Get ready for the big invasion, baseball fans. Some 14 teams from all over the nation are expected to arrive in the Land of Pleasant Living on Sunday to join two of our local teams in seeking a national sandlot baseball crown.
We've got the busy schedule and thought we would share it with you today.
A week from today, the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) 18-and-Under World Series gets under way at 9 a.m., with five games at five sites, including the main base, Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
Lew Holmes, president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association and CABA tournament director, has coordinated two eight-team divisions that will play a round robin here for the second straight summer. After the seven-game round robin, the top four teams in each division will play a double-elimination tournament for the national championship.
Severn American Legion Post No. 276 and the Pasadena Saints are the two teams representing Maryland and Anne Arundel.
Severn, the designated host team, is in Division 2. The Saints will play in Division 1. Severn Post qualified by finishing runner-up to the Severna Park Post No. 175 in the legion circuit. Severna Park chose the state American Legion Tournament and Severn took the CABA.
Harundale actually had first dibs from the Brooks Robinson/Judy and Roland Marsh 18-and-Under League, but elected to go the Pony baseball route and to the state Palomino Tournament. The runner-up Saints took the CABA berth.
Division 1 consists of defending champion California; New York; the Indiana Cubs of Russiaville; Tennessee; Michigan; Ohio No. 1; Washington State No. 2; and the Saints.
Host Severn Legion is joined in Division 2 by the Puerto Rico Young Talent of Caguas; Missouri; New Jersey; the Nevada Stars of Las Vegas; Ohio No. 2; Miami, Florida Gables South; and Washington State No. 1.
Severn opens at 3:30 p.m. Monday, July 27, vs. Nevada, while the Saints will play Indiana in one of five 9 a.m. openers. Both county teams will play at Cannon Stadium.
The other four 9 a.m. openers pit California and Ohio No. 1 at Arundel High in Gambrills; Michigan vs. Washington No. 2 at Northeast High in Pasadena; Tennessee vs. New York at Kinder Park in Severna Park; and Puerto Rico vs. Washington No. 1 at Saw Mill Creek Park in Glen Burnie.
Games will run every two to three hours at those sites throughout the day until the Severn-Nevada 3:30 game at Cannon. Upon conclusion of that game, all 16 teams will gather in uniform for a special opening night ceremony at Cannon Stadium.
The opening night festivities are set to begin at 6:30 p.m., and Severn will put a lid on the first day by playing Washington No. 1 in the 7 p.m. feature game.
Next day the teams go right back at it, with another round of doubleheaders, a format that tests a team's pitching depth and over all ability. The clubs will play doubleheaders each of the first three days and a single on Thursday (July 30) to complete the seven-game round robin.
Championship and consolation double-elimination follows, with the top eight playing for the national title and the bottom eight for ninth place. In other words, teams are guaranteed nine games if they lose every one they play. That is more than fair for those who travel great distances to participate.
It's real baseball, in my opinion, and a true test of the term "team."
The championship round starts with four games at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at Cannon Stadium, Arundel and Northeast high schools and Saw Mill. The grand finale is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3, at Cannon Stadium. An "if" game (if unbeaten team loses its first, one more game would be required to settle it) would follow at 8 p.m.
Those playing for ninth place start the consolation bracket with four games at 11 a.m. on Aug. 1, using the same sites as in the championship round. The consolation title is set for 5 p.m. at Saw Mill Creek and the 'if' game for 8 p.m.
Rain dates for the championship and consolation brackets are ++ Aug. 4 and 5, but Holmes guarantees it won't rain.
When the teams arrive Sunday between 1 and 4 p.m., they will check in their eligibility credentials and get their housing orders. A coaches and umpire meeting follows at 6 p.m., and we are sure the out-of-town teams will be impressed with Jack Kramp's Anne Arundel Umpire's Association.
I've been to quite a few regional and national tournaments over the past 20-some years, and I can honestly say we can be very proud of our local umpires because of their professionalism and attitude. These guys don't come off as obnoxious and almighty. They know when to be tough yet enjoy being out there with the kids and coaches. They show some personality and boast outstanding judgment and knowledge of the rules.
Good umpiring can ensure a successful tournament, and that's what the 16 CABA World Series teams will experience beginning a week from today.