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2012 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

For those of us that look forward to the Tournament like a little kid looks forward to Christmas, I had a lot of interesting conversations Saturday with others that analyzed the forecast all week almost as much as I did… the Design League has a history of dancing with the rain in September… we’ve been rained out a couple times early in our history and had to move the Tourney to the rain date… Just recently in 2010 we had to stop play for a half hour or so to wait for a heavier shower to pass… and most notably in 2005 just as bracket play concluded, the skies opened up and unleashed a day-ending deluge which forced the Final Four and Championship games to 28th & Halsted for Thursday night games under the lights at McGuane Park, that was definitely a memorable night…

So here we were this year looking at a sketchy forecast once again, which at its worst was indicating a 60% chance of rain as late as Thursday… but as it turned out, Friday held the worst of what was to come which never exceeded a light rain… not enough to threaten us and in fact… it left the dirt just about perfect… sliding was like doing it on carpet… I saw more sliding Saturday than I have in a long time. For those of us out in the park earlier, which was quite a few  camps this year due to the street closures, we took cover from a 10 minute shower around 8:15 that created a little anxiety… but a quick look at the radar ensured it would just be  a passing nuisance… Games began as scheduled at 9 AM and shortly thereafter the skies opened up to a beautiful blue with big puffy white clouds… and we were off.

For the first time in a long time, bracket play was relatively uneventful with no upsets to speak of… going into the Final Four this year were the 4 top seeded teams… that hasn’t happened in a while either… You’ll remember a couple years back we flip-flopped the 1 PM and 2 PM match-ups to have the meetings between the top 8 seeded teams happen last… the thinking being that statistically, these were the games that would send teams to the Final Four so we wanted to have those teams warmed-up coming off of games… that move has now caused a tradition inside the tradition to emerge in the 1 PM time slot where the bottom seeded 8 teams are meeting up… in games that hold no chance of advancement, which this year was all of them, beer coolers are promptly dragged out behind 2nd base and some variation of the 16″ game ensues… very cool if you ask me… as long as the police stay away, which they always have, just another unique part of the day… but I will say that those games are going to have to do a better job of reporting there scores next year… it’s crucial that ALL scores are recorded as they’re needed to figure out the final standings.

Which leads me to the Dobbins Group, Design League Champs for the 2012 season… and what an incredible two-year run its been for these Design League newcomers… They’ve amassed an amazing 26-1-1 record over the last two regular seasons along with an 8-1-0 post-season record that culminated in their first Championship as they knocked off the Ruder Group 15-5 to take the crown as the day came to a close. Making it even more significant was that they navigated through two 1-run victories in bracket-play… the first over SCB who remains the only team to beat Dobbins during the regular season… and the second a 1-0 victory over a hard-fighting Perkins&Will squad who had a great year themselves finishing 5th… then they seemed to step on the gas moving past VOA 7-4 to meet Ruder Group for the title where they put on a hitting display rarely seen as they cruised to the 10-run victory. Dobbins has definitely become the team to beat… it will be interesting to see how they handle that next year with everyone gunnin’ for them… but for the next calendar year…

Dobbins Group are our reigning Champs… congratulations on a great season and a great run.

So time to send the league and the website off to hibernation, as usual it’s been a great season, but once we get here to late-September, I look forward to not having to sweat the forecast for a few months… next year will bring a better preparedness in light of the Lollapalooza elephant in the room that we now know is here to stay… to join the league next year your team will need to promise a certain amount of flexibility post-Lollapalooza, the amount of forfeits we had this year is unsustainable… far too many teams that wanted to play were left without an opponent and that’s unacceptable. For my part, I’ll do the best I can to solidify non-Grant Park contingency plans as early as possible, but I’m limited by the bureaucracy that is the Chicago Park District… I can only guarantee what they allow me to guarantee, beyond that we need to be flexible… if it rains during Lollapalooza, we can expect to be relocated in the aftermath… that’s our new truth. So there’s something to mull over the long, cold winter…

In the meantime, have a great off-season.

And thanks you all for another great Summer, 2012 is officially in the books.

Note; Simply type in the “comments” box below to add anything to this narrative you feel noteworthy, this is the Design League’s permanent record, all of your personal observations are both welcome and sought after here… 

2012 Regular Season Wraps

So everything is in the books… much faster than I would ever have expected with Upper Hutchinson being damaged by Lollapalooza once again this year. With 9 forfeits over the last 3 weeks though, it’s clear that everyone would prefer to be in Grant Park… but most definitely the best resolution we could have hoped for considering. We’ll see what we can do to tighten this post-Lollapalooza situation up for next season. There will be a post on the topic once we get the Tournament in the books.

Last nights doubleheaders provided what would become very little movement on the Leaderboard resulting in only 4 teams changing brackets… so the Tournament match-ups are set. With more time this year between yesterday’s conclusion of the regular season and the Tournament, we can relax a little… there will be a Tournament Info post to the Forum sometime over the next week once I have time to get the web all updated in advance of Super Saturday. I’m also working on confirming some diamonds for optional team practices on September 13th… the 20th… or both… and for those of you wondering why we have a 3 week break now… that just comes down to a confluence of many events… which Saturdays were available in Grant Park… the need to push the Tournament later to leave time to properly resolve the regular season not knowing what the post-Lolla landscape was going to be back in March… and finally, we got really lucky with the availability of Lincoln Park as well as the cooperation of the weather… otherwise, we’d still be playing over the next two Thursdays… so there’s your answer.

And last, congratulations for the second year running to the Dobbins Group who held off a much tougher challenge this year to head into the Tournament with the #1 seed once again. They had to beat #3 seeded Ruder Group last night to do it and they got it done 12-6. Over their first two years in the league they have an incredible 26-1-1 record during the regular season with that only loss coming at the hands of SCB who coincidentally has landed in their bracket this Tournament Day. And one last aspect of their season definitely worth recognition is they finished the season with the league’s best offense scoring exactly 200 runs which beat the previous record of 181 runs scored by the ’08 Dogz Squad… The Reservoir Dogz finished this season with the league’s best defense allowing only 63 runs to cross the plate, 18 runs better than Ruder Groups 2nd ranked defense.

And if you’re wondering about the picture at the top of this post… Power Construction was the last team to be photographed this year and we got that done last night… thanks to each and every team for your cooperation on this front and remember, I’m willing to re-take your team picture on Tournament Day if you feel you’ll be better represented on the 22nd… remember that these pictures are an archive, the more faces you have in yours the better down the road when you choose to look back. As part of the Tournament Post that will be coming soon, a .PDF will be provided for your printing pleasure that documents all teams pictures and rosters, this to have on hand Tournament Day to resolve any eligible player disputes.

All for now, standby for that Tournament update and everyone have a great holiday weekend.

Week 13/14 Update.

So what did everybody think?

Granted, we all wish we would never have to leave Grant Park… more specifically that Lollapalooza was still in Chicago, but held at a location that WASN’T Grant Park… but if we can’t have either of those things… Doubleheader nights under the lights at Lincoln Park is a pretty cool consolation prize. Looking around last night there was some pretty competitive softball being played… lots of great plays on the diamonds.

One such play happened in the Gettys/Cannon game where Gettys pulled off a triple play the hard way as I heard it… men on 1st and 2nd, no outs and a liner to 3rd… caught for the first out, thrown across the diamond to 1st catching that runner off the base for the second out… while the runner on 2nd then tried to advance to 3rd which was countered with another cross-diamond throw back to 3rd for the tagged third out… pretty impressive. Feel free to hit up the comment section for the input of any fantastic plays that may have happened in your games.

The one thing I figured out from yesterday’s action was that games on the hour weren’t really working… there were a lot of shortened games in the early time slot due to players getting to the fields late… after the second horn I started shifting the sounding of the horn up some minutes to try and compensate for this… I was relatively successful I think but next week I’m going to attempt to evolve and make things a little better… I need to communicate with the LP Rep early next week to first make sure the lights are going to stay on until 11:05 as I was told… last night they went off at 10:45 but all our games had finished and I suspect that someone live and in person saw that and cut them off manually… for next week I want to schedule hour and 10 minute games in all 4 slots, i.e. 6 PM, 7:10, 8:20 and 9:30… I just need to verify that we can have light until 11:05… so standby for news on this the beginning of next week.

So if rain doesn’t bother us next week we’ll conclude our slate of regular season games… if you look at the Leaderboard there might be some focus up at the top where a lot of movement is still possible. This would seem to hinge on the fortuitous (for the league) Ruder Group @ Dobbins match-up in the first half of the doubleheader… I’ll let you do the math on what could come of this, but there’s many possibilities.

That said, perhaps a lot more significant to Tournament Day will be how the Leaderboard untangles further down the stack… we have Gettys and theBuzz knotted up, as are P&W and CannonJC Anderson and Power are neck and neck as are SCB and Kelso-Burnett… but none of these teams are actually playing each other… so lots can happen over a 2-game span, I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Regarding next weeks schedule which has now posted to the website… in terms of teams that need to play early and late with 2 games in-between… the best I could do is 3 of our 16 teams in this situation… although I was able to make sure that the 3 teams that had this scenario yesterday, don’t have to do that again. So thanks to Old Stylin’, VOA and Gettys Group for doing it yesterday… and sorry to Clune, Cannon and Goettsch who’ll have to do it next week.

And one final note… the page on the website documenting Tournament Brackets is now up and live… of course it doesn’t mean much until next weeks games get played… but it gets you thinking about the possibilities.

Everyone have a great weekend!


Week 12 Update + Important Info

I’ll start with the most important information I need to get out to everyone which is the Design League will be playing double-headers for the next 2 weeks (08/23 & 08/30). At first I thought I could arrange things where teams would play at 6 & 8 or 7 & 9… but upon closer examination, there’s no way to accomplish this unless the match-ups are chosen at the beginning of the season before any games are played… so unfortunately some teams will have back-to-back games and others will have to play at 6 & 9 with a two hour break in-between… Not ideal I know, but hopefully we can all just bare with it for two weeks as this will wrap up the regular season if the weather doesn’t get in our way. The Schedule has updated on the web for August 23rd… but I haven’t yet touched August 30th as we need to go 1 week at a time here.

I understand that taking up residency in Lincoln Park and throwing in the new later starting times will jam some people up… but I would ask our Captains to go above and beyond to ensure they field a team for all 4 games over the next two weeks, it would be a shame if the forfeit situation that went down last night were to be repeated. Yesterdays forfeits are not being held against any team that forfeited… but moving forward they will be held against you as 1 week should be sufficient notice of the alternate scheduling. If you have any questions, be sure to post them to the comments section of this post.

Game Day Update

Last night on the diamonds was a wild and wooly one with no shortage of runs being scored… this mostly due to a lot of standing water and mushy dirt which didn’t allow the defenses to get a foothold… there was also having to get used to the lights which are not uniform on every diamond, but rather at different places around the field causing changing lighting conditions from diamond to diamond. Assuming dryer dirt next week though… it should be pretty nice out there once the water burns off.

Perkins&Will and SCB really went at it see-sawing back and forth to an eventual 17-16 win by P&W… while on Diamond 1 Old Stylin’ opened the flood gates on SOM to the tune of 29-14… 43 runs scored in a 7 inning softball game… holy shit.

The battle of the night though was on Diamond 5 where VOA and Dobbins Group battled for 1st Place… In this one VOA jumped out to a 4-run lead after 1… but as they’ve shown time and again… you can never count Dobbins Group out… trailing 8-6 after 6… they put up 3 in the top of the 7th to take a 1-run lead… in the bottom half of the inning VOA managed to load the bases with 2 outs setting the stage for a walk-off victory… but DG induced the infield pop-out that ended the game regaining the 1-seed that they lost to VOA a few weeks back.

Some Thoughts on the Future of the Design League

When I put it out there earlier this week that I might explore a permanent move to Lincoln Park… the backlash was quick and overwhelmingly in favor of doing whatever had to be done to stay in Grant Park… at least for the pre-Lolla portion of the season and for the Tournament. After spending last night out at Lincoln Park, I would have to agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly… it’s not that Lincoln Park is bad, in fact I think it will be really cool to play there over the next few weeks during our limited residency, but Grant Park, particularly Upper Hutchinson, feels like home… it is our home… and we’ll do whatever we need to moving forward to maintain our place there.

That said… Lollapalooza is here for the next decade or so at least… it’s an immovable object that’s not going anywhere and so we need to plan around it in a manner where we never again sustain the type of night we had yesterday… 5 forfeits is unacceptable… all I could think about was the 5 teams that were ready to play, including my own, that instead had to stay home after being off for a month… it’s hard to believe that happened considering I was telling everyone to plan on playing all along… plus we all had the same experience last year post-Lolla and the rescheduling situation was much worse, last year we only had 2 forfeits.

One way or another the League will launch with a disclaimer next season… the post-Lolla expectation will be laid out in March and if a team doesn’t think it can be adaptable to a volatile week or two following the break… they probably shouldn’t play in this league any longer… forfeits at this point in the schedule are simply too unfair to the teams that are ready to play but don’t get the chance. Positioning can end up very important on Tournament Day and the way to gain or lose it is by playing the games. Forfeits are poison and a goal for next year will be to get the number of them back down under 5… you can tell I’m bothered by the 10 we’re already carrying this regular season…. poison.

But that rant aside, I’ve heard rumors that the Park District may try to add lights, at least to Lower Hutchinson sort of piggy-backing the need on the back of the problems that keep occurring in the Lollapalooza set-up and take-down… if that were to end up happening it might bode very well for us as the time needed by C3 before and after the festival would be reduced as crews could work around the clock… it might also give us some better rescheduling flexibility post-Lolla on Lower Hutchinson… optimistic thinking I know, but you never know what might happen.

At the end of the day though… this is our new reality… so continuing to play in the Design League will come to mean that you understand the obstacle course that the end of the regular season has become and you’re willing to deal with it… without forfeiting.

Give it some thought… and feel free to express your opinion by leaving a comment on this post.

Doubleheaders NEXT WEEK.

Mark your calendars.


Week 10 Update + Special News For This Week

So my Forum updates have been a little sporadic here of late… for that I apologize… my business is running at capacity which has never happened over the Summer before… so I’m struggling a little to keep up with the stuff I don’t get paid for… priorities being what they are… but please read through to the end of this post as there’s important info on things being done a little differently this week that everyone needs to know…

Anyway… big week on the diamonds last week in terms of two upsets… one pretty big… one historic… both happened in the early game time slot. The first saw Clune Construction knocking off the Ruder Group by an incredible 16-15 score… Not sure of the line score… but you figure it was an interesting one… at 5-3-1 this year in addition to the fact that they’ve been such a good team for so long… it’s hard to say Clune ‘upset’ another team, but in the context of this regular season thus far… it was a huge win for Clune and a tough loss for the Ruder Group… so there’s a significance there… but if history is any teacher, this game ends up just a prelude to another long Ruder Group winning streak… we’ll see…

And now the other upset I referred to… which is most definitely an upset in every sense of the word as it was a 3-4-1 SCB squad becoming the first team in the season and a half history of the Dobbins Group… to hand them a regular season loss… the final score ended up 11-10 in an also incredible 9 inning game. Trailing 7-4 going into the 6th… Dobbins put up a 4 spot to take an 8-7 lead. Failing to score in the bottom half of the 6th, SCB held Dobbins scoreless in the top of the 7th to get to the bottom half of the inning trailing by just 1. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, SCB squeezed one across to send the game to extras. Dobbins then scored 1 in the top of the 8th which was answered with one from SCB in the bottom half… Dobbins scored a single tally again in the top of the 9th, but then in the bottom half of the inning SCB went 1st and 3rd with no outs, which inevitably led to a victory of the walk-off variety as SCB got the game winning base hit with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

Hopefully Dobbins Group doesn’t feel as though I’m making too big a deal about this… but as much as I’ve praised them for their prowess over the course of the last season and a half… I feel it’s important now to praise SCB who has come a long way in terms of getting better since they rejoined the Design League… coincidentally the same time Dobbins joined the league at the start of the 2011 season. Kudos.

Important Info About This Week’s Last Game Day Preceding Lollapalooza

Due to circumstances beyond my control… I’ll be leaving on vacation this week Thursday morning and thus, won’t be on the diamonds this Thursday for the first time in 6 years. In my absence, my Dogz co-Captain Bill Winczner will be your contact on the diamonds… his contact info can be found here. He’ll blow the horn at the appropriate times and I suppose answer any questions any of you have…. but as most Thursdays find no such issues arising… I’m hoping that blowing the horn will be all he’ll have to do. He doesn’t have a key to the Grant Park boxes but I’ve got an email in to our CPD rep asking that she double check that home plates are available outside of the boxes… other than that… play nice and try not to have any problems this week ;-)

On Wednesday night I’m going to send out the email requesting your final scores from Thursdays games a day early… simply let that sit in your inbox until games are over and then PLEASE, don’t forget to reply to it come Friday morning. There will be no update to the website until I return from vacation on the 28th… but assuming all those scores are in, I’ll get it done as soon as I return.

About the Game Day Scheduled for September 13th

The Judicata Race for 2012 will be happening on Upper Hutchinson on September 13th… the plan is that the games for that day would be played on Lower… but as I don’t have to tell any of you… God knows what the field conditions will be post-Lolla. In the event that Lower is unplayable on 09/13, games for that day will be pushed to the following week on 09/20 back on Upper… if this makeup week CAN be played on Lower on 09/13… then 09/22 remains available for either the re-scheduling of a future rain out week… or as a practice day directly leading into the Tournament… just wanted to make everyone aware of the situation.

If you have any questions, let me know… otherwise you’ll be hearing from me again around the beginning of August.

Week 8 Update

No really big surprises on the diamonds yesterday… the only game that had an eye on it for the upset potential was Dobbins Group @ Perkins&Will where the home team kept it a close game until near the end when Dobbins opened the flood gates on them… but that’s the story here at the mid-way point of the season… who can knock Dobbins off? Astonishingly, and unprecedented in the 13 years of Design League softball behind us, Dobbins Group is an expansion team that has currently played a season and a half in the league without a regular season loss. The only loss period for Dobbins was to Clune Construction in the Final Four last year… and wouldn’t you know, that’s who they’re playing next week… So lace ’em Clune and take your shot.

Other interesting match ups on the schedule for next week see the Dogz and the Buzz pitting 5-2 records against each other, a rivalry that goes all the way back to Lincoln Park… and we’ll also see Perkins&Will, who has been dangerous this year, squaring off against the Ruder Group and trying to snap their 3-game winning streak.

Regarding pictures… things have been going well with getting those taken… I’m really hoping to find the time this coming week to get all that have been taken posted and the annotation emails sent out. As of right now we have no pictures scheduled for next week although that might change once I go through everything and see where we’re at.

Just to remind everyone that when arriving at the diamonds on game days… please drop your gear on the 1st-base line if you’re the visiting team, 3rd-base line if you’re the home team. If you’re the late game, keep your stuff back away from the diamond until the early games finish… if you’re the early game, once your game is complete, please move your stuff back away from the diamond making room for the late game teams… this is important… What I’m seeing more and more is early game teams drinking and socializing after their games without moving first… while the late game teams walk around them in the area along the sidelines between the corner bases and the plate… definitely not telling anyone not to socialize, that’s invited and welcomed as always… just move out of the way first…

And a week without a forfeit… so back on the tracks with that… I personally want to thank SOM who had a particularly bad week for fielding a team but did what they had to do to get players out there and play a game… the results didn’t quite go in their favor but they continued to play hard with a great attitude… it wouldn’t appear so from looking at the final score… but both of our teams had a really good time out their yesterday… no crazy from the heat… no forfeits.

Everyone have great weekends.


Week 7 Update

An interesting night out on the diamonds last night. With a big NFL event going on on Lower, I thought that might cause us some problems… but it was actually the ‘Get Out and Skate’ day… or whatever the hell that was that caused a few issues as skaters aren’t aware that they should walk around softball games in progress as opposed to through them… but not that big of a deal.

On the field of play we had a couple of 1-run games, a couple of routs and a couple in-between… but no huge surprises and minimal movement on the Leaderboard… Lots of ties are working in favor of some teams while keeping others from rising too fast… but what I’d like to spend a quick paragraph on is the subject of forfeits.

Forfeits are rearing their ugly head again at a pace that’s troubling. Two more last night for a total of (5) on the season… almost matching last years total not even half way through this season… At the end of the day, all of you have paid your diamond dues and can do what you want (within the rules) with your purchase… but the thing to keep in mind is that when you forfeit, you leave another team that was good to go with no one to play… and in effect, a forced BYE week. I’d like to think that all of our forfeits have followed a valiant effort by Captains to scrape together a team, but I fear that this isn’t always the case. As Captains though, that’s your job. Remember that replacement players do not have to work within your workplace… any bodies will do in the spirit of getting a team on the field. My own team has never forfeited in 13 years and I understand that it can be difficult sometimes… but it can be done. Please let’s do better the rest of the way.

An issue that came up last week that we should visit here briefly is the issue of player interference on games that have their outfielders over-lapping, which is pretty much every game almost all the time…. two outfielders that have their backs turned on action potentially coming at them from the opposite direction… the way we’ve always played this is communicate out loud, do your best to get out of the way when a play is heading your way… but in the event of contact with either players, or a player and the ball…. the contact is in play, like an ump in a major league game and play should continue from that. There has never been a rule about it because there’s nothing to do about it other than that really… unless someone has a better idea we’ll just be leaving that as it is.

As a league we continue to be really great at cleaning up after ourselves… noticing a lot of that going on last night even though some of the garbage cans had been displaced from their usual locations… so thanks for that, noticed and appreciated.

Four more game days until Lollapalooza, all with maximum light… let’s make the best of them and try like hell to squash the forfeits. Thanks, and everyone have a great weekend.

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