WBSC President says baseball/softball must find new ways to deliver sport in face of COVID-19

WBSC President says baseball/softball must find new ways to deliver sport in face of COVID-19
In an interview with the Spanish Baseball and Softball Federation, President Fraccari said the coronavirus pandemic must be seen as an opportunity to innovate and the WBSC is going in this direction.

World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari has confirmed the world governing body is exploring innovative ways to present the sport in the face of the newly coronavirus-shaped world.

Speaking to the Spanish Baseball and Softball Federation (RFEBS), Fraccari said WBSC has already changed the way it is operating, harnessing technology and remote conferencing, with more innovation in the pipeline.

“We need to think outside the box, be creative, and think differently about our events and the way to run Baseball and Softball World Cups,” Fraccari said. “In the next years it will probably be extremely difficult to find Organizing Committees willing to host our competitions, because there will be other priorities in the world.

“It will be also more difficult to travel. So if we’re not able to reinvent ourselves, and we continue working in the same old way, we’re going to lose.

“A situation like this must be seen as an opportunity, and we’re going in this direction [to innovate].”

President Fraccari confirmed that the WBSC’s competitions will maintain the efficiency and professionalism but in a different way in the future.

“This is still a work in progress, but we’re already analysing some ideas.”

Fraccari suggests it may not longer be realistic to gather 12 or 16 teams in one place to play a World Cup.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to play regional competitions, and then organise a ‘final four’ For the Title of World Champion?,” Fraccari notes.

“We’re trying to think creatively and put different ideas on the table to adapt baseball/softball to these new times, with more productive and attractive events, with less costs and involving more countries [to host a portion of the World Cup].”

The WBSC has already made some innovative changes, such as extra-inning tie-breakers, game clocks and video reviews. The video review system allows each team manager to challenge one call per nine innings of play while the new game clock, including a 20-second clock rule between pitches. Early results revealed that games could be tightened by an average of 45 minutes. Professional leagues having started implementing some of the same rules.

“WBSC has been at the forefront of the ground-breaking changes to make our sport more dynamic and appealing,” said Fraccari.

With regards to new events and restructuring, Fraccari pointed to seven-innings international baseball games and a international competition for clubs.