With the year just about over, and the days already getting longer, now is the perfect time (Omicrom permitting) to start thinking about the D1 baseball season to come.
The coronavirus pandemic already cost France its 2020 baseball season and delayed the start of last year’s campaign by two full months. How precisely it will impact the 2022 season remains to be seen. But if things are allowed to proceed as planned, expect the games to begin just over three months from now, on or around the weekend of April 2/3.
Challenge de France
French baseball’s governing body, the FFBS, hasn’t released an official schedule yet, so it’s unclear if the season will follow the same format as in 2021, when teams were divided into two pools and the top two finishers in each group advanced to a best-of-five semi final round.
What we do know is that in the last week of May, the regular season will hit the pause button, and for the best of reasons: the Challenge de France.
Due to this year’s delayed start to the D1 campaign, the eight-team tournament didn’t take place until September. In normal times, however, the Challenge de France is a late Spring event — meant to be held mid-season — and the plan for now is to return to that format, with games set to be played between May 26 and 29 in two different host sites: Montigny-le Bretonneux, southwest of Paris,and Chartes, in the Centre-Val de Loire region.
The event will feature the same eight teams that participated in the 2021 version, starting with the Montpellier Barracudas, the current Challenge champs, and the Rouen Huskies, who lost in the tournament final but got their sweet revenge by beating Montpellier, three games to one, in D1 semi-finals. Rouen went on to the win the league title — for the sixth time in a row — in a tight series against the Sénart Templiers.
After the Challenge, the Barracudas and Huskies will head to yet another high-stakes tournament: the CEB Cup, an inter-league event featuring top teams from across Europe.
Hosted last year by the Templiers, the eight-team tournament will once again take place in France, this time in Rouen and Montigny, Baseball Europe announced earlier this week. Play begins on June 6 (a Monday) and continues until June 12.
Montpellier earned its berth in the Cup by winning the 2021 Challenge de France. Rouen’s invitation comes by way of its latest D1 title.
Most years, the previous season’s D1 champions instead earn a spot in the higher-level Champions Cup. But because the Huskies finished dead last in the event in 2021, France’s league champion has, for the time being, been relegated to the “B Cup,” as the CEB Cup is also known.
Be that as it may, the relegation makes for an exciting scenario, as the tournament will feature not one but two French teams. These are two squads, furthermore, that after all of last season’s drama — both on and off the field — will be gunning for each other from the get-go.
Le Baseblog, for one, can’t wait!