IBLA cancels season

By John Manuel
October 23, 2001

The repercussions of the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11 continue to affect baseball, this time reaching all the way to Australia.

Citing travel and security concerns in the aftermath of the attacks and the United States’ military response in Afghanistan, the International Baseball League Australia has canceled its 2001-2002 season, which was scheduled to begin Nov. 28. Glen Partridge, the IBLA’s general manager for baseball operations, said the league hoped to return for 2002-2003.

“For the last eight weeks we have been working to minimize the impact these events have systematically had on the league,” Partridge wrote in an email. “Given their magnitude we have been forced to consider various ‘fall-back’ scenarios for this year and we have been working with (Major League Baseball) to assess the impact of these alternatives.

“In the end it has become clear that none would represent an adequate replacement for the IBLA program. Given this we are faced with no alternative other than to cancel this year’s league.”

The IBLA was in its second season under that name as the latest attempt to give Australia a stable professional league. Last winter, a mix of Australian, American and Asian prospects played in a four-team league. The Internationals, a team with players from seven nations, won the inaugural championship. The league also had teams from Taiwan, Australia and the U.S., which was called the MLB Stars.

This year’s rosters were expected to include prospects such as Royals righthander Kyle Snyder, a 1999 first-round pick. Diamondbacks righthander Jason Bulger, their first-round pick, was supposed to make his pro debut there, one of four Arizona farmhands scheduled to play in the IBLA.

Partridge said the league’s plans for 2002-03 remain in place, provided the current crisis has abated by then.

“I would like to reiterate our obvious disappointment at this decision but restate our absolute confidence in the future of the Australian program,” he wrote. “In appreciating the particular nature of the events that have forced this decision, we would expect they will not effect next season, and we intend using the extra time to re-focus our efforts on the operation of the 2002-2003 season.”