The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs yesterday announced plans for divisional realignment set to take place with the start of the 2008 season. With the entry of the expansion Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the divisions formerly known as the North and South will receive new designations as well. The Long Island Ducks will join the newly formed Liberty Division, along with archrival Bridgeport, expansion Southern Maryland and the Camden Riversharks.
“I am excited as we move into our second decade that we are able to keep our traditional rivalries intact in this new divisional setup,” said Atlantic League Founder & CEO and Ducks principal owner Frank Boulton. “It is with the addition of Southern Maryland and in the best interest of the league to create these two new divisions and move away from our North/South setup.”
Despite the new alignment, the Ducks traditional cross-Sound division rivalry with the Bluefish will be maintained. Long Island will also compete for the first time in the same division as the Camden Riversharks. The teams do have a history, however, with the Ducks sweeping the Riversharks in 2004 to win their first league title.
Competing in the Freedom Division, the Lancaster Barnstormers, York Revolution, Somerset Patriots and Newark Bears will square off. York and Lancaster will continue their “War of the Roses” battle (Lancaster won the inaugural series 10-8 in 2007), while defending league champion Newark will play in the same division as traditional rival Somerset. The two northern New Jersey teams played in different divisions in 2007, eventually meeting in the Atlantic League Championship Series, which the Bears won three games to one.
“The key is keeping the rivalries intact,” said AL Executive Director Joe Klein. “And we have done that.”
The Atlantic League will play a balanced 140-game schedule in 2008 with a two division setup leading to the 2008 Playoffs to determine the league champion.