Child's Play – By Floyd Lewis – New Year's Resolutions
By Floyd Lewis
Well, I fell asleep at the wheel and missed last month's issue, so here I am kicking off the New Year on the right foot. A belated Happy New Year to all of you.
THE LONGEST YARD
Well it seems that ASA has finally done the right thing. At their annual Council Meeting in early November, voting members of the National Governing Body voted to extend the pitching distance for their 18 and Under "A" youth girls fast pitch program to 43 feet. This move had been anticipated for some time as most in the youth fast pitch world felt that it made little sense to have the 18 and Under Gold throwing from this distance but not the "A" program. The change did not affect the 18 and Under "B" program, which will continue to throw from 40 feet.
While the differences in pitching distances had created problems in conducting exposure tournaments where both Gold and "A" teams competed together, one of the major factors in ASA's original concept of keeping the "A" classification at the shorter distance was an effort to keep college pitchers out of the lower playing level. The "A" division had long been more of an after-thought in the ASA's fast pitch program, isolated and of little interest to anyone other than those areas that could not develop quality Gold level teams. There has been plenty of speculation on what kind of impact this rule change will have on the landscape of the 18U level of fast pitch softball. Some feel that it will result in the "A" qualifiers and especially nationals becoming better recruiting opportunities for colleges; some feel that it will result in more teams playing at the "A" level, increasing competition and ability level; some feel that it will result in more 16U players moving up to throw at the 18U "A" classification, which will affect the caliber of play at the 16U level.
The only thing certain at this point it time is that the change will have an affect; we just don't know what it will be until teams declare where they are going to play. However, I do have an opinion on what will happen at the 18U classification, and this is that we will see more college players at the "A" level. Perhaps not players from the "major" colleges, but we may see freshman from smaller universities, especially pitchers. This certainly is not the type of result that most coaches and parents in the 18U program want, as the vast majority of these individuals would prefer that college players be restricted from the youth program all together, a step that ASA is highly unlikely to ever take.
So, an influx of 16U and college players in the 18U "A" program will increase the quality of play at this level as well as the number of teams, especially in view of the easier qualifying system in ASA for them as opposed to the Gold program. While the increase in recruiting and number of participating teams are both positives, most will not see the participation of college players as a good thing. So, while most everyone desired to see the 43 foot pitching for the 18U "A" level, as the old saying goes, "be careful of what you wish for."
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
Well, like so many others, I have established a few New Year's resolutions for 2008. I have found that if you communicate or broadcast your resolutions, you have a much better chance to fulfill them, so I'm making mine very public here in Softball West.
I will start umpiring youth softball games again in 2008. Due to apathy, my wife has stopped abusing me and I miss it.
I will pay my own way into all tournaments I attend this year. I'm losing friends, credibility and becoming known as a cheapskate due to me always contacting tournament directors I know requesting free admission or asking for a press pass.
In 2008, I will reduce the amount of beer I drink at softball tournaments where it is served. While I've entertained many with my drunken exploits in the past, I'm done embarrassing myself, abusing my liver, and not remembering any games I watched.
For 2008, I will write only interesting, thought provoking, and educational columns for Softball West. That is after this month's column.
This coming year I will not chastise friends for how they act concerning their daughter's involvement in softball or their daughter's college recruitment efforts. Know-it-alls don't have any friends.
I will not argue with anyone in 2008 about the best hitting mechanics. I'm a know-it-all and have all the answers, but don't ask me.
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Merle Bulter, who has served as both the ASA's and ISF's Director of Umpires for many years. I have known Merle for a very long time and always thought very highly of him. He was a professional and friendly individual. * * * * I'm pleased to announce that I'll be the tournament director for the 2008 Pacific Coast Regions' 12U National Qualifier to be conducted during the July 4th weekend. It's been several years since I've had the pleasure of attending a "championship" event, and many more since I've been the tournament director for one. I'm really looking forward to it * * * * Another year, another change to the qualifying system for the 18U Gold program. Some day they may get it right, as it seems to me that teams on the left coast did not fair well in this latest system * * * * Congratulations on Nor Cal Commissioner John Miller's hiring at the ASA National office. A good man, who will be a great addition to the ASA staff * * * * As always, you can contact me at email@example.com * * * * and so the ball rolls.