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, Feb. 15, 2016
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: teams looking for players

I'm siding with Fred S on this one. I've been pitching for more than 60 years, and counting batting practice, rec leagues, and tournament play, I have literally pitched more than 1,000,000 pitches. In the old days (post-fast pitch), you not only had to worry about the umpire's interpretation of height, but also his eye for depth (did it go through the individual batter's strike zone) and inside/outside pitches. With the introduction of the mat and home plate as part of the strike zone, the main issue is the umpire's interpretation of 6 to 12 feet. If it hits the mat, it's a strike, and most umps are very good at perceiving that. And occasionally, I get an ump who will give me a strike even if there is a divot in the ground next to the mat or plate. "The edge of the ball brushed the mat" that ump will say. I prefer the accuracy of the mat over the vagaries of the ump.

What would be a good thread is the pros and cons of the "edge-nibbling" pitcher who occasionally walks a batter versus either the "thrower" who seldom walks a batter, or the pitcher who comes down the middle when behind in the count. How important is a walk as contrasted to the pitcher who gets batters to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone? I'm a pitcher who hates to walk a batter and would rather give up a single after a 3-0 count (with the potential for a fly out or mishit ground ball). Am I wrong?
, Jan. 17, 2016
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Travelling question

I have flown with my bat bag several times. It is as safe as any other piece of luggage you check. Like ChileHead, I also put my change of clothes in the bag to lessen carryon luggage. That said, I also carry my glove with me on to the plane. Everything else can easily be replaced if lost in transit; my glove is an old friend.
, Jan. 1, 2016
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Winter

Dbax, I feel your pain. In our league play this morning, batting practice was delayed and we started 15 minutes late. Although it wasn't frost on our artificial grass, the grass was crunchy from the earlier frost and it made a crunchy sound when you stepped on it, so it spooked a lot of the guys who kind of went and sat in their warm cars for awhile. Such are the struggles of we who live in California in the winter.
, Dec. 25, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

SAH, good points. But it is not just getting older. It is also the ability level where a team plays. Sure, in the Major Plus, they get a pitcher who is pretty accurate, who can vary the height, who can pitch short or deep, and, hopefully, one who can defend himself on a ball up the middle.

But most senior softball guys DON"T play at the highest level. And in my years of experience playing Major and AAA, a pitcher is not necessarily a great fielder. We carry three pitchers on my team. Most teams have at least two. There are more than 100 teams in my association in northern California. Let's say there are 250 pitchers. If they are good fielders, they might be needed in the infield, not pitching.

For most of those teams, what they want in a pitcher is one who doesn't walk many, if any, opponents in a game. It seems to be O.K. just to "serve it up" and let the defense work, as long as a gratuitous walk is not given. From watching most of these northern California teams over the years, the Major Plus level pitcher with excellent attributes is a rarity in lower levels. And of course, the batters are not necessarily any more skilled and a lot of them don't have the bat control to not hit it up the middle, especially if the pitch is over the outside corner. Result: lots of pitchers get hit or experience near misses, because the batters are swinging hard with a composite bat.

If you want safety, go back to single walls. I'd do it readily, and a lot of men I know who have stopped playing senior softball because of the hot bats would return. Not just for safety reasons, but because the hot bat has changed to game to favor offense at the expense of defense, and they got disgusted with the game (especially when pipsqueaks like me can hit the long ball).


, Dec. 15, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: carrying bat to first base

I had a player on my team with a habit of carrying his bat all the way running to first and then tossing it as he passed first. One game he must have gotten carried away since he carried his bat all the way to second on a double. There was a lot of grumbling (illegal…no, it's not…could hurt someone…might interfere with the ball thrown in from the outfield…etc.). When challenged, ump ruled him safe as no interference. Runner called time out and ran over to toss the bat to his dugout.
, Dec. 15, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: volleyball question

I think it would be allowed if the player were between 6 and 12 feet high, although not all umps can judge height correctly (especially on the tall guys).
, Dec. 5, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: new rule 6.16 WIND OR SUN AFFECTING BOTH PITCHERS

Dbax, I agree that this rule change has nothing to do with safety, but there is always grousing from batters facing a low sun and it does make a mockery of the game. Evidently SSUSA is trying to upgrade the game, although I have doubts that this rule change will be effective. What about pitchers who throw wrong foot or no step at times; pitchers who step sideways as they deliver; pitchers who like to throw from 60 feet (do they also get to step out 8 feet on the same angle?); pitchers who adjust the height to fit the angle; etc.

As a pitcher, I will miss this situation. My team was playing a potent team earlier in the year and it turned out that if I threw the ball about 10 feet and on the outside of the plate, the batters could not see the ball, even with welders glasses. This sun condition lasted most of the game with me throwing a bit higher as the sun rose. We won, 4 to 1, but it wasn't a particularly fun game for either team, although we were happy to have beaten a team ranked higher than us.
, Dec. 4, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

In our rec league in California, there are mixed ages, so we have older guys as well as young 50 studs. Thus, a screen has been mandatory for many years. We play from 100 to 140 games a year, depending on rainy weather (not much the last few years) and among the younger guys, there are several outfielders who can throw from 240 feet and reach home plate on the fly! And there are tons of other outfielders who are playing weaker hitters in close, sometimes from only 175 feet, and many of them can reach home on the fly. We have an outfielder's throw hit the screen about once a year. What size monster screens do they have in Florida where a throw hits the screen 50 times a year?!! Or aren't the pitchers allowed to cut off the throw?
, Dec. 4, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: 50's vs. 55's

Bballer3, I assume that the 50 Major all-star team would not include any individuals who have a 50 Major Plus rating (as might be found on a 50 major team), so I would choose the Major 55 Plus all-star team. That would be worth paying a lot of admission to see in action!
, Dec. 2, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

jfsully, good points. Here's another: In my years of tournament experience, I have noticed that the pitcher is often one of the older players on his team. A good pitcher, by which I mean an accurate pitcher, is very valuable and will often be asked to play with younger teams or stay on when other teammates move up to the next age bracket. A very good pitcher, one who is not just accurate but deceptive/high or low arc/very good fielder is regularly sought by younger teams. I know a left-handed pitcher, for example, who plays with a team 15 years his junior. It's not for his bat, which is average for his age, but for his pitching skill.

The result: younger, stronger batters are hitting potential shots at a pitcher who is older than most of them are, which means slower reflexes and diminished eyesight. The hot bats are not just less safe for a pitcher on a team because of closer difference (my third baseman plays from 85 feet away!), but because pitchers are older than most of their peers on a team or in a bracket.

In our rec league, we have three pitchers who are 30 years older than some of the younger players, and two pitchers who are 25 years older!! It's possible because screens are mandated for our mixed age rec teams.
, Dec. 1, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: For 70 and over. 11 players on the field. Like or Dislike

I've been playing with a man up the middle for years because of the older teams I have been on. Never heard a complaint. There have been complaints about bases going from 65 to 70 feet. This is a disadvantage to older batters, some of whom truly hobble down to first.

I could live with the extra infielder either way. I don't think the man up the middle has caused many players to drop out although I respect antieinstein's decision to play with a 65 team because of it. Most of the older players I have known through the years have dropped out (not counting those because of medical reasons) because the hot bats have greatly extended the size of the fields and it is very difficult to get 65 and older outfielders who can handle an entire tournament chasing singles and doubles again and again to a fence 300 or more feet away! It's the hot bats that have driven many players from the ranks.
, Dec. 1, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

OZ40, I don't think screens are cost prohibitive at all. I play in a league that mandates a screen, so screens are used for about 200 games a year. A good quality screen (only costs $300) lasts easily in top shape for five years, and even after that is functional for another five years with some repair work (new netting, new bolts, etc.).

A tournament will typically have 15 games on one field for a weekend (6 teams). For a venue hosting only one senior tournament a year with mandated screens, a new screen will last 67 years at a cost of $4.50 a tournament or 30¢ a game. Very affordable.

Of course, popular tournament venues will have more than one senior tournament a year, and the initial cost will be more substantial, but the math is the same. For the life of a screen, it costs 30¢ a game!!! Very affordable and a minute portion of a tournament fee. If the screen life is doubled (at a cost of about $50.00 in repairs), then the cost will be 18¢ a game!!!

As to safety liability, there is very little liability with a properly maintained screen. The major liability is a ricochet off the frame of the screen. Secondarily, a net that should have been replaced might tear on a hard line drive, but that goes back to proper maintenance. There is likely no more liability that a base improperly secured or slackened by wet conditions, or a home plate that slides under the catcher, or a dugout with a rusty wire scratching a shin, etc.
, Nov. 28, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

Ever seen an infielder plunked by a bad bounce? Sure, we all have—it's part of softball and hard to eliminate, although artificial turf infields greatly reduces the occurrence of a bad bounce, as do well groomed infields.

I doubt there is any pitcher with more than 20 years experience who hasn't been injured by a ball striking the rubber. The opportunity to adjust to a hop off the rubber is almost nil. I've even been injured by a medium-speed batted grounder hitting the rubber and flying up into me. You are in position, your glove is down, and then the ball comes at a crazy angle off the rubber.

On artificial infields, the problem is eliminated since the rubber is painted on (with the exception of the fields in Medford, Oregon—beautiful artificial fields which some dumb decision caused to be outfitted with raised rubbers nailed down!).

Eliminated the rubber is a great safety idea and it's time has come in senior softball where you don't have to be in contact with a rubber to deliver a pitch.

This has nothing to do with the safety of using a screen where the danger is not grounders or bad hops, but a ball coming at you with speeds up to 95 mpg and trying to cope with aging reflexes and eyes.
, Nov. 23, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

19, I agree that fielding for the pitcher is not the same with a screen. It's a shame that the hot bats have resulted in mandated screens, and in SSUSA, mandated face masks (and for awhile, mandated shin guards). If seniors were still playing with single wall aluminum bats, all of this would not be much of an issue. But hot bats are here to stay, due to the ego of older guys, so protection rules will only become more stringent, in my opinion, including mandated screens in tournaments in the next few years. And then we will be looking for ways to protect corner infielders.
, Nov. 22, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

OlyPenSenior, I wish it were only the less athletic pitchers that would benefit from a screen, but as 17Black points out, both of his pitchers who got beaned are "very good athletes".

I've pitched without a screen for 62 years (except when mandated or looking into a low sun). I am a better than average fielder for my age. But I, along with every other pitcher I know, has been hit more than once by a pitch up the middle…and moreso as we have aged. Reflexes slow down; bats get hotter; eyesight is less sharp; plus the inevitable factors of sun in the face, distraction, inattention, sweat in the eyes or on the eyeglasses, etc. And when I say we have aged, I mean I was a less effective fielder at 50 than I was at 40. It just goes with life. The alarm being raised is a consequence of the ungodly hot bats that get bragged about again and again on this site—the composites that extend the range and ball speed when used, even by the average player.
, Nov. 20, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

Seems like some people have this picture that adding a screen near the pitcher results in the pitcher huddling behind the screen once he releases the ball. Maybe even with his eyes shut?

It's not like that at all. I have been pitching with a screen for 15 years as it is mandated by my league. I didn't like it at first because I wasn't used to it. Now it doesn't matter to me whether there is a screen or not. I still play plenty of defense.

I still gather in popups.
I still field ground balls up the middle; even if I am behind the screen because of a powerful middle hitter, I still snag the occasional ground ball near the screen.
I still field line drives to the left, above, and right of screen.
I still cover first on any ground ball to the right side.
I still back up the appropriate base on singles or fly balls.
I still occasionally cover second when my infielders are playing deep.
I still cover home on balls that get away from the catcher.

There is lots of defense left for any pitcher who wants to be active, screen or not. I understand that some leagues mandate that the pitcher CANNOT field after he pitches, but must stand behind the screen. In my mind, this is overprotective and unnecessary. I would protest such a rule.
, Nov. 8, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: SCREENS IN TOURNAMENTS

Ho, not sure your argument will last for long. Are you saying that insurance will not cover an injury involving the orange bag at first? It wasn't part of the "field" 20 years ago. How about chain link fences? When I first started playing, they were not part of the "field"—it was either an open field or a wooden fence. And if someone is injured while standing on the mat at home and it slips out? Not part of the field until 20 years ago.

You see my point. It is easy to mandate that a screen IS part of the field, just like different fencing, the mat at home, the extra bag at first, etc. If league rules or tournament rules say a screen is mandatory (as the rules do in my league and have for 16 years) then it is "part of the field".

I think a mandated screen is coming to tournament ball as it has already in many rec leagues. It's the only realistic or acceptable solution to cope with the hot bats. It's unfortunate that it doesn't seem to be a likely option for corner infielders. When most senior softball is played with a screen, then tournaments will have to use it or the pitcher won't be covered because the ABSENCE of a screen will not be considered part of a proper field.

As to screen interference, as I have posted many times here based on my 16 years of experience pitching with a screen, it is a rare occurrence when a ball thrown from the outfield to home hits the screen (not even once this past year and I play about 100 games a year with a screen) and even rarer when a throw from third hits the screen. Can't remember the last time that happened. On the other hand, it is a rare game when at least one ball doesn't hit the screen from being hit up the middle.
, Oct. 17, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Winter World`s

Dbax, I agree with you. There are relevant comparisons:

In the Huntsman, it is well known that many teams show up with non-roster power players far above the skill level of the regular season roster. Add to that, some teams sandbag in the seeding in order to dominate in the brackets. It diminishes the value of a gold medal. The only teams I admire are those who truly went with their own roster (or a same-skill level sub) and won against the cheaters.

The same thing happened in bowling. In the 60s, when automatic lane dressers became common, it was soon realized that by altering the oil sprayers one could goose a lane so that any bing-banger could score well. Averages soared, the rare 300 games became ho-hum, three game series scores were out of sight. Those in the know, such as myself, were not fooled and dissed the high average bowlers unless they proved themselves on neutral lanes. I stopped bowling because of this…and obviously so did the majority of bowlers and the sport has declined.

It's the same with the Worlds. With the favorable conditions and the extra-lively ball (can I say "illegal"), the Worlds are no longer an accurate measure of a team's over-all superiority and have become a "joke" as you say. I will guess that the first pitcher in the future to be tragically killed by a combination of a composite bat and the Rock will be in Las Vegas and that event will change a lot about senior softball.
, Oct. 12, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: First time for everything

That's nothing. Canseco did it better…and he didn't even need his glove!
, Oct. 2, 2015
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Las Vegas World Tournament automatic seating

Dave, I agree with the recent change to seed the winners of East Coast and West Coast high into the brackets. It is a good incentive for those two winners to come to Vegas, not to mention try their best to win the respective "semi-final" tournaments. What is disappointing is to win one of those tournaments and not have the other Coast team show up. In that case, I'm not sure that randomly seeding the frustrated coast champion is the wisest approach. I would still seed them first in recognition of their accomplishment. Can make a good difference to be top seed in a hot weather tournament with uneven brackets. If other teams don't like it, they can try to win either East or West tournaments.
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