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Baseball minds come together in the midst of COVID-19

April 23, 2020

Sheldon Longley

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Sports on the whole in the country may be on hold, but those in baseball are already thinking of the way forward following the passing of the coronavirus pandemic.

Co-founder and president of the International Elite Sports Academy (I-Elite) Geron Sands hosted a Zoom meeting with some of the best baseball minds in the country on Tuesday night, during which a number of items were discussed including which direction baseball in the country should be headed.

About 25 baseball enthusiasts in total took part in the virtual meeting.

Through Sands, about 30 young men in the country have signed professional baseball contracts over the past seven years. He was the president of the Maximum Development (MaxD) Academy from its inception in 2013, and since 2017, he has been at the helm of I-Elite.

“We have a lot of wok to do. At this point, we’re just bringing some of the baseball minds together and trying to decipher the best way to tackle this situation that we’re in,” said Sands. “This has to be a total team effort and a collaboration of all of the major stakeholders in the sport of baseball in the country. We should settle on one goal, and once we do that, we should put our heads together and work toward achieving that.

“It’s frustrating at times, particularly at the lower levels. I believe we have to teach more fundamental baseball and try to help kids as best as possible. Overall, we just need to come up with a plan and I believe that I have a lot to offer in that regard. We could do a far better job than what we have been doing with the right people in place and the right vision. Hopefully, we could bring it all together and get to the point where we stop taking everything so personally. We have to look at the greater good for the country, and once we do that, we will make progress.”

Leagues around the country have shut down operations since mid-March. There is no gathering of teams, no practice sessions and all of the major fields are closed. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, there is no telling when baseball activities will resume. While at MaxD, Sands had a hand in the signing of about 25 young men to professional baseball teams. At I-Elite, under Sands, about 10 more guys have signed professional baseball contracts. They’re looking at having about four to five more this year, but that depends heavily on the restrictions that are in place in the fear of COVID-19. Opening the borders alone would be a huge step in the right direction as far as players signing contracts is concerned.

The next international signing period could be moved from a July 2020 start date to a January 2021 start date because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of Bahamian professional players have temporarily left their teams and are home here in The Bahamas during this time.

“Well, we see that Major League Baseball (MLB) is trying to get some kind of season started in June – as soon as possible,” said Sands. “A lot of rules have changed and a lot of teams are losing money. Teams are cutting back tremendously in their spending, and unfortunately for us, the international market will probably be the first hit. They are going to try to keep the draft going, but it’s going to be reduced. With the international signing period being adjusted, that could put a li’l twist on our guys in terms of when they sign and how they sign. It could affect bonuses and other stuff. We’re just staying positive. At the end of the day, I think it is going to be a better situation for us here in The Bahamas.”

Sands is encouraging Bahamians to continue to follow the guidelines of the government of The Bahamas and health officials as it relates to staying at home and social distancing. He said they in baseball have been doing their part while also trying to remain active.

“Right now, it’s all about trying to keep healthy and fit – giving them challenges to do and trying our best to keep them in shape,” said Sands. “We can’t work them out like we want to because of the social distancing measures that are in place but it’s important that we keep them active in some way so that when we get back on the field they wouldn’t be too rusty. Guys are hitting off batting tees and into nets in their backyards and if they have brothers they could play catch with them in their backyards or play catch with their fathers. We are encouraging social distancing, so we don’t want them getting together in groups – just doing what they could do at home and hopefully in another month or so, we might be able to get back to practice. All of the guys are yearning to get back on the baseball field. They are really excited to get back to work.”

Up to press time last night, there were 70 confirmed coronavirus cases in The Bahamas and nine deaths. There are over 2.6 million cases worldwide and over 180,000 deaths.

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