By Sarah Baker
For the Sylvan Lake News
With everything that is happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many changes had to be made for the baseball league this year.
One of these changes is that the league will only be hosting Canadian players this year since the league wasn’t sure if they could get American players across the border, said Aqil Samuel, the GM and president of Baseball Operations for the Gulls.
“Those players in the states – we wanted to give a chance to find places to play in the U.S. instead of risking them getting stuck at the border,” said Samuel.
The loss of players from the U.S. means that only a certain number of teams can play.
“There’s just the five teams that can continue with an all Canadian line-up. The other six teams have chosen not to play this year,” said Samuel.
The five teams that are able to compete this year are also willing to go ahead with zero fans, said Samuel.
“Financially it isn’t a good option, but the teams that are choosing to go are choosing to go with a loss.”
The loss of revenue from the fans is a big problem, he added.
“The regular expenses are still there so it’s a huge financial impact.”
But ultimately, this year is about the players, said Samuel.
“For this year we are just trying to make sure players play right, and hopefully we can develop some players that we haven’t seen before.”
The Gulls are currently in the process of filling the spots the American players had in the team’s roster, said Samuel.
However, most of the players still attend school in the U.S. “There are some Canadian universities we will lean on for sure but the majority will come from American schools so we will still have to get them across the border and back to their schools in time.”
The team will also have to pay for the player’s quarantine fees.
“It is all part of the loss we have to take, it’s all part of what we are willing to do to get these guys playing.”
Currently the league is working out how long the season will be with the number of teams able to play this year and how they will broadcast the games so fans can still watch from home.