2001 Season Preview

It’s been a long winter, but on the eve of the opening NIT of the season in Las Vegas I would like to wish good luck to all teams this year. I would also like to write a little about some of the rule changes for this year. One of the big issues is the homerun rule that has been put in effect in the USSSA for 2001. I believe that this rule at all levels of play is not in the best interest of this game. I would hope that the powers to be will keep a close watch on these homerun rules. I sure hope at the Major level that a pitcher doesn’t get seriously hurt because of this new rule. I know that when the homeruns are used the middle will become a shooting gallery. Yes I have heard people say “well we’ll put the 5th infielder over the middle and that will stop anybody trying to hit through the middle”. I totally disagree with that, and I can guarantee you that hitters who hit the ball as hard as people like Rose, Hall, Helmer, Wallace, Nevitt, Bumgardner, Rickard and a lot of others will not stop hitting the middle just because that 5th infielder is over the middle. Believe me the pitcher is in danger with this homerun rule in effect, especially when these better teams play against the lesser talented players, who don’t see the ball being hit that hard until they play against the best players in the world. Enough of this subject. I want to commend all of the tournament directors who have taken the initiative to move some of their games on to baseball diamonds, this is a very good move on their part. This is where all Major NIT’s must go. I want to also support and commend Jim Kimmel and the whole NSA staff for being the first association to play on baseball fields using 90′ bases. I guarantee this will be the most exciting andbest played tournament of the season. I hope that other associations will follow the same format for the betterment of Big Time Softball. As I look at the tournaments on the schedule for the 2001 season I see trouble brewing, as a lot of these NIT’s are going to have trouble getting teams. People ask why? I’ll tell you why; “no player or sponsor of any of the A & AA teams likes being embarrassed when they have to play against a Super team and get beaten 50-3 in 3 innings on 300′ fields, and these kind of things happen a lot of times during the course of the year. Yes there are other reasons this happens, and one of the big reasons is small fields and juiced up balls. It doesn’t make sense. I say “Let’s go to the baseball sized fields, let’s move the bases back, and most certainly let’s use the right ball.” I can guarantee you on these big baseball fields and with 90′ bases and the right ball these good A teams and AA teams will be competitive, will play a full game, will come to Major tournaments, won’t be embarrassed and put the game back where it belongs. exciting, great defense, good hitting and only the real homerun hitters who can hit homeruns in any park, including Yellowstone will hit them. Point being made, no more 50-3 games in 3 innings and give the lesser teams a chance at maybe winning a few or at least being able to compete and feeling good about it. Remember this is only my opinion. I do love this game and I know changes must be made to save “Big Time Softball”. I also know there are other issues that need to be addressed, hopefully during the course of the 2001 season the powers to be will sit down and negotiate the right things to do in all associations, and try to save the greatest game there is., Big Time Softball,