Will The Stingers Play In Edmonton This Season?

Last night (Friday May 22nd), the Edmonton Stingers were scheduled to host the Fraser Valley Bandits at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. It should have been game three of the 2020 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) season. Stingers fans would suggest that the Club would have brought home a victory last night pointing out that they defeated the Bandits in all four meetings last season.

The games of course are postponed by the current pandemic. “The Hive” as the Stingers call it is currently being “activated as a temporary overflow day programming facility for vulnerable populations whose access to services have been impacted by COVID-19.” So where does that leave the CEBL and the Stingers during this time that the economy is beginning to re-open?

Per the CEBL press release:

STATEMENT FROM THE CANADIAN ELITE BASKETBALL LEAGUE REGARDING CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR SINGLE SITE TOURNAMENT

“For the past two months we have been methodically working through a number of contingency plans that could enable us to play in 2020 under the traditional format of a regular-season or under any number of innovative formats. We have known that ultimately any actions we may take will be dictated by public health and government officials. Our priorities align with theirs—keeping the health and safety of all people at the forefront of our decisions.

While nothing has been ruled out at this point, we are presently focused on exploring what may be possible with a single-site tournament event in Ontario. As part of the contingency planning we have been engaged with the appropriate federal and provincial leaders around protocols related to players, coaches, team officials, venue staff, and fans.

Pertinent to all of our contingency plans, as we announced earlier this month, we formally submitted a request to the federal government for a modest loan of $5 million after determining that our league is ineligible for federal business support programs that had been announced. We are awaiting a decision on our request. We have also been as involved as any professional sports league in the province’s back-to-play planning process for sports organizations. We remain optimistic that CEBL players will be on the court this summer and again, providing world-class pro basketball entertainment to people across Canada.

            Protecting the interests of our season ticket holders, as well as national and local corporate partners, is integral to all of our planning. As our options become more evident in the weeks ahead, we will be able to provide clarity to our ticket, corporate, and community partners around how their investment in us will be protected.”

Let’s repeat the bolded line:

While nothing has been ruled out at this point, we are presently focused on exploring what may be possible with a single-site tournament event in Ontario.

The title of this article asks will the Stingers play in Edmonton this season. It seems they may not.

A league in its second year of operation is doing everything in their power to not have their history read a dormant second season. With 4 of the 7 teams in the league playing out of Ontario, a single-site tournament in that province is logical. Not ideal for anyone involved but in these times you have to work with what you have. Here is more on this idea from CBC.ca.

There is an article worth of questions to be asked if you are an Edmonton Stingers season ticket holder but I have one for you. If the Stingers win the CEBL Championship in a tournament where you cannot attend any of the game, would you be less proud?

Dreaming about a Stingers championship is not a local writer being a homer, it’s a reminder that the Stingers were 14-6 last season. A team that started 4-4 under inaugural coach Barnaby Craddock and finished 10-2 under coach Jermaine Small. A team that was breathtakingly close to edging out the Saskatchewan Rattlers, who went on to become champions, in the semifinals.

As the league and government officials worry about today, this article will end with a link to CEBL.TV so you can re-watch your favourite game from last season.

Edmonton Prospects Look to Extend Home Opener Winning Streak

The title to this article was originally supposed to include the word “today”. In a pre-pandemic world, the Edmonton Prospects and their fans had Saturday May 23rd circled on their calendars. It was the day the Prospects were set to begin their 15th season in the Western Canadian Baseball League and celebrate their 9th consecutive home opener at RE/MAX Field.

Did you know that the Prospects have won their home opener for 5 consecutive seasons? The streak started in 2015, the second season of the Ray Brown and Orv Franchuk coaching regime for the Club. They coached the first four wins with current Coach Jordan Blundell picking up the 5th win last season. 

Here is another “did you know”. Did you know you can re-watch last seasons home opener, all 2019 Prospects home game actually, on YouTube under the ICU Video account? So if you really wanted to watch some baseball today, the option is available.

 

Let’s take a quick look back the Home Opener winning streak:

2015 – The Medicine Hat Mavericks provided the competition quickly falling behind 3-0 after two innings. After taking a 4-3 lead in the top of the 4th, the Prospects put up three in the bottom of the 4th to take a lead they would never surrender. Derek Shedden and Josh Williams each collected two RBI while Alex Bishop and Tony Olson each one RBI. Brenden Wiun got the start but the story on the mound was Kent Hasler. Hasler inherited a mess in the 4th inning but went on to complete the game only allowing one hit against.

2016 – The first season the Fort McMurray Giants were in the league. It was the year of the horrible McMurray wildfires that caused mass evacuations. The Prospects allowed the Giants to share their ballpark to begin the season. The Prospects did not show any mercy during the home opener trouncing the Giants 16-3. Noah Gapp collected the win. Cory Scammell, Kody Funderbunk and Ryan Thrasher each collected 3 RBI while Owen Bessette and Derek Shedden both chipped with 2 RBI respectively. Logan Wedgewood and Erik Sabrowski also collected RBI.

2017 – The Brooks Bombers, beginning their second season in the league, got bombed 10-1  giving the Prospects a hat-trick of home opener victories. Noah Gapp pitched a complete game, 1-hit, 14-strikeout masterful performance. Gapp would go on to pitch one more dominant game for the Prospects prior to that seasons MLB draft. Gapp would go undrafted but would move onto the Canadian-American Association. On the offense side of the ball, Marion McLean led the way with 3 RBI. 

2018 – 5 pitchers combined to only allow one run on three hits as the Prospects defeated the Lethbridge Bulls 7-1. Tony Olson hit a 3-run homer in the 4th and a 2-run homer in the 7th to power the Prospects offense. 

2019 – The Lethbridge Bulls were once again victimized in the Prospects home opener streak. Unlike the first four wins though, this game went right down to the last at-bat. Pierce Blohowiak, who had struck out his first 4 at-bats, became the hero with a walk-off single.

Until we can all see each other at the ballpark again, stay safe everyone!

 

Editor’s Note:

There is no actual game today. A meeting about the future of the 2020 WCBL season is scheduled for Wednesday. This article was prepared before the news broke that the Prospects would be moving to Spruce Grove in 2022.

If and When Sports Return, How Do You Picture It? Eddies Version

Wednesday March 11th at 9:30ish PM the NBA suspended their season. Thursday March 12th the rest of the sports world followed suit. On Thursday May 14th, Edmonton commenced phase one of re-opening the economy. While major sporting events will not open up until phase three, what should we fans expect when the gates swing open?

Armed with the following presumptions – – fans will be allowed to attend games, social distancing will be mandated while thermal testing and masks are more than likely to be required – – I chatted with three of the biggest FC Edmonton supporters I know. Gord Walker, Nathan Terlesky, and Dallas Walker, all members of the River Valley Vanguard (RVV) which is the official supporters group of the Eddies, were each asked the million dollar question,

If & when the Eddies return, how do you picture it?

GORD:

For Big Blue and the west side: 2 aisle seats on every row taped off. Sec 101 103 105 & 107… gets odd numbered rows and odd numbered seats for fans to sit in. Sec 102 104 & 106 get even numbered rows and even numbered seats. The rest of the rows/seats are taped off. Family section North side gets even rows. SG on the South end gets odd rows.

Unfortunately, masks are required for all spectators…you wanna take a drink, either move the mask so you can, or use a straw. The Eddies usually only draw 3000-3500, and in Clarke, those measures would work to keep your spacing. My only issue would be with “heavy handed” security yelling “Watch your social-distancing” and threatening to throw us out if we don’t comply.

Temperature checks at the gate would also probably have to happen before entry to the grounds.

NATHAN:

Honestly I don’t think we’ll see much in terms of general attendance for a bit. I think (Coach) Jeff (Paulus) asked on a zoom call about who would be comfortable returning to a game pre-vaccine. I answered with I would be comfortable with a reliable and effective treatment pre-vaccine but wouldn’t go before that. When I say treatment i mean more something that would treat Covid 19 if someone catches it, rather than preventing it if that makes sense. With two kiddos at home I’m a bit more careful nowadays.

I think suggesting any kind of mass gathering for sports is quite a ways away from now. My guess is that we’ll see a singular location tournament for the CPL this year though. I just don’t see how they could enforce a supporters section to maintain social distancing to be honest.

DALLAS:

I picture an empty stadium for safety reasons depending what it will be like when it does. I’m OK with that as long as it helps slow spread.

Thermal testing and optional masks would likely be enough to make me go. I am high-risk so I do have to be extra careful.

Your turn fans, not specifically to soccer but spectator sports in general, to answer the question:

If & when the sports return, how do you picture it?