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Discussion: LET'S FIX THE TOP---Part Three

Posted Discussion
July 29, 2011
DD
Men's 60
71 posts
LET'S FIX THE TOP---Part Three

What does the top level of senior softball look like? Or better yet, what SHOULD it look like?

The current perception of the top level (now known as Major Plus) for many, many players is that it is dominated by the home run. Historically, with the disingenuous "One-Up" rule that allowed for unlimited homeruns, there may have been more than a shred of accuracy to that perception.

But, since 2008 when homeruns became limited in all divisions, THE FACTS ABOUT MAJOR PLUS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY...that explodes the myth of Home Run Derby in Major Plus.

Since HRs are now counted and the overage ruled as dead ball outs, fewer than 10% of all Major Plus games see the limit reached by even one team...it's less than 10% of all games for BOTH teams to hit 10 each.

Thank God for that...20 balls that leave the park in any one game is TOO MANY...and the game quickly becomes boring.

My experience in Major Plus (55 and 60) has taught me the best teams do everything well (and I'm looking at you, Turn Two in 60s, and Nighthawks in 55s)...they pitch well, they field well, they run the bases smartly, have good arms in the outfield that prevent extra bases, they hit to the opposite field when the situation calls for it, they hit very few solo homeruns, their managers manage the game and substitute accordingly, they courtesy run for injured players but don't burn out all their fast guys before Sunday, and a lot more.

In short., they do all the little things correctly...and shouldn't that be the hallamrk of the top level of senior ball?

The Major Division---(minus the "plus")---should feature the best speed, the best arms, the best defense, the best pitchers, as well as the top hitters. The HR is a vital part of the game...but it is only a part...and too many of them quickly turns the sport into a comedy that good ballplayers do not really want to play...why should they? Too many dingers neutralize their skills because there is no defense for it.

The top level of senior softball---the Majors (minus the "plus")---should find an acceptable HR limit...say 6...merge the divisions...and have at it. With 5 runs per inning and a reasonable HR limit...all the ingredients are in place.

PLAY BALL!



July 29, 2011
Lecak
Men's 55
1004 posts
DD, Terry has to allow the major teams access to the same player pool. He has not done this and he needs to remove the plus label from a significant number of players or remove it completely. Right now I cannot add the same players you can. SSUSA can fix this they just need to do it. SPA this year had 8 major plus teams total in their tournament for the 50's, 55's and 60's. Don't know what happened but SPA from the folks I talk to is major plus friendly.
July 29, 2011
DD
Men's 60
71 posts
Good morning, Joe. Thanks for contributing. To your point, if you minus the "plus" and make one division, restrictions on player movement would, in theory, be lifted. Recruiting might get more competitive, but current rules regarding releases, etc. would help keep it in check.

As for SPA, I'm a big, BIG fan (as you know) but we were unable to go this year primarily due to financial constraints for many of our players.

And speaking of financial constraints, this allows me to explode one other myth regarding Major Plus...that of the "sponsored" team...you know that guy with huge sums of money who loves to pay for all the hotels, rental cars, plane tickets, meals, uniforms, entry fees...you know..the guy ALL MAJOR TEAMS HAVE IN THEIR POCKET...just throwing money at all the players...

You do know that guy, right???

Well, could you introduce me to him. I'm bringing my $24 to Prescott this weekend to pay my share of the entry fee for GSF 60/Major Plus...an UNSPONSORED TEAM that just happens to have TWO CONSECUTIVE SSWC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TO ITS NAME.

Sponsored??? Yeah, right.
July 29, 2011
turn2
484 posts
Joe,
There were only 8 major plus teams but the majors were loaded. 17- 50's, 11 - 60's and 6 or 8 in the 55's. ( Not sure on that one)About 34 or so teams in the major division.
The most I have seen in the 60 major plus division is 8 and mostly if you are lucky you may have 3 or 4 teams to play. It would be nice to play in a large division. Something needs to be done. We just drove down to Dalton from Virginai and Maryland to play Rose Enterprises in a 2 team division. Our guys spent a lot of money to play one team.
July 29, 2011
Lecak
Men's 55
1004 posts
DD not talking about sponsorship that is a different issue and I'm with you a myth. What I'm talking about is my team having a player interested in playing and Terry saying if you add him up you go without even finding out how it fits. You don't have that problem you just add him. Also if I'm correct you don't have to qualify players at the Major plus level, major teams do. So let's say Phoenix I want to add a player I have to find a tournament prior and play you don't you just add him. Big advantage. Donnie I agree Terry and Ridge can fix this if they want to. If they don't you will have major teams pick and choose who they play against and where they play. As a guy who helped build an OK major team we need access to the same players and the ability to add them without spending valuable travel money to qualify them. Senior softball roster rules for upper teams are obsolete and skewed in favor of the major plus teams.
July 29, 2011
mad dog
Men's 60
3921 posts
the state line rule can be some hindrance to some players looking for a team,is one rule i think can be modified.cali and fl can't take from other states right,but can they go to other states to play that are touching them,aka cali to nv,az,or, and such.
the low # of teams in the M+ div to me has to do with the wide open div when it first started,teams that got big time sponsors and a big edge on every one else as they could afford to have players shipped in,yes maybe at times it didn't guarantee a win,but most of the time it would/did.


now DD,come on,GSF was one of those teams at one time.i do know you have gone to no sponsor now,but just saying.........
July 29, 2011
mad dog
Men's 60
3921 posts
joe l that has always been something i wondered about.i had to run down to san diego(actually menifee)from fresno for a qualifer after i moved up there, to qual with a team i had been on since i started playing senior ball.i just wasn't gonna go down for the little local tourney's(non-qual types),even tho i did a couple of times when i had nothing else to do,just so could play with them.we were a major team and i had to get to this tourney and have all the guys who were gonna play at worlds and westerns there also.a couple of the local guys just came to sign in b/c they had other things planned for that weekend b/c of the roster rule.pain in the butt you ask me.
July 29, 2011
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
DD.
Great discussion.
SPA puts on great tournaments
and will be in Reno over Labor Day.
We and MTC 50's will be there.

One way of making the upper division
more meaningful and preventing sand bagging
is to make the rewards, prizes
more meaningful in real and perceived ways.
Cars, boats, Vacation Packages and Condos
in Cabo San Lucas could go a long way
to beefing up the upper bracket
dontcha know.
I hear a special Civil War sabre from
Colonel Stonewall T Jackson himself
would go a long way to getting the ball rolling.

Anything really meaningful as a prize/reward
or perceived meaningful as a prize/reward
would/could really help guys
want to play up instead of down.

Aug. 9, 2011
Mario
Men's 50
346 posts
DD I would have to disagree with the HR limit at 6. Our Major Plus team has reached the limit in just about every game we have played this year in tourney games not seeding games. We play 15 guys in the seeding games and then our top 11-12 in the bracket games. I think it should be 8 and 1 up and a walk or a single. Conbine Major and Major Plus and let the AAA and AA stay the way it is, 3 and a out for AAA and 1 and a out for AA.

I would have to agree with Joe as well about the prize/reward for playing up as well.
Aug. 9, 2011
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
DD, agree with you on your comments, the 5 runs per inning IS the equalizer and an "X" ammount of HR's with one up is enough to combine the divisions. If the HR rule is not too high, Major and Major-plus can compete easily with each other.

Mario, your team must have tremendous power, we are a Major-plus team too, and average only 6 HR's per game, reaching the limit in only 2 games this season. There is a lot more to being a Major-plus team than just HR's.
Aug. 10, 2011
Tate22
Men's 55
259 posts
Dennis - thanks for the kind words, it was great to see you guys in Temecula, and look forward to seeing you in Hemet in September.

All problems mentioned above about player ratings or "brands" placed on any player previously on a Major Plus roster, or access to players go away if we combine M & M+ divisions. The result at the top will be bigger brackets and more varied competition. Honest competitors recognize that there isn't that much difference between M+ teams and most M teams. The equalizers help manage or balance a combined division. Way too much energy is expended trying segregate teams by subjective rating schemes.

As for equalizers, I vote for 7-run innings like we just had with SCSSA. As the visiting team, it is hard to put much distance from the home team when you can only score 5 and hang on when the home team bats in the open inning.

I think 7 homers, then 1 up, homers as walks, is a fair compromise. Our 55M+ team has only ran out of homers 3 times in 36 games this year, with varying limits.

I've said many times that M+ causes many problems, but have yet to hear an objective reason as to why it exists. I've heard many self-serving, whiny reasons, however. There is no OBJECTIVE way to rate individual players, that should not be on the table. At the top level, skimming off succesful teams into their own division (plus) is unnecessary with the equalizer rules.

Don Newhard
Nighthawks 55M+
Aug. 10, 2011
Webbie25
Men's 60
1933 posts
tate22-excellent post-you are right-no way to individually rate players. In a nutshell, I think Terry wants a M+ bracket for those top tier players. He wants to make it work, but it is a tough sell. 7-one up and walks is a good suggestion. The more I hear 55 M+ teams talk, it appears that 50 M+ teams are the ones that run out of homers regularly, but the 55's is a different story. Dennis and I were talking about that just the other day.If that is the case-then why are 55 M teams reluctant to go to M+?
Aug. 10, 2011
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
Webbie, I really haven't seen many 50 Major-plus teams go over their 10 HR's this season. Like I said, we have done it twice and seem to do okay.
Aug. 11, 2011
Webbie25
Men's 60
1933 posts
Jawood-I guess the question becomes "what would happen if there weren't home run limits?", though. I have a hunch there would be a lot more teams at and over the limit. I know we are hitting down to use them wisely. DD has a point. 20 or more HR's in a game-it's like almost anything else. Even something special like a home run gets boring. I've been in games with 30-40 hrs before.It's not fun in the outfield-neck hurts!
Aug. 11, 2011
Pricer
Men's 50
616 posts
Webbie, having homerun limits & a 5 run per inning max cap makes no sense. Lift the run rule and then homeruns become a factor.
Aug. 11, 2011
Webbie25
Men's 60
1933 posts
Where would we be without the run limit, though? How many innings do we give up 5 runs and never get an out? I've even seen teams go 4 or 5 innings without making even one out. I agree in principle, but in the senior game as it exists with the technology, I don't think it would work.
I do miss the days where home runs were special, where they always had an impact, and were not something to be limited-you heard "nice shot, big'un" from infielders as you rounded the bases.
Aug. 11, 2011
Pricer
Men's 50
616 posts
Webbie, that's exactly why they make no sense. You can only score 5 runs per inning, so whats it matter if they are 10-15 singles (longer innings) or 5 dingers (shorter innings). Unlimited homeruns would decrease game times.
Aug. 11, 2011
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
Pricer, I think the 5 run per half inning rule is the best rule senior softball has. It's an equalizer all on it's own. There would be some real ugly games without it. Would rather play a 7 inning game at 28-25 than a 3 inning game at 58-55. This is why you can combine Major and Major-plus, because of the HR and run rules, if everything was open, there would be no way.

Webbie, You are correct, we could get to 10 quicker if everyone was swinging for a HR everytime.
Aug. 11, 2011
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Jeff.
You're a great soldier
and don't get moved off your talking points, easily.
Well done.
5 run innings and lively bat/ball combo
is how we play in NCSSA and we have a BLAST
and it a team is really superior than they have to play it
and show it every inning in order to EARN a win
instead of putting up one crooked inning
and running away with game time allotted and the game.
Aug. 11, 2011
Pricer
Men's 50
616 posts
Jawood, I'm not sure I beleive in the equalizer thing. Isn't that why we have divisions? If were going to have limits, why don't we just say first team to 25 runs wins? After one team reaches 25 they olay until their 3 we complete that inning and that will be considered last inning. Home team getting there chance to swing to tie or win. I know this sounds just lame, but are we stretching the game out for 6 innings to satisfy who?
Aug. 11, 2011
Tate22
Men's 55
259 posts
Jawood - as usual, I totally agree with you on the run per inning concept. I just think 7 is the right number, it is a compromise between a 5-run inning and having every inning open.

Pricer, it's hard for all of us to admit as the years go by, but none of us in senior softball needs to be in the field for 45 minute open innings like we did when we were younger. That's one reason the run limit per inning makes sense. It's a tweak that helps us enjoy both aspects of the game. If we just want to hit, we should resurrect "over-the-line" like many of us played as kids.

Our team has a pretty good offense and plenty of power, but we enjoy playing defense as much as hitting. Einstein (I still say he looks more like David Crosby, his next user id will be "Wooden Ships") makes a good point that winning in senior ball requires a whole game of performance and focus, not just one big inning.

JMHO
Don Newhard
Nighthawks 55+
Aug. 11, 2011
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
Pricer, Yes, divisions are supposed to equalizes the field of play but there are not enough teams in many of them to play anything but a 2 out of 3 series.

As much as we enjoyed just "swinging away" back in the day, with this technology (which is not going change) we have to have some limits.

We have a local tournament coming up in a week and we have 26 teams ... 16 in different divisions. Ridiculous? Yes, but we have to have some way to play together and equalizers help us do that. Currently there are 8 age groups and 4 divisions. Let's drop that to 6 age groups and 3 divisions.

Tate, love the reference to C,S,N & Y. Or was Young not there for that one?
Aug. 12, 2011
DD
Men's 60
71 posts
So, we are getting some discussion, and maybe some agreement, that merging the top 2 levels of senior ball into one Major Division (minus the "plus") might be a good idea. The following news should help some clubs undecided about their chances at the top.

Our 55 Major Plus team played a 55/Major team early last Sunday morning in Temecula. We played with a 5 HR limit, then allowed 1-up and made them walks until teams were even again. They played with an 11th defensive player, but no run spot...7 runs were allowed each inning.

Neither team hit more than 5 homers, though we did hit 5...they hit one. Final score: Them 20; Us 17. The extra player made a huge difference, turning at least 3 hits up the middle into 3 outs.

This is another option to consider on a temporary basis...allowing those Major teams still timid about playing at the top level a choice to play with an extra defender...along with an HR limit of, say 6 or 7...and a 5-run per inning limit.

With respect to Don's suggestion for 7-run innings, sorry, but I'm not in favor of it...for TIME LIMIT CONSIDERATIONS ONLY...we had just two 7-inning games in Temecula...(a SOCALSSA event)...the other three were done in 6 innings...I fear too many shortened games with a 7-run per inning limit. SSUSA has extended the time limits by 5 minutes each in both round robin and bracket games...that seems to be just enough to bring the games back to 7 innings...except in rare cases...but there is still a 5-run per inning quota.

I'm adamant that we will not play in tournaments where we cannot get seven innings for 90% or more of the games. Unless TDs agree to lengthen the time limit to 75 or 80 minutes, 7-run innings will not get my vote....and the economics of ump fees, field rental, lighting costs, etc., seem to preclude longer games.

SPA Softball, interestingly, allows for 9 runs per inning in their Major Plus Division AND guarantees seven innings for all bracket games...the only catch here is their "mercy" rule ends the game when it has become too one-sided. I would consider supporting a similar arrangement if sufficient interest exists to expand the runs allowed per inning to seven or even nine, though I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with five.



Aug. 12, 2011
Jawood
Men's 50
784 posts
DD, When we play against 40+ teams we will always take the 11 man defense. First it is our team rule that we will never take runs that we don't earn, no matter who we play. The 11 man defense allows you to protect the middle along with having the 4 outfielders. It's an equalizer, but one that you have to make plays with and EARN the advantage not be given gift runs.

If Major and Major-plus are combined, they can still place a "+" by the really strong Major teams and those would have to give 11 defenders to those that don't carry the "+" by their name.
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