Preparing for Another MJBL Season
By Clayton Dreger
The Manitoba Junior Baseball League is expanding again.
The MJBL will operate with nine teams in 2017.
League president Jamie Bettens was elated to announce that the Interlake Blue Jays will rejoin the MJBL and once again play out of Quarry Park in Stonewall.
“It’s the third straight year that we’ve been able to either bring back, resuscitate or add a new franchise to the league so it only talks about growth, players sticking around, long-term athletic development and rivalries and that’s exactly what this league prides itself on and has for the last few years,” said Bettens. “It’s arguably one of the best facilities in the province. It’s hosted world championship calibre baseball at other times as well. To get that stadium going, that town supporting it again, and be back in the league is a huge boost for us.”
The St. James A’s returned to the MJBL two years ago and last season the league welcomed the Brandon Marlins into the fold.
The Marlins, who finished in first place with an 18-6 record, did not compete in the playoffs in 2016 but Bettens says that’s not the case this season.
“The Marlins are a full fledged member and will be going to be participating in everything. It will be a little bit trickier when it comes to playoffs and potential with rain outs but all the executives from all the teams, and the Brandon Marlins included, thought it was the best thing to do as far as the league and we are all ready to go.”
The Blue Jays, A’s, Marlins, Carillon Sultans, Winnipeg South Chiefs, St. Boniface Legionaires, Altona Bisons, Pembina Valley Orioles and defending champion Elmwood Giants will be competing for the Daryl Steen Trophy in 2017.
“We’ve always tried to establish ourself as the imminent force here in Manitoba, or even in Western Canada, for that collegiate baseball player,” Bettens said. “There are some strong leagues out there but they’re heavily dominated with American imports and what not. This is a great place for you to be either a post-secondary student or even somebody in the work force that still wants to play ball and has that passion beyond midget. When I went to the final between Altona and Winnipeg South awhile back, there was nowhere to park and nowhere to sit. When you can have those kind of opportunities, it’s hard to deny the strength of our league and where we’re going right now.”
The Sultans will play their 2017 season opener May 10th at A.D. Penner Park against Interlake.