The new year is here, and right around the corner is the 2005 season. I’ll bet a lot of the sponsors, players, manufacturers and associations are wondering what 2005 will bring. Let’s take a look back at a little of the 2004 season. It was a very good season for “Big Time” softball. The three Super teams played very well down the stretch. Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton proved to be the best team in 2004. Resmondo/Taylor Bros. was a close second, and US Vinyl came on like gang busters at the end of 2004. The Class A division was the best it’s ever been. The Class A World’s in all associations were an all out war, and the Synergy By Easton team proved to be the best in the A division. There were about nine other A teams who were very close to being as good. The B, C, D & E divisions were also very competitive. I’m looking forward to the 2005 season, and it should be even better.
The USSSA has moved the number of Major players who can play on a Class A team to five. I believe this will make more competitive teams in 2005. The main thing that I hope will change in 2005 is that all associations will do a better job on controlling the illegal bats. I can tell you at the last three Worlds in 2004 the ASA Major, the USSSA Super & the WSL Major Class A Worlds there were players using cheater bats, I guarantee you. I will also tell you there were players who couldn’t hit a 380′ or 400′ homerun with a legit bat ever. I also can tell you there were Big Time homerun hitters who were hitting 400′ to 450′ homeruns consistently in these world’s. I’m here to tell you that nobody today or in the past could consistently hit 400′-450′ homeruns with a legit bat. The associations go out and hire doctors, scientists, engineers to try and keep the bats legal. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t take any of them to know if the bats are legal or illegal. I can tell you when you see 170 lb. players hitting 380-400′ homeruns 6 or 7 times in stadium play, you know there’s something wrong with the bat period. When you see the best homerun hitters hitting 400-450′ homeruns consistently you definitely know there’s something wrong with the bat. Most homeruns hit in the stadiums are hit down the lines where the distance is usually 320-340′. When you see homeruns that were hit at the biggest stadium used in Big Time softball at Disney, where the gaps are 390′ and the ball is going out consistently, you can bet the bats are illegal. I agree that there should be a few balls hit out in them big gaps by the best homerun hitters in the world, not by some 175 lb. player who you know is not capable of doing that. All I can say is that somebody better do something about the doctoring of these bats before somebody gets killed and the integrity of the game can be protected. I know for a fact that there were players using bats in 2004. I was told by some of the players teammates who were using these illegal bats that no way they could of hit these homeruns with a legit bat. I will end this by saying that the manufacturers have the best equipment the game has ever known and do a good job trying to keep it legal. If the players want to alter the equipment and the manufacturer finds out, then these players should not be allowed to get anymore equipment. Remember there are no secrets in softball. We know who is doctoring the bats, and I hope the associations and the manufacturers do something about this big problem in 2005, it needs to be addressed.
The number of teams in 2005 in Class A have dropped considerably, because of more mergers. Remember every time two teams merge we lose one. Over the last ten years there have been many sponsors who just can’t afford to have a team and run it by himself today. To have a good A team and play ten NIT’s and four World Tournaments, the cost is approximately $125,000-$150,000. I can tell you it takes three or more sponsors to have a competitive team today. When you all talk about the number of teams left in the country today in upper level softball, obviously it’s because of the cost. There’s no way anybody can tell the sponsors how to spend their money or how much they pay their players, that’s their business. To pay the travel expenses, the players and the hotels you just have to have at least three sponsors to be able to play, and that is why the numbers of teams are down. There are about 20 very good A teams, 3 Super teams left in the country today. I say the associations should cater to these teams left to keep Big Time softball the way it is today. I say if the NIT’s get 10-12 Class A teams & the 3 Super teams today then that’s great. Take a look at the four biggest tournaments in the country today, the Dudley, the Twitty, the Thoroughbred and the Smoky Mountain Classic. This is how they stack up; the Dudley, the Twitty and the Thoroughbred get 20 Class A team, and 15-20 B or C teams. The Smoky Mtn. Classic gets the top 25 teams in the country and 5 B & C teams. That’s the way it is folks for 2005, and I think that’s very good. I believe the other NIT’s played in the country, if they get 8-10 teams that’s a good tournament.
Here’s a preview of what to expect in 2005; Resmondo/Dan Smith/Menosse looks like it will be the team to beat in 2005. This team has a powerful lineup and has a chance to become the best team ever, we will see. Bell Corp/Backman/Taylor Bros/Easton looks like it will be very strong also. I think they will give the Resmondo/Smith a battle all season long. US Vinyl, who really came together in 2004 should be even better in 2005. I look for this bunch to be very competitive against the two top teams. Randy Noe and Mike Kleuver have put together a solid team and should be a very good A team. That ball club will be managed by Jackie Hayes. I hope to start getting rosters from all the teams soon, and will post them as soon as I get them. The USSSA will play 12 Super NIT’s and some Class A Nit’s. The ASA/WSL will have 10 Major Class A qualifiers to be announced soon. The NSA will have 4 Super Nit’s and some AA Class A Nit’s and will also be hosting “The Pif” tournament in Quebec, Canada on July 4th weekend. The ISA will have it’s Winter National Tournament Jan. 21-23 in Winter Haven, FL. It should be a good one.