It’s finally time to bring some competitive baseball back to Cincinnati. (Sorry Reds).
Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative promotes baseball and softball in inner cities. RBI programs offer after-school programs, homework help, counseling, and, of course, baseball to kids and teens across the country. And this weekend, we’ll find out which has the best ball club.
The 2016 RBI World Series kicks off Friday in Cincinnati. Twenty-four baseball and softball teams will compete in the World Series, which will include tournament rounds, playoffs, and championship games.
The baseball competition runs August 5-8, while softball will be played August 12-16.
For baseball, teams are grouped by ages — 13-15 and 16-18. Games will be played at Xavier University, P&G Cincinnati Youth Academy, and Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds. Each baseball team will get at least one chance to play at Great American Ball Park and the championship game will be held at P&G.
In the softball tournament, each squad is an under-19 team. Tournament games will be played at P&G and Mason High School. The championship game will be hosted by Miami University (OH) and played at its impressive Softball Complex.
Players in both baseball and softball will also participate in “workout days” where they can showcase their talents in front of professional scouts and college recruiters. Other events packed into the 13 days of the RBI World Series include numerous lunches, a community service project on their workout day, a trip to a Reds game, an essay contest, and the awarding of scholarships.
There may not be a clear favorite for baseball, but the Dominican Republic and Miami Marlins teams can never be counted out, especially after winning the junior and senior title, respectively, last year. In softball, Cleveland figures to be the favorite. It won the World Series in 2015. Another team to keep an eye on — for both baseball and softball — is Houston. It has a team in each division for the World Series for the eighth time, which is the second most-ever for any city after Los Angeles did it 11 times.
Speaking of pros: The RBI program has seen 200 of its participants drafted into the majors since the program began in 1989. Notable names to pass through RBI are Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics), Chris Iannetta (Seattle Mariners), James Loney (New York Mets), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), and Justin Upton (Detroit Tigers).
No matter who wins the 2016 RBI World Series, one thing’s for sure: This is great exposure for some promising young prospects.
Visit MLB.com for more information on the 2016 RBI World Series