ARICHAT: The president of the Richmond Amateur Baseball Association (RABA) wants to explain why the league made the changes it did.

During their AGM on October 1, team representatives voted to move to seven-inning games and a tournament play-off format for the 2018 season. Since that time, the decisions were criticized by some players and fans, and an on-line petition is circulating asking the changes be reversed back to nine-inning games and a play-off series format.

RABA president Bruce Joshua explained the decisions put the league in line with other intermediate and senior baseball leagues across the province, the Maritimes and the country.

One issue raised by team representatives is that Inverness – because of distance plays only seven-inning games – which translates to 32-less innings per season than any other team, despite paying the same amount in league dues, according to Joshua.

“By going to the seven inning games across the board, certainly, it put all teams in the league on equal footing, in addition to being on equal footing with other teams across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI,” Joshua said.

One of the issues identified by the teams favouring shorter games was time constraints and the potential for week night double-headers at the Petit de Grat ball field, the league president noted.

Player availability for the play-offs was also discussed, so Joshua hopes establishing August 18, 2018 as the play-off tournament weekend will address that issue. He said the date also falls well before provincials on the Labour Day weekend.

“In consideration of their needs, being their player’s needs, with families, work commitments, kids going away to college, I found it was in their best interests in going with seven innings and the tournament format, to sustain their own teams, which in turn sustains the league as a whole over the long-term,” the RABA president said Thursday night.

If teams want to change back to nine-inning games or a play-off series format, Joshua said the league will revisit that at the next annual general meeting.

“Our function is basically to carry out the decisions of the team representatives,” he said. “Each team has a vote at the meetings, they table items, we facilitate and report on the decisions that are made and are asked by them to carry them out.”

While acknowledging there has been “resistance,” Joshua added the decisions were reached by experienced baseball people acting in the best interests of the game.

“As we sat around the table, collectively, the eight people who were at the AGM, there were well in excess of 200 years of collective baseball experience; people who’ve travelled extensively and played at all levels, and been involved in organizing baseball for many, many decades,” he said.

“The collective wisdom that was there certainly was looking for the best interests of the league. Everybody there was there with the intention of building our league and ensuring that we have long-term sustainability.”