Baseball will be returning to Fenway Park in July without any fans. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan
For those craving some baseball in Massachusetts, you are in luck.
As of next month, fans of America’s pastime will be treated to a slew of local games, including some Boston Red Sox contests, which will begin at the end of July.
As of now, the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season – a 60 game season, to be exact – will commence for some teams on Thursday, July 23 while others will begin their quest for a World Series crown on Friday, July 24.
In addition to the Red Sox, we learned earlier this week that the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) will play an abbreviated season, beginning Thursday, July 2. Four of the league’s six teams play home games in Massachusetts.
The four FCBL teams – Brockton Rox, North Shore Navigators, Westfield Starfires, and Worcester Bravehearts – are currently scheduled to host a few games this summer with some fans in the stands. However, those current home dates could be canceled or pushed back due to the state’s ongoing reopening with the coronavirus. Games and scrimmages are not permitted in Massachusetts until the third phase, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Monday, July 6.
In addition to the Red Sox and FCBL, a few adult men’s leagues, including the Boston Men’s Baseball League (BMBL) and Intercity Baseball League (ICL) hope to begin one week after the start of the third phase. The BMBL hopes to start its season on Friday, July 12 while the ICL is planning to allow its nine-team league to begin to play one day later on Saturday, July 13.
Of course, plans for both leagues, along with others could be pushed back pending the state’s plan for allowing games and scrimmages to begin. Currently, the state’s second phase, which is what we are in now, only allows adult, amateur, and youth sports leagues to practice, not play games or scrimmages. And social distancing, along with good hygiene is certainly encouraged for all participants.
Boston Ski and Sports Club (BSSC) are looking forward to offering sports in a safe manner this summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: BSSC/Ryan Walsh)
A lot has changed in a span of three months due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19), including the adult sports world, which has seen an uptick in numerous leagues switching from in-person contests to virtual events like esports, trivia, and blogging, so they can remain connected with their players.
Providing virtual events has been a great way for members of the Boston Ski & Sports Club (BSSC)community to remain connected. BSSC has offered not just video game tournaments and trivia on its Instagram account for the past few weeks, but also workout tips and recipes from various players, which have been highlighted through its website and social media channels.
“We definitely made it a point to stay connected with the BSSC community on a weekly basis as much as we could,” said Ryan Walsh, who is the director of marketing and sponsorships with BSSC. “We didn’t want to just switch the lights off and say we’ll see you on the other side of this, so we made somewhat of a pivot to provide different offerings to launching a new section of our business and esports.”
While video games, Instagram posts, and blogs have been a great way to stay in touch, Walsh and colleagues are eager to slowly switch back to the in-person format, but only when it safe to do so. \Massachusetts, which is currently in the second phase of its reopening, does permit adult, amateur, and youth sports leagues to resume or startup but without games. Contests would be allowed during the state’s third phase, which is currently scheduled to begin on Monday, June 29.
Noontime Sports recently spoke with Ryan Walsh about how BSSC has not just stayed connected with its players these past few months, but also how the organization plans to return to the field hopefully this summer.
With sports being permitted in some capacity in the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, what sort of activities will BSSC offer its athletes (and customers)?
Do you imagine your leagues and rules will have to be adjusted due to social distancing and safety measures? Additionally, do you think it is possible to offer some go-to/favorite sports but organize them differently?
Definitely. The rules for reopening are still evolving, but we will err on the side of caution with safety being the main priority. The guidance from the state at this time will not allow sports games to resume until the third phase, which is currently scheduled for Monday, June 29. There will be safety protocols around social distancing, hygiene, staffing, and cleaning, which will affect a lot of the logistics around the games, along with masks being worn by the staff to social distancing between games and team. And sadly, we will not allow high fives.
We’re awaiting the protocol advice around the actual playing of games. Whatever the guidance, we’re hopeful that some go-to sports can happen with some modifications.
BSSC looks forward to playing soccer games hopefully later this summer. (PHOTO COURTESY: BSSC/Ryan Walsh)
What sport (or leagues) do you think will be in high demand for your athletes? And do you envision most leagues will be held outside?
Soccer and softball are our two largest sports so those will be in demand once we can safely return to the field and diamond. The second phase of our state’s reopening is only allowing indoor sports for youth, so if this continues into the next phase then we will not be able to offer indoor leagues. However, we will be excited no matter what when games can be played.
As of now, we have many outdoor league locations, and with folks having been cooped up for so long we think they will be excited to get outside. It also won’t be a surprise to see more of our social sports like kickball receive a boost as we think people will want to rally their friends to get together for that sport.
Obviously, safety and health will be the main focus when it comes to restarting/running these leagues, so what should players expect after signing up and arriving at the field/facility for their first game (or event)?
Massachusetts released a set of standards last week for the recreation sector, which again is part of the current phase we’re in. We anticipate that a lot of those standards will continue into the third phase, but we are monitoring that closely and will modify our standards accordingly.
At this time, however, we think our players should expect some logistical rules around social distancing before and after games to using hand sanitizer and minimizing the use of shared equipment. We will ask players to monitor their health – if they have symptoms then we will politely request that they do not play. And we will be mindful of those players who seem concerned or worried about contracting the virus.
Finally, does BSSC have leagues scheduled to start either later this month/early July?
We’ve pushed start dates a few different times at this point, but the short answer is yes, as of now we have start dates in that timeframe but are still waiting to see the developments of the reopening at the moment.
The BSSC General Statement: Since 1967, Boston Ski & Sports Club’s mission of remaining Boston’s Way to Play continues to reach over 50,000 participants annually. BSSC’s staff remains dedicated to making certain that participants continue to have access to the best events, sports leagues, ski trips, and adventure travel in New England. The focus each year is to remain rooted in our community by offering competitive pricing, a tremendous experience, and a dedication to excellence to create affirmative long-term relationships with our members, participants, and partners.
Branden Anderson is excited to lead the Middlesex Expos onto the field this summer against the Interci
By Matt Noonan
Branden Anderson was always interested in competing in the Intercity Baseball League (ICL).
The Lowell, Massachusetts native, who played high school baseball at Greater Lowell Technical High School, says it was the league’s “fields and cities” that made him eager to join a league that has been fielding teams throughout the Greater Boston area for nearly seven decades.
“Entering a team in the ICL was always something I was interested in (doing),” said Anderson, who was previously a player, coach, and recruiter for the East Boston Knights of the Yawkey Baseball League (YBL).
“The excitement (for) our team is through the roof,” Anderson said, when asked about joining the ICL. “Our guys are generally excited about baseball (in general), but now having a fresh new challenge in front of us has brought back some extra fire in our bellys.”
Anderson’s excitement for leading the Expos onto the diamond was echoed by the club’s co-founder John Moore, who played in the ICL for eight seasons.
“I am an Intercity alum,” said Moore, who competed for the Augustin A’s and Elm Supply from 1986 to 1993. “I had every intention of retiring from coaching and managing until I spoke with Branden after the (previous) Yawkey season was over.”
The Expos, who will be playing home games in both Cambridge and Revere, will feature a roster of players that suited up for both the Knights and McKay Club Beacons of the YBL last summer. The team, according to Anderson, should be ready to compete against some impressive competition, including the Alibrandis, who are entering their third season with the ICL.
“Getting another chance to play against the great Alibrandis again doesn’t hurt us,” said Anderson with a big smile.
Anderson considers the ICL one of the best summer baseball leagues in the region. The league features a slew of players that have competed in multiple levels, including the majors like Manny Delcarmen, a former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox that competed in six postseason games last sumer for the Lexington Blue Sox.
“Everywhere you go in Boston or just outside (the city), all you hear about is how the ICL is the best summer baseball around that isn’t strictly collegiate based,” said Anderson.
According to the league’s website, baseball games would be permitted during the state’s third phase of its reopening – as of now, the third phase would begin Monday, June 29 – with “Opening Day” tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 6.
“I am definitely confident we will have an abbreviated season starting sometime in early July,” said Anderson. “The league is working extremely hard to make this happen and I know the players are ready to get back out there.”
Added Moore, “I think an abbreviated season would be great and I think it will happen. There will be constraints and guidelines, (of course), but I know the ICL will do everything they can to abide by every communities’ guidelines.”
Sports and recreational activities will be allowed during the second and third phases of the reopening of Massachusetts. (PHOTO COURTESY: VisualHunt.com)
The thought of sports and recreational activities taking place in Massachusetts seems more realistic these days as our state continues to slowly reopen.
As we learned yesterday, the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which is currently scheduled for Monday, June 8, would allow amateur, adult, and youth sports leagues to return to the field. But once our state advances to the third phase – as of now, it would begin Monday, June 29 – more options would become available, including the use of fitness centers and health clubs.
To help everyone understand how sports and recreational activities can be reintroduced to everyone over the next few weeks, we have compiled a list of what will be reopening, beginning in phase two.
What to expect in Phase Two (Caution):
Professional sports teams can begin practicing while training programs can resume.
Sports camps can begin – most likely, they will start later this month once the current school year concludes.
Golf facilities, including outdoor driving ranges, can reopen. Additionally, mini-golf would be allowed during the second phase.
Adult, amateur, and youth sports can begin. Adult sports must be played outdoors while youth sports could occur indoors under supervision.
Additional outdoor recreational facilities that can reopen in the second phase include pools, playgrounds, spray decks, go-karts, batting cages, and climbing walls.
What to expect in Phase Three (Vigilant):
Overnight camps – if there are sleepaway athletic camps, they would be permitted during this phase.
Indoor recreational and athletic facilities can reopen, but these are not limited to youth programs, though.
Additional indoor activities can occur, including batting cages, driving ranges, go-karts, bowling alleys, arcades, laser tag, roller skating rinks, trampolines, and rock climbing.
Fitness centers and health clubs can reopen, including cardio, weight rooms, locker rooms, and facilities.
Fitness studios that offer yoga, barre, cross-fit, spin classes, and general fitness studios.
Fitness centers can also allow their customers to use both their locker rooms and shower rooms, as well as their indoor common areas, indoor swimming pools, indoor racquet courts, and gymnasiums.
In phase four – the ew normal – saunas, hot-tubs, and steam rooms at health clubs will be allowed.
For more information on what else will be allowed to reopen in the state of Massachusetts, CLICK HERE.
“As part of phase two, outdoor athletic facilities can be open for organized youth and adult sports activities in accordance with the guidance. Games, scrimmages, and tournaments are currently not permitted for any organized sports activities and contact sports must limit activities to no contact drills and practices.”
Wednesday’s announcement, along with the executive order Gov. Baker outlined earlier this week should be viewed as a positive step – a small one, of course – with restarting athletic events. It does not mean, however, that games and events can resume as they once did a few months ago.