is a one week stop, not more, during the summer. I said it before, but I see the National Leagues end within September 10th and the rest of the month used for international baseball.
This is only my opinion, anyway, the opinion of someone who believes the European Championship for Clubs has a lot of potential.