As the greater Paris region and several other areas around France head back into lockdown amid what the government is calling a “third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, French baseball is having to grapple, sadly, with the prospect of another lost season.
Earlier today, the sport’s governing body in France, the FFBS, announced the postponement (until next year) of one major event: the Women’s European Baseball Championships, which were supposed to take place starting late July in Montpellier.
Sources also tell Le Baseblog that the FFBS, together with participating clubs, broached the subject this week of what to do about the country’s elite-division (D1) baseball season, which was originally supposed to begin in early April before being rescheduled for the weekend of April 24/25.
The good news, we’re being told, is that efforts will be made to maintain the season — phew! — albeit with a new Opening Day target date: June 5. The regular phase of the season would then run all the way until the beginning of September, with the playoffs and finals taking place in late September and perhaps even into October.
For players and fans, a late start to the season is obviously better than no start, which is what happened in 2020, when all D1 and D2 baseball and softball competitions were cancelled outright.
The fear, of course, is that the pandemic could still get worse before it gets better and again bring baseball to a complete halt. For now, though, all parties involved appear committed to making things work in 2021, but with the understanding that the situation is fluid.
The other question is what will happen with the Challenge de France, a tournament that features the D1’s top eight teams and usually takes place mid season.
Slated to take place in La Rochelle and Pineuilh, a small town about 70 kilometers west of Bordeaux, the Challenge was originally scheduled for April 29-May 2. The start date was later moved to May 21. The event may now have to be delayed until the first weekend of September.