The Bull League is a professional baseball organization based in Canada and the United States. A total of 20 teams play in two constituent leagues, the American Eagle League (AEL) and the Lake League (LL). There are four teams located in Canada, and 16 teams located in the United States.
The Bull League was first created in 1989, and the AEL and LL were formed in 1991. The Bull League is the major-level professional league within the Bull Baseball League, the overall baseball organization that includes the various minor-level leagues.
Each season, the Bull League determines a championship team through the Bull Cup Championship Series, preceded by two playoff rounds to determine the AEL and LL champions who play for the overall championship. Teams play a 100-game season, and eight teams advance to the playoffs at the conclusion of the regular schedule. All three playoff rounds are best-of-five series. Games are occasionally broadcast on live streams through the league's Twitch channel, and made available later on YouTube.
- 1 League organization
- 2 Teams
- 3 History
- 4 Season structure
- 5 Awards
- 6 League rules
- 7 References
Since the Bull League was first created in 1989, it has been an overall league within which there were two subleagues. From 1989 to 1990, these were the Central League and the Southern League. In 1991, there was a major reorganization, and these subleagues were replaced with the AEL and the LL, as it remains the case today.
The leagues have always had an equal number of teams, beginning in 1991 when there were 12 teams in total, 6 in each of the AEL and LL, divided into two divisions of 3 teams each.
The two-division, two-league format has remained in place to the present, even through an expansion to 16 teams in 1995, then later to 20 teams in 2012. In order to give more teams an opportunity for playoff success, wildcards were introduced in 2007, allowing teams that were not a division pennant winner to play in the postseason for the first time.
The fictional Bull League first formed in 1989, consisting of a 20-team league divided into two constituent leagues, the Central League and the Southern League, with ten teams in each. Like the current configuration, these two leagues were further divided into two divisions each, an east and a west.
Bold indicates a team that is still active.
|East||Boston Britons||Boston, MA||Became the Boston Brawlers in the Lake League East division|
|Brooklyn Tigers||Brooklyn, NY||Became the Chicoutimi Cinquantes in the Lake League East division|
|Chicago Knights||Chicago, IL||Became Chicago Pit Bulls, moved to AEL then to LL West division|
|New York Fastballs||New York, NY||Became the New York Minutemen in the Lake League East division|
|Toronto Ducks||Toronto, ON||Became the Toronto Nomads in the Lake League East division|
|West||California Tidals||Los Angeles, CA||Name unchanged; Moved to American Eagle League West division|
|Nevada Speeders||Reno, NV||Name unchanged; Moved to American Eagle League West division|
|Ohio Oxen||Toledo, OH||Name unchanged; Moved to Lake League West division|
|Seattle Salts||Seattle, WA||Name unchanged; Move to American Eagle League West division|
|Vancouver Metros||Vancouver, BC||Became the Montreal Metros in the Lake League East division|
|East||Detroit Lakes||Detroit, MI||Folded after 1990|
|Houston Keystones||Houston, TX||Folded after 1990|
|Philadelphia Cubs||Philadelphia, PA||Folded after 1990|
|Picton Mounties||Picton, ON||Folded after 1990|
|Richmond Raiders||Richmond, VA||Became the Minneapolis Ravens in the Lake League West division|
|West||Cleveland Team||Cleveland, OH||Team name unknown — Folded after 1990|
|Kansas Cattle||Wichita, KS||Folded after 1990|
|New Jersey Team||Newark, NJ||Team name unknown — Folded after 1990|
|North Chicago Batmen||North Chicago, IL||Folded after 1990|
|Oakland Braves||Oakland, CA||Folded after 1990|
Creation of the American Eagle and Lake Leagues (1991-1993)
By 1991, the number of teams had been reduced to just 12, with three in each of the divisions, and the two major leagues within the Bull League were renamed the American Eagle League and the Lake League.
The reduction is teams was seen as practical because at the time the games were simulated, one game at a time, using Earl Weaver Baseball, a baseball management simulation game. It was was a lengthy process to play out even a day's worth of games in this method.
Labor Dispute (1994)
As with real baseball, there was a "labor disruption" which led to the cancellation of the 1994 season. No records remain for any games from that season and the season is officially considered to have been not played.
The League is Reborn (1995)
The Bull League resumed operations and following a reorganization of teams and leagues, including an expansion from 12 teams to 16 teams, the 1995 season was played out.
Further Expansion (2012)
See main article: 2012 Expansion
In 2012, the Bull League expanded from 16 teams to 20, the number it originally had in 1989.
See article: 2018 Reorganization
Although in many years there are some name, location or branding changes among the teams, the 2018 season saw a major reorganization, with several teams swapping leagues as a result of relocations.
The historic San Diego Seagulls, which moved to Anchorage to become the Anchorage Aces in 2017, completed a move to St. Petersburg, Florida and were renamed the St. Petersburg Admirals. With the move across the continent they were shuffled into the AEL East. The Jacksonville Ravens left the AEL altogether in their relocation to Minnesota. They were renamed the Minneapolis Ravens with a change of logo, and joined the LL West.
Throughout the year, there are a number of important events that define the structure of each baseball season in the Bull League.
See article: Spring training
Spring training is a series of exhibition games and baseball practice camps that each Bull League team holds in the spring every year, before the start of the regular season. The purpose is to allow the teams to field the most competitive possible rosters for the regular season, by both having returning veterans warm up and work out after a winter without playing time, and to allow rookies and minor league players a chance to try out for a spot on the roster of the parent club for the upcoming season.
The spring training schedule lasts roughly 5-6 weeks, beginning in April, and occasionally involves inter-league play between AEL and LL teams.
The regular season consists of 100 (82 prior to 2017) games, commencing on the second Sunday of May (normally Mother's Day) and ending in the first week of September. Each team plays either a three- or a four-game series with an opponent, before playing the next opponent. Due to postponements, some series are occasionally extended.
Each team will play the other 4 teams within their own division a total of 14 times during the season, and then play the 5 teams in the opposing division 8 times each. Teams are scheduled to play an even number of home and away games with each other. In addition, each team plays an inter-league "home and home" series with a selected team from the opposing league, immediately before the mid-season All-Star break.
The goal of each team during the season is to win as many games as necessary to secure a playoff berth, either by winning the division title, or by having one of the next best team records below the division title winners in each league. Occasionally, additional tie-breaking games are required to determine a clear order in the standings at the end of the season.
On August 10 each season, the rosters for the teams expand to 40 players, to allow teams to add depth players and to account for late season injuries and fatigue. This strategy is often used by teams to prepare for playoff contention. Just prior to the roster expansion, there is a trade deadline, after which any player trades between clubs are subject to revocable waiver rules.
First year player draft
See article: First year player draft
In mid-June, the league holds an annual amateur player draft. College and high school players who are of eligible age and service may be drafted by Bull League teams according to an order set the previous season and based on their final standings.
See article: Bull League All-Star Game
At about the mid-way point through the regular season, the teams break for five days in order to play an exhibition game called the All-Star Game. This match features the best players from both the American Eagle League and the Lake League, as voted on by fans and team managers.
Until recently, the winner of the All-Star Game would determine which league's team would have the home-field advantage in the final round of the playoffs.
See article: Bull Cup Championship Series
|Bull Cup Championship Records|
|New York Dragons† (LL)||5||2008||5|
|Ohio Oxen (LL)||4||2016||5|
|Montreal Metros (LL)||3||2014||6|
| Chicoutimi Cinquantes (LL)
(Team folded 2016)
|Calgary Inferno† (AEL)||2||2017||6|
|Minneapolis Ravens† (AEL to LL, 2018)||2||1996||5|
|California Tidals (AEL)||2||2013||4|
|Nevada Speeders (AEL)||1||2001||6|
| Kingston Cannons† (LL to AEL, 2018)
|Chicago Pit Bulls† (AEL to LL, 2012)||1||1991||2|
|Rimouski Fighting Moose† (LL)||1||2002||2|
|Seattle Salts (AEL)||1||1992||2|
|Boston Brawlers (LL)||0||–||1|
|St. Petersburg Admirals† (AEL)||0||–||1|
| † indicates the team has had a name or location change|
- see team article for further details.
At the conclusion of the 100-game regular season, in early September, eight teams enter the postseason playoffs. These teams are made up of four teams from each of the leagues, the AEL and the LL. Within each league, the top team in each of the divisions within the leagues (the division pennant winners), and the next two teams with the best win-loss records in that league (the wildcards), are seeded into the playoff bracket.
There are three rounds of playoffs in the bracket:
- Elimination Round, a best-of-five series between the 1 and 4, and 2 and 3 seeds within each league.
- The American Eagle League Championship Series and the Lake League Championship Series, each a best-of-five series to determine each league's champions.
- The Bull Cup Championship Series, a best-of-five series to determine the overall Bull League champions.
The Elimination Round wildcard was introduced for the 2007 season. The division winners are always seeded #1 and #2, with the wildcards seeded #3 and #4.
Beginning with the 2018, the team with the best record will determine the home-field advantage in the Bull Cup Championship Series, ending the long-standing practice of awarding the advantage to the league which won the All-Star Game in that year.
The best-of-five format is A-A-B-B-A, where "A" is the team with the home-field advantage.
During the off-season, many organizational and administrative events occur in order to prepare for game play the following season.
- In October, the players file for free agency, and salary arbitration hearings take place. Award voting also takes place.
- In November, the annual winter meetings are held. During this period, trades and rule changes may occur. Shortly after the meetings wrap up, the Rule 5 draft takes place.
- In December, the Hall of Fame balloting period takes place.
- In January, the Hall of Fame inductees, if any, are announced.
- In March, the preseason begins, and the schedule for the next season is released.
The Bull League recognizes outstanding players in a wide variety of categories annually at the end of each season.
Carl Simms MVP Award
See article: Carl Simms MVP Award
The Carl Simms MVP Award is given to the most valuable player in both the AEL and the LL. Until 2017, pitchers qualified for this award. The award is named for Carl Simms, a Hall of Fame player who won the most valuable player award a record five times during his career.
Sandy Koufax Award
Rookie of the Year
General Manager of the Year
Manager of the Year
|Roster limit||25 (Expands to 40 on August 10)|
|Age range||Min. 18 years|
|Disabled list||10 days / 60 days|
|Waiver period||7 days|
|DFA limit||10 days|
- 2017 Season Was Best Yet for Fans. BNN. http://bullleague.org/highlights/2017-season-was-best-yet-for-fans/. 26 January 2018. Accessed: 26 January 2018.