|Jan. 12, 2013|
|LET'S PLAY SEVEN|
With the new year comes an old refrain, "Let's Play Seven Innings." Recent rule changes in Major Plus might help, but it isn't at all certain dropping home runs from 12 to 9 and runs per inning from 9 to 7 will be enough.
1) Why not stop the clock every half inning for just 30 seconds to give teams a little cushion? Players should not stroll on and off the field, but they should not be forced to sprint on and off either. At the end of 30 seconds, umps start the clock again. This could allow up to 7 additional minutes to complete the game.
2) Softball is NOT a time clock sport. Those sports that are ALWAYS have instances where the clock is stopped---free throws in basketball, time outs, incomplete passes in football, penalties, etc. If you're going to run softball as a time clock sport, why not stop the darn thing once in awhile?
3) Everyone understands the need to stay on time during tournaments, but why sacrifice the lifeblood of the game to the false gods of punctuality and profitability? With a 5 game guarantee and a tournament cost of $525 and up...do the math. You're paying over $100 per game and getting the bum's rush. That's shabby treatment of paying customers. You and I are paying customers. Repeat after me, "I want seven inning games."
4) If umpires are paid $25/hour or more to do these games, why not ask them to do a bit more? Some perspective: school bus drivers are trained in CPR, First Aid, Hostage Negotiation, Crisis Management; they are required to pass bi-annual fitness and agility tests, re-certification tests, vision and physical exams, and more. Average salary: less than $13/hour. At almost twice that rate, softball umpires should be able to handle a new wrinkle like stopping the clock intermittently during a game.
5) Competition is usually great for customers. If SSUSA has the lion's share of the business, SPA (and others) have to build a better mousetrap. One of the ways SPA does it is with a guarantee of seven innings in ALL bracket games in every tournament. They hedge that bet with a "mercy rule" and most players I've talked with are fine with that. SSUSA has already conceded this principle with their guarantee of seven innings in all championship games. Why not take the next step and do as SPA does.....a seven inning guarantee in all bracket games for 2013?
SSUSA/LVSSA/SSWC/ISA is to be applauded for its business model, its leadership in providing opportunities for players across the nation, and its tremendous success. They have proven time and again to be responsive to customer complaints and in my experience have always been approachable with reasonable discussion. They have made significant concessions and improvements on many issues, including time limits.
But, they're still missing the mark on this subject---at least in Major Plus. There are solutions and they can be implemented today in time to make 2013 a successful year. Let's institute some changes to make a complete game the rule...and not the exception.
Hey...let's play seven.