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Discussion: MN SSUSA QUALIFIER RESULTS

Posted Discussion
June 19, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
MN SSUSA QUALIFIER RESULTS
The eighth annual Minnesota SSUSA Qualifier was held this past weekend in Rochester, MN with a record 31 teams in attendance. For the first time in the eight year history of the event Minnesota did not have the most teams present. That honor went to Wisconsin with 13 teams, Minnesota had 12, Iowa sent 5 teams to the tournament and Nebraska had 1 representative.

Minnesota played the bad host as 8 of their 12 teams won their respective divisions. Wisconsin teams won the other two divisions.

What was encouraging to see was the birth of a couple of new teams in the 50+ division. This is the life blood of the senior program as it introduces players to the wonderful world of senior softball when they reach the 50-year-old mark.

Tom Lundin's Minnesota Lumberjacks 50's squad was one of those new teams. They surprised everybody, including themselves, when they came out of the losers bracket to win the 50 Silver division. They forced the only "IF" game, out of nine possibilities in the tournament, on the way to their victory. The other new team in that same division was Phil Gutterman's Gutty' Buddies, MN.

Three of the more dramatic divisional wins in the tournament were registered by the MN Masters 60's-Red, the MN Prize 65's and the MN Masters 65's. John Orf's MN Masters 60's Red team, lead by the long ball hitting of Don Hoen and Gary Bennett, played in the six team 60 Silver division. This division played a round robin championship bracket and the final game between MN Masters 60's-Red and the Fossils 60's, IA was for the divisional championship. MN Masters 60's-Red won the game 17-13.

The MN Prize 65's won their second game, in a best-of-three series against Michaels, WI in the 65 Major division, thanks to a bottom of the eighth monster three-run walk-off homer off the bat of Keith Irlbeck to give his team a 22-21 victory.

The MN Masters 65's took a nine run lead into the bottom of the seventh against the Oshkosh Ambassadors 65's, WI. Fortuitous hitting coupled with some MN Masters 65's fielding woes brought the Ambassadors within a run of tying the game. They had the bases loaded with two outs when a hard shot was hit at third baseman Bernie Ojeda. The ball took a tough hop but Ojeda blocked it with his body, picked it up and then dove at the runner advancing to third to tag him out and end the game.

Here are the top finishers in each division:

50 PLATINUM
1. DLB/LT Grading, WI
2. MN Merchants
3. J&J Sports, IA

50 SILVER
1. MN Lumberjacks 50's
2. Antiques of Iowa City, IA
3. Playmakers, WI

55 MAJOR PLUS
1. MN Grayhounds
2. Roberts Const / Pope Transport, WI

55 MAJOR
1. Ancell 55's, MN
2. Milwaukee Merchants, WI

55 AAA
1. WI Masters
2. Oshkosh Ambassadors 55's, WI
3. 1st Interiors, IA

55 AA
1. MN Prize 55's
2. Fossils 55's, IA

60 SILVER
1. MN Masters 60's-Red
2. Korbelly's, WI
3. Fossils 60's, IA

65 MAJOR
1. MN Prize 65's
2. Michaels, WI

65 AAA
1. MN Masters 65's
2. Oshkosh Ambassadors 65's, WI
3. Midwest Express, NE

65/70 SILVER
1. MN Lumberjacks 65's
2. Badger Classics 65's, WI
3. Oshkosh Ambassadors 70's, WI
June 19, 2012
Gary19
Men's 50
2615 posts
I understand the participation level was a record, and that is a good thing, averaging 3 teams per division is just terrible.

June 19, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
Gary, I would like to see more teams in each division as well but the number of senior tournament teams in the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa region is limited. For instance there are just 17 senior tournament teams in all of Minnesota and, of course, they are spread out in several different divisions.

Inter-division play is scheduled to provide each team a variety of opponents. This format seems to be well accepted by those who participate and it does result in competitive and enjoyable games.
June 19, 2012
Gary19
Men's 50
2615 posts
Steve, I don't doubt you are doing the very best you can with the teams you get. There are just too many age groups and divisions.
June 19, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
Gary-give it a rest-the population is thin in that region and it is great to have a tournament to compete in at all. Geez-what a loser you are. If you actually played you would know the divisions and age groups work pretty well.
June 19, 2012
Gary19
Men's 50
2615 posts
Mark, sorry I must be a bit quicker than you and can see things that need to be done in much less time than it must be taking you.
June 19, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
Mark, actually I have been an advocate of reducing the number of skill levels in each age division. Personally I think three skill levels is the optimum number. I would still leave the age divisions at five year increments.

Gary, I agree about reducing the number of divisions and the question is what is the ideal number. SSUSA trys to maintain a balance that encourages maximum participation while still providing a competitive field of teams. It's not easy but I think they are handling it very well. If the program continues to grow, which is still the case, then that is evidence they are taking steps that appeal to the majority of senior players.

By the way thanks to both of you (Mark and Gary) for sharing your thoughts regarding this message. Just a few days earlier I posted the results of the 32 team Connecticut SSUSA qualifier, a similar size event, and it received no follow up remarks. Thanks to your collective dialogue this message has received almost twice as many views and remains on the front page of the message board.
June 20, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
Steve-I have played now for 6 years in senior ball. I can sure see the arguments both ways. There are marked steps up from AA to AAA, AAA to Major, and Major to Major Plus. The biggest problem remains with Major Plus and the lack of teams, but the more I play in M+, the more I do see that players want a M+ division and they want it to grow. I used to think that maybe a 50-57 and 58-65 division that would eliminate one age group would work, and it still might, but the older I get and play in the different divisions as they are, the more I see the wisdom of the 5 year increments. There is a very marked difference between the overall play of 'young' 55's and 'old' 55's, and it get more pronounced in the 60's. I believe that this is what SSUSA sees overall and the reason that they keep things the way they are. Gary-seeing from the outside while sitting at the typewriter, and seeing from the inside playing a couple tournaments a month will give a different perspective. Things are not a black and white as you think, or I once thought. Steve-the 60 Major Plus teams are now communicating here and the tournaments are growing for us. 5 in Reno, looks like as many as 8 or 9 in Las Vegas. That's positive, for sure. Aurora looks to be much larger than last year, too, as a second year tournament. If more divisions would use this board to communicate where they are planning to go, maybe it would improve even more.
SSUSA continues to try to build these tournaments so we have options as to where and when to play. How many of those 31 teams would have been able to play that weekend against senior competition if it wasn't for that tournament? Where would they have had to travel? We end up playing a lot against younger teams just to play. We traveled (Desperados) a couple years ago to Kansas City for a SSUSA tourney. We also went to Orlando, Las Vegas, Reno, Phoenix several times, Denver, El Paso and others. It is expensive, Gary, and not everyone on most teams is able to afford a schedule like that. So therein lies the need for smaller Regional Tournaments like Minnesota to provide a venue for the teams in that area to play as near to home as they can. And, they will be smaller tourneys and brackets. But you can still get 5 or 6 games in, and that's what it is all about.
June 20, 2012
ScottFro
3 posts
This was my second event (Little Canada) with Tom and the Lumber Jack's. Tom and I have played in league together for the past few years and he recruited myself and a couple other guys from our team as well...he had nothing but good to say about all the folks involved and I'm glad he talked me into it. The competition in our bracket was good and relatively equal. Playing a couple of times and getting used to the subtle differences in the game sure helps the understanding of it. It would be nice tho if the counts while batting were a bit more consistant. Seems we were at least being asked each game what we wanted to play if not playing something different. I'd personally also like to see the home run numbers be raised/different. One per game is a little light. At least 3, or two and one up..especially when there's 12 in the upper. Finding some serious sponsor money for teams that want to travel and compete would be the biggest priority and obstacle. (And I say that as a partially disabled softball fool that would love to play every chance he could get if health and finance allowed.) Some things would be good to stay a little closer to what's being played in league to help newer guys adjust. That being said... We stayed and watched the Major Plus final game and for anyone that thinks there isn't a marked difference than they need to pay closer attention. Those two teams put on a clinic. Taking any age ball player to watch teams of that caliber play will do nothing but help them and softball in general. I'm a competitive guy but I'll be the first to say either of those teams would hand it to us on a platter on a consistant basis, and we had a couple decent players on our squad....heck, they'd hand it to the competitive 35+ squad I play on and manage more often than not. Any way, it was a great event...even with the alligators and bass boats :) Well run by those involved and the taxi service on site was some of the best ever.
Thanks for lettin' a new "old guy" in on the fun.
June 20, 2012
bogie
Men's 55
154 posts
Playing in the 55+ Division, I thought Steve and SSUSA did an excellent job on this tournament. There were not that many teams in the region, but Steve and staff adjusted it so we played 3 games on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. While we got rolled by a nice Doc's Grayhounds Team Sunday, 5 games is just what we needed to try to get our hitting and fielding down this early in the year before SPA and SSUSA Worlds. We can't fly to every senior tournament and are very appreciative of the effort made to hold one in Minnesota. Thanks.
Ken Van Bogaert
Roberts/Pope 55 major plus
June 20, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
Thanks Scott and Bogie. Scott, I'm thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the senior game and are looking forward to more senior competition. Bogie, hopefully this tournament helped prepare Roberts for the upcoming national events. You'll notice I kept your team off field number one, the one next to the highway. I didn't want one of your 500' blasts to take out the windshield of a vehicle passing by.

Scott, that taxi service was provided by my grandchildren, Lane and Dalton. They worked their tails off and made their Grandpa very proud.
June 20, 2012
neck10
498 posts
its nice to have something in your own back yard its tough to travel so far all the time.you can only play about 5 games in a weekend & still be fresh enough to play.SSUSA puts the tourneys out there it up yo us to go to them I have no problems with the system the way it is now would have no problem with a 3 division format just tell us when to show up!!!!!!!
June 20, 2012
ScottFro
3 posts
This was my second event (Little Canada) with Tom and the Lumber Jack's. Tom and I have played in league together for the past few years and he recruited myself and a couple other guys from our team as well...he had nothing but good to say about all the folks involved and I'm glad he talked me into it. The competition in our bracket was good and relatively equal. Playing a couple of times and getting used to the subtle differences in the game sure helps the understanding of it. It would be nice tho if the counts while batting were a bit more consistant. Seems we were at least being asked each game what we wanted to play if not playing something different. I'd personally also like to see the home run numbers be raised/different. One per game is a little light. At least 3, or two and one up..especially when there's 12 in the upper. Finding some serious sponsor money for teams that want to travel and compete would be the biggest priority and obstacle. (And I say that as a partially disabled softball fool that would love to play every chance he could get if health and finance allowed.) Some things would be good to stay a little closer to what's being played in league to help newer guys adjust. That being said... We stayed and watched the Major Plus final game and for anyone that thinks there isn't a marked difference than they need to pay closer attention. Those two teams put on a clinic. Taking any age ball player to watch teams of that caliber play will do nothing but help them and softball in general. I'm a competitive guy but I'll be the first to say either of those teams would hand it to us on a platter on a consistant basis, and we had a couple decent players on our squad....heck, they'd hand it to the competitive 35+ squad I play on and manage more often than not. Any way, it was a great event...even with the alligators and bass boats :) Well run by those involved and the taxi service on site was some of the best ever.
Thanks for lettin' a new "old guy" in on the fun.
June 20, 2012
ScottFro
3 posts
Your Grand daughter did a great job and she was very polite. It was a great time. Thanks again.
June 20, 2012
titanhd
Men's 50
334 posts
Webbie25. Steve and Gary both made essentially the same statement or at least Steve agreed with Gary. Are they both "losers" now?
Most of us are over 50 and should be beyond the name calling stage. I'm sure (positive) that you could have stated your opinon without going "outside the box" Enough of the name calling.
June 20, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
titan-I apologize to you and to Steve if he felt slighted. The way it was posted by each was totally different. Gary was condescending only meaning to demean SSUSA, as usual, and Steve was suggestive and actually participates in the process that creates the rules-and that is a big difference. Several of the posts after confirm that a lot of what I said was true about the way people feel about playing.I will refrain from referring to Gary19 as a loser in the future. Would non-winner be better? :-)

Scott Fro-welcome to senior softball. You must have been playing AA with 1 hr. You hit one of the division 'separators'-the HR. SSUSA attempts to 'encourage' players to play as high a level as they can. The theory is that if you struggle to stay in the park you should be playing a higher level. They are still working with the hr rules. It is really a hard task to get it really right.
June 20, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
Mark, Scott plays for the MN Lumberjacks 50's, a new team in SSUSA this year. SSUSA always starts the new teams off with a AAA classification. They were playing in a blended division with AA teams so they had to play down to the AA home run rule.

There is no need for you to apologize regarding your thoughts on divisions. What you have stated that has started to occur with the Major Plus teams is exactly what has to happen for that division to be successful. The communication between teams to target events where Major Plus teams will congregate is the way to go and, as you suggest, this message board is a great vehicle to accomplish that task.

My thoughts on the three divisions would be to roll the Major Plus teams in with the Major teams, providing they meet the criteria of a Major team (roster consists of home state and bordering states players). Teams identified as Major Plus would play down to Major rules and have to give an equalizer.

I would make playing Major Plus voluntary so if teams still wanted to utilize the Major Plus roster exceptions and play to Major Plus rules they could volunteer to do so. The existence of a Major Plus division in that particular tournament would be contingent on the number of teams willing to volunteer. Again, this is where your comments regarding a communication "tree" become even more apropos because this would be an essential tool in pulling together the Major Plus division.
June 20, 2012
Jawood
Men's 50
798 posts
Simmons, You make some good points about Major-plus. If Major and Major-plus were to be combined in some way, they would have to take the "2 players outside borders" away. Actually they should take it out all together anyway because by adding that rule this year, it has even widened the distance between the teams within the Major-plus division from the teams that can afford to bring players in to the teams that can not.
June 20, 2012
garyheifner
361 posts
Steve-congrats on your turnout. I just got back from the tourney in the Quad cities. That's on the Iowa-Illinois border for you who don't play on the circuit. We played Tu and today. Six of the best midwest 65 AAA teams battled. We got in 6 games before being eliminated. Tourney was still going when we left. Great time, competition and sportsmanship as usual.
June 21, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
Jawood-the 2 player rule was another attempt to battle the almighty dollar. It appears to really be a losing battle because the teams with money will find a way.
Steve-in theory I do agree with you about the three divisions and I would support it, but look how many teams break up when moved up for winning at their current level because they feel they cannot win at the next level. The goal for a lot of teams and players is no longer to play the highest level and try to beat the best teams you can. Many feel they have done and been all that they can be in softball and just play for fun, and are thankful to be able to play at our ages. Whether you agree or understand that mindset, it is truly there in the Senior Game. In another thread Paco admitted he didn't have the drive to play major plus and I commend him for admitting it. My goodness, we are in our 50's, 60's and 70's. I say there is nothing at all wrong with that.
June 21, 2012
Gary19
Men's 50
2615 posts
Webbie, call it what it is. A lack of pride. Teams would rather win at the lowest division they can then be challenged and perhaps not win at a higher level. What a shame!

If they are really "just play for fun, and are thankful to be able to play at our ages" then the diviion they are in or the level they are playing against would not matter so much to them. Playing is playing, no matter who is in the other dugout.

I agree with you on the fact that mindset is there, but it is just prideless.
June 21, 2012
SteveSimmons
66 posts
Guys this has been a great discussion and I thank all of you for chiming in. Just think how many more people have now had a chance to learn what happened at the MN SSUSA Qualifier!

Keep in mind that what I have proposed for divisional consolidation (and these are srtrictly my own personal thoughts working within the existing framework of SSUSA's rules) still would identify teams as Major Plus. Those teams could play in the Major division, if they comply with the Major division's roster rules, but they would play to Major rules and give an equalizer when playing Major teams.

But I too would hope there would be enough pride to prompt teams to volunteer to play in Major Plus divisions in tournaments targeted to host Major Plus teams. This targeting should be done by the teams themselves but it could be a function handled by SSUSA home office scheduling. Teams volunteering to play Major Plus could still use Major Plus roster rules and play to the Major Plus game rules.

A healthy discussion like this fuels ideas and the more I have thought about Webbie's comment about Major Plus teams communicating with each other, to determine which tournaments they will attend with assurance enough Major Plus teams will be there, has sparked the following suggestion.

The SSUSA site has a "TOURNAMENTS" tab. There are five drop down selections when clicking on that tab. Why not add a sixth which would be for listing tournament team schedules. Only team managers would have access but they could go ahead and list their intended tournament schedule for the year. Sorting could then be done by tournament, team, age and skill level. This would be a great aid for teams looking to attend tournaments and for the tournament directors themselves.

I know most senior tournament teams establish a tentative schedule early in the year. My own team (the MN Prize 65's) has their schedule established in January. That's not to say changes won't be made but a manager could periodically go onto the SSUSA web site and update his team's schedule. I think this would be a worthwhile feature and I will offer up this idea to the SSUSA home office.
June 21, 2012
Jawood
Men's 50
798 posts
Webbie, I don't quite understand your comment on the "almighty dollar". What I mean is most team CAN'T battle the almighty dollar because they have no money do so, and because of that, the teams with the money are get an unfair advantage. By eliminating the 2 player rule, you eliminate some of the money issues.

Simmons, we would play up to Major-plus (which we are anyway) in your example, if there was enough teams to play. A 2 out 3 series against one other team is not our idea of fun! I also like your idea of posting teams' tournament schedules.
June 21, 2012
notretiredyet555
Men's 55
30 posts
Steve, YOU are a class act and a true diplomat for the game. Keep up the good work. See you next week in Edina. David McDermott
June 21, 2012
mnmasters38
Men's 60
14 posts
Steve, wanted to let you know that I thought your tournament went well. You and your crew did a great job of getting the fields in playing shape after the first down pour. We had very competetive games and the sportsmanship was very good. Hopefully you can start drawing more teams form outer states. Hope to see you in Edina.
June 21, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
Jawood-we do agree-I simply meant if you have the money you can build a team. If you don't it is hard to compete with those that do. SSUSA was attempting to even the playing field.
Steve I am glad something good may come out of this.
June 21, 2012
Webbie25
Men's 60
1980 posts
I hope more guys like notretiredyet and mnmasters post here. I will stay off here to read responses from guys that played this tournament -sorry Steve. You know I have the utmost respect for you and it sounds like you did your usual great job on this tourney.
June 21, 2012
Jawood
Men's 50
798 posts
Even the playing field? That tilts to the end that has the money!
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