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Local baseball still in limbo

Sports Scope
FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 01, 2012

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The years come and the years go. Still, baseball in The Bahamas remains in limbo. There is the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) that has been doing a wonderful job, making vital contributions to the sport’s national development process.

Congratulations must go out to the BBF for the magnificent ground work done by providing the competitive base for so many young boys (and some girls) throughout this country. The BBF has spawned collegiate stars, professional players, (one who made it all the way to the Major Leagues) and a Cal Ripken World Series championship squad.

The other organization is the pioneer Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA). Sadly, the BBA has been stagnant for far too long and is no longer considered a positive element. The BBA is largely the source of the “limbo” situation because the International Baseball Federation (IBF) still recognizes it as the parent body for the sport in the country.

That means only the BBA can process national teams for international play. The BBF has ignored BBA trials for regional and international events. As a result, the BBA sent a few teams that disgraced the tradition of the sport in this country. The BBA is a member of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). I understand that it is the BOC that can resolve the issue. I have been informed that the IBF has put the situation squarely in the hand of the BOC. Yet there has been no solution. The baseball limbo still exists. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Jim Wood, the long-standing president of the BBA has been severely criticized and blamed as the person mostly set against the sport coming under one umbrella, in a democratic fashion. Wood, once an outstanding player in his younger days, has been a prominent part of baseball for over 50 years. That he loves the sport with a passion is not in doubt. Hopefully, at long last, Wood, his BBA executive associates and those from the BBF will work with the BOC to soon take the national baseball program out of limbo.

Meanwhile, many opportunities to seek to qualify to face the best in the world are being missed by The Bahamas. The third version of the World Baseball Classic comes up in March of 2013. The United States-based World Series still has the major clout in the sport. Without a doubt though, the WBC is the sport’s largest international tournament. A qualification round is scheduled for later this year with the advancing countries getting into the main draw of next year’s climactic tourney.

There is certainly the kind of baseball talent depth in this country that ordinarily would enable a national team to at the very least, enter the qualifying segment of the WBC. That can’t happen though because our situation is not sorted out.

Australia, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the United States of America (USA), Venezuela, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Panama, and South Africa have engaged in the WBC from the outset. For the 2013 classic, the international group will be expanded with the inclusion of Great Britain, Colombia, Nicaragua, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany and New Zealand.

I believe The Bahamas could put together a team of amateur and professional players capable of qualifying for the WBC. We’ll never get the opportunity though unless the “limbo” issue is resolved. Let’s get to it BOC!

Ironically while we in The Bahamas are still at an impasse in baseball, the USA and Cuba, despite the (USA-imposed) embargo, see the benefits of coming together in the sport. The two countries have agreed to engage in a set of friendship contests. The USA will send a national collegiate team to Cuba for five games in July. Cuba will send its team to the USA next year.

Sports should indeed always be that common denominator. The BOC needs to preach that message to the two local baseball groups and pave the way for this country to be represented at the WBC and other regional and international tournaments.

 

To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com

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