The 2007 season is right around the corner, and things are getting controversial already. The USSSA Conference is going to have about 26-28 teams in it’s second season. That is definitely great for the game for sure. I know to get to 28 teams they needed to get some B & C teams to make it. I believe that’s how it should be. Congratulations to Don and his staff on working very hard to keep Bigtime Softball going. I think it’s going to be a very exciting season to see what teams out of the 28 make it to Mickey Mouse world for the USSSA World Series.
I will try to give you a little rundown on the top teams for 2007. Resmondo Softball will start out as the #1 team until they prove that they don’t belong at the top. I said earlier in this report that controversy has already started, and it has with Resmondo. Travis announced a couple of weeks ago that Dan Smith, Ed Menosse and Pat Dalasanders would be back as sponsors. I’m here to tell you that is not going to happen. Travis will once again be the only sponsor of the winningest team in softball the last ten years. I know fans are going to ask, what happened? I can tell you Travis just would not have Pat Dalasanders as a coach, and that’s what ended the Smith/Menossee sponsorship. Resmondo’s team is just about the same team as 2006, with the addition of the best shortstop in the game, Don Dedonatis Jr. Last year I said that some of the players might be over the hill, and for awhile it looked that way. I will tell you they got up off the floor and won another USSSA world championship. Resmondo still has Bumgardner, Martin, Kendrick, Striebel, Purcell and Wallace, the winningest players in USSSA history.
I’m going to write a little about what’s happening to some of the players in the game today. The game has always had it’s great players of each era. The days of Howard’s and Nelson’s, and before that Warren Motors. These teams all had some great players and they got old and left the game. Then came Rich’s, Steele’s and other great teams and players, like Macenko, Hightower, Elliott, Androff and other great players of their era. Then along came the next era of super stars of the game Bumgardner, Hall, Wallace, Helmer, Phelps, Martin, Rose and Rickard. I can tell you that these super stars and a lot of others are getting towards the end of their careers. Most of these players I mentioned are pushing towards 40, and not many years left. The way the game has changed has made Bigtime Softball players to be great athletes being able to run, hit, hit for power and most of all catch the ball. I will tell you that for years a lot of the past players did not have the tools to play the total game.
Today you can’t play the game without having the total tools. Let’s take a look at the new super stars of the new era and they are two players Brian Wegman and Scott Kirby. These are the only two players who fit the category of the stars of the past. These two boys have the ability to become the best players in the game in the next two years. I still believe there are a lot of very good players who will be great players down the road, but will not become superstars. The reason is because the game has become a much better game. Defense is as big as offense, in the past it was homerun after homerun, not much D. Today teams have to catch it or they can’t win period. I’m going out on the limb again and make the statement that the Resmondo team might be getting too old to win, but if I was a betting man I would not count them out, we will see.
Bell Corp/Belcher/Backman will be my #2 team to start 2007. I look for this team to become the #1 team fast. I know Bell has the two best young players in the game, Wegman and Kirby. These two guys will be the best in the game, I guarantee you. These two boys can catch it, base hit it, and hit some of the longest bombs in the history of the game. With these two and the rest of the Bell squad, who have great players at every position, don’t be surprised that this is the year they become the best team in softball. I would like to see some more players of the caliber of Wegman and Kirby come into Bigtime Softball. Make no mistake they’re out there. Graduating high school baseball players, college players, minor league players that got cut. We need to get out and play softball and we will get more superstars in the game of softball in the future.
Superstar Jeff Hall has opted to call it quits, but will continue to hit in the WSL Major League HR Derby at Major League parks across America this summer. Jim Wessel has joined the staff. I still think that Bell will be very hard to beat even without Hall. This is one hell of a solid softball team who has a lot of power and can base hit with the best. Gary Jost will be running this team, and he knows how to get it done, we will see.
Aubrey’s is my #3 team to start out the 2007 season. Big JC Phelps will be the leader of this very good team. Alex Lavorico and Shawn Watson will also be a great addition to this bunch. I look for Aubrey’s to give the two big boys a run for their money on the 300 ft. fields, HR restricted games. Team Combat is my #4 team. John McCraw will be the leader again, but conference OB leader in 2006 Scott Brown will also be a force. I believe this team will be much improved in 2007. TRI C/Electric/Extreme Fitness/Kleuver/Combat will be my #5 team. This team will be reckoned with as Scott Nichols has put together a pretty good offensive team. Scott has brought back some veterans who haven’t played Bigtime Softball very much in the past couple of years. Wendall Rickard, Wayne Frizzel and Hank Garris are three of the top 15 HR hitters of all times. Scott has added some young guys to go with this bunch of veterans. I think this team will be very interesting. Jean Shoppe/Worth will be my #6 team. Shoppe will be out to prove it can be a better team in 2007. The Shoppe team has made some changes, and I look for this team to stay in the Top 15 all season long. Wood/LAW/Cash Pawn will be my #7 team. This will be a very good A team, who I believe will move up in the rankings quick. This is a good defensive team and they will hit it. I will tell you this, you better be up on your game when you play this bunch or you will get beat. The Scene/Jolt is my #8 team pick. This bunch has some good young players that can play the game. I’m looking for this team to be a contender in the A Worlds. They can pick it and hit it. Watch out for this bunch. Don’t take them likely or you will get beat. KME/TRIQ Chaney’s/Easton is my #9 team. I don’t believe this bunch will be #9 long. I think they will move up quick. Make no mistake, this is a good team. Long Haul/Miken is my #10 team. I put this team up high in the rankings every year, but they always seem to struggle early. I can tell you this though, when it gets down to crunch time they find a way to get it done. This is a very talented veteran team who knows how to win.
Good Luck to all the teams in 2007 and remember this is only my opinion!!!