Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Euoprean Baseball League

I think the time for a European Baseball League has arrived. Baseball is played in every country in Europe and most of them have viable professional or semi-pro leagues. This includes Sweden, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

That gives 7 countries right there, and Austria and the Czech Republic also have growing leagues. Additionally, Poland and Lithuania have leagues emerging that will continue to get better.

The success of the Dutch and Italian teams at last year's World Baseball Classic showed that baseball is a serious sport here, and the numbers of European players is growing every year.

I would propose a European League with teams in 16 cities. These would start as regional teams, with at least 50% of the players for each team coming from that area. There could also be other limits, such as half the pitching staff and at least one of the catchers. Two divisions, with a championship series after the season. This would mostly likely start as a short-season league, until it becomes more popular.

This would have to be a professional league, with the players being paid (at least for the duration of the season). Travel between the cities would be fairly easy between cities in Europe, and wouldn't be a large issue.

Hopefully, MLB would subsidize this league (as they do in Australia) and be encouraged to send some players, ala the NFL Europe system. I think this could work, assuming some money could be put in. It would still take individual ownership or sponsorship of each team, but it could happen.

Here would be my proposed league set up:

Northern League


Southern League

Nettuno (Italy)

The regional outlines would include the following:

Stockholm (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark)
Frankfurt (northern Germany)
Munich (southern Germany)
Amsterdam (northern Netherlands, Denmark)
Rotterdam (southern Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg)
Manchester (northern UK)
London (southern, western UK)
Warsaw (Poland, the Baltics, Russia)

Paris (northern France)
Marseille (southern France)
Barcelona (northern Spain, Canary Islands)
Madrid (southern Spain, Portugal)
Vienna (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the Balkans)
Milan (northern Italy)
Nettuno (southern Italy)
Stuttgart (slice of southwest Germany, western France, Switzerland)

Of course, this are all subjective, and mostly a fantasy at this point. The exact dividing lines for the regions would have to be discusses further. Each team would have exclusive rights to players in their area. They could be traded to other teams, or sign with any team if released by their regional one. Also, after 3 years in the league, a player could sign with any team he wants (free agency, if you will).

There would be a minimum roster, probably 18 players or so. 4-5 games a week, a Designated Hitter (I know, I've sold my soul for this) and many other rules that would need to be worked on.

Again, this is just a hope and a dream. I don't know if this will ever happen, but hey, I've provided a foundation. And if they're looking for a commissioner, I know someone who is available.

So, suggestions, corrections, etc?

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