To improve the quality and enjoyment of regular season play by all teams, ENYTB introduced classified play in 2002. Separate divisions were created for each of three classifications: Gold, Silver and Bronze. The highly popular "Wildcard" divisions were created as well, whereby teams could play "cross-over" games with teams in adjacent levels and have them count towards winning "bonus" berths in the same sanctioned tournaments. (Gold teams and Bronze teams are not scheduled to play each other except by special request by both teams.) Later, the levels changed to Gold; HiSilver and LoSilver. When the number of teams in an age division is sufficiently large, four levels can be used. In the four level model the Silver group would be divided into high, medium and low.
To experience the benefits of classified play, it is very important that your team is correctly classified. In fairness to teams competing at the higher levels, and to discourage "sand-bagging", the league progressively skews its post-season rewards towards the higher divisions. Are you among the best teams in your age division? If so, you are a gold team. Are you fairly solid everywhere but lack outstanding pitchers and have few outstanding position players? Then you are HiSilver. Everyone else is LoSilver i.e., you have some holes defensively, the 2nd half of your batting order drops off significantly, your pitching staff is shaky. Placement of teams new to the league or those returnees with significant turnover from the previous year, is not an exact science. In general, in consultation with the League Director, each team is classified as best as can be determined.
Competitively balanced scheduling has evolved even further from that described above and is discussed further in Customized Scheduling and Standings. Suffice to say, as a result of competitively balanced scheduling, the degree of competition within the league has been heightened, while also generating many more close and exciting games for all teams. ENYTB's Gold Division offers the most advanced teams a level of regular season competition far superior to that commonly found in league play. This has been demonstrated on the field when our teams compete in sanctioned tournament play where ENYTB Gold Division teams have been crowned national age division champions in each of the last three years (2007-2009)!
In addition to heightening the level of competition available to Gold teams, and generally improving the quality and enjoyment of regular season play for all teams, ENYTB's classified play also provides the lesser skilled teams a realistic opportunity to participate in a sanctioned National Championship Tournament Series (NCTS) event at season's end. ENYTB earmarks berths in sanctioned National Championship Tournament Series (NCTS) to each League Division. Every League Division, regardless of its skill level designation, has at least one NCTS berth earmarked to it. Teams competing in the Lo Silver Division have the opportunity to qualify for berths in the same sanctioned tournaments as the teams competing in the Gold Division. As mentioned above, more berths are allocated to the Gold Division than the Hi Silver, and the Hi Silver than the Lo Silver, to compensate for the greater difficulty inherent in qualifying from a higher competitive class. Every year, there are lower level teams who greatly exceed expectations. The annals of ENYTB league history are replete with examples of Lo Silver Division teams qualifying for and competing strongly in sanctioned NCTS tournaments. The statement that "every member team begins the season as a potential national champion" could not be more true than it is for the ENYTB.