The Niskayuna Cal Ripken travel program participates in the Empire State Baseball League (ESBL) which is sanctioned by a different governing body than Cal Ripken. This division of play runs parallel to the Niskayuna Baseball recreation division and teams selected at this level are not guaranteed to be the All-Star teams that are selected at the end of the recreation season. There may be two divisions of play.
At 8U-10U, tryouts are held in late summer to form the teams for the following fall and spring seasons. Beginning in 2016, the following guidelines were implemented: An advanced 7YO can play 8U baseball, if selected, and can remain with that cohort in subsequent years, if the coaches and league agree they are ready. This has multiple benefits: 1) It allows a young, advanced player an appropriate start time and level. 2) It naturally creates more opportunity for other players to play at the young levels. 3) It allows the league a solid policy to follow with regard to “playing up.” NBL does not permit “playing-up” outside of the 7YO moving forward as stated above.
At 11U-12U, tryouts will be held outside in the fall, and the team formed earlier in the year, to allow more time for tournament planning, fundraising, and to help compete with outside leagues for our players who also begin in the fall.
National Division - This is a level that may or may not be implemented based on player participation and their readiness. developing their skills to compete at the highest level. These are the teams that begin to introduce the importance of competition with a focus on skill development while maintaining relatively equal playing time. Winning is important to strive for but not at the cost of injury or development. The goal of this division is to keep kids playing baseball and work on developing for future growth. However, competitive baseball requires knowledgeable, willing coaches, pitchers that can throw strikes, catchers who can prevent passed-balls, and fielders who can generally record outs. Thus, to protect players and families from being exposed to a poor experience, National Teams will only be formed if the situation allows for it.
American East (top) or America West (middle) Division - These are players that have moved through the instructional phase of baseball much quicker. Not only are their skills advanced but their baseball IQ may be as well (at this stage). Kids may move around positions a bit but will also start to see time at specific positions based on ability. Playing time for all players will be available however is not necessarily divided equally. Usually, teams are permitted to bat up to 12 players (like rec). American Division opponents are typically All-Star teams from other towns and programs. Beginning in the 2016 season, the league introduced coaches to the option of carrying additional players (more than 11 or 12) on a roster if 1) There is no National Team at that age level -and 2) If these players are physically and emotionally ready for that level. This prevents the 13th player from not being included in travel baseball, even though they were as ready as the 12th player just because rosters had limits. If coaches keep >12, a rotating game schedule will be used since >12 is too hard to accommodate in one single game.
All-Star Baseball This level attempts to move through the levels of tournament play offered by Cal Ripken The District 1 Tournament, the ENY State Tournament, and the Middle-Atlantic Tournament followed by the World Series at ages 10, 12, and Babe Ruth. Playing time is not guaranteed nor might it be divided equally. Selection to the all-stars may naturally include many travel players, but additions from strong rec performance and new players to the area could change the rosters from travel to All-Star. All-Star teams can not bat more than 9 or 10 players and do not have free substitution, so rosters may be smaller. Rec coaches, and the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth Committees will discuss and select All-Star rosters in June. This level will require the possibility of regional travel and hotel costs.
Babe Ruth Travel Program
The Babe Ruth travel program is structured a little differently than the Cal Ripken. The travel teams at the Babe Ruth division start in late May or early June, following the local scholastic seasons.
13U-15U Travel/All Stars – This team may participate in the 13U Babe Ruth All-Star Tournaments, along with games in the ENTYB and/or ESBL travel leagues, as well as particular weekend tournaments, all of which might include regional travel and additional hotel costs. During the course of the travel schedule, managers are encouraged to use games as ways to develop players at various positions and strive for appropriate playing time, realizing that at this level some kids are going to play more than others. The league has adopted a 30% minimum playing time rule at the 13-15U level. Expectations and roles of players will be discussed with kids throughout the season. Once the team enters any Babe Ruth, “tournament trail” All-Star play, playing time will not be guaranteed. At this time, players will be put in positions by the manager that gives the team the best chance to advance. There is an expectation of a large investment in time for practice and games. Schedules will be communicated prior to the start of travel play.