What Is COBRA?
The term, COBRA, is actually an acronym (Coalition of Babe Ruth Athletes), and is why you normally see it in all caps (COBRA instead of cobra or Cobra). The major intention of the program is RETENTION - to keep players and coaches in our leagues by offering competitive ball games among players who wish to remain attached to their community league, while allowing coaches to select players (within their league's guidelines) and teach advanced skills to those who have the ability and interest.
At the initial meeting of league presidents in the summer of 2013, a few goals were set forth. They included:
- Competitive play
- Quick games
- Every game starts on time
- No more than 2 games in a day
While competitive play was exciting, it was generally accepted that these were scrimmages... they would not count in any way shape or form in the team's local league's standings, that even if one team was obviously stronger than the other, they still wanted to work the defensive side of the ball, etc. A true cooperative was born and created a genuinely player-based development vehicle... 2 scrimmages every other Sunday again higher-caliber players with the goal of everyone developing and growing. This is what we call “Sunday Play.”
The format was pitched, and accepted as, two games every-other Sunday (as allowed by holidays), 4 times a season, for a total of 8 games. The time limit was set at 90 minutes per game, no new inning (NNI), and a run limit of 4 runs per inning was agreed to by all. Each team would bring baseballs to the game and the umpire fee would be split by the two teams. This would help the games move and turn over innings so both teams could work on offense and defense, while keeping registration at a minimal cost.
At the end of the meeting, almost as an after thought, it was suggested to have a tournament at the end ... just for fun. Well, we know how that goes, and while our Sunday Play games retain that cooperative and friendly feel, the fierce nature of competition shows itself during the tournament. That's a good thing. The young people need to learn the value of competition, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat... all with grace and dignity.
We just celebrated our 20th season... 10 straight years of COBRA. Even with a brief respite during the spring of 2021 (covid), we've crowned champions in each age group, but more importantly, exposed thousands of our youth to competition, hard work, and the rewards those efforts bring.
Special thanks to the leagues who host games on Sundays!! They're the real key in keeping the cost down for our players, coaches and parents.
What Is Cobra+ (Cobra Plus)?
While the original COBRA design ('traditional COBRA' is the term we use) was going strong, some leagues felt there was still more we could do to help retain quality players and coaches in the league. The idea of Cobra+ was born.
COBRA + is sanctioned by the the Florida Babe Ruth President and allows players to register and be rostered on the Plus team. This is different from traditional COBRA because originally - and still with COBRA - players must be registered and participating on a traditional team within their league as their primary team. With Cobra+, the players still must be registered however can be rostered on the Cobra+ team, and do not need to be rostered to a traditional league team.
There are many benefits to this such as (and not limited to):
- The Cobra+ team players have one coaching staff vs. 2 (traditional league team and COBRA)
- Because of having one coaching staff, this leads to safer arm care in pitching situations and game play (less likelihood of overuse between two teams).
- More focused player development, as the coaches will know their usage and areas to work on vs. having to share players with league teams.
- Less scheduling conflict for parents and players causing missed practices and games trying to make it to two teams' events.
- and more
Where players on a traditional COBRA team's official Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken games are with their league team for all star eligibility (and COBRA is seen as additional play), COBRA+ uses the Sunday Play schedule combined with games of Cobra+ vs. Cobra+ as its official games for those rostered players and teams.
Sanctioning, selection and administration of PLUS teams is up to the leagues, and not all leagues allow PLUS teams. Traditional COBRA is still available even in leagues which do not participate in Cobra+ currently. We (the COBRA Coordinators) supply the structure for COBRA and COBRA+, but each league has direct and undeniable authority over their team/league member participation.
Most PLUS players are eligible for All Stars, but there are stipulations that must be met. The intention of Cobra+ is NOT to somehow stack all star teams, but rather to offer a player experience with more focused development, safer pitching usage, and to enable scheduling that allows the coaching staff to evaluate other baseball opportunities on off-weekends to help develop the players.
Please contact us for more information.