Though the Saipan Little League Baseball hasn’t given up on its 2020 season, the organization is still uncertain on the opening date of the competition.
SLLB president Mike Borja said they are following orders from Little League International Board of Directors in Williamsport and could not make any backup plans or timetable at this moment. The Little League has advised its members worldwide to suspend games and activities until May 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not canceling the season yet as it will all depend on the directive of the Little League headquarters and on the development on this pandemic. For now, SLLB’s priority is the safety of our kids and our community,” Borja said.
SLLB was originally slated to kick off the 2019 season in February, but had to reschedule the opening to allow teams to meet the requirements set by the Little League headquarters. The opening was then moved to March 14, but a few days before the competition started, SLLB received a letter from Little League about the suspension of games until April 6. Another advisory released early this month extended the postponement of Little League activities to May 11.
Had there been no series of suspensions, Little League programs across 84 countries should have been in the final stage of their local competitions. In the CNMI’s case, this month should have been the playoff stage for the SLLB, as the Commonwealth will have to get ready for the district meet, which is held either late May or early June to determine the islands’ representatives to the Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Tournament. From the regionals, winning teams will be heading to the World Series, which is still set for late July to August, according to Little League CEO Stephen Keener in a report posted at the Little League website.
With the World Series-qualifying tournaments still uncertain, as most of the leagues have yet to conclude or even start their competition, Keener floated the idea of an outright selection of teams, soon.
“If we were going to play the World Series, traditionally like we have done for many, many years, we need to be playing and picking teams by the middle of June,” Kenner was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
The Little League also turned down the idea of playing games without spectators as the program is built around volunteered parents and other people who usually accompany the young players to the matches.
As for moving the leagues to fall, Little League is expecting conflicts with the players’ schedule in their respective schools.