The Saipan Baseball League will have its hands full in the coming months as it prepares to host the inaugural Micronesian Baseball Classic in 2016.
The tournament, a brainchild of SBL league coordinator and Northern Marianas Sports Association executive director Tony Rogolifoi, is a biennial event with hosting rights rotating among the members of the Micronesian region.
“I brought up the idea during a meeting in this year’s Micronesian Games in Pohnpeii last July. The reception was positive and all are excited to join and play in the tournament,” said Rogolifoi.
He also said the tournament will be held every two years in between the Micro Games.
“Our reason was for continuity and developmental purposes. After the Micro Games, you have to wait for another four years to play baseball. “With this kind of set up (every other two years), the youth players will further develop their skills when they train with their respective national teams,” the CNMI Sports Hall of Famer said.
Rogolifoi added the biennial event gives the veterans the chance of using up their remaining years of playing before hanging up their gloves.
He also advised all players from each member country to get used to the wooden bats, which will be used in the tournament, instead of the aluminum.
Guam, Chuuk, Kosrae, Palau, and Pohnpei have shown interest in joining the 2016 event.
“We’re still trying to convince Yap to join. But now, we’re already looking for sponsors to help us in organizing this baseball event,” said Rogolifoi.
He said that they decided to call it the Micronesian Baseball Classic for name recall just like the World Baseball Classic.
Being the host country and one of the powerhouse squads in the Micronesian and Pacific regions, the CNMI is expected to be among the favorites in the inaugural tournament. The Commonwealth won the gold in the 2006 Micro Games on Saipan and in the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia. The CNMI defeated Guam in the battle for the gold medal in 2006, 3-2, and five years later scored an 8-4 win over host New Caledonia in the Pacific Games. The Commonwealth sluggers, however, lost twice in the gold medal match in the Micro Games, dropping a 3-7 decision to Palau in 2010 and suffering a 6-14 setback against Guam in this year’s edition of the quadrennial event in Pohnpei. (Jon Perez)