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Discussion: SSUSA Adopts Major-Plus Task Force Recommendations

Posted Discussion
Aug. 26, 2008
TerryH
17 posts
SSUSA Adopts Major-Plus Task Force Recommendations
On June 4, 2008, the SSUSA commissioned the Major Plus Task Force to survey the Major Plus managers in the 50s, 55s and 60s age groups and to use the responses from those managers to formulate recommendations concerning playing rule modifications for those divisions.

The Task Force was chaired by Gary Tryhorn (Old As 60s), and included Bob Woodruff (GSF 60s), Audie Hollis (Hollis Appraisal 50s and 55s), Butch Drake (Travelodge 55s), Randy Hendricks (Hendricks Sports Management 50s), Ken Lipinski (Seacrest Mavericks 50s) and Jim Hornus (W.E. Ruth 55s).

The Task Force has submitted their recommendations and the SSUSA is pleased to announce that it is adopting eight of the nine recommendations. The effective date for all of the adopted recommendations is September 1, 2008, except as otherwise noted.

Recommendations Adopted

1. TOURNAMENT FORMAT Major Plus teams will play two seeding games on the first day, double elimination (or three game guarantee, field availability permitting) brackets starting on the second day, with the third day concluding in the early afternoon.
2. TIME LIMITS Sixty-five (65) minutes plus open inning in seeding games, 75 minutes, finish current inning, in bracket, and seven innings full, no time limit, in Championship game(s).
3. RUNS PER INNING Seeding games: Seven (7) runs per half-inning at bat, with last inning open. Bracket and Championship Games: No run limit (open scoring) per half-inning at bat, with mercy rule of 25 runs after 5 innings.
4. HOME RUNS Ten (10) plus 1-up, Singles thereafter, in all three age divisions.
5. SOFTBALLS Each team will be provided with two dozen new softballs at the beginning of the tournament. Teams will hit their own softballs and chase their own home runs. Additional softballs may be purchased at the tournament or teams may bring their own SSUSA approved (only) softballs.
6. BALL / STRIKE COUNT The current SSUSA rule of a 4-3 ball/strike count will be retained. No courtesy foul.
7. ROSTER RESTRICTIONS Teams home state plus bordering states, Snowbirds prohibited, and one (1) out-of-region exception player allowed per team, using East/West of the Mississippi River boundary. [EFFECTIVE DATE: November 1, 2008, to prevent disrupting current rosters for the 2008 World Championships in Phoenix]
8. ROSTER PUBLICATION Major Plus rosters will be made public through the SSUSA web site.

Recommendation Declined

9. BATTED BALL STRIKING PITCHER The managers surveyed by the Task Force voted exactly 50/50% on the question of retaining or eliminating this rule, and the Task Forces recommendation was to eliminate it. The rule will be retained, in modified form, and is simultaneously being extended to all ages and divisions of play, effective September 1, 2008.

Rule Modification Specific language will be published shortly, but the Pitchers Protection Rule will apply only if the pitcher is in the Pitchers Box and, in the judgment of the umpire, the Pitcher has no chance to make a defensive play on the ball. The component of the current rule that limited its application to the line drive batted ball only will be removed.

ECONOMIC IMPACT ON TEAMS The adoption of the Task Force Recommendations will result in additional softball costs and longer game times, for which umpires will be entitled to, and receive, additional compensation. The 50s, 55s and 60s Major Plus teams will be charged an additional entry fee of $200 to help defray a portion of the additional costs.

Thank you to all of the managers who replied to the survey, and a special thank you to the Major Plus Task Force for an exceptionally well done job.
Aug. 26, 2008
the wood
1079 posts
To Terry, Fran, Dave and Bill Ruth:
I commend you for making these changes and for making them now (except for the one that begins on Nov 1). As Terry stated, point # 9 was totally deadlocked and, in my opinion, part of its original opposition may have had more to do with its wording than anything else. I'm glad that they have kept it and I'm equally glad that they have modified it so that it helps the pitcher more than before. I really hope that they make it a universal rule throughout all of the divisions and all of the ages.
We'll have to pay $200 more than before but this is ok as long as we can play the rules to which we are accustomed.
BW
Aug. 26, 2008
turn2
484 posts
is the 25 run rule after 5 innings correct? if so, that will be hard to stop most of the major plus teams. is this the only run rule?
thanks,
donnie
turn two / haynes / harris / elite
60 major plus

all of the new rules sounds great. i would just like to know about the run rule and after what inning?
Aug. 26, 2008
SSUSA Staff
1212 posts
The mercy rule of "25 runs after 5" is the only mercy rule to be adopted. The game ends if the home team is ahead by 25 or more after 4.5 innings or if the visitor is ahead by 25 or more after 5 full innings. It refers to the lead, not the actual number of runs scored by either team.
Aug. 26, 2008
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
We, a lot of us, have belly-ached a long time
to get SSUSA to respond to our demands/needs/wants,
we who compete, play, suffer, invest and enjoy Senior Softball
in 2008.
Sincere thanks to Terry, Fran and Dave of SSUSA,
Chairman Gary Tryhorn, Audie, Butch, Randy, Ken and Jim
for all your energy, input and cooperation.
A long round of well deserved applause for you all.

Yet,
I couldn't help but notice that the single most influential and controversial factor
heard and experienced in Senior Softball today,
the bat/ball combination and standards that govern it,
received no attention.
None?

We've just about come to blows over what we expect want and need
to enjoy our sport a la 2008 regarding the caliber of balls and bats we use
and no mention, at all?

How could that be?
Hmmmm.

I've spoken with Dave Dowell and he's assured me
that the balls SSUSA use and will continue to use
will be the same high quality ball they have been using
without deterioration and his word is good enough for me
but I just don't get why our committee
didn't find this issue prominent for concern.

OK. This is still a time to rejoice in the hard work of the Committee
and we're proactive, so,
as long as we don't let what we players, almost to a man,
agree we want and need, that is
no less than 1.2 bats and the, up to now, high quality ball that SSUSA has been providing for us,
there won't be any problem for us going forward.

The caliber of ball used both at the start, middle and end of any
seeding, double elimination or championship game, at any age/skill level
is still the most critical factor in the enjoyment of the sport
we all love to play.
we hear it, see it and experience it
all the time.
Let's not be reluctant to let everyone know.
Aug. 26, 2008
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
I'm not a major plus player (never was, never will be), but must say I'm more than a little bit impressed with this posting today. It affirms what I have believed all along, that the ssusa is the most responsive of the sr. associations. They turned over the future of the major plus program to a committee and it would have been easy to just blow off the recommendations. Instead, they adopted 8 of 9, and really in a way adopted all 9. The pitcher rule will now be a part of the game at all ages and at all ratings, and they made it more practical in my opinion. Having the pitcher protected only in the box makes a lot of sense. It's the same thing as protecting a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but not if he decides to dart into the path of an oncoming bus (or softball). Good job, and thanks from one of those that got a benefit that may not have been forseen on the safety side, the non-major plus guys.
Aug. 26, 2008
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
OOOPS.
Didn't mean to leave Woody out of the above for just and meaningful praise and applause
for all his efforts.
Sorry, Bob.
Aug. 26, 2008
the wood
1079 posts
Joe, I do not take it personally that you omitted my name...

re: balls
We didn't address this because it has not been a real problem with the SSUSA events. As I have mentioned in the past, we (GSF) have hit more HRs with the SSUSA ball (in losing in Az last Oct) than we did in KC last year (and winning the tourney). I personally feel that the Trump Ball is a better ball than the Baden... not only because of GSF's comparative results (and the HRs hit against us at the same events) but because of ball testing that I have done. Many people share this belief.
We addressed the recent rule changes and some potential rule changes (ex. 1-1 count). None of the folks on the board were that concerned about the SSUSA balls as we felt that it was a good ball, given the 1.2 bats that we could use. Had we been restricted to lesser bats (i.e. ASA, NSA or USSSA versions) we might have sensed a heightened urgency to discuss the balls.
In my travels, the SSUSA rule issues that have been verbalized the most, by far, were the ones that we included in the survey.
I know that you have strong feelings about the possibility of SSUSA going to a 'lesser ball' but we don't share that opinion. They have told us they have not made any plans to change their ball.
With all of this in mind, we focused on the things that we felt needed to be modified to make the major plus divisions more attractive... or more like we were used to playing.
Bear in mind, that each manager on the task force represented 14-16 of his own guys (except for A. Hollis who has 2 teams). That's damn near 100 major plus guys, which in itself represents a fair cross section of the 50-55-60 major plus total. The state of the SSUSA ball wasn't perceived as a threat to our game. I polled our players early into this process and the subject of the SSUSA ball didn't arise. I would think that each mgr on the committee did the same but I cannot speak for them.
I hope that this helps explain why we took the path that we did.
BW
Aug. 26, 2008
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Thanks, Woody.
Thanks for getting involved and helping us.
Thanks for being open and taking the time to explain to me
your understanding of the process involved.
We're all better as men and players because of your dedicated
representation.
It takes leaders like you, Gary Tryhorn and the rest of the panel
to help guide as we grow and develop.
It's been my experience also that the Trump ball is better than Baden
and I hope there's nothing to the seeming trend that ALL balls are getting
softer.
I, like you, appreciate SSUSA, that is, Fran, Terry and Dave,
and believe in Dave's tutelage with respect to insuring ball quality
at our events going forward.
Aug. 27, 2008
4x4
Men's 65
595 posts
What are the dimensions of the "pitchers box"? If it is the same as what we saw this past weekend it is about 6' wide by 6' long. If this is the case many balls went through the box that the pitcher was not able to field (reach).

Would this then be a DBO?

This is going to have to be clearly defined - then - schooled to all the umps or it's going to have a real negative impact.
Aug. 27, 2008
DCPete
234 posts
The "Ball striking pitcher" rule is confusing.
Since extra HRs count as singles (not outs), then there is no incentive for HR-hitting batters to start hitting up the middle. If there's no added incentive to hit up the middle, then why does the pitcher need this extra measure of protection?
It seems like this is just punishing the singles & doubles hitters whose best stroke is up the middle and in the center-field gap.
Is there more to it than this?
Aug. 27, 2008
the wood
1079 posts
There is a theory that suggests that the only time a pitcher is imperiled is when a team is out of HRs. It is only a theory.
Pitchers are hit most often by players that had no intent to do so... and the hitters weren't influenced by the number of HRs available to them at the time. To link this rule with the HR rule is not in line with what really happens.
SSUSA clarified the DBO rule... the pitcher must be in the pitcher's box and it doesn't have to be a line drive. Both changes are good ones. Bad hops are usually harder for a pitcher to field than a line drive. But it doesn't have to be one or the other as far as the DBO is concerned... it can be and should be both. They have corrected it.
As far as the correct size of the pitcher's box... it is my understanding that it is a 6' x 2' box... stretching longitudinally back from the pitching rubber... but I could be wrong on this... but not far off. It should not be wider than the rubber. The idea is to offer the pitcher a safe haven, not to take the entire middle away.
I've heard many people say that the DBO rule is unnecessary... but only a few of them were/are pitchers. If anyone really feels that a pitcher is not in danger really needs to pitch for a while. I know many very good infielders that feel that they have to play deeper than normal when the 1.2 bats are used.
We've only had this occur one time since they implemented the DBO rule earlier this year,.. it was a one hopper (not a DBO at the time) and it wasn't when we were out of HRs... and it was a total accident. At the same time, I'd hate to be called out when the pitcher moved into the path of the ball (outside the box) when I made every effort to not hit it directly at him. Again, SSUSA has corrected both elements.
The DBO was there prior to when the task force was called together. It was voted on by the major plus managers within the survey... and this included the previous version of the rule (less realistic).
BW
Aug. 27, 2008
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Thanks for the info BW. I agree that most hit pitchers were not hit on purpose and I think that is more true at the lower levels (AAA/AA) of play where most of us don't have the bat control that the upper level players think they have. That's why I am happy the DBO rule has been applied at all ages and divisions.

As far as the umpires being able to call it correctly, I have a lot of confidence. The times when we have had a pitcher hit, or have hit one, I think most of us want the play to stop or be over as fast as it can so we can see if he's OK. The DBO is the best way to stop the play, take care of the player and not have a big argument a few moments later about where the runners should be and all that. None of that is as important as player safety.

The umpires will do fine. It reminds me of the old 1964 US Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, where Justice Potter Stewart tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . We all, and that includes good umpires, know when a play should be stopped in this situation. Good job ssusa on this.
Aug. 28, 2008
Gary Heifner
248 posts
I was hoping this would happen to encourage the big hitters to stop being ringers in the AAA level. If individuals play at this new major plus level, do they have to stay at that level or can they play in a big M+ tourney and the next week play for a AAA or AA team? Will this be monitered?
Aug. 29, 2008
DesertGuy
Men's 60
224 posts
Gary- I thought that recommendation #8 was a great idea. My thought is that the major plus guys wanted to monitor each other's rosters, but it sure has value for us as a 60-AAA team that sometimes ends up with a major plus in our division at a tournament. If they get put online here, it will be a big help for us to make sure things are fair.
Aug. 29, 2008
chollis
79 posts
Dang, we might need to send you guys to Washington!!! Great job SSUSA, Terry, the task force and everyone else involved. Thanks for all of your hard work, it would have been easy to leave things as there were, but that is not what leaders do!
Many thanks again guys,
Curt
Aug. 30, 2008
mad dog
Men's 60
3932 posts
still don't care for the hit the pitcher rule,and i do pitch.let them play.hi curt see ya in feb.
Aug. 30, 2008
tcadmw1
Men's 55
62 posts
Ditto on the excellent job the committee did and kudos to the SSUSA for adopting recommendations made by the teams. This is certainly a good day for senior softball. Senior Softball just like any good program must keep reinventing itself while remaining true to the basic principles that it was founded under. Congrats to all and keep playing tournament softball while you still can!!!!

Mike Walker
Hollis Appraisals
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