The Canadian Baseball League could fold during its inaugural season, smashing a bat to the skull of baseball in Canada.
Following the All-Star Game at Burns Stadium on July 23, the 2003 season will end, falling far short of its 72-game goal.
"We are grateful to the CBL fans, CBL cities, players and managers, and all of the men and women of the CBL who have created history in this first season," said CBL Chairman Jeff Mallett. "We have determined that the best way to achieve our goal of a high quality, professional baseball league for Canada requires us to take the time now to organize, plan and structure the league for a positive course ahead. The next step is to fulfill our obligations to our business partners and our employees, and then focus our attentions on opportunities for the league in 2004 and beyond."
This response and subsequent suspension of play came after depressing fan responses in Kelowna, Saskatoon, Niagara, and Trois-RiviÃ¨res, each averaging less than 300 fans per game. On a brighter note, the Calgary Outlaws--in a strange twist of fate--were among the league's top performers with an average of 1,201 fans, joining fellow successes in Victoria and London who had averages of 1,681 and 731 respectively.
The Outlaws also boasted success on the field rising to the top of the league with a 24-13 record, ensuring their place as league champions, complete with nifty championship rings.
Originally planned to be an eight-team Western Canadian league, the league broadened to include the rest of Canada while retaining its original numbers. The expansion allowed for the creation of both an Eastern and Western divisions, which were pitted against each other in the All-Star Game.
The Calgary Outlaws sent outfielder Jhensy Sandoval, infielders Galindo Gomez and Miguel Peguero, and star pitchers Jesus Matos and Zach Murray to the All-Star Game at Burns Stadium for a 6-5 Western victory.
"The All-Star Game is a great way for the league to showcase the talent that has emerged in our inaugural season," commented Mallett. "It is a great way for the league to thank our fans across Canada for their support."
Canadian fans may still be able to slake their baseball thirst, as a 2004 season is currently in the works--with more than a couple revisions.
"We just had to make some tough business decisions, of course we're really disappointed, but you have to look at the attendance records," said league founder Tony Riviera. "We had a board meeting today and we're having another meeting tomorrow. In the future we just need to look up a different avenue."