European club rankings 2008

A struggle to obtain public and private funds to support infrastructure and growth permeates the history of baseball in Great Britain, and with the decision in 2005 to remove the sport from the Olympic programme there is no sign of this easing, at least in the short term. For Great Britain and other non-powerhouse European nations attempting to grow the game in this type of environment, it must be helpful (even if it is only marginally so) to frame the continent’s baseball as the sum of its parts, rather than viewing the member nations’ contiguous programmes in isolation.

One such method to unite European baseball in this way is to compare European clubs across the continent (and by club in this post I mean the top team within each club), rather than ranking clubs only within their separate countries. Last month, two lists of European club rankings for 2008 were published on the Internet, one on www.mister-baseball.com and the other on www.baseballdeworld.com. The two lists are compared below.
 

Mister-Baseball Top 50

Date of publication: 12 November (click here).

Number of clubs ranked: 52 (there is a 4-way tie for 49th place).

Goal: While this is not explicitly stated on the website, the list is not intended as an ordered list of the 50 best clubs in Europe. If it were, one would look at it and conclude, for instance, that Mr Cocker HCAW and the Richmond Flames, with their equal-29th placings, were evenly matched teams in 2008. Having seen both teams play this year, though, I can confidently say that the Richmond Flames would struggle against the superior Dutch club. Instead, the purpose of the rankings is to offer a snapshot of the year across the continent, providing a sense of which clubs had the best seasons relative to their own league, while still including some lower-performing clubs from the best leagues. If you did not realize this, it would be easy to attack the rankings as poorly calculated, given the inclusion of only a handful of Dutch clubs for example. However, a list designed to order the 50 absolute best clubs would be not only weaker at unifying European baseball, but also less interesting and thus less likely to provoke debate. That is not to say that there is no place at all for an alternative list of the 50 absolute best clubs.

Method: Clubs were assigned points in two categories. The first was strength of baseball in the club’s country, both domestic (through factors such as the country’s overall performance in CEB club events and the number of baseball participants in the country) and international (based on the recent and historical success of national teams). The second category was the club’s performance (derived from domestic standings and performances in CEB competitions, including the CEB Final Four).
 

BaseballdeWorld Top 30

Date of publication: 27 November (click here).

Number of clubs ranked: 48 (although presented as a Top 30, points are provided for 48 clubs in all).

Goal: Again, the aim of the rankings is not explicitly stated, but it would be safe to infer a similar goal to that of Mister-Baseball, given the broadly similar standings that the two approaches generated.

Method: The rankings were determined through voting by the BaseballdeWorld staff. The criteria that were offered to guide voting decisions were the strength of domestic league, win-loss records, and performances at international tournaments. The CEB Final Four tournament results were excluded from consideration, because of the absence of Dutch clubs and because the competing squads were missing several regulars.
  

Full results

Full results are shown in the table below, with the column headers MB# and BdW# representing Mister-Baseball rankings and BaseballdeWorld rankings, respectively. The London Mets and the Richmond Flames are the only clubs from Great Britain to make the list. The Croydon Pirates and the Manchester Eagles have appeared on earlier-published lists.

MB#
BdW#
Club
Country

1

1

L&D Amsterdam

The Netherlands

2=

5

Danesi Caffe’ Nettuno

Italy

2=

3

T&A San Marino

San Marino

4

2

Corendon Kinheim

The Netherlands

5

6

FC Barcelona

Spain

6

4

Marlins Puerto Cruz

Spain

7

10

Montepaschi Grosseto Orioles

Italy

8

7

DOOR Neptunus

The Netherlands

9

11

Buchbinder Legionäre

Germany

10

12=

Rouen Baseball 76

France

11

9

Konica Minolta Pioniers

The Netherlands

12

8

Fortitudo 1953 Bologna

Italy

13

16

AVG Draci Brno

Czech Republic

14

25

Les Templiers de Senart

France

15

15

Mannheim Tornados

Germany

16

12=

Sparta/Feyenoord

The Netherlands

17=

17

Heidenheim Heideköpfe

Germany

17=

19

Solingen Alligators

Germany

19

23

London Mets

United Kingdom

20

18

Sant Boi

Spain

21

24

MGPU SYOS Moscow

Russia

22=

14

Cariparma Parma

Italy

22=

27

KNTU-OSVSM Kirovograd

Ukraine

24

20

El Llano

Spain

25=

26

Port of Antwerp Greys

Belgium

25=

30=

Stockholms BSK

Sweden

27

33=

Arrows Ostrava

Czech Republic

28

41=

Savigny sur Orge Lions

France

29=

33=

Karlskoga Bats BBK

Sweden

29=

46=

Montpellier Université Club

France

29=

22

Mr Cocker HCAW

The Netherlands

29=

30=

Richmond Flames

United Kingdom

33

35=

ESHSM Moskvich Moscow

Russia

34

38=

Zagreb BK

Croatia

35

21

Telemarket Rimini

Italy

36

30=

Bern Cardinals

Switzerland

37

38=

Technika Brno

Czech Republic

38

41=

MZLU Express Brno

Czech Republic

39

35=

Hoboken Pioneers

Belgium

40

35=

Mosquito Athletics Attnang-Puchheim

Austria

41

41=

TNU Tigers

Ukraine

42

46=

Olimpija Karlovac

Croatia

43=

Brest Zubrs

Belarus

43=

MKS AMZ Kutno

Poland

45

Beograd 96

Serbia

46

Blagoevgrad Buffaloes

Bulgaria

47=

Juodasis Vikingas Vilnius

Lithuania

47=

Zajčki Rabbits

Slovenia

49=

Dublin Spartans

Ireland

49=

Expoos

Finland

49=

Óbuda Brick Factory

Hungary

49=

TJ STU Angels Trnava

Slovakia

 
Main differences in results

Overall, the results are strikingly similar, which is surprising given that one set was derived purely from a predefined scoring system while the other was generated by a vote. Perhaps the BaseballdeWorld voters referred to the Mister-Baseball rankings in making their decisions. Regardless of whether they did or not, though, the BaseballdeWorld rankings can be seen as validating those of Mister-Baseball, which appeared first. Still, there are some differences that are worth considering.

Firstly, there are a number of countries included in the Mister-Baseball rankings that are not featured in those of BaseballdeWorld, namely Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. (The coverage of the Mister-Baseball rankings is extended to Latvia, Norway, Portugal, and Romania through “honourable mentions”). By not including clubs from these countries, the BaseballdeWorld voters found space on their 48-club list for outfits from Austria (Union Kufstein Vikings), Germany (Mainz Athletics and Paderborn Untouchables), Spain (Beisbol Navarra), and Sweden (Rattvik Butchers and Sundbyberg Heat) that were not included in the Mister-Baseball rankings.

Secondly, looking at the clubs within each country, there are some differences in order. Isolating the Dutch clubs from each list reveals that they are placed in the same order on the two lists, and the same can be said for France and the UK. In Italy (including San Marino), though, Mister-Baseball ranked T&A San Marino and Danesi Caffe’ Nettuno equal while BaseballdeWorld placed T&A San Marino ahead. An explanation for this is that T&A San Marino, who won Italy’s national title, lost to Nettuno in the CEB Final Four competition, which was factored into Mister-Baseball’s rankings only, as explained above. Another difference among Italian teams was that Mister-Baseball had Montepaschi Grosseto Orioles ahead of Fortitudo 1953 Bologna while BaseballdeWorld had them the other way round. In Spain, Mister-Baseball put FC Barcelona ahead of Marlins Puerto Cruz, but BaseballdeWorld ranked them the other way round. FC Barcelona finished second to Marlins Puerto Cruz in Spain’s domestic championship but won one of CEB’s European Cup trophies, so the variation between the rankings presumably relates to a difference in the importance placed on the competitions. Finally, in Germany, BaseballdeWorld placed Heidenheim Heideköpfe ahead of Solingen Alligators while Mister-Baseball ranked the two clubs equally.

 

One Response to European club rankings 2008

  1. Matt Smith December 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm #

    Very interesting to see the similarities between the two lists. As you say Joe, perhaps BaseballdeWorld took their lead from Mister-Baseball’s rankings? In any case, the rankings definitely succeed in both provoking debate and in promoting the fact that baseball is played throughout the continent.

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