The 2008 season will get under way this coming weekend in Phoenix, Arizona. This is the third year of Conference USSSA, and this season there will be 18 NIT’s played. That is good for the game. I took a good look at the rosters I’ve received this year and this is how I see the 2008 season looking. There are three Super teams, Resmondo, Dan Smith and Long Haul. There are eight legit Class A teams in 2008. I know the stats will say there are more, but the reason for that is some teams classify themselves as A and some are classified by their state director, but believe me there are only eight legit A teams. There are about ten Class B teams who will play in the conference in 2008, and once again the stats will show more. I’m here to tell you those other teams are Class C, and they classified themselves B teams or their state director made them play B. There will be seven C teams and four D teams, which makes up the 32 conference teams playing in 2008. I can tell you all, if these class B, C & D teams were not playing in the conference in 2008, the Major NIT’s would have about six to eight team tournaments.
I believe the way the game is today Don has done the right thing letting these lower teams play in the conference or bigtime softball would be gone period. I’ve said before and I will say it again bigtime softball should only have about 12-14 teams period. The only way this will ever happen is to do away with the two big boys, spreading the 24 players around to two to a team and you would have a very competitive conference and every team would have a chance to win. The way it is today there will be a lot of 3 inning games played in the conference in 2008. I find it very hard to believe that the best players in the game want to play against teams who can’t compete scoring 30-40 runs in 3 innings, game over. It just doesn’t make sense. I believe it would be much better to have 12-14 competitive teams who can compete against each other and get a different winner each week, just my opinion.
I believe 2008 will be a lot more competitive at the top with Resmondo and Dan Smith being much closer this year due to the player movement, and that’s good for the game. This is how I see the two giants in 2008. I believe that Dan Smith will be the better offensive team. Smith will have more power and will be a better hitting team than Resmondo. I also believe that Dan Smith will be the weaker team defensively. Resmondo in 2007 was the best defensive team to ever play bigtime softball. The 4 shortstops, 3 centerfielders, a decent first baseman, arguably the game’s best overall hitter along with the world’s best pitcher led to a 60-3 record. The most important move Resmondo made was putting Dal Beggs at second base where he belongs. He made every play last season. This year Dan Smith will have to use Beggs at shortstop to accommodate a place for all the other players to play, and once again like Bell last season, this team will be weak in the infield, no doubt about it. Dan Smith also will be weak in the outfield. Kendrick is the only one who can go get it. He will have to play center, which will take a lot out of him; with the two corner men Wegman and Kirby who don’t have a whole lot of range in the outfield, leaving Jason to cover a lot of ground. When Johnnie McCraw comes back it will make Smith a little better in the outfield, although John has slowed down a lot in the last few years, and in my opinion John at one time was one of the best outfielders in the game.
I know this if Resmondo is to win again in 2008 they will have to hit it very good or they will not win. I believe they will still have the best infield and outfield in the game, but when they play Smith they are going to have to hit it good to win. Long Haul will be the third Super team, but I think they’re caught in a little trap because they have to play as a Super team. Believe me this will be a good team, but is definitely not a Super team, and are not in the class as Resmondo or Smith. Long Haul has three elite players in Crine, Fulk and Garris and that is why they are being made to play as Super in USSSA. This team will play Class A in NSA and ASA/WSL NIT’s. Long Haul will have to leave one of their elite players home when they play in those associations. I believe it will take a few tournaments for this team to get it going, we will see.
Jean Shoppe, GTL, Laser Viision, ABS, FBI, Suncoast & C-Town will battle for the Class A World Championships in 2008. I believe anyone of these teams has a chance to win at the A level, we will see. I want to wish every team who plays in the NIT’s in 2008 good luck and have a safe season.
I am going to start out the season with The Old Scout’s rankings. I’m going to do the Top 10 for the first two weeks of the season and the rest will be ranked in honorable mention. I will move up teams into the rankings as I see fit after the first two weekends, and please remember these are only My Opinions