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March 3, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: pitchers mask

Since the introduction of the new mandate, there have been many threads on this message board talking about masks for pitchers and personal preferences. You would be rewarded to go back and read some of them.

In summary, from my own 5-year mask experience, here is how I would approach it:
1. Decide if you want a pitching helmet or a pitching mask. Both are used in women's fast pitch softball and both are available for senior guys to use. The helmets are safer, protect the temples better and also the back of the head, and even the neck area on some designs. The cons: slower to put on and take off, hotter in warm weather, don't always allow the use of one's glasses to fit underneath, and heavier. It is also more difficult to put a bill on most helmets to protect from pitching into a low sun, or protect from rain showers. With masks, it is easier to provide a bill: some come with one attached; some guys expand a baseball cap to fit over; others glue a bill on; I use a slip-over bill that does the job. None of these approaches are as helpful and convenient as a regular baseball cap and no mask.

2. Decide if you want a plastic mask (advertised to be as strong as lucite) that is lighter with no bars, or a metal mask that frankly has better visibility on a ground ball at your feet than any plastic mask. Both styles work well when the ball is coming right at your head. Another consideration is peripheral vision if that is important to you.

3. Don't worry about the cost. Most are under $100 and as long as you have to buy one, might as well buy one that is reliable and comfortable.

4. If at all possible, try one on before ordering on-line or buying at a sporting goods store. I have had three different masks over the years and two I couldn't wear! One was too small for my head, even though it was the largest (designed for women's softball, remember) of that brand, and another was too constricted around my chin so I had difficulty communicating with my fielders, though some of my teammates considered this a benefit:=) And if you are balding, don't forget to try the mask on over your cap or watch cap, whatever you plan to wear underneath to prevent sunburn.

Good luck, and start wearing it at league games and even batting practice to get used to it for tournament play.
Feb. 27, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: The Back Nine

Sweet, Marv, with lots of wisdom.
Jan. 23, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Runner Hit by Batted Ball

Ouch! All these scenarios of a runner on third getting hit by a batted ball give me the shivers. Yes, I have been hit more than once while on third and a sizzler comes at me, but I don't have the courage to just stand and take it. The only reason I got hit was because I didn't jump high enough or squat low enough.
Jan. 22, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Swing Makeover #12.Using a Double Knobcuff for max power and the 70's Senior Bomb Squad from St. Petersburg, Fl

Perl, thanks. Exactly the kind of information that interests me. And I'm sure that most (all?) guys who can still hit the very long ball could also send taters over the fence with a wooden bat when they were young.
Jan. 21, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Swing Makeover #12.Using a Double Knobcuff for max power and the 70's Senior Bomb Squad from St. Petersburg, Fl

bogie, thanks for those names of bombers still clearing the fences in their 70s. It would be interesting to have more names so we could both honor them and look for them in tournaments.

Out here in California, perhaps the most feared slugger in the older divisions is one that most of you wouldn't know. It is Gene Conn, who will be 76 this year, and no 310 foot fence ever stopped him. I saw him hit one into the parking lot last year that hit a tree at about 320 and would have gone about 380 if not for the tree.

To my knowledge, Gene doesn't travel outside of local tournaments, so he likely has never played in recent years (or ever?) on a Major Plus team. His exploits in the past decade were legendary. One player pointed out a time when he hit a ball that cleared the left field fence fair but curving foul, crossed the street, cleared the 8 foot fence of a diamond on the other side, and surprised the heck out of players there when it landed on their infield! It would have been about a 450 foot shot.
Jan. 20, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Players looking to join a team
Discussion: LOOKING FOR A TEAM

Paco13, I love a guy who likes to play SS as well as the other positions you mentioned. And I especially love the comment that every player has to be able to hit to have a winning team so you are at ease hitting where the coach puts you. You're too young for my team, or I would forward this to my manager. I'll bet you'll find a team soon.
Jan. 20, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Mask or Pitcher Protection Screen

There is no argument that the screen provides better protection for the pitcher who uses it for that purpose. But not every league insists on its use that way.

We have a mandated screen in our league and have for more than a decade. Setting it up and taking it down is no more a bother than putting out the bases and collecting them, marking batter's box, etc.

Our rule is any ball hitting the screen is a dead ball. Sure, the occasional ball will glance off the side of the screen (about one a year in my personal experience pitching) and can become dangerous to the pitcher transitioning to a fielder (permitted in our league).

As I have stated in other threads, the screen soon becomes natural. In the course of a year we usually NEVER have a third baseman hitting the screen trying to go to first, and maybe a few times all year does an outfielder hit the screen throwing home. It is not a factor.

Guys who want to practice going middle like it because the pitcher can be safe. We have a league where teams are chosen each day from players present, from 50 to 80s in age, including a few skilled women players. Usually, as a courtesy, a batter will warn the pitcher that he is going to try to hit up the middle.

Experienced pitchers, who know where a ball might likely be hit depending on the location of the pitch or experience with the individual batter, have become quite skilled at being an important part of the infield defense. I could live with using a screen in tournament play. It's not that big a deal.
Jan. 15, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Is Pitching Mask mandatory

Pricer and Skeptical are focussing on the correct problem—it is the bats, the ridiculously hot bats that entered routine senior softball play in the last decade. And every new bat on this board in the last year or two brags about how "hot" it is—it's not getting better.

My observation is that it has driven many, many players out of the game because of its effect on diminishing defensive prowess and earned home runs and running ability and a lot of the strategy of the game. For younger guys like my son, they just are done with shaved bats and don't play any more. For comrades of the past that are my age or a bit younger, the hot bats changed the game and it wasn't as fun for them anymore.

In any event, the cat is already out of the bag. When SSUSA required pitchers to sign a waiver two years ago or wear a mask, they were admitting that conditions had become so dangerous that a mask was a wise protective item, and thereby opened themselves up for a lawsuit.

This is my 62nd season of pitching. When I began, the distance to the plate was only 37 feet, 8 1/2 inches. Scary? Sure, but with wooden bats, I was never severely injured when I got plunked and I was able to field most balls up the middle. There's a reason the pitching distance was moved back and back and now is legal up to 60 feet away—the bats got hotter and more dangerous.
Jan. 15, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Bats
Discussion: GSC Bat - Status

southernson, I swung a prototype of the GSC in Reno at the SSUSA tournament last May, so it is surely getting close one would think. As I mentioned then, they only had end-loaded available to try, so it wasn't my cup of tea.
Jan. 13, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Why are teams not rated the same in USSA SPA ISSA

L points out that "most players and sponsors will say we are wasting our money" by playing a bracket that is too competitive for them…and so they stop going to those tournaments. I admire L and his team for being willing to test themselves against a higher division, but I think he is correct that many players/teams don't want this.

That said, and it seems that ISSA is very liberal at letting teams rate themselves and thus enter a lower division than their real abilities, why do teams keep going to ISSA tournaments? Are there really so few SPA and SSUSA tournaments around that they keep entering ISSA's offerings? Or do they also drop themselves and thus it is ultimately the AA guys who suffer because they have no lower division to sandbag in?
Jan. 10, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: CERTAIN FEES!!

Duke, I've never played in a Top Gun tournament so I can't comment on quality comparisons or overscheduling fields. And curveball's comments about higher prices in California is probably accurate.

What I can tell you is that Northern California Senior Softball Association scheduled 56 tournaments in 2013 (although some were cancelled for lack of signups) and the fees ranged from $285 to $310, with the average fee being $300. These tournaments use the same umpires as SSUSA, play on the same fields, and are typically well-run and competitive, due to NCSSA's decision to bracket teams by ability, not age.

These are mostly played in California (with California prices) and a few played in Nevada or southern Oregon. And NCSSA is not a for-profit organization as SSUSA is, so it is run by volunteers and costs are lower thereby. TDs do try to break even (in some tournaments) and most try to make a profit, either for themselves, their team, or their Club.
Jan. 3, 2014
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Bats
Discussion: bats and cold weather

This is only anecdotal evidence, but I always keep my U2 and my Combat Macenko in my car trunk. Living in central California, it is probably seldom a freezing temperature in the trunk, but no doubt it heats up above 100° in the summer. I occasionally play in weather in the mid to high 30s with the bats, but seldom lower. Played in Rock 'N Reno the year it was snowing(!) and the Miken did fine. My U2 is going into its 12th season and the Combat its 4th. No problems yet. Balls are probably stored in garages until game time when they sit in temperatures from 36 in the winter to 105 in the summer. Maybe I dodged a bullet playing in snowfall in Reno?


Dec. 30, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Bats
Discussion: Shaved Bats

rdrman66, I loved your term "occasional fool", and as Swing pointed out, it isn't the sluggers who shave. At the older level, 65 and above, there are lots of players who can hit the ball 270, 280 with a composite, but now in the newer parks, fences are back to 300, 310, even 325, so I can imagine someone would be tempted to shave even a senior bat to be able to clear the fence. Sad to contemplate. I don't think I have ever seen someone swing an altered composite bat, but I can believe that some will try.
Dec. 30, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: NCSSA Tournament Schedule

taits, the minutes have come out from December 7 and they report that the schedule was promised in 2 or 3 weeks from December 7, so it should be out any day.
Dec. 14, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Bats
Discussion: Time to eliminate senior bats

Little bit passionate and exaggerated, but true at bottom. The hot senior bat has changed the game and is responsible for players who never hit a home run in their prime (like me) now putting them over the fence. I'd willingly bring back the old single wall aluminums.
Dec. 12, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Question for Mad Dog and others

I have always worn glasses under my Game Face mask (and the Rip-It before I found it too tight)without a problem. The big problem with Game Face is that visibility is somewhat affected on ground balls. I even wear my mask in rec and league play, and so have learned to field grounders by instinct which works until there is a bad hop! =)And of course, any fielding errors I make on ground balls are always "bad hops" (my teammates are gracious).
Dec. 12, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Website comments
Discussion: Why Not Have A Players Committee Of Real Players To Over See The Rules

BiggDan, I agree with your opinion that home runs should not be DBOs. But careful with your other arguments. I have been reading for years on this site complaints that Major+ players go through 7, 8, 9 bats a year because of breakage and new models. A guy who is spending $2500 a year on bats is not going to complain about a mask for $60 that will last for years.
Dec. 12, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: players please respond to rule changes

There are many practical reasons for a TD to try and restrict games to change every 1 hour 15 minutes: may be sharing tournament fields with league night games and must vacate fields; different skill levels may share fields and Major Plus cannot have lengthy games or it screws the timing up of the schedule; umpires may ask for more money and fees may rise; and there are probably more (not being a TD myself).

Although now a major player, even at AAA I never liked a rule that made a home run an out. Making it a walk was a more sensible solution, or playing 1-up maximum throughout the game and a walk if more than 1-up. Both of these rules will shorten a game.

But let me propose that in order to not penalize home runs (except making them walks once the limit is reached), that innings max out at 4 runs except for the final inning. This would speed up every game, no matter what the home run rule, and satisfy TDs as well, perhaps, as players. With today's conditions and finances, we will never return to the unlimited scoring innings and games of the past. Remember, they weren't so common in the 50s, 60s, 70s, because the equipment of that day was not jazzed up so every pipsqueak like me could realistically think of hitting a home run. Home runs were rare, even with the standard 250 foot fences.
Dec. 9, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: New rule

It was predictable that this rule was coming. I pointed out two years ago with the requirement of mask and shin guards unless signing a waiver, that the waiver was useless. If SSUSA feels it is so dangerous with today's hot bats and balls for the pitcher to be unprotected, it would be easy for a lawyer to file a successful lawsuit in case of injury or death of a pitcher, waiver or not. I still predict we will see mandated screens before I stop playing.

As to hitting up the middle, I played two seasons with a nice guy who had hit middle all his life. To my knowledge, he never aimed for the pitcher, but liked the hole on either side of the pitcher and that's what he aimed for. Usually he was successful, and had a good batting average, but even so, he hit a pitcher about 3 times a year when the pitcher couldn't field the ball. I don't want to hit any pitcher that often.
Dec. 3, 2013
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Playing Time

Our major team had three pitchers who only pitched, but sat out otherwise. They all could play other positions in case of low attendance or injury, and two were decent hitters, but they were O.K. with sitting an entire game. We had two catchers, both good hitters, who also didn't play if not catching, but did sometimes go in to pinch hit. We had three first basemen--like the pitchers they could play other positions if needed, but rotated game by game except for one who was a phenomenal hitter and we EH'd him when not playing first.

We had a successful season with this philosophy, but I'm sure it depends on the personality of those asked to regularly sit out games. Some players won't accept this. I can imagine a manager like southernson carefully managing innings for his players, but I'd bet such a manager doesn't play himself with all those mental gymnastics.
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