Bull Baseball League

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The Bull Baseball League (BBL) is a fictional professional and amateur baseball organization, consisting of a major-level 20-team league, each with five levels of affiliated minor leagues, and a complete college/high school feeder system. The league operates using OOTP18, a baseball management simulation system. It was first started in 1989.

There are over 8,000 players in the entire professional system and the associated feeder leagues, playing over 7,600 games per season in total. In 2017, there were more than 33 million (simulated) spectators at major-level games, and a total league revenue of nearly $2.5 billion.[1] Last year, the league released 24 podcasts. Broadcasts on the league Twitch channel saw 82 views, with 394 total minutes watched. The league's YouTube channel, which has 5 subscribers, had 463 minutes of viewing time though 2017.

History

Original BLBA logo (1989-1994)
Title screen from Earl Weaver Baseball Amiga version
The BBL was formed in 1989, and originally called the Bull League Baseball Association (BLBA). When it was formed, the league consisted only of the major-level Bull League (BL), and the AAA-level Cow League (CL). The original game platform used to simulate games was Earl Weaver Baseball, operating on an Amiga computer system.

The original BLBA comprised two subleagues, of two divisions each, with three teams in each division, for a total of 12 teams. The Cow League was organized identically, but operated mainly as a reserve roster. The league went into abeyance in about 1994.

Modernized retro BLBA logo
The BLBA was revived as the BBL on the OOTP baseball simulation platform in 2016. All of the skipped seasons, from 1995 to 2016 were then simulated to "catch up" to the actual calendar date. The league has progressed in "real-time" ever since, as an online fictional baseball league, with the in-game date remaining usually within a week to a month ahead of the actual date. The OOTP platform allows anybody with the same version of the game to participate in an online league as a general manager and/or manager of a team.

In the 1995 re-boot of the league, the BL and CL were restarted, but with an expanded 16 teams for each league. Gradually, further minor leagues were added, with an expansion to 20 teams completed in the 2012 season. By the 2017 season, the first full season played in "real-time", the league had it's current one major and five minor levels, and the college/high school feeder system was introduced.

The pace of play for the BBL differs greatly from most other OOTP online leagues, in that most leagues simulate sometimes many days or weeks on each simulation date, resulting in several seasons played out within the same calendar year. This can result in leagues being decades or centuries ahead of the actual year. This option was considered but dismissed for the BBL, as one of the unique aspects of this league, adding depth and realism. Our philosophy is that baseball, as a pastime, is meant to be slowly savored and immersed in.

Some archival material about the early seasons of the BLBA are available here: BLBA Archives.

Major level

    See article: Bull League

At the top level of professional play, the BL consists of 20 baseball clubs divided into two leagues, the Lake League (LL) and the Metropolitan League (ML). Each league consists of two divisions (East and West) comprised of five teams each.

By convention, teams in the LL are based on or around the major cities of the Great Lakes area of Canada and the United States. This may include teams in the greater Great Lakes basin including Northeastern United States and along the St. Lawrence River. Teams are located in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario and Quebec.

By contrast, ML teams are not geographically limited and may be based in any city in the continental United States or Canada, though they tend to occupy major cities. Teams are currently located in California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Alberta.

Minor leagues

    See article: Minor league

Each BL team is a "parent" to a five-level Minor league or "farm" system of affiliated baseball teams. Each club has just one team at each of the five minor levels.

The levels, in order of highest to lowest, are: AAA, AA, A, Short Season A, and Rookie. Each league level has a unique league name, and is comprised of subleagues and divisions in a similar way to the top-level BL.

AAA level

    See article: Cow League

The AAA-level league is called the Cow League (CL). It is comprised of the Atlantic Coast League (ACL) and the Frontier League (FL). Players at this league level are usually experienced professional baseball players, many of whom have had playing time at the major level, and are awaiting for a further opportunity to break back in there, or they are rapidly advancing new minor league players with high-prospects for major-level play. Major-level players are often sent to the AAA level to "rehab" after an injury.

A team's secondary, or 40-man, roster is often made up of players from the AAA level (in addition to the maximum 25 who are also on the active roster). These players are immediately ready to stand in at the top level in the event of injuries.

The schedule is slightly shorter than the BL schedule, and there is a three-round postseason similar to the BL.

AA level

    See article: Heifer League

The AA level Heifer League (HL) is a journeyman, or developmental minor league level, intended for players who have progressed in their skill level and could be considered "prospects" to one day play at the major level. It is likely these players will need to spend time at the AAA level before then, but occasionally a high-talent prospect may find themselves brought straight up to the major level from AA.

AA is often considered a litmus test level, and the quality of play can be very good. There can often be a large number of talented players vying for major league promotions.

The HL has a schedule similar to the CL, with a simplified two-round playoff in which only division leaders qualify.

A level

    See article: Calf League

At this level, the league is called the Calf League (CaL) and consists of two subleagues which are referred to as conferences: Mid-West Conference (MWC) and Desert Conference (DC). Other than this, the structure is similar to the other minor leagues above it. This is the first level of baseball that prospective young players will experience a full season of play, and the quality of baseball play is reflective of players who have only had a few years of professional playing time.

Newly drafted players are often placed here in their second year with a club, unless they have exceptional skills and have been promoted to a higher level.

This league plays a split-season format. The playoffs consist of teams who led their divisions after the first half, and teams that led their division after the second half (if different).

There is no All-Star Game, and only division pennant winners advance to the playoffs.

Short Season A level

    See article: Milk League

This level is comprised of a single league, the Cream League (in keeping with the overall bovine theme), divided into two 10-team divisions, East and West. Like all other levels, each team is affiliated with a different Bull League organization. As the name implies, teams play a vastly shortened schedule which begins in August, after the draft, until early September. The purpose is to give them continuous playing time in the same year they complete college or high school play, and give teams a preview of their capabilities in a professional context.

Players are often placed here immediately after being drafted and signed, and the league has age limits and pro service time limits. There is no All-Star Game, and no playoff. The team with the best overall record at the end of the season is crowned the league champion.

Rookie level

    See article: Florida Rookie League

Players at this level are normally drawn from a club's international roster, where the scouts have identified high-potential prospects during visits to various countries with organized youth baseball programs. The upper age limit for rookie league is 21 years old, as it is not intended as a level in which players should spend years developing. If they demonstrate a superior level of potential talent, they are quickly promoted to A level or higher.

Players at this level may be as young as 16, depending on when teams choose to activate them from the international roster. Occasionally, teams may place drafted players at this level, particularly younger ones (such as high school age) in the year following their selection, to give them a full season of playing time before deciding whether they should be promoted up the ladder.

Feeder leagues

There have always been feeder leagues in the BBL, as there has always been an amateur draft. However, in 2017 a customized fictional feeder system was implemented. It was expanded again for 2018. It now consists of five leagues, four college and one high school, providing an ample pool of talented players suitable for at least 30 draft rounds.

The age range for college players is between 18 and 22 years old, while the age range for high school players is from 15 to 18 years old. Each league has rules on whether its players are eligible for the draft. Generally, however, for college levels (except Can-Am) draft eligibility begins at age 21, and for the high school level it is age 18.

NCAA Division I

    See article: NCAA Division I

Introduced for the 2018 season in the BBL, the NCAA Division I (DI) is a 32-team interpretation of the much larger, real life NCAA Division I baseball system. As in the real Division I, it is considered the highest-quality level of college baseball play within the BBL.

The colleges and teams are named for real, existing schools, but all of the players are fictional. Only eight teams from four actual conferences are currently used in the Bull Baseball League version. The conferences are the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern, and are grouped for scheduling purposes into two subleagues. The real NCAA Division I comprises nearly 300 teams with a very complex tournament and playoff system.

Players in this level are primarily from the United States, with a few from Canada and other countries. They become eligible for the draft at age 21. The NCAA season runs 56-games from February to April, with an All-Star Game held at the mid-point of the season. Eight teams are eligible for the playoffs at the end of the season (Elite Eight), which is then whittled down to a four-team semi-final (Final Four) and then lastly a College World Series to determine a champion.

Canadian Interuniversity Sports

    See article: Canadian Interuniversity Sports

Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) is a fictional amalgamation of two Canadian university baseball conferences that in real-life are unaffiliated, which was introduced for the 2017 season. In terms of quality of play, the CIS is inferior to the NCAA because of the shorter season, and because of a lack of funding by Canadian schools for a modern baseball program. That said, the quality is superior to the other college and high school levels.

The first conference is the CCBA (Canadian Collegiate Baseball Association), which in the Bull League includes 10 of the 11 actual teams. The schools are located in the National Capital Region of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The CCBA is divided into a Northern division and an Atlantic division. Meanwhile, the OUA (Ontario University Athletics) is the other conference, and in the Bull League it includes all ten Ontario schools with baseball teams, but for the sake of the OOTP18 scheduling system, they are divided into east and west divisions, whereas in reality they are in a single division.

As with the NCAA Division I, the teams and schools are real, along with their logos and uniforms, however the players remain fictional in keeping with the rest of the BBL.

Players in this level are primarily from Canada and the United States, with a few international players. Like the NCAA, they become draft eligible at age 21. The CIS season is either 16 or 18 games, depending on the conference, and unlike the other amateur leagues, the season runs from September to October. There is a 3-round playoff for the division leaders and two wildcards from each conference, leading to a national collegiate championship. An All-Star Game is played, but scheduled for the week before the regular season begins to simulate the actual Canadian college all-star game, which occurs in the summer (off-season).

Pacific Rim College

    See article: Pacific Rim College League

The Pacific Rim College League (PRCL) is a 20-team league of collegiate teams from fictional colleges in Asia and Oceania, including Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and some other countries, including Fiji, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Singapore. The quality of play is considerably less than the NCAA, and slightly below the CIS.

There are two conferences in the PRC League, a Japan-Korea Conference and an Australia-Oceania Conference, each divided into two divisions of five teams each. The Japan-Korea Conference has a Japan Division, and a Korea Division. The Australia-Oceania Conference has an Australia-New Zealand Division and an Oceana Division.

Teams play a 54-game season that begins in January and ends in March, and is followed by two rounds of playoffs in which only the four division leaders qualify. Players become draft eligible at age 21. The players are mainly from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Australia, New Zealand and other Asian and Pacific region countries.

Can-Am College

    See article: Can-Am College League

The Can-Am College League is made up of collegiate baseball teams from 24 fictional colleges primarily in the US and Canada, but also The Bahamas. There are four conferences in the Can-Am League, with 6 teams in each conference, totaling 24 teams in all.

Like almost all of the college leagues, there is an All-Star Game and a playoff. The league is considered junior to the NCAA Division I college circuit and all players are considered eligible for the draft.

Nor-Am High School

    See article: Nor-Am High School League

The Nor-Am High School League (NORAM) is the sole high school level baseball league in the Bull Baseball League universe. There are 32-teams, all of which are fictional private or separate high schools based in Canada, the US, Mexico, and some Caribbean nations. Most of the US and all of the Canadian teams are based in the Independent School Conference (INDY), and further divided into two divisions. The remaining schools are in the International Conference (INTER), again divided into two divisions. The high school system uses a promotion/relegation system, where the top two schools in Division 2 of both conferences are promoted to Division 1, and the worst two Division 1 teams are demoted or relegated to Division 2, for the following season.

The NORAM season is 30 games long, and begins in March, and ends in April. There is no playoff or All-Star Game. Players are draft eligible only in their final year, at age 18. Those who remain undrafted may move on to a college team.

Tournaments

There are currently two annual tournaments in the Bull Baseball League, one pro-level and one college-level. The pro tournament is the World Cup of Baseball and runs in the fall, from October until November. This tournament pits the best players by nationality, and consists of 16 national teams. Eligible players must be at the major-level or AAA-level within the Bull Baseball League.

The college tournament is the Summer College Tournament, and is slated to run in late June through July each year, but in its first year (2017) will run through August. It is a much shorter, smaller tournament, where again the best college and high school players from each of the eight countries compete for a tournament title after the draft.

There is also a winter developmental baseball league for players below the AAA-level. The Bull Oceanic Winter League (or BOWL) runs from January until February, giving minor league players extra time to develop and enhance their skills during the off-season, ahead of Spring Training. The schedule runs about 60 games and the teams are based in Africa and Australia.

Summary of BBL leagues

Bull Baseball League Table of leagues
League Level Schedule All-Star Game Inter-league Playoffs Teams Roster limits
Length
in games
Start
date
Bull baseball league.png Bull League Major 162 1st day of April Yes Yes Yes, 3 rounds with wildcards 20 25
Cow League AAA.png Cow League AAA 144 2nd week of April Yes No Yes, 3 rounds with wildcards 20 26
Heifer League AA.png Heifer League AA 144 2nd week of April Yes No Yes, 3 rounds
Split-season
20 26
Calf league A.png Calf League A 120 2nd week of April No No Yes, 3 rounds
Split-season
20 26
Milk league rookie.png Milk League Short Season A 75 3rd week of June No No No 20 33, Max. age 24
Frl.png Florida Rookie League Rookie 84 15 March No Yes Yes 20 No roster limit, Max. age 22, Max 1 year pro
Feeder Leagues (Amateur College/HS)[Section note 1]
NCAA-DI.png NCAA Division I College (DH rule) 55 15 February Yes No Yes 32 30, College players (18-22 yrs)
Usports-cdn.png Canadian Interuniversity Sports College (DH rule) 16 or 18 First weekend in September Yes (Pre-season) No Yes 20 30, College players (18-22 yrs)
Pacific Rim College League.png Pacific Rim College League College (DH rule) 54 15 January Yes Yes Yes 20 30, College players (18-22 yrs)
CanAmCollege.png Can-Am College League College (No DH) 50 15 February Yes Yes 24 30, College players (18-22 yrs)
NoramHS.png Nor-Am High School League High School
(No DH)
38 1 March No No 32 30, High school players (15-18 yrs)
Winter developmental league
BOL e2882a ffffff.png Bull Oceanic Winter League Development League
(No DH)
36 2nd Monday of January No No Yes, 2 rounds with wildcards 10 30
  1. Draft eligibility for most college levels start at age 21, and for high school starts at 18.

Bull Baseball League Organizations

Each major-level team has a team in each of the minor leagues, one for each level.

Bull baseball league.png Bull League Club Abbr. Minor Leagues
Cow League AAA.png Cow League (AAA) Heifer League AA.png Heifer League (AA) Calf league A.png Calf League (A) Milk league rookie.png Milk League (S A) Frl.png Florida Rookie League (Rk)
Arizona Cowboys ARI San Antonio Stallions Saginaw Horsemen Yuma Hedgehogs CFB Trenton Arrows Hollywood Cowboys
Boston Brawlers BOS Halifax Gunboats Madison Cyclones Lexington Moonshiners Corpus Christi Razors Jupiter Brawlers
Calgary Inferno CGY Kelowna Inferno Hussar Barbers Lethbridge Raiders East Broughton Critters Sarasota Inferno
California Tidals CAL Anaheim Pharaohs Wichita Joes Flagstaff Racers Troy Titans Orlando Tidals
Chicago Pit Bulls CHI Milwaukee Pugs Anchorage Sky Chiefs Peoria Mosquitos Aurora Swashbucklers Largo Pit Bulls
Dallas Deputies DAL Ft. Worth Outlaws Tampa Tempest El Paso Smugglers Beale AFB Wolf Pack Ft. Myers Deputies
Detroit Motorheads DET Windsor Wild Chilliwack Orbitz Green Bay Rockets CFB Borden Black Bears Miami Motorheads
Miami Storm MIA Miami Marauders Seba Beach Miners Markham Tar Heels Bonnyville Dinos Tallahassee Storm
Milwaukee Hops MIL Mobile River Bandits Nashville Misfits Grand Rapids Frontiersmen Long Beach Brawlers Clearwater Hops
Minneapolis Ravens MIN Thunder Bay Rail Heads Spokane North Stars Tucson Rattlers North Tonawanda Blaze Jacksonville Beach Ravens
Montreal Metros MTL Gatineau Devil Bears Cedar Defenders Sarnia Shock Surrey Rage Vero Beach Metros
Nevada Speeders NEV Oakland Dukes Hughes River Bats Albuquerque Crystals Fort Drum Grunts Pensacola Speeders
New York Dragons NEW Hartford Judges Sacramento Marauders Duluth Trout Long Beach Saxons West Palm Beach Dragons
Norfolk Sharks NOR Baltimore Bruins Riverside Hurricanes Lubbock Luddites Las Vegas Desert Dogs Ocala Sharks
Ohio Oxen OHI Toledo Tornados Dos Palos As Fort Wayne Lightning Milton Meteors Key Largo Oxen
Philadelphia Liberty Warriors PHL Salt Lake City Spartans Scottsdale Kangaroos Saskatoon Nuggets South Taft Fighting Falcons Daytona Beach Liberty Warriors
Pittsburgh Iron Pigs PIT Baie Verte Vikings Quebec City Waves Hagersville Cactus Longueuil Dynamo Tampa Iron Pigs
Seattle Salts SEA Portland Timberwolves Blue Ridge Penguins Winnipeg Gophers Paradise Dust Devils Lakeland Salts
St. Petersburg Admirals STP St. Anthony SeaWolves Savannah Buccaneers Tijuana Firebirds Paris Foxes Naples Aces
Toronto Nomads TOR Brampton Longhorns Kitchener Oilmen London Bluebirds Killam Cyclones Ft. Lauderdale Nomads

References

  1. 2017 Season Was Best Yet for Fans. BNN. http://bullleague.org/highlights/2017-season-was-best-yet-for-fans/. 26 January 2018. Accessed: 28 January 2018.


External Links