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for: ‘July, 2014’

2014 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

Wow. Sorry to take so long to post here and officially wrap up the season… I’m not used to the season finishing in July to be honest but I’m guessing it’s a strange sensation for all of us. More on that in a bit…

One way or another, the season came to an end on a beautiful sunny day under blue skies without a hitch, back on Upper Hutchinson where I know the majority of us like it best. Pictures have posted to the League’s Facebook page if you’re connected to that… I just spent a couple minutes looking for that link that provides access for those not on Facebook… but unfortunately, yet another FB redesign has taken that portion of the interface into the abyss, couldn’t find it.

On the Diamonds, the day was owned by Clune Construction as they set out to cash in that #1 regular season seed… things got nip and tuck for them a couple times on the road to the Championship Game… first against Gettys Group in pool play where they squeezed out a 3-2 victory and from what I heard, the winning run came right near the end of that game… from there they cruised past Power Construction 8-4 on their way to the Final Four where the Ruder Group gave them another run for their money… but once all the dust settled, an 8-7 victory to advance to the Championship…

On the other end of Upper Hutchinson, the Reservoir Dogz moved through pool play with not a lot of hype… 6-1, 9-3, 6-2 to advance to a Final Four game with Perkins&Will who were part of the wildest bracket this year that saw all 4 teams at 1-1 heading into the 1 o’clock hour, P&W emerged though with a victory in their last game of pool play with an 8-3 win over #3 seed Old’Stylin’… in that Final Four game though, the Dogz jumped out with 4 in the 1st and then just defended from there with an eventual 6-2 victory… and to be honest, we were hoping for a Ruder Group win solely because we didn’t want to cross Upper Hutch for the last game… but that hope was vanquished as we packed up to play the finale on Clune’s home Diamond 4.

Having been involved in the Championship Game… I wish I had a better explanation for what happened with my team… but the 15-4 rout we were about to endure really came down to two things… first, we simply couldn’t stop hitting the ball in the air… of our 21 outs in the game, we flew out or popped up 12 times… 9 of those came in innings 2-6 where we put up just 3 scattered hits and went down in order twice… so in our quest to repeat, our mojo was gone, one game before the finish line… but second, and more potently… Clune absolutely crushed the ball in that Championship Game… 4 home runs by my count and I can’t say I can ever remember looking at the backsides of my outfielders that many times in a single game… a truly impressive offensive show by our 2014 Design League Champions Clune Construction

Some Notes on the Format Change

I’ll start by saying that the following opinions are from my own perspective… I’d be really interested in hearing comments/opinions from all of our Captains as well as the members of any team… you could leave those in the comments section of this post which is what I would prefer as then they’re a part of the public record… but if you’d rather email me directly, that’s fine too… do that here.

As far as CONS go…

  • On a front that’s correctable, I need to be more on top of things organizationally. I should have predicted that I suppose but the process I’ve developed over 14 years now… was upended… I dropped a couple balls, most notably not doing the picture posting and annotation in a timely manner… but this particular con is very to fix….
  • Once Triple-Header Saturday arrived followed by straight double-headers… teams were no longer able to borrow players from other teams when they were short… this was one that was anticipated, a con that’s unavoidable under the format however…
  • If your team was affected by a roster shortfall on a double-header day, you had 2 games impacted as opposed to 1… how I dealt with this as a Captain was that I established my network of subs early on… got them on the mail list and kept in communication… last day of the regular season I found the Dogz short of (10) for the first time ever… but we got through it and came out the other side… but it is an issue that requires effort to keep managed… so I thank all of you for your commitment on this front, we only had one team forfeit a double-header this season. Next season I plan to up the leagues forfeit threshold from 2 to 3… we still want ZERO forfeits… but I don’t want teams feeling like despite their best efforts, if something goes wrong on a double-header game day that their residency in the CDL is in jeopardy.
  • I have a certain sense of loss that we won’t be playing into the Fall… but I believe that’s mostly coming from familiarity… it’s what we’ve always done… to be honest, this melancholy is easily outweighed by my own happiness to not have to deal with scheduling post-Lollapalooza games anymore… that was such a tedious pain in the ass that it truly had me asking myself whether or not I wanted to continue to do it…

So now the PROS…

  • Again, organizationally, I can’t impress enough on everyone how much easier this season was to organize than the 2 that preceded it… once Perry’s Tent came to Upper Hutch over Lollapalooza… that was it… the fork in the road… in my opinion we initially chose the wrong direction but now we’ve returned and gotten ourselves back on the tracks… this for however long the current realities of playing softball in Grant Park stay the same. Many thanks on this front to Marie, our Park District rep, without her none of it would have been possible.
  • Triple-Header Saturday (Ed Misovic’s idea) was a stroke of genius… as good as it is under the current format to get 3 games in the books for all 16 of our teams in a single morning/afternoon… taking the vast majority of the team and captain pictures at one time saved me so much time I can’t even really tell you how much… but a task that used to span weeks and weeks of coordinating with individual teams… and then adding those pictures to the site piece meal as I went with corresponding individual annotation emails… has been replaced by just four easy steps; take the pictures… format the pictures… post the pictures… get them annotated… a process that when done in assembly line fashion is infinitely quicker… As mentioned above, I didn’t post them this season in a timely manner… but that was simply due to stuff I personally had going on in June and not being prepared for the task… it’ll be different next year.
  • For all those who drive, the new format saves you some money on parking… 9 or 10 game days as compared with 15 or 16 in past seasons… also to note here is that fewer game days means less organizational effort needs to be made by Captains… and for all those who play on teams within the Design League there are fewer days to coordinate personal schedules around.
  • I personally think it’s fun to play double-headers.
  • And the opposite end of the sense of loss over no more Fall games here for a while… would be the fact that we’re done by July 21st… my Thursdays out here in the northwest suburbs are mine again with 5 weeks to go until school starts… perhaps some of you have your own pleasures over being done early.

Considering the scenario at Grant Park for playing softball here in the Lolla era… and that we all want to keep our (non-traditional) 15-game season as well as stay in Grant Park… I’m completely convinced that this years format is THE BEST possible solution… it’s one that was fleshed out between our rep and myself and it pretty much went off without a hitch…

During the season it felt like weather shut us down a lot of the time… this also due to field maintenance issues that were addressed as much as they could be… the thing for everyone to know though moving forward is that the amount of resources allocated to Grant Park and the maintenance of softball diamonds is pretty much out of my control because truth be told… even Marie could only do so much with the man-power afforded her… responsibility here truly lies with the higher-ups and how to best get through to them is anyone’s guess… that said, the 2 double-header makeup Thursdays after the 4th pretty much covered the games missed and in the end we played the typical 13 of 15 games…

At the end of the day and assuming nothing changes at Grant Park between now and the 2015 season such as light towers being installed… I can say that my desire will be to repeat things pretty much the same way they happened this season… so much so that you could look at the game days from this year and assume the same exact schedule next year, just shifted up a day… pending Park District approval of course… so for any reason you think now that your team wouldn’t want to participate again under those circumstances… telling me about that sooner rather than later would be very much appreciated on my end… but hopefully all 16 teams will be returning.

So there you have it… the Design League’s 14th Season at Grant Park is in the books with a big congratulations to Clune Construction, now 4-time champions in the recorded era.

Enjoy the rest of your summers and if not before, I’ll talk to you next Spring.