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Legion World Series to be televised

Legion World Series to be televised
(Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Together, The American Legion and the Shelby (N.C.) Baseball World Series Committee have inked a five-year contract that will expand the viewership of the American Legion World Series (ALWS) to nearly 80 million viewers.

Starting with the 2014 ALWS, the championship game will be televised live by ESPNU. The last time a Legion World Series championship game was live on TV was 35 years ago in Greenville, Miss.

"The extended contract (with ESPN) to televise the championship game of the World Series is testimony of the perseverance and commitment of all involved to maintain our reputation as one of the most successful and tradition rich amateur baseball programs in the world," said Richard Anderson, chairman of the Legion's National Americanism Commission. "On behalf of the Americanism Commission, it is with deep gratitude that we extend our congratulations to Eddie Holbrook (co-chairman of Shelby's Baseball World Series Committee), the committee, all the volunteers and the city of Shelby for their due diligence and successful achievement of affiliating with ESPN.

"Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who safeguard and promote the integrity and legend of American Legion Baseball."

Holbrook, with American Legion North Carolina National Executive Committeeman Jerry Hedrick in attendance, made the announcement March 13 during a special event at the LeGrand Center in Shelby.

“This has been a dream that we have had since the beginning,” Holbrook told the Shelby Star. “We had no idea that it could be done by year four.”

All games leading up to the championship event will still be live streamed on ESPN3. And to accommodate the championship game TV coverage, the ALWS tournament schedule is changing from a double elimination format to pool play.

“ESPNU needs to know the exact time each game will be played. There can’t be any ‘what-ifs,’” Holbrook told the Shelby Star. “In double elimination, you have what-ifs with the championship game."

With the pool play format, each team is guaranteed to play up to three games. There will be two pools (A and B) of four teams each; the teams will play each other in their respective pools for the first three days of the ALWS, Aug. 14-17. The semifinals will be Aug. 18, where the winner of Pool A will play the runner-up of Pool B and the winner of Pool B will play the runner-up of Pool A. The two overall winners will play in the ALWS championship game on Aug. 19.

The ALWS championship game TV coverage also allows for several 30-second advertising spots for The American Legion and Shelby.

Events surrounding the ALWS are still in the planning stages. However, it is official that a performance by The Charlie's Daniel Band will be held during the National Commander's Reception on Aug. 12 at the LeGrand Center. The band is known for its song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Another concert is set to take place following the Celebration of Champions dinner at Keeter Stadium on Aug. 13.

 

More in American Legion Baseball

 

W.W. Cripe

August 17, 2014 - 1:45pm

There are, obviously, pros & cons to both Pool Play & Double-Elimination, as discussed in this forum. We all have individual opinions as to which is best. If I might compare this to discussions of the various factions of theology. Which is best, right, correct are varied beliefs. The mere fact these discussions are occurring, is absolutely, positive & stimulating to the continued interest & growth of ALB. Praise God, Country, & ALB.

Tomk

August 13, 2014 - 3:50pm

Thank you all for the introduction to Pool Play for tournaments. I find Ken H's analysis very interesting. Having just sat through the most exciting and satisfying Western Regional Tournament in which the Chico Nuts had to play 5 games to win the championship, Double elimination rules, the prospect that POOL Play will nullify such a Herculean effort because of the inherent inequalities of the tournament rules is offensive to the game, and I would think unacceptable to the, of all groups, the American Legion. Sounds like the tournament committee has succumbed to the mighty dollar. Too bad! Pool Play may work for some sports, but not for America's Favorite Pastime, BASEBALL!

Ken H

August 10, 2014 - 2:55am

[Note: I emailed the following to the American Legion in the year 2000, to complain about problems with the pool play format. Although it will be nice to view the title game live on ESPNU, the return to this clearly inferior format makes me want to vent again. So, if you suffer from insomnia, I invite you to wade through this admittedly lengthy tome.] -------------------------------------------------------------------- To: American Legion officials [sent in Aug, 2000] From: Virtually all baseball purists Concerning: Pool play format Undoubtedly I am being presumptuous to suggest that I speak for ALL baseball purists with regard to the distasteful baseball format which the American Legion adopted three years ago for its regional and national tournaments. It is no exaggeration to claim, though, that among the many spectators with whom I talked at the Central Plains regional tournament this year in Rapid City, NO ONE was in favor of this new format. (The double elimination tournament, as it was implemented since around 1976, represented the almost ideal method of fairly determining the most deserving regional or national champion.) Because none of the fans knew what the various tiebreaking procedures were, I took it upon myself to inquire at the official Legion trailer. Besides obtaining the desired information, I gave them my two cents worth regarding the gross inequities and weak points of the pool play format. I was pleasantly amazed to discover that all of the people there were wholeheartedly in agreement - and indicated that they also had not heard of ANYONE who preferred the new procedure to the old. They even encouraged me to voice my complaints to the national powers that be. So, given that springboard, ... --- Advancement not based simply upon winning and losing --- This is by far the most glaring weakness of the present setup. Being a mathematician, I computed the odds of possible outcomes given a round-robin format among four-team pools. I varied the probabilities, sometimes assuming all four teams were "equal", other times assuming different varieties of relative strength among the teams. Remember: the top two from each 4-team pool advance to semifinal action. There are only four possible record combinations that can result from this round-robin; namely Case 1) 3-0,2-1,1-2,0-3 (top two records advance) Case 2) 2-1,2-1,1-2,1-2 (top two records advance) Case 3) 2-1,2-1,2-1,0-3 (???) Case 4) 3-0,1-2,1-2,1-2 (???) Consistently about one fourth of the time, one of the two dreaded scenarios ocurred; namely, either case 3 or case 4. That sets up the unappetizing dilemma of determining, in case 3, which 2-1 team to jettison, and in case 4, which 1-2 team to accept. Head to head competition doesn't come into play, since the three tied teams will each have 1-1 records against each other. Thus, something like runs allowed, runs scored, or run differential comes into play. I'd be willing to bet that you won't find anyone who finds this approach superior to simply determining who advances based upon winning or losing the contests, whether by one run or by ten. Besides the mere unaesthetic aspect of keeping track of runs rather than wins, all three of these teams are at the mercy of action beyond their control; i.e., Team A has no control over events (specifically, the score) in the game between Teams B and C. Examples this year [2000] of Case 3 (2-1,2-1,2-1,0-3): In reviewing the results from the eight regional (16 four-team pools), I noted at least three cases where one of a trio of 2-1 teams got a ticket home. Mind you, one has to abide by whatever rules are in vogue, but the feeling seemed to be widespread that this was a most unfortunate and perhaps unfair way to get eliminated. In Region 1, Massachusetts was sent packing, and on the other side of the country, Hawaii was also dealt a similar fate. It was here in the Heartland, however, where perhaps the most gut-wrenching turn of events occurred. Here are the results of games played in Rapid City by New Brighton, Minnesota, the defending (1999) American Legion national champions: Game 1: won 10-6 Game 2: won 24-8 Game 3: lost 7-6 in 10 innings Amazingly, by the tie-breaking rules in place, they found themselves eliminated by the slimmest of margins, and had this set of "what if's" to torture themselves with on their unexpectedly early return home: 1) IF they hadn't pulled their ace in the ninth inning of the first game when they were leading Omaha, 10-1 (almost certainly wouldn't have surrendered 5 runs), they would have advanced. 2) IF they had managed to win the extremely exciting third round contest against the host team, or barring that, IF they had simply managed to lose by a score of 6-5 instead of 7-6. In fact, had they actually managed to score one run LESS themselves, Rapid City would have thereby scored the winning (as opposed to tying) run in the bottom of the ninth - and New Brighton would have advanced! In addition to these games in which they were a participant, they also most likely regretted Rapid City beating Beloit 4-3 and losing to Omaha 3-2 (11 inn). Had either of those one-run outcomes been reversed, the defending champs would have lived to play another day. These quirks of fate somehow seem as unsatisfying as anything, because it is not solely the performance (i.e., wins and losses) of your own team, but actions entirely beyond your control. Examples this year of Case 4 (3-0,1-2,1-2,1-2): Until the national tournament, I hadn't spotted a case this year where a team with a 1-2 record advanced to semifinal action. Although probabilities would suggest that this should occur somewhat more frequently, there is a plausible explanation for why it didn't pop up until just now. (See below for clarification.) However, one of this year's national foursomes did indeed have a 3-0,1-2,1-2,1-2 result from round robin play. Now I am sure that Columbia, SC has an excellent team (their regional performance was extremely impressive), but didn't just about every non-partisan fan have a queasy feeling about a team with two losses ending up as the national champion, perhaps edging two unbeaten teams in the process? It would highlight the fact that it is less important whether you win or lose than WHEN you lose. On second thought, perhaps having South Carolina go all the way may have given greater impetus to returning to the much preferred true double elimination tournament. ---- Meaningless games ---- A second consideration in returning to the previous format is the fact that rather frequently, in both regional and national play, one ends up with essentially meaningless contests on the third day of competition. This stands in stark contrast to the true double elimination system, in which every single game was critical to the fate of the participating teams. At the present tourney in Alton, Illinois, we almost saw all four games on the third day become ho-hum, why-are-we-bothering-with-this affairs (had not Texas had a late comeback the previous night against SC). In some pools you have two teams already eliminated with 0-2 records, and the other two teams at 2-0 undoubtedly sandbagging it, since they've already qualified. As will be mentioned shortly, this can also lead to inequities in the semifinal and final rounds, if some teams are allowed the luxury of saving pitchers (and other key personnel), while others must go all out on the third day. ---- Other Inequities ---- One of the reasons that the 3-0,1-2,1-2,1-2 scenario doesn't occur quite as often as expected is because of the order in which games are played on the third day. This year's Region 2 would be a classic example. In both pools, with one final game to play in each, one team was 2-0 (Brooklawn and Boyertown). Due to the somewhat unusual outcome of the two games earlier that day, the other two teams in each pool had 1-2 records. Suddenly, both Brooklawn and Boyertown were automatically into the semis, regardless of what they did against their third day opponents. Although undoubtedly not trying to lose, they could afford to throw anyone on their staff - but most likely no one whom they would like to have available for the next two potential games! However, their opponent did have to win to avoid dropping to 1-2 and facing some tie-breaking scenario. The unfairness of this setup is multifaceted. The 2-0 team benefits the most, since a loss doesn't hurt them at all (unlike the true double elimination format), and their pitching staff will be in considerably better shape than any of their other pool foes. Their opponent benefits initially, because they'll probably face a pitcher(s) far down the depth chart. If they advance, however, they'll probably be a bit short on pitching themselves. Finally, the other two teams who are sitting on the sideline with 1-2 records are gnashing their teeth, realizing that the 2-0 team will not provide the same intensity as it did when they had to face them. Sure enough, as was almost predictable, both 2-0 teams (Brooklawn and Boyertown) lost high-scoring third round games, then came back to win semifinal action. Surprisingly, the order of the schedule itself can often become another aspect of the present setup that results in unfairness. It happened a few times at the regional level, but the most striking example occurred nationally. After two days, there were three teams with 2-0 records: Danville and Paducah in one pool, and Brooklawn in the other. Whereas Cal and Ky could leisurely take a powder in their third-round square off, Brooklawn - with an identical record, but playing in the afternoon before the other two pool members played - had to pitch one of their top hurlers, since the possibility of a three-way tie (with 2-1 records) still loomed. (Had they played in the evening, the scenario would have been identical to the one that they encountered in Region 2, as described above - which would be equally disagreeable!) Once again, perhaps not surprisingly, Danville and Paducah, who more or less had the day off the day before, won squeakers in the semis. (Undoubtedly Brooklawn would have wished that they could have saved their Day 3 pitcher - who threw a shutout - to face Paducah.) The point is, under the previous format, none of these superfluous issues would have occurred. Simply playing the game, winning or losing, and seeing who's left standing would be the order of the day. ---- Why was the system changed? ---- [Okay. Time traveling back from the year 2000 to the present. One clearly understands ESPN's dilemma due to the uncertainty of the championship game. Who knows, maybe at some point the popularity of Am. Leg. baseball will grow so that both Games 14 and Game 15 (if there is a Game 15) would be broadcast on potentially consecutive nights, much like what occurs with the College World Series. (I.e., not knowing whether Game Two of the best of three series will be the final game or not.) --- Okay, wake up, folks!

GERRY

July 19, 2014 - 1:40am

I AGREED WE AS A AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL IN ALABAMA HAVE BEEN PLAYING POOL PLAY FOR YEARS IN TOUR. AROUND THE SOUTHEAST.GREAT JOB A.L.BASEBALL

Paul L

June 10, 2014 - 7:20am

What would the tie-breading rules be to determine the 0-2 or 1-1 teams to advance to championship round play? We tried this years ago in our Department and pool-play was VERY unfavorable and a complete failure; I also believe that National tried this several years ago, only to realize that this was not the best way to determine a National champion. I also realize that the NCAA uses pool-play format but they play A BEST-OF-THREE championship format at the end to make pool-play format work for them and make it a more fair format!

Jim Delbou

April 24, 2014 - 9:06pm

First, lets fix what went on in the state of Massachusetts. They sent a team that wasn't even the "State Champion", rather a team that won a mid-summer tournament , and here's the kicker, they also sent the runner-up... Milford won @ Norwood for the Title and then was sent home, talk about not making sense Hey !!!!

A

August 1, 2014 - 10:48am

You should read about what has happened here at the American Legion State Tournament held in Lexington, NC last week. Shelby LOST TWICE in a double-elimination tournament yet has been allowed to win the trophy. After HiToms Post 87 BEAT Shelby 12-5, Shelby went home and called back later that night to protest the eligibility of one of the HiToms Post 87 players. The problem is the American Legion has 2 sets of player eligibility rules in two separate publications...2014 American Legion Rulebook and the 2014 Tournament Rules and Policies. Baseball Factory also pays American Legion $30,000/year and has a 5 year contract & American Legion gives Baseball Factory Legion player rosters so Legion Players can participate in the sanctioned Baseball Factory events. The Post 87 player did not violate the dual participation rule because the 2014 Tournament Guidelines state, "Once American Legion Baseball tournaments begin (District Play through World Series Play) no player can participate in another amateur event, UNLESS that program has been sanctioned by the American Legion. Currently only Baseball Factory and USA Baseball events have been sanctioned." So, the HiToms Post 87 player attended a "sanctioned" event at Baseball Factory during tournament play. The American Legion ruled that the player violated rule 6D of the American Legion Rule book, however, that rule book states, "the department baseball chairman cannot grant permission to participate in non-Legion sanctioned baseball events, baseball tournaments, exhibition games, showcases or combines...Any American Legion Baseball player missing any portion of an American Legion tournament because he participated in another non-sanctioned baseball event such as exhibition game, tournament showcase or combine shall be ineligible for post season play." But, HiToms Post 87 player attended a "Sanctioned" event and according to the 2014 Tournament Rule Book, attending "Sanctioned" events is allowed...our player attend a Baseball Factory Sanctioned Camp. But, the bottom line is this...all rule books aside, ALL coaches were seated at a table before the American Legion State Tournament began and the American Legion Commissioner asked, does any coach here believe any player on any roster to be ineligible? And EVERY coach answered no, we believe all players to be eligible. So, how can American Legion allow Shelby to go home after they got BEAT 12-5 and call back up an say, we want to protest the win? And seriously, did the player attending a sanctioned camp to be seen by college scouts, a mission & purpose of American Legion baseball, really deserve disqualification? But even if you argue it did, how can you allow a team to celebrate when their 12-5 loss was turned into a win? How is that fair to all the other teams and players who had to actually play the game, 9 complete innings, and respectfully earn their wins and losses?

Vince D

March 19, 2014 - 10:52am

While I think it's great to get ALB televised to a broader audience, pool play is the dumbest idea ever created! I've never seen a benefit to having a team with 1 loss(possibly 2!) beat an undefeated team in a winner take all situation and have said team be considered the national champion. ESPNU should just televise 2 games if that's what it takes to determine a champion.

ROBERT W.

March 21, 2014 - 12:49am

Dumb...?? Seems we have a writer that is clueless about the benefits of 'pool play' in our great sport of baseball. I have coached baseball 39 years (Legion and Palomino) and have been to the Palomino World Series six times. I could write a thesis on the benefits of 'pool play'.

Lou Ramirez

March 14, 2014 - 12:27pm

This is so great....I have been an American Legion Baseball Umpire for about thirty years and have done many State and Regional games. Its great to hear that many other people are going to see what a gret job American Legion does with baseball. I hope one day to do a ALWS be for I retire from baseball. GOOD LUCK and May GOD BLESS the program for many years. LOU

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