A Summer Without Baseball And Lacrosse

Earlier this week the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) and Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) cancelled their respective seasons. It still stings.

This Edmonton Prospects fan thought he had it all figured out. With Re/Max Field having a capacity of 9,200 and the Prospects averaging 2,102 fans per game last season, I would have volunteered to help to reduce the capacity of the stadium by two thirds. Sure all the tape in the stadium to reduce the seating to 3,036 would have been an eyesore but social distancing would be able to enforced. The players instead of being huddled in the clubhouse would instead be strewn completely down their respective foul lines. The issue of bringing in Americans while borders are still closed could have been usurped by calling up players from the Edmonton Collegiate Baseball Club as their season was recently cancelled. Fans would be allowed to bring in sealed water bottles as concessions would need to be cancelled to reduce the amount of people in the building and to avoid cash transactions. With the Re/Max Field having no public transportation directly to the park, the concern about overflowing buses and LRT are mute. Give me baseball damnit!

In what has to be one of the most open and honest press releases, the WCBL did not stop at simply stating the obvious that the timelines needed for the league to play conflict with the timelines to return their players back to their fall programs. The league openly explained every measure and scenario they have could have taken to save this baseball season and why it would not work. It is understood that the right choice was made but it is still a downer.

If it the right choice for baseball then it is also the right choice for lacrosse. The decision stings a bit more this year because the Presidents’ Cup, the nationwide Senior B Championship, was slated to be hosted in Alberta by Miners Lacrosse.

Here’s a snippet of the press release from the CLA stating all National Championships were cancelled due to the pandemic:

“The Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) announced today that it has cancelled all 2020 National Championships, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The 2020 National Championship hosts will have the opportunity to host in 2021.

This difficult decision was made with the support of the box lacrosse and field lacrosse sectors and in consultation with the CLA’s Member Associations. Health and safety, travel concerns, venue closures, and many other factors were taken into consideration. Return-to-play or return-to-activity is in different phases across the country, which provides unique challenges based on geography to our Canadian lacrosse community. 

“The health and safety of our players and everyone in the lacrosse community are our top priorities,” said Shawn Williams, CLA President. “We recognize that national championships are important to lacrosse players of all ages. The CLA will be preparing for the 2021 national championship season and we look forward to having our lacrosse family back together once again.” 

The 2020 National Championship cancellations include the Mann Cup, the Minto Cup, the Presidents’ Cup, the Founders’ Cup, the Alumni Cup, the First Nations Cup, the Ross Cup/Victory Trophy, 16U Box Lacrosse Championship, 16U Girls Box Lacrosse Championships, 14U Box Lacrosse Championship, 14U Girls Box Lacrosse Championships,  12U Box Lacrosse Championship, and the U19 Women’s Field Lacrosse Championship. For the most part the 2020 host organizations will be hosting in 2021.”

Another bright side to what is the right decision in cancelling the season is that appears the Presidents’ Cup will stay in Alberta.

 

I had falsely convinced myself that lacrosse would still be played this pandemic so I held off on contacting teams until I could ask them about the their plans for 2020. There will still be lacrosse stories as I reach out to the Sr B division members the Miners, Beaumont Outlaws, and Edmonton Warriors but now the dialogue starts on a down note. A story about the major change at the coaching helm of the Jr A Miners will be posted early Monday morning.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

From the CLA press release after the part that said all National Championships are cancelled and I stopped reading, “Individual member associations will decide the course of 2020 lacrosse opportunities on their own timelines under provincial and health authority guidance.” Where I wrongfully said 2020 was cancelled, there’s still a glimmer of hope. I apologize for the confusion.

Edmonton Stingers Gameday, You Know, If We Had Gamedays

Tonight your Edmonton Stingers were scheduled to play their fifth game of the season, third at “the hive”. The scheduled opposition was the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s (CEBL) first ever expansion team the Ottawa BlackJacks.

This also would have been game five of the season for the BlackJacks. The neat factoid about this game for them is that it would have been their first outside the province of Ontario.

We have assembled a roster that combines youth and experience with a record of success. The players signed to the first BlackJacks roster in franchise history represent a group of men who have great pride in the City of Ottawa and will work hard to deliver a championship to our nation’s capital.” That is the quote on their website from Dave Smart their General Manager.

Due to international FIBA rules, the BlackJacks can only list 8 of the 12 players they have signed. Let’s see how they stack up versus the Stingers.

Here are the four guards Ottawa have listed. Any information on the players is taken directly from their website. The link to their respective stories is attached to their names:

Yasiin Joseph, 6′-1″ – “11.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 20.1 minutes in 77 games Carleton Ravens.”
Alain Louis, 6′-1″ – “7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 13.5 minutes in 45 games throughout three seasons with the Ravens
Lloyd Pandi, 6′-4″ – “15.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists…and 22.5 minutes in 22 games for the Ravens
Munis Tutu, 6 ft, “7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 19.8 minutes in 129 games split between Carleton University and Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

Niagara River Lions Alex Johnson (right) defends against Edmonton Stingers Xavier Moon (left) during Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) game action at the Edmonton Expo Centre on Friday May 10, 2019. (PHOTO BY LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA)

Now let’s look at the top three returning Stingers guards from last season starting with the big off-season acquisition of Mambi Diawara. His stats totals are taken from the Calgary Dinos website while all other averaged stats are from last season only and collected from RealGM.

Mambi Diawara, 6’4” – 60 games played averaging 26.3 minutes per game, 17.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists.
Xavier Moon, 6’2” – 32.3 minutes, 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists.
Adika Peter-McNeilly, 6’3” – 24.5 minutes, 12 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists.
Mathieu Kamba, 6’5” – 25 minutes, 7.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists.

Let’s stay with the good guys and look at our top three returning forwards from last season plus the huge off-season signing of Marlon Johnson from the Saskatchewan Rattlers. Reminder, the numbers shown are averages from last season.

Picture from National Post

Marlon Johnson, 6’10” – 25.1 minutes, 9.5 points, 7 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Travis Daniels, 6’8” – 28.3 minutes, 17.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Jordan Baker, 6’8” – 30.5 minutes, 13.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists
Brody Clarke, 6’8” – 13.1 minutes, 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists

Let’s see what the BlackJacks have to offer. Again, the stats are taken from their website:

Eric Kibi, 6’6″ – “7.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 18.9 minutes in 188 games playing professionally around the world”
Tajinder Lall, 6’6″ – “7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 17.0 minutes in 92 games with Carleton
Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, 6’8″ – “5.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 23.2 minutes in 70 games as a pro
Christopher Ware, 6’8″ -“7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 19.6 minutes..197 games as a pro

Summary:

For the apples to oranges comparison of CEBL numbers to numbers posted outside the CEBL, the Stingers seem to have this one in the bag. Unless of course the four unnamed BlackJacks are superstars, Ottawa will try their hand to buck the typical expansion team blues. On this night, the Stingers could have and should have warmed up the band.

Editor’s note: The cover photo can be found here.

A Chat With ECBC Trappers Coach Ethan Elias

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the Edmonton Prospects and Dr. Randy Gregg’s soon-to-be baseball team, here is your reminder that another team plays at Re/Max Field. That team is the Edmonton Collegiate Baseball Club, also known as the ECBC Trappers. I asked Coach Ethan Elias a few questions about their status amongst the hullabaloo but first some details about the ECBC Trappers in case you are not familiar with them.

The ECBC play in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). Straight from their website, “The CCBC, a division of the Premier Baseball Association, is an independent college baseball league that is affiliated with institutions from The BC College Athletic Association and educational institutions from Alberta.”

On the ECBC website is an article named “5 W’s Answered About The Edmonton Collegiate Baseball Club” written shortly before the 2019 Spring season. This was their answer to the question, who are you? “Student Athletes from Grant MacEwan, U of A, Concordia, and NAIT make up our team. Central Alberta athletes with possible Saskatchewan athletes in the future. As with any collegiate program, we are here to help open future doors for our athletes.”

The Spring season is played mid-March through Mid-May with games typically played in doubleheaders. You can understand why the 2020 edition of the league was cancelled as those timelines are parallel to the current pandemic.

Boys putting in work. Picture originally posted on Win Column Sports.

Naturally then my first question for Coach Elias was to describe the process and emotions of having to cancel the spring season of ECBC?

COACH ELIAS: Having to cancel this season is obviously disappointing. However the health and safety of our players is paramount and it was out of our hands from Day 1. The professionals in the Health and safety field made it very obvious that having a season this year would be irresponsible and potentially dangerous for our players and our fans.

What was your relationship with the Edmonton Prospects specifically regarding Re/Max field?

COACH ELIAS: We are very thankful to the Edmonton Prospects organization with hats off to Ryan Jagoe and Pat Cassidy for their support.

Do you have a comment about Dr. Randy Gregg and his 10 year lease of Re/Max Field? Do you feel ECBC will still be welcome at the Park?

COACH ELIAS: I have the upmost confidence in Randy and his team to grow the game of baseball in Edmonton. Randy spoke at our Dinner at The Diamond Fundraiser and I believe we will have a very strong relationship moving forward as we share the same desire to keep baseball in the River Valley at Re/Max Field. I am excited for whats to come and the City should be also.

I did ask for inside information about the potential of the ECBC Trappers fall season, which runs September through October, but with no answer to give we will all have to find out together.

Thanks Coach for the text message interview. Hopefully in September we can talk in person at the ballpark.