Travel Baseball coaches are uniting in an unprecedented way to help fix the ever-growing problems that continue to dog summer baseball.
Several hundred of the nation’s top 14U-18U travel teams are joining forces in the newly-created World Scout League, which will debut throughout the nation this summer.
Teams will be divided into Divisions ranging from three to six teams. They will play one another, often in a combined setting with other Divisional teams. Four games will be played within one’s division. The geographic reach of Division will vary. In some instances all the teams may come from one area such as Los Angeles, Dallas or South Florida. In other parts of the country the Division may encompass teams from within a few hours of one another.
“We like the idea of playing good teams in a localized environment,” says Rick Strickland of the St. Louis
Pirates. “The World Scout League will help teams and parents save travel money. From our organization’s standpoint, we love the exposure the league will provide every step of the way and at the same time, it will satisfy our appetite to be competitive and play in a structure where every game counts.”
Each Division will also meet up in one location to take on a new set of teams from a neighboring Division, thus ensuring a variety of high-level competition early in the league season. Instead of competing for just another trophy, each of these “Regional” games will count toward the regular season standings.
Teams will play meaningful games against top regional competition – all in one location. Each game will have a direct affect on the seeding of the World Finals, to be played later in the summer. This format is being embraced by travel coaches, college recruiters and scouts.
“It’s tough to play in a tournament that is over 50 miles away from the main site location and expect a college coach to drive that distance to see your team play,” says former Major League pitcher, Jim Osting, Manager of Ostinger’s Baseball Academy (FL). “The World Scout League will not allow this to happen.”
Emilio Fernandez, the successful veteran coach of the Florida Bombers, agrees.
“The amateur baseball world as we know it has spiraled out of control and has become a fire drill,” Fernandez says. “It should be structured teams playing structured baseball to help these players develop and understand the game better. Instead, it has become all about big tournament names, big dollars and 200 teams.”
Another former Major League player, Shane Monahan, of Tigers Baseball (GA) sees the current problems of summer baseball and looks forward to the World Scout League’s structure and commitment to do what’s best for the players, including a renewed focus on player development.
“Travel Baseball has become a three-headed monster lately,” he says. “We no longer teach the game but try to survive the weekends. Let’s get back to practice and fundamentals, forget rankings and travel team rankings. It’s garbage.”
Fellow ex-Major Leaguer Jeff Schaefer of the East Coast Prospects likes the direction of the World Scout League.
“If we are not developing players and teaching them how to play the game the way it was designed to be played, then we are doing ourselves and the game an injustice,” he says.
The League will allow games to be played the way they should be played. In addition, players will showcase their abilities in competitive environments and in pre-event or pre-game opportunities.
“When we play, we only get to play 4-5 innings per game due to a ridiculous time limit,” says Aaron Puffer of the Houston Hurricanes (TX). “I have not been allowed to take a pre-game infield practice in years either. It’s all about the dollars. That is what I call Moneyball. I am dying for Real Baseball to be back.”
The World Finals East and West
The World Scout League season will culminate this summer with a World Finals East in Florida and a World Finals West in Arizona. Depending upon the age group, these events will take place in late-July or early-August. Every league team will be invited, allowing parents and teams to book travel plans well in advance. Teams will be seeded based upon their regular season World Scout League performance.
The World Finals should become one of the more popular summer destinations for college recruiters and scouts.
“It’s going to be huge,” Strickland says. “The World Finals will attract pretty heavy hitters. We’re looking forward to it!”
Schaefer is ready for the World Scout League to begin.
“Our organization, the East Coast Prospects, believes in the World Scout League and what it stands for. We are all in!”
Organizations wanting to join the World Scout League for the 2012 or 2013 season are encouraged to immediately contact Director Matt Bomeisl at email@example.com.