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BBF releases statement on recently completed championships

Published: Jul 03, 2013

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The Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) does not condone and deeply regrets the actions of the Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) at the recently completed 11th Annual Andre Rodgers BBF Championships. The championships were held June 20-23, in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

The BBF statement read: “It is most unfortunate what occurred, and as far as the BBF is concerned, did not have to happen had cooler heads prevailed. We wish to state the facts as they transpired over the weekend leading up to this most unfortunate state of affairs.”

On the matter of the delayed game on Thursday June 20, the BBF stated that it was agreed between the federation and the teams participating in the championships that the travel day into Freeport, was Wednesday June 19, 2013.

“The first game in the 25-and-Under Division was Freedom Farm going up against JBLN (Junior Baseball League of Nassau) scheduled for 12 noon on June 20, 2013. Freedom Farm advised the BBF that they could only get their 25-and-Under team into Freeport on Thursday June 20, and that they were scheduled to arrive into Freeport at 1:00 p.m. In an attempt to accommodate Freedom Farm, the BBF Tournament Committee convened a meeting with JBLN to advise of the late arrival of Freedom Farm and the game had been re-scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on the same day. By 4:00 p.m., the Freedom Farm team had not yet arrived into Freeport and the BBF then advised JBLN the game was being re-scheduled to Friday morning. JBLN strongly objected to this, stating that if the game was re-scheduled to the following day it meant their team would be placed in a disadvantageous position of having to play three games that Friday. Despite JBLN’s objection and after further dialogue, in order to accommodate Freedom Farm, the BBF decided to have the game re-scheduled to Friday. The BBF Tournament Committee then agreed to space out the three games to allow sufficient time for the JBLN players to recover.”

As far as the second issue is concerned, the defaulted game in the 11-12 division, the BBF said: “It is customary in every baseball tournament around the world, the day before the tournament commences, for a technical meeting to be held between the tournament organizers and the participating leagues or teams, to review the tournament rules and procedures. The BBF Championships were no different. All of the teams were given the rules, which included the rule that all scheduled games would follow

immediately after the previously scheduled game is completed, and that each team was to present their line-up sheets 30 minutes prior to the start of their scheduled game.”

Upon completion of a scheduled game between JBLN and Legacy, the next scheduled game was between Freedom Farm and North Abaco but according to reports the Freedom Farm 11-12 team had not yet arrived at the field.

“The North Abaco Head Coach and the home plate umpire came to BBF President Craig Kemp to advise that North Abaco was present and ready to take the field. Instead of immediately ruling in North Abaco’s favor, in an attempt to accommodate the Freedom Farm 11-12 team, Kemp located Freedom Farm Head and Technical Committee Member Senator Greg Burrows Sr., who was at field, and advised him his 11-12 team was not at the field according to the schedule and North Abaco was ready to play,” the statement read. “Burrows advised in no uncertain terms, that we ‘should award the game to North Abaco’.

“Even after hearing this from Burrows, Kemp did not immediately make a decision. Instead, he saw the Freedom Farm 9-10 coach and went over and asked him where was their 11-12 team? In Kemp’s presence, the Freedom Farm 9-10 Head Coach called Freedom Farm 11-12 Head Coach by cell phone and the 9-10 coach was told, ‘the team is at the hotel and trying to get back to the park’. It wasn’t until the president was armed with this information, that the North Abaco team awarded the win.

“Upon arrival at the ball park later in the day, the next scheduled 11-12 game had already started. The Freedom Farm 11-12 Head Coach, Greg Burrows Jr., wanted to know why was the game awarded to North Abaco? He was advised due to Freedom Farm 11-12 team not being present for the start of the game as required by the rules, the game was awarded to North Abaco. Burrows Jr. strongly objected to this.

“Kemp then advised, in yet another attempt to accommodate Freedom Farm, the only option at this time is for the BBF to speak with the North Abaco Head Coach and see if he would agree to still play the game and if he agreed, the game against Freedom Farm would be re-scheduled. The North Abaco Head Coach did not agree and declined to re-schedule and said he would take the win.”

The third issue had to deal with scheduling errors in the 11-12 division.

“The technical committee was advised by the teams in the 11-12 division around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday June 22, that there were serious issues with the game schedules,” the statement read. “After a review of the game schedule, it was realized the nine teams in the 11-12 division would not be able to complete their scheduled six games and two teams did not have six games scheduled. At that point, a decision had to be made. As is always the custom in previous years when there have been scheduling difficulties, the Tournament Director (Theodore Sweeting) requested the scorer of the 11-12 division to compile the information for the top five teams in the standings. Once this information was prepared, the five teams were brought to a meeting.”

The standings were: Freedom Farm at 4-1, Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) at 4-1, JBLN at 3-2 Spanish Wells at 3-2, and Youth Abaco at 3-2.

“All around the world in Youth Baseball, there is a procedure for rectifying ties and there are rules governing this. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. Freedom Farm was awarded first place and given an automatic place in the gold medal game because they had already defeated GBLL head-to-head,” the statement read. “As for teams in the third, fourth and fifth positions, they had not yet all played against each other, so the head-to-head tiebreaker could not be used. Therefore, the second tie-breaker was utilized which was run-differential (runs allowed).”

The statement continued, stating that the teams were brought back to a meeting and advised of the tie-breaker results. The Technical Committee consisted of Kemp. BBF Secretary General and Technical Director Sweeting, Inagua Baseball League President Etienne Farquharson and FFBL President Burrows. According to reports, the committee arrived at a unanimous agreement as to the playoff format to be followed.

“The teams were brought back to the meeting and the format was presented as per the agreement of the Technical Committee,” the statement read. “The second place team would play the third place team and the winner would go on to the gold medal game to play Freedom Farm. It was also decided that the fourth place team would play the fifth place team and the winner would go to the bronze medal game.

“The reasoning and rationale behind this decision was to allow the teams an opportunity to play the game on the field to reach a medal game due to the suspension of the original schedule. The only team that didn’t have to play to reach a medal game was Freedom Farm since they were the clear leaders in the standings. After the Technical Director completed his presentation, the teams were not all in agreement. In particular, GBLL and Spanish Wells did not agree with the proposal, but they were advised how the standings were achieved as a result of run-differential (the second tie-breaker). Despite their objection, they were advised this would be the format to end the 11-12 division. Their objection continued.

The statement then described Seator Burrows’ alleged behavior, and statements allegedly made by him at that point. Mr Burrows, the statement said, walked out of the meeting.

“...Kemp then sent a message with BBF 2nd Vice President Bertram Murray asking Burrows to return to the meeting so we can try to resolve the issues. Burrows advised he would not return to the meeting. The teams were then advised, the BBF would meet further with the BBF Executive Committee and would update the interested parties on the format to bring the 11-12 division to a close.”

As a result, many of the teams in the 11-12 division were very frustrated. A BBF Executive Committee Meeting was convened at the park that same evening to re-visit the entire process. The result of the meeting was that the top four teams would play a one-game playoff due to the schedule having to be abruptly suspended, which would allow all teams an opportunity to play for the gold, silver and bronze medals. It was decided that on Sunday June 23, starting at 8:00 a.m., the second place team would play the third place team and the winner play for the gold. At 9:30 a.m., the first place team would play the fourth place team and the winner would play for the gold. The two losers would play for the bronze.

“The BBF executive convened a meeting with the top four teams in that division to convey this updated decision,” the statement read. “Present at the meeting and who received the information were JBLN, Spanish Wells, GBLL and Freedom Farm executive Clarence McKenzie. No League present raised any objection whatsoever to the new format, including McKenzie. The only issue which arose was that GBLL requested that their game begin at 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m., which was granted.

“Later in the evening, about 11:30 p.m., Freedom Farm 11-12 Head Coach Burrows Jr. approached the Technical Director for an update on their decision. The director was surprised by this request as he had assumed Mckenzie had informed Burrows Jr. He was advised of the decision and why the committee decided to play a one-game playoff. Burrows Jr. voiced his total disagreement with the decision. He was advised that his disagreement would be noted, but the format had already been set and agreed with all leagues present and that their game was set for 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.”

The statement continued that at this point Mr Burrows said certain things to the technical director and allegedly informed that Freedom Farm would not participate in the one-game playoff.

“Then he advised, that the BBF will not have the use of any Freedom Farm players on any team representing the country this summer in any age division, and that the BBF will not have his services as head coach of the BBF 11-12 team headed to Bonaire. That team is scheduled to travel in three weeks time. He also said that the BBF will not have his services on the senior men’s team.”

According to reports, the technical director was totally shocked at Burrows Jr.’s reaction and even more so at the seemingly unilateral decisions he made relative to Freedom Farm and their players.

“The BBF is of the view that even if Burrows Jr. was angry at how the result affected the Freedom Farm 11-12 team, why would he go so far as to deny the rest of his league’s players the opportunity to compete? The technical director was also shocked at this reaction knowing exactly how many times the rules were changed just to accommodate other Freedom Farm teams,” the statement continued. “This one time, things did not go in Freedom Farm’s favor, there was this unnecessary and unreasonable over-reaction by Burrows Jr. with no regard whatsoever to the representation of The Bahamas in international competitions and putting the best teams on the field as a nation.”

The BBF statement continued: “It doesn’t hurt the BBF, it hurts baseball in The Bahamas. It hurts the children and the senior players. For the record, this was not the first time that Freedom Farm had originally agreed to have their players participate on teams and then later change their minds to the detriment of the process.”

The BBF has a 15-16 team set to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to compete at the Pony Caribbean Zone Qualifying Tournament. This team included four or five Freedom Farm players. The BBF has already purchased airline tickets for these players. If Freedom Farm players are not permitted to travel by their league, this will result in tremendous additional expense to the BBF, the statement continued.

“This decision by Freedom Farm has also impacted the selection and travel process to the 9-10 Cal Ripken Tournament and the 11-12 Little League team. The dismantling of the 11-12 Little League team has placed The Bahamas’ Little League Director, Edward Claude, in an extremely difficult situation with the Bonaire Little League organizers.

“This will impact the Little League International Approval granted for the BBF for the hosting of the 2014 Little League 11-12 Caribbean Regional Qualifier. That is now in serious jeopardy.”

The BBF statement said that the fourth issue had to deal with a game in the 9-10 division.

“A Freedom Farm coach was thrown out of the game by the umpire for kicking dirt on the field and verbally abusing the umpire,” the statement read. “With the loss of this game, Freedom Farm was placed into the bronze medal game.”

In total, Freedom Farm was scheduled to play in four gold medal games.

According to the BBF statement, all the leagues in the Coach Pitch, 9-10 and the 11-12 divisions would like to see the BBF implement a ‘Code of Conduct’ for these divisions, to govern all league executives, coaches and spectators who participate and watch those BBF age groups during all BBF sanctioned events.

Also, they would wish for the Technical Committee to be comprised of members not affiliated with any leagues participating in the tournament - a three or five member committee depending on expense to facilitate the committee. Also, they would wish for penalties to be agreed upon by the BBF membership for leagues pulling out of BBF tournaments.

“The Bahamas Baseball Federation remains committed to supporting the development of baseball in our beloved country and continues to respect each of its member leagues regardless of their size,” the statement continued. “The consistent success of our players at the professional, college and high school levels in the United States is unequivocal proof of the level of baseball talent we have in The Bahamas.

“Every baseball league/organization in this country deserves the nation’s commendation for the yeoman’s effort they all contribute to the lives of so many young males in our country. Too often, we hear of young males in The Bahamas being castigated for negative behavior. The game of baseball greatly assists these young boys/men in so many positive ways. The BBF remains committed to the ideal. Everything we do in the BBF is for the benefit and welfare of our players, especially, the younger ones.

“We remain committed to not only teaching them the game of baseball but also and more importantly, the game of life. You win some and you lose some, but you have to know how to win and lose with dignity. We also teach them the concept of team and togetherness, the concept of humility and selflessness, the reality that only hard work and dedication can bring success, and the respect for authority even though one may disagree with decisions of that authority whether it’s an umpire or a coach. We also teach them that even in disagreement, how to conduct themselves, the whole concept of conflict resolution.

“As a Federation, we cannot shirk our responsibility to ensure that we do what we can to ensure that all our participating leagues – large and small - are all on board with these ideals. Our country is at a crossroads where our young men are at risk. We continue to encourage all of our leagues not to lose sight of the prize. Our players look up to all of us – executives, coaches and parents, so let us all remain focused and remember at all times that our efforts are really and truly to benefit the players.

“Last but not least, the BBF wishes to thank its membership and supporters for assisting with hosting one of the most successful BBF Championships to date - 37 teams participated in six age brackets. We look forward to the BBF team travel plans for the summer of 2013.”

The BBF also extended thanks to the entire membership for its support of the largest BBF Championships in the history of the event, to the host city Freeport and its many volunteers, and also extended congratulations to the six division winners - Coach Pitch, Grand Bahama Little League; BBF Minor 9-10 Division, JBLN; BBF Major 11-12 Division, Grand Bahama Little League; BBF Junior 13-15 Division, JBLN; BBF High School 16-18 Division, JBLN; and the BBF College 25-and-Under Division, JBLN.

“Let us all continue to move forward with the ongoing development of baseball in the country,” the statement continued. “Never ever forget you all play a very integral part in the success of baseball in The Bahamas, no matter how small or large your organization or how small or large your contribution.”

Mr Burrows has already given his version of events on Guardian Radio.


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