The Italian Baseball League is headquartered in Rome and this professional league is governed by a body which is known as FIBS aka the Italian Baseball & Softball Federation. There is a lot of competition faced in this league and only wooden bats are allowed. The use of metal aluminum and composite bats are prohibited. Until a few years ago, the IBL had a format wherein the last place finishers to the A2 league and promoted the best performers of the A2 league to the A1 league. However, in late 2009 a decision was made by the FIBS to eliminate this practice altogether and now a fixed team franchise is in place which is similar to the ones found in Major League Baseball.
As of now there are eight teams in the current IBL and each teams contesting in 42 games. Every team plays two 3 game series against the other teams in the League and the four teams that finish with the best regular season record qualify for the round-robin playoff. This process then moves on to the next stage where the best two performers are placed in the best of 7 Italian Baseball Series to compete for the Scudetto.
It was announced that for the 2016 season, the eight teams would be split into two divisions of four and the new season started on the 8th of April, 2016. The 2016 year will see a double round robin within the division as well as an interleague section. The playoffs are slated to start off on the 1st of July 2016 with the number of games increased to three per week so that the number of games is increased from the 2015 season and the Italian Baseball series will begin on the 11th of August.
The way that Italian baseball works is similar to sports anywhere else. Each team is allowed to import only a certain amount of players and the majority has to be Italian. This trend is becoming more pronounced in recent years due to the high costs associated with importing a player – the contract, perks, housing and more amounts to huge amounts. Looking at the financial situation, the teams are looking inwards for their talent.
Baseball Hotbeds in Italy
Not every place in Italy is crazy for baseball. However, there is one town named Nettuno which is located an hour’s drive south of Rome along the Tyrrhenian Sea and this is Italy’s baseball Central. There is even a sign on the outskirts of the town that informs visitors that they are entering baseball. To tell you how popular this place is in baseball history, Joe DiMaggio paid a visit to this town and crushed a baseball out of the ballpark onto the highway beyond. Apart from Nettuno which is considered to be the birthplace of baseball in Italy, the towns of Bologna and Grosseto are also baseball hotbeds in Italy.
Half of the baseball teams are based from the Emilia-Romagna region and many of the official team names contains the name of team’s corporate sponsor. In fact many of the baseball teams are beginning to pay more attention to this country that has been largely ignored by MLB scouts. Many teams look to other countries like Japan, China and Cuba for recruiting players, but Italy is producing some world class players and many scouts are realizing this.
For a country that is not known the world over for the players’ prowess in baseball, it has indeed come a long way. From the sports roots back in 1944 to now, this game has exploded in Italy and it is just a matter of time before we see more of Italian baseball players coming to the forefront.