|Sept. 4, 2006|
|SPA Plano 65 AA|
RE: SPA National Senior Softball Tournament, 65+, AA Category, 8/24 – 8/27, 2006 @ Plano Texas;
Championship Game Forfeit by Midwest Silverjox to Millers (West Bloomfield, MI).
We Senior Softball players get the kind of organizations we deserve. When advised of a violation affecting the integrity of the game and the system, the SPA took no action until it was too late, and then administered no consequences to those primarily responsible (the Miller’s managers). If we continue to support this kind of irresponsible behavior, we will continue to have tournaments that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. Following is the sequence of events that led to this deliberate forfeit.
I am a player, not a manager, and I do not have a copy of SPA rules and regulations. I have been told that it is a violation of SPA tournament rules if a player on the roster of a Major rated team plays for a team in a tournament of lower rated teams; e.g., a “Major” player cannot play for a AAA or AA team in a National Tournament.
At the SPA National, 65+, AA tournament, while exiting the softball field complex on Thursday evening (8/24), I was enjoying a pleasant conversation with a player from Millers about playing in 100 degree weather. The gentleman from Millers stated that the conditions were similar two weeks previous when he was playing for Tri-State Masters in the 70+ Major tournament. The gentleman innocently acknowledged a violation of SPA tournament rules.
Millers and Midwest Silverjox advanced to the finals of the winner’s bracket and were scheduled to play at 5:30 pm Saturday (8/26). I was injured and was not playing. During the game, I approached an SPA official, asked to speak to him confidentially, and told him of the discussion with the Millers gentleman, which clearly indicated that Millers was using an ineligible player. The official said he would check with his superiors. He came back and said he had relayed the situation to his superior(s) who had directed him to tell us that we would have to provide the name of the player in order for action to be taken. I replied that I did not know his name and was unable to identify him (the gentleman and I were walking side-by-side and went different directions without facing each other). I further stated that the SPA should be able to compare the Tri-State Masters tournament roster to the Millers roster and identify the gentleman. He said they could not because the Tri-State Masters roster was in Oklahoma City. I then asked if we could name each player on the Miller’s roster in the challenge. He sneered that it would cost $75.00 for each name, if we wanted to pay it. He again stated that SPA would do NOTHING without the name. At this time it was 7:00 pm (more or less).
I went to my motel room and searched for the Tri-State Masters roster, using my computer and made phone calls to players who had been in the 70+ Major tournament. No luck.
Sunday morning: Midwest having lost to Millers Saturday evening, is playing Scrap-Iron for the right to play for the championship. The name or phone number of the SPA senior official had not been provided, but using a phone number I had gotten the previous evening from a Kansas City player, I placed a call directly to Ridge Hooks, apparently that SPA Senior Official.
The reason for my call was this:
1. SPA, the entity primarily responsible for enforcing SPA rules, had the necessary information to confirm or deny the allegation, but were refusing to take any action, and were doing NOTHING to help us try to confirm or deny the violation.
2. SPA officials would not even go so far as to talk to or interrogate the Millers managers, or do something as simple as asking to speak with the player who played with Tri-State Masters.
During this telephonic exchange on Sunday morning, Mr. Hooks said he would call his son in Oklahoma City and if his son was available, ask him to go to the SPA office, get the Tri-State Masters roster and relay the information to SPA officials in Plano. Subsequently, I (and the rest of the Midwest team) then observed a discussion between the Millers managers and SPA officials in the grandstand adjoining the field.
Conclusion: Yes. Millers had been playing an ineligible player. The sole consequence administered by SPA was that the gentleman had been removed from the roster and would not be allowed to play in additional tournament games. My understanding is that any other, more significant, consequences would have required a formal protest to have been made the previous day, when the confirmable facts were unknown in Plano. There were no consequences administered to the Miller’s Managers or to the Millers team.
Midwest had won the right to play for the championship, defeating a very good Scrap-Iron team from Colorado. The game was a fun, exciting game between two teams generally equal in caliber, with great camaraderie and mutual respect and which required extra-innings to determine the outcome: a game which personified all the good things about senior softball.
However, having won the right to play for the championship, Midwest Silverjox forfeited in protest over the absence of responsible action by the SPA organization in dealing with Miller’s ineligible player.
Hooks Excuse No. 1:
All the SPA staff was in Plano and none were available in Oklahoma City, therefore the Tri-State Masters roster could not be checked.
My response: How convenient is it that there was someone (Hook’s son) who could and did check the roster but not until the arbitrary time-limit for formal protest, had expired.
Or - how difficult is it to ask someone to drive to Oklahoma City (210 miles, or about 3 hours) check the Tri-State Masters roster and use the telephone to call the information back to Plano. (I would have volunteered to take them up there and let them sleep all the way up and back.)
Or – How difficult is it to actually provide some leadership, some cooperation, some technical advice or ANY assistance to discover the truth in time for some significant action to be taken (we were not told that a formal protest would have to be filed on Saturday).
Conclusion: Clearly, SPA behavior indicates they had minimal interest in discovering the truth. Through the entire process, their actions and demeanor reflect this violation was an inconvenient intrusion, when it should have been seen as an opportunity to protect the integrity of the game, the system and the organization.
Hooks Excuse NO. 2:
We should have placed the call on Saturday night instead of Sunday Morning. Hooks claims that after he got the call from me on Sunday morning he did everything we asked and that if I had placed that same call Saturday night, a formal protest could have been filed in time.
My response: In this excuse, Hooks is simply disingenuous. The subordinate SPA official gave Hooks all the relevant information on Saturday and Hooks passed the responsibility onto us, but without the information necessary to meet that responsibility, then he claimed we did not perform in a timely manner. Furthermore, his subordinate never gave me the name or number of the SPA official (apparently Hooks) who made the decision, so how was I expected to make that call. I obtained Hooks name and number from other sources and my call on Sunday was simply done to suggest some inquiries that SPA should make, particularly inquiries that we could not make. We have no authority to interrogate the Millers manager and it should not be the primary responsibility of the players or managers to tell SPA how they should perform enforcement duties. We should cooperate, but the performance of enforcement duties is their responsibility.
Conclusion: This is a sad situation. Millers should have been required to forfeit every game they played with the ineligible player on their roster. Their managers should be prevented from playing or managing for a period of time. They got off “Scott-free”. We have been told by players from other teams that Millers had other major players on their team. I doubt that SPA has attempted to discover that possibility. In this day of computer desktop-search-systems that can easily find a players name and the team he/she is associated with, to claim to be concerned about rule enforcement and fail to have such a system leaves the door open for those as unscrupulous as the Millers managers. In the end, if we want to have fair tournaments, we have to recognize that the organizations may be less concerned than we are. If we want to prevent this reoccurrence, we should insist that tournament rosters should be available over the internet and that we be given access to that data that would allow us to discover these violations on our own. We should support those organizations that provide the most fair treatment, and avoid those who give fair treatment a lower priority (such as SPA).
|Sept. 4, 2006|
|Should have put up the money if you were sure you were right. Gets refunded if right. Only three hour drive for second hand story, you've got to be kidding. These guys catch enough heat for things that happen out in the open without chasing 70 yr. old ghosts. I hereby nominate for Guiness Book under longest whine category.|
|Sept. 4, 2006|
|You miss the point, biggeorge. We should not have had to do anything. It was the responsibility of SPA to take the information provided and investigate. Instead they passed the responsiblity to the team. The team has no authority to investigate, has no access to rosters and no time (it was 7:00 pm Saturday). I typically go to a tournament to play softball, not cops and robbers. As was said, we get the organizations that we deserve. Do you really think the SPA fulfilled their responsibilty in this regard? |
|Sept. 4, 2006|
|LISTEN! WITH ALL DUE RESPECT AND I MEAN THAT. First the guy was playing down so doesn't that level the field? Also Karr confessed to killing the little girl and it wasn't so. Sometimes these things happen and the only way to correct them is afterwards unfortunately. Do you really feel that the one player made that much of a difference? I know it stinks, it always stinks but it also happens a lot. These tournament people can't stay on top. There must be honor. We used to put 5 cops outside the popular bars and underagers always found a way in.|
|Sept. 4, 2006|
|george. how many 70 majors have you played against? this dude hit the s--- out of the ball and was a very classy first baseman. around the 6'4", 230lbs. size. by what we were being told, he was not the only major on the team, as was in bluestems report. 70 major doesn't drop down to play 65 aaa. why would it be ok if he played down aa? we pay good money to attend these tourneys and trust that spa checks rosters to verify every player is legal. like you said," where is honor?" it is very unprofessional to load up a 65 aa team with major players to win a tourney. it also, sucks.|
|Sept. 5, 2006|
|Two years ago I attended the SPA meeting in Atlanta. At that time Ridge stated that it would be the responsibility of the TD to call any irregularities pertaining to rosters. |
It looks like SPA has changed their mind on that one.
|Sept. 5, 2006|
|This thread comes close to my heart. On Monday after the tournament one of the Detroit players visited my store in Longview Texas, 150 miles from the tournament. He was wearing his all-american t shirt and was bragging about how good his team was and how the opposing team was intimidated by them and refused to take the field against them. I asked how could he brag about winning a national title with great players at the double A level. He then told me the story of how they had 3 players that were playing down, they were older than the age limit and were still winning. I got really upset...man I mean upset...and I threw him out of my store. I shouted at him that he is the reason there are so many problems in senior softball. Bragging about how good they are and at the same time telling softball officials how bad they play so that they can be a national champion at the AA level. The AA program is an embarrasment because of players sand bagging just to impress someone. There are too many divisions in senior softball and just leaves the door open for cheaters. I really did throw a tantrum and kicked him out of the store. He threatened me by saying he was going on the chat boards to tell others what a @#$% I was. I havent seen any of his posts and am looking forward to seeing one.|
|Sept. 5, 2006|
|WOW! Facts sure get different when they serve a purpose. Regarding the 6 foot 4, 230 pound 1st baseman who walked next to the person complaining. FACT: The 72 year old player in question has been on the Miller team for a long time (all of this year), including when Miller’s went 0 and 5 in Phoenix last year and 0 and 5 when Miller’s played in Indianapolis earlier this year. FACT: He is a 5 foot 10, 170 pound middle infielder. Fact: His 70 team and Miller’s were rated the same when the teams were formed this year. It seems that if a team is re-rated with that 70+ year old on the roster that they should not be put in a position where they have to tell a player he can no longer play on the team. FACT: The teams that Miller’s defeated in elimination play in Plano were Alamo City (re-rated to AA on Aug 17th), who Miller defeated 22-15, Scrap Iron Red (re-rated to AA in July 2006), who Miller defeated 9-6 and Midwest (re-rated to AA on Aug 17th) who Miller defeated 16-13 in the round robin. Sounds like they were all ‘good’ teams. The 22-7 Miller victory over the Midwest (the last two undefeated) team was the only game which was not close. So, if I was on the Midwest team, I sure would have wanted to go out of the tournament ‘on the field,’ rather than forfeit. I know there were Midwest players who wanted to play that game and they deserved that opportunity. I feel bad for those guys. Those who did not want to play took that opportunity from their ‘teammates’, and that is a shame.|
|Sept. 6, 2006|
|Hello No.13 and biggeorge: Thanks for reading and responding. We were told by another team that the ineligible player was the 1st baseman, but I didn't know who it was until No. 13 described him. He seems to be a nice guy and I am sorry he got drug into this. If we can avoid the defensiveness, the point remains - does the organization have a responsibility to enforce it's own rules? I became upset because they did absolutely nothing until it was too late - they passed the responsibility to us and wouldn't even offer assistance. Biggeorge, I would like to believe that the honor principle works, and I have seen that sometimes it does. A 70's major player wanted to play in the tournament with us. He called, talked to Ridge and was denied. We accepted that. The Millers people did not do that, maybe from ignorance of the rules, maybe not. Only they know. Do we as players have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to hold the organization accountable for enforcing it's own rules? Or do we ignore it and let it pass. |
|Sept. 7, 2006|
|Ignore it - NO, Let it pass - YES. It appears SPA met with the manager involved and took a course of action it felt was in best interest of all. So deal with the results. By decision to not play the game YOU were wrong. I think Miller team has been around at least 10 years in 60s and now 65s so maybe they are known to be a honest team who were thinking they were following the rukes. Cut everyone some slack|
|Sept. 7, 2006|
|New SPA Rule! It appears that the ‘new’ SPA rule about playing down may have been a ‘cause’ and not a ‘cure’ for a problem. The Miller’s 72 year old was on the roster in 2005. He was again on the roster in 2006 from the first tournament played in May in Indianapolis. He loves to play ball and his 70 team does not go to that many tournaments.|
The Miller’s roster was valid at all of its earlier tournaments. Both teams were rated the same so there was no playing down. When a re-rating occurred, I’m sure, no one even considered the fact that it could have made an existing roster invalid.
I believe even SPA had not foreseen the potential problem the new rule might cause. In the midwest it is tough enough to fill a roster with all Major or AAA or AA players, let alone trying to keep different rosters for different organizations. I’m sure that not every player on a Major team is a Major player. Not every player on a AAA team is a AAA player. And, not every player on a AA team is a AA player. That is why it is called a TEAM rating
The SUMMIT needs to address this situation at its January 2007 meeting in Las Vegas. And let’s try to get a consistent rule so a team can use one roster to cover multiple associations.
I believe the real intent of the rule was designed for ‘roster additions’ made to the qualifying roster – not to penalize a team which had followed all rules while putting together its original roster.
Remember this 72 year old paid his own way to the tournaments, this includes flying to more than one national tournament and paying lodging expenses, etc. He, like many other AAA & AA players, may have even contributed to the tournament expenses. Should the re-rating of a team during the season have forced this team to tell a player he was no longer a part of the team? I believe that no rule should ever put a team in that position, be it SPA, SSWS or SSUSA.
|Sept. 7, 2006|
|I wish I had a chance to play in a big game like that, I sure would have been on the field with or without my teammates. But then I guess I would be calling them X teammates. Not a classy thing to do by walking out on your friends.|
|Sept. 7, 2006|
|Blue - I recall a team losing the championship game in Plano 28-0 after two and a half innings a number of years back. Do' not remember them doing alot of complaining. They were happy and proud of finishing second.|
|Sept. 7, 2006|
You are correct that there was a team in 2003 that was beat 28-0 in 2 innnings and did not complain but accepted their 2nd place awards with grace even though the team that beat them had mercied every other team that they played. That was a 65 AAA division game. The next year SPA and Ridge Hooks awarded that team a co-championship and all the awards that go along with it. What a classy thing to do. Ironically, the team that lost that game was MILLERS 65. Midwest could have learned from that experience.
|Sept. 7, 2006|
|Wow, that was Millers? eems you were mercied by a team twice and fought through the losers bracket only to meet them again in the semi game. You must have beat them the third time to reach the finals. I remember seeing you win four or five games on Saturday to stay alive before I headed back home.|
Funny how a team can get on a role and beat anyone. You were sure on one that Saturday afternoon. isn't funny how hitting can become so contagious at time don't you wish you could bottle it?
|Sept. 8, 2006|
|Bluestem, what happened to your post about this on the SPA board? I don't see it there anymore.|
|Sept. 9, 2006|
|My Goodness: This thread has deteriorated from an effort to discuss and debate the message – the SPA organizations responsibility to the integrity of the Senior Softball Age-Skill Category Tournament System; to considerable effort to discredit the messenger. Midwest desired to send a message to the SPA - that the avoidance of initial responsibility to discover or confirm an alleged violation and the lack of effective consequences when that violation is confirmed – is not acceptable. No. 13 says he knows that some members of Midwest wanted to play the championship game. That is wrong. All members wanted to play, but all members unanimously supported a decision to forfeit because forfeiture was (is) the most effective protest that could be made. Some of you think we were wrong to choose that form of protest, but we had little choice. If we played and won, the response to any complaint would have been, “What are you complaining about, you won!”; if we had played and lost, the response would have been, “You are sore losers!” By forfeiting, Midwest sacrificed its entire effort and reason for being there, in order to make the most effective protest it could against the SPA organizations failure to protect the integrity of the Senior Softball age-skill category system. To those who choose to ignore that message in favor of attacking the messenger, your loyalty to SPA, Mr. Hooks or Millers, is commendable. However, your lack of concern about the integrity of the system is not. I am not retired and have little time to continue this - this is my last post. |
|Sept. 10, 2006|
|Blue, I certainly hope you know that no ‘bashing’ was ever intended in my post. I’m a Huntsman Ambassador and a member of the Senior Softball Advisory Board and I take all senior softball, associations, teams and players very seriously.|
What I meant with the post is that ‘I’ would have done it different. SPA met and picked its punishment. Therefore, you could accept this AND still voice your opposition and you could have done this without the forfeit. I believe SPA knew that the rule was not what was fully intended. I would have liked to see you play the game.
Miller’s is not a team with no track record. In AAA last year they were 23 & 43, and did not win one game in the Eastern Nationals, SPA Nationals or SSUSA (Phoenix) Nationals in elimination play. That means they were the first team out of these events. They were re-rated to AA and entered Plano with a 14 & 24 record. I know Midwest was re-rated to AA on Aug 17th, just one week before the tournament, so I can see you coming in with good expectations. So did Miller’s.
But it was not the 72 year old that made the difference. It was 14 guys, some having the tournament of their life that made this so special for Miller’s. The 70 year old (different one) who was the MVP of the tournament entered with a .417 average and made one out in the entire tournament. He like many others has been on the Miller’s team all five years that they have been in the 65’s.
Did you think to check your roster after Midwest was re-rated to AA to be certain that all of the players were still qualified? The rule is wrong and I will do all in my power to convince the Summit in January 2007 of that fact.
I’m sorry if I offended, it was not my intent.
|Sept. 10, 2006|
|blue i understand what you are saying.rules are rules .i also feel bad for the player who would have been kicked off his teams because of these rules.the fact is we as players do not make these rules but have to follow them.i wonder how many players would have liked to play but couldnt because of those rules?spa and many assc. take our money in the form of memberships and entry fees ,when we pay these fees it is then the assc. responsibility to see the rules they made are enforced.we have to have 3 forms of id,sign in and wear bracelets because of these rules.we as players have very little say as we keep paying for ids,bats as many assc. change their rules as they see fit.senior softball is a growing industry in which we keep paying for with little say.if someone in spa or other assc. wants to do the right thing then have all the same rules and one card for all.i liked playing in plano and like ridgeway but i agree with you that we have little say|
|Sept. 10, 2006|
|The whole thing is academic, Jim is so right when he says there are too many divisions in senior softball. This is what always happens. These associations don't care about anything but the money and you all know that. Divisions, rosters, its all a bunch of crap. You think the big time sponsers who foot the bill are going to let some true recreational team win a national title? Some of the people who post here and purport to be such defenders of honor and integrity in this sport are by far the worst offenders. Perhaps A-B-C. Hit one out in C and you're out of the tournament. Hit two in B, same thing. The rest play A.|
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