Andy Beloli used to tell me Gordie, the smoke will always clear at the Smokey’s, and that’s exactly what happened”. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton did it the hard way by coming back through one of the toughest loser’s bracket this season, to win the “Mighty Smoky Mountain Classic”. The Backman gang showed why they belonged as the nations knew #1 team. The Backman boys beat back some very strong teams, namely the former #1 team Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS, and then double-dipped the very good Budweiser/Summerlin/Expert Travel/Worth team who has gotten better since the season rolls on. With the addition of “big” Wendall Rickard and some other very good pick-ups the Bud team is for real. The Backman boys battled back after losing to Budweiser in the winners bracket finals.
Backman was lead by MVP Brett Helmer and “Big” Dwayne Nevitt who had seventeen homeruns, also Jeff Hall who had another great tournament. Backman has been the better team this season as they have handled Long Haul fairly easy in 2002 and have proven to be the better team so far. I am sure the battle for the #1 spot is not over yet as there is a long way to go. Backman looks mighty good! Finishing in 2nd place Budweiser/Sumerlin/Worth who played some great softball in this prestigious tournament. Folks, I am here to tell you this is the toughest tournament to win even harder than the World tournaments. There are more better teams in this tournament. This is simply the best tournament because there are at least twenty five very good softball teams and none of the other NIT’s have a field of teams like this one. The Bud boys will be a team to reckon with down the stretch and will be a contender to win some AA maybe an ASA Major and will ! be very competitive in the three World Tournaments that they will be playing in. Budweiser will be playing the ASA Super the ISA Super and the USSSA Super. They will also be playing in the NSA AA in Plano, TX and the ASA Major in Jenson City, Tennessee. Greg and Frank have made some good changes to this team and it has paid off. Wendell has given them some very good power and the Cowart kid in Center field has made them much better team. Watch out! Bud was lead by Wendell Rickard who hit 17 homeruns and they got a total team effort. Great job Bud “this ones for you”. Third place went to Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shencorp/TPS who has not been playing very well this year.
I don’t think this years team is as hungry as they were in the past. Some of the players are not doing their jobs. I am sure the new players need to adjust and learn how to win. This is a lot different team from last years remember Jason and Higgy are gone and last year Long Haul picked up Mike McColeman at this time of the year and Mike got some very big hits for Long Haul against the other two big teams and won some games for Long Haul. I will tell you Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton has improved a lot over last years team and that might be why people are asking “What’s wrong with Long Haul”. I think Backman got better, Hague got better as well as Budweiser as well as many other teams and that has closed the gap of Long Hauls domination. I think at this time there is no dominating team and there will be battles on every weekend and that my friends makes for “great softball”. Fourth place went to New Construction who has had an up and down season but added another player the last couple of weeks. His name is Miken Ultra and I can tell you they will be very competitive the rest of the season swinging that bat like it or not. Roger has always been a threat with his teams over the years. Roger has won two ASA Majors and been very competitive in the World tournaments, this year will be no different.
Big Brian Goings who lead the Smokey’s tournament in homeruns this year at 19 and the whole team gave a good effort. Good show New! There were a lot of good teams in this great tournament who played extremely well but came up a little short, but believe me this was a very good tournament. Joe Huff and the parks and recreation department did an outstanding job getting the fields ready after some unbelievable rain hit the Sandy Springs park. Joe did not hesitate he made his decision and ran this event his way. I thought his idea of playing five inning games was one of the best moves in softball history. By making this decision the fans got to see some homeruns hit, some good softball and the games were over in one and half hour, not 3 -3 1/2 like some tournaments. Joe told me he personally asked fans if they liked this format! . They told him they loved it because they weren’t getting bored watching 3 hour games and a homerun derby. He also said they told him they enjoyed seeing some homeruns and loved the short games.
Joe, I personally would like to thank you for a great weekend and you are a first class guy.
Keep up the great work, your friend Gordie.