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Discussion: TOC 2017

Posted Discussion
Feb. 16, 2017
mitch1414
12 posts
TOC 2017
I just wanted to give my two cents on the 2017 TOC recently completed last week. In my opinion, the TOC is built up to be this elite tournament, bringing only champion teams, offering a great experience that isn't normally offered at any other regular tournament. I was truly looking forward to this experience and was truly disappointed for several reasons........First of all, the fields we played on were some of the worst we had seen all year.(Lakeland) One of the local teams said they were surprised that they were using these fields. There was one player from an opposing team who took a bad hop off his eye. We saw many bad hops. I was also disappointed in the amount of drama that seemed to be more than usual with the umpires. If the umpires are the star of the game, then it wasn't officiated well. The free dinner that was for all teams and families was oversold by 300 tickets. As a team, we decided not to go, as we didn't want to have to fight for a place to sit, etc..............In a nutshell, I just felt like this was to be a special event, honoring past champions, in an elite setting. In the end, It was nothing of the sort. I would not return to play and am speculating that few teams return to play after they have done it once. Again, this is just my opinion.....take it or leave it. I will also say that everything I have said had nothing to do with how we did in the tournament. None of it had an effect on our play..........I would like to hear from other teams who experienced it this year and get their perspective. Maybe I just expected too much. That being said, I realize a lot of hard work does go into putting this on. Thanks for the time.
Feb. 16, 2017
TimMcElroy
456 posts
I'd like to share my experience from this year's TOC.

More than 100 players came to the park on WED morning to take BP and get hitting tips from some of the best hitters in the game. The Wednesday night all-star game was entertaining but also gave friends a chance to socialize in the stands.

Thursday's skills contests featured something for everyone (HR derby, precision hitting, precision pitching and baserunning speed). Roughly 200 people competed and twenty walked away with bats, fielder's gloves or shoes. The mini-tournament was an absolute sellout this year and allowed teams to shake off the rust prior to the tournament's official start.

The manager meeting included more give aways and a very nice golf shirt for each and every one of the 1,800 players.

Play began on Friday morning and fields were drug, lined and ready to go by 7am at Loyce Harpe (Lakeland). Each diamond was drug at least once more during the day. We did have a player at LH take a bad hop to the eyebrow- but he had no interest in leaving (rumor has it that he closed the cut with super glue). That game was stopped at the end of the inning and we drug the fields again. That was the norm at Loyce Harpe.

The banquet.... I saw a full auditorium and a lot of happy friends and fellow players. I saw a special Hall of Fame induction for a man that left us too soon. I saw a group of heroes (Louisville Slugger Warriors) show up and raise money for their cause. I saw a group of 1,500 people in attendance give those heroes a well-deserved round of applause.

Back at the fields on Saturday, I watched game after game get decided by 1 run, or 2 runs, or a walk off HR. It was awesome.

Saturday night's Louisville Slugger Warrior vs SSUSA All-Stars game was yet another 1 run game.

Championship day came on Sunday. SSUSA crowned 28 champions that day.

Remember- It's Champions vs Champions only at the SSUSA TOC. 28 teams (roughly 450 players) earned a custom ring. MVPs in each of those brackets were awarded limited edition Miken bats.

I saw laughter.
I saw frustration.
I saw joy.
I saw grown men cry.

In the days since, I've had players contact me to say THANKS for putting on a great show and it means the world to me.

Sure, I work for SSUSA. Sure, I was paid to be there.....

I say this to you honestly. I would have preferred to be there with my team and would have paid my own way for the opportunity to be on the dirt. We didn't qualify this year but are going to try like heck to be there next year. It was that special.

Tim

Feb. 16, 2017
Dbax
Men's 60
1809 posts
I agree with everything Tim has said! And don't forget the weather!

Banned in Arizona
Feb. 17, 2017
curty
Men's 60
173 posts
Mitch: were you or teammates able to partake any of the offered events @ TOC? Sounds like a predecision not to attend at least some events? Was the level of play up to your expectations? have you never seen a bad hop, even at the best fields you play on? Was the overall experience worthwhile? My team had to play shorthanded due to weather here in the Northeast, but those that did make it had a memorable & enjoyable time together. Where else can you get this much "stuff" at ANY softball tourney? By this I mean such things as the All Star and Louisville Sluggers games, not to mention the perks for players. I, my team, and our supporters, look forward to qualifying & enjoying this great event! By the way-- any suggestions on how to improve the event?
Feb. 17, 2017
mitch1414
12 posts
I am guessing that obviously, each person has their own agenda. I respect everyone and their opinions. Just to give you insight on mine......I am not a huge fan of the fluff that goes with the tournament. I fully enjoy the actual playing and experience of the games themselves. I'm not interested in what rewards we get for finishing first,....etc. This being the best of the best inspired me. But yet, the best of the best don't all show up. If it is the best of the best, then we should play on the best fields, etc. It's obvious that everything else was done at a high level......why not do the entire tournament at the same level? Don't get me wrong. I had a great time while in Florida. Our team did well and we had a great time. I am commenting for possible improvements for the future. For instance, why cant the games be held at the Disney sports complex? If it is a cost issue, then raise the price. People will pay for quality. And as far as having players from our team participate in the skills competition and all star game, we did have players in both. Yes, I have seen a bad hop before. They dragged the field after the bad hop, so evidently it was not good. I have never seen them drag the field in the middle of a game. If you are interested in getting stuff at tournaments, then I can totally understand how this tournament was for you. There was excellent prizes and many of them. No argument there. I appreciate all your comments and am starting to think that maybe I just expected too much.

Feb. 17, 2017
Shark
Men's 60
89 posts
Well said Tim....this TOC is like no other tourney. My team has had the pleasure and opportunity to attend this TOC in 2015 and this year and both times it has been a special event. We only won 2 games this year (both by one run) and was eliminated by a 3 run HR in the bottom of the seventh inning. But it was exciting to play against teams from other parts of the country. I felt that we represented ourselves well even though being from the Northeast we have not played since last November. It was also a plus that the weather was fantastic. It takes a lot of work and effort from SSUSA to put on all of the added events in addition to the games themselves at the TOC. I want to thank all of the people involved in running the TOC and hope my team qualifies again in the future. After all, it is not often that you get the chance to play against "the best of the best" teams in the country.
Chuck (Shark)
Feb. 17, 2017
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2560 posts
mitch1414 ... You sound a bit new to the TOC, so here are a few observations that may fill in some blanks for you ...

• The TOC is sponsored by Central Florida Sports Marketing under a long-term contract for the event to be held in early February in Winter Haven and Lakeland through at least 2021 ... The contract will very likely be renewed/extended at that time ... This precludes moving the event to Disney (or any place else) for the foreseeable future ...
• The experience is greatly enhanced by taking advantage of all of the "extras" described by Tim McElroy, such as the hitting instructional clinics, the skills competitions and the Mini-Tournament ... To our knowledge, they are unique extras for your enjoyment ...
• Distributing 1,800 custom design polo shirts, which we presume you DID get, is something that's rare in the senior tournament environment ...
• As for the TOC Banquet, it's unfortunate that your team decided not to come because someone in your group apparently did the "ticket math" incorrectly ... Some teams think it's no big deal to say they are going and then not show up ... Yes, we distributed 1,750± tickets (net of returns) against a 1,500 plate theoretical maximum ... In past years, we have given out 1,500± tickets, only to have about 1,200-1,300 show up ... The tickets are "free" to you, but the underlying meals are not "free" ... We pay for them whether or not you honor your RSVP by actually coming, and to waste that amount of food isn't the best thing to have happen ... This year, we had just under 1,450 show up on the 1,750± tickets, so everyone was fed comfortably and had a great time ... Dinner with the Louisville Slugger Warriors amputee softball team was an incalculable benefit, too ... Your team should have been there ...

We hope you win your way back to the TOC, and that maybe you'll take a more global approach to what's available ... It's worth it ...

Feb. 17, 2017
mitch1414
12 posts
Dave, I appreciate the information you have given me. It is a shame that they will renew the same contract. I just think it could be better. You are absolutely correct. This is my first TOC. Had I experienced it before, I would have known what to expect. As far as ticket math goes, we didn't figure anything out. We were told by umpires that the building only holds 1500 and that they gave out 1800. We told a rep that we would not be attending due to that reason and gave him back our tickets. We didn't just not show up. As far as the shirts, events, prizes etc......I already acknowledged that they were first class. Everyone continues to emphasize that to me, yet no one addresses my issue. So, no worries. Just wanted to see if I was the only one looking at it this way.......as it seems that I am. From my point of view, we spend a lot of money to travel to play there and I just expected top notch all the way around. Thank you all for your input. I truly respect your opinions. Good luck to all in 2017.
Feb. 17, 2017
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2560 posts
Thanks Mitch ... And as a bit of tongue in cheek commentary, it may not be such a good idea to listen to umpires regarding the banquet ... They, as a group, aren't on the invitation list because of the 1,800± players having first priority, so they may not be totally objective! ... Congratulations on getting to the TOC this year and we hope we see you again!
Feb. 17, 2017
Gonedeep43
63 posts
This was my Teams second time at the TOC. This time out was much better. I participated in the Clinic on Wednesday and enjoyed the fellowship with guys from around the country and Alan Tanner was outstanding in lending a hand when players needed advice on hitting. The Allstar game was great, having that many people watch and cheer a game that really didn't mean anything in the end was awesome. The Tournament overall was much better than it was 2 years ago, the weather really set the tone for a great weekend of ball. I don't have anything negative to say about the overall experience.
Feb. 17, 2017
k man
Men's 65
257 posts
I agree with everything Tim said. This was our teams 2nd year in a row at the TOC. Compared to last years chilly windy conditions, this years weather was a home run. The Diamondplex complex was one of the best we ever played on (with the exception of the sun in the batters face at 8 am.) Taking advantage of the clinics, mini games, skills comp was all good. Playing against the Wounded Warrior team was a thrill - these guys are some athletes and competitors. (It was too bad that some of the guys had very late games on Sat and weren't able to return in time to participate in the game, I barely made it for the last 2 innings). Wishing everyone a great 2017 of softball, and possibly another return trip!
Feb. 26, 2017
CurtfromKY
62 posts
For our first invitation, Bluegrass Softball had a tremendous time and experience even though our play was not up to our expectations. I spent the entire week taking in all the events as best as possible and felt my money was well spent. A lot of hard work is put into this by MANY people and not enough recognition is given.
I especially want to thank our field Director for the attempt he made to allow us to see the Warrior all star game. We had a player that was supposed to play in the game but because of our game scheduling none of us were able to go. His effort showed his commitment and caring for the sport and players.

I know many teams (and players) wanted to watch the Warriors play and participate, and hope in the future that scheduling can be adjusted for this to happen. This was a very important and special part of the weekend-for veteran players and the Warrior players both. Other than our poor play, this was the only disappointing part of our trip. Good luck to everyone this season
Feb. 26, 2017
bogie
Men's 65
335 posts
I had the opportunity to go to the TOC a few years ago and it was an absolute blast and very well run. I was a big fan and hope my team will travel again there. bogie
Feb. 26, 2017
Player
77 posts
Ken, sharpen up your hitting with a little more bp, and we'll give you a tryout, for our 75 team, the next time you're at Woodlawn. :)
Feb. 28, 2017
bogie
Men's 65
335 posts
I probably couldnt make that talented woodlawn team but would add some sex appeal and I do buy drinks.
March 1, 2017
Beasley
Men's 50
173 posts
@Mitch1414 - I agree with what you're saying in regards to the fields. I live in Florida and as far back as I can remember the fields at Loyce Harper were never considered good. But there's very little SSUSA can do about the fields when you take into consideration the long term contract and sponsor ship by Central Florida Sports Marketing.

And I have to agree with you when it comes to the umpires. We were benefactors of a couple calls that made us scratch our heads. But we got through it. Although I got into a bit of a "discussion" with the Field Director over the flip-flop rule, he made sacrificed staying on time to pause our Saturday afternoon game due to the pitchers being blinded by the sun.

And overall I think the TOC is one of the better tournaments of the year. As so many have pointed out there are many extras that SSUSA goes the extra mile to put together. I personally haven't managed to participate in the extras, but I figure that might happen sometime before I'm dead. And SSUSA goes the extra mile to make sure that it's truly a Tournament of Champions (unlike other knockoffs).

I'm sure you kinda feel like everyone is kicking dirt on ya at this point, but I wanted to let you know that I can partially stand with you.
March 7, 2017
rocky026
Men's 60
14 posts
Maybe SSUSA could look into the new 15 all Astor-turf fields complex in Sanford Florida before renewing with Lakeland/Winter Haven. Very nice complex that could handle the entire event. Just a thought to put in your head.
Nick
March 7, 2017
mitch1414
12 posts
Beasley and rocky, I am glad someone else sees a little bit of my perspective. Just because something is under contract shouldn't mean that it should continue. Why not try and make it better? Just my thought process. Thanks again everyone for your input.
March 8, 2017
Garocket
Men's 55
256 posts
I think only 5 of those fields are big enough for adult softball
March 8, 2017
taits
Men's 65
4548 posts
Complaints about the TOC dates has been a ongoing posting event every year. and rightly so. There has been time to renegotiate during the decade past.
But I think it's also about vacation time for them, undestandable as they can claim it as work.
Oh well, it's great event from what I read.
Trouble I see is for the many teams that are snow bound from at least Dec to Feb and rally do not have the chance to practice and stay in ball playing shape as the other parts of the nation do. Unless you consider shoveling snow works for that.
But in my own mind it helps out some because of they keep in shape still playing ball and hinders others because they can't, making the 'equality' playing issue a tad bit more unequal.
Fields should be the best out there as well. Why have poor quality fields for an Elitist event which it is supposed to be. Ant from what i read here there are some very questionable ones which I read every year.
Only places places I know of that would make the grade would likely be Mesqute, NV and St George, UT. Where most of us know have ample parks and fields. But ST G, tends to get cold after Oct. Haven't been to AZ fo I don'y know about them and Reno and Vegas have their issues too.
Blottom line is too long a break between EOS and TOC.
March 8, 2017
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2560 posts
The good news is that we have four or five years to see how things play out ... The not-so-good news is that we don't envision our primary event sponsor, Central Florida/Polk County Sports Marketing annexing any of the recommended "new venues" during that time ... The TOC would simply not be feasible without their tremendous support ...

Oh, and Scott, that line about "vacation" is hilarious! ... The TOC is one of our most labor intensive weeks annually with all of the ancillary events in addition to the tournament itself! ... And "colder" weather teams seemed to do OK too, with Champions this year from Michigan (3 teams!), Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New York and Washington ... Not too bad!

March 8, 2017
taits
Men's 65
4548 posts
That's a joke Dave, ....Played out. Regarding your team comment out of how many TOC eligable Teams...
What's that only 8 teams? Not good IMO.
Well, this all is what it is.

Never did get that reply note from TH. No matter now though I guess. Didn't see them listed on any team bracket listing.
March 8, 2017
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2560 posts
Got it on the joke ... Doh! ... Here's an interesting related statistic on the percentage of eligible qualified teams that actually attended the 2016 World Masters Championships and the 2017 Tournament of Champions ...

WMC • Attended in 2016: 564 • Qualified Teams: 1,500± • Percentage in attendance: 37.60%
TOC • Attended in 2017: 111 • Qualified Teams: 291 • Percentage in attendance: 38.14%

Pretty close ratios! ...

March 9, 2017
taits
Men's 65
4548 posts
TOC teams from snowbound states Dave, Only 8 it seems per your stats above, not a good or representative showing IMO, for number of qualified to attend, Right? That was the point. I do not know how many qualified and won't take the time to go through the page if even still up for those states & ages.
Over all team #'s are usually good most all events. Everywhere but a select few even in the summer.

RATIOS, t was same for most all years but most all years are ridden wirth snowbount teams as well. At least you shaved off about one month from what it used to be I believe if my menory serves me right. But i think it was years ago.
I think the point players are making besides my remarks here is the 3 month time frame you have between Nov next years event and the TOC, was not good let alone fair for everyone.
March 9, 2017
DaveDowell
Men's 65
2560 posts
No worries, Scott ... This is just an extension of the 2017 version of the annual "Dump on the TOC" exercise ... The TOC has been a phenomenally well received event for the past 11 years, the level of support it receives allows us to charge less to attend than any qualifier event to earn a bid, it's not likely to change much (if any) for the foreseeable future and, simply, we're pretty proud of it ... The critics are certainly welcome to express their opinions, but should keep in mind they aren't anywhere close to being considered as "action items" for a revamp! ... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" ...

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