MBA Board of Directors votes to change success points value, reviews proposed changes to rule book

 By Nick Gerhardt

The Minnesota Baseball Association Board of Directors covered a lot of ground Saturday at its meeting at the Eastside VFW in St. Cloud after it reviewed proposed updates to the 2024 handbook and voted to change the success points value for 2024. 

The board voted to change the success point structure for state tournament games to one point for each game appearance in both the Class B and the Class C state tournaments beginning for the 2024 season. Class B state tournament entrants received six points for a state tournament appearance, 12 points for a final eight finish and 18 points for reaching the final four.

Class C state tournament entrants received two points for reaching the state tournament, four points for reaching the final 16 teams, six points for the final eight, eight points for the final four, 10 points for the final two and 12 points for a championship win. 

The new structure means each game a team plays in the state tournament will receive one success point. The motion passed 6-1 with Directors John Gerads and Ken Vogt absent after leaving the meeting early due to family commitments. Treasurer Mike Nagel cast a nay vote. 

The move potentially impacts two teams: Sobieski and the Northwest Orioles. Both teams could potentially have the option to move down to Class C in 2025, based on projections.

Young America was one of the other teams impacted by the new point structure but petitioned to move to Class C in 2024 at Saturday’s meeting and the board granted the move after the Cardinals played the previous two seasons in Class B and last season under the point threshold of 45. Teams that move up to Class B have to play a minimum of two years in Class B and the second year under the points threshold while also removing any players who use a college address before the two-year period begins.

The handbook discussion covered a number of items to clarify language and add language to other items. One of the proposed changes included a recommendation to have teams and leagues that do not register by the deadline will have to pay league and team fees. The MBA has waived league and team fees for the past two seasons, but saw 40 teams fail to register on time in 2023. 

Another proposed item included removing the language in a contract that stipulates that high school players must comply with the all-star rule and removing the requirement for pro players to receive a deposition from their professional team after they’re released from their professional team. The proposed rule change would align the process to that in place with players who play in the Northwoods League. Players who are under contract and on the previous year’s playoff roster of a team do not need to play in four league games. 

Other proposed clarification items included adding language that spells out clearly that a player who changes teams midseason must play in four league games with their new team to become eligible for playoff play. Also, the members of the board proposed the addition of language to stipulate that a player taken off a playoff roster should sign a new contract if they play with their former team.

An increase in the cost to file an appeal following an ineligibility decision of a team will receive consideration. The cost stands at $200 to file an appeal now, but the board is considering increasing the cost to $500.

The board will also consider allowing inactive players from a suspended team to become eligible to play with a different team while spelling out clear language that illegal players remain suspended from play for the season.

Other updates to the handbook under review are modifying language to clearly state that a team moved up to Class B that wishes to move down to Class C must play two years in Class B and play the second year under Class C roster rules. 

Another proposed language update included modifying ejection penalties beyond two games, if deemed necessary by the board for an egregious action. 

The board will vote on the proposed rule changes and handbook updates at its February meeting.

The board also presented possible scenarios for state tournament configurations and class designations. The four possibilities included:

  • Keeping things as is with a two-class system
  • Modifying the two-class system to reduce the Class B state tournament field from 32 to 24 or 16 while keeping Class C as a 48-team field
  • A two-class system that lowers the criteria number so Class B includes between 90 and 100 teams for a 32-team state tournament while Class C would have between 130 and 140 teams with a 48-team state tournament
  • A three-class system where a Class A includes essentially the existing teams in Class B for a 16-team tournament, a new Class B that includes 90 teams for a 48-team tournament and a Class C field of 120 teams for a 24-team tournament

The board took no action on the four proposals and has a two-year agreement in place with Class A teams to play in the Class B state tournament. The 2024 season will be the second year of the agreement. The board will release more details about the proposal and seek input from teams to help reach a decision on which action to take.

None of the four proposals has received unanimous support from board members, though Nagel said the second option appears as the least attractive.

In other business, the board heard an appeal from Bluffton regarding its ineligibility for 2024 postseason play after the board found the team played two players without contracts during the 2023 season. Kyle Dykhoff addressed the board and addressed the circumstances of why the players failed to complete a contract. Dykhoff and one of the players presented internet history of logging onto the MBA contract page intending to complete a contract. The contract, however, never reached the MBA via email or appeared as downloaded on the player’s mobile phone. The players felt they’d completed the requirements to sign a contract. Players have to sign contracts prior to having a team create a player profile to be considered eligible for play. 

Following a lengthy discussion, Nagel made a motion to allow Bluffton to receive eligibility for postseason play in 2024 without game shares. The motion failed by a 6-3 vote.

Other action items included reinstating Webster and Victoria for the 2024 season following suspensions and granting Sam Tellers a release from Bluffton to play with Isanti in 2024. The proposed rule change allows Tellers, an inactive player on Bluffton’s roster, which is frozen, to gain his release.

Aiden and Kellen Schultz received approval via the heritage rule to play with Belle Plaine while Miguel Castro spoke to the board about creating a Class B team in Austin for 2024. 

The MBA will meet again Dec. 6.

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