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2015 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

Going off the words I was hearing around the diamonds on Saturday, it would appear that everyone pretty much enjoyed having the Tournament at Union Park as an alternative to Grant Park this season… For the League, it was great to finally get in there… I’ve been trying for years, particularly in past years when we were forced out of GP post-Lolla and had to have those double-header nights at Lincoln Park which is prohibitively expensive… at very least, I’ve been able to establish  a relationship with the staff running Union, so from here on out we’re a known entity… I even broached the subject of moving the League in its entirety to Union just in case circumstances were to get worse at Grant Park at some point in the future… and he seemed really open to that… but right now it won’t get any serious consideration primarily because the lack of posted bases is pretty much a deal-breaker for me… I’ve also heard from some that play 12″ there that the lights more or less suck and on a lesser note, the manner in which the trees encroach upon Diamond 2 is a minor pain-in-the-ass… but I’m always looking to stay fluid with options open… it’s also a bit more expensive to play at Union over Grant believe it or not.

So now to the 2015 Tournament itself… one anomaly right off the bat was that we had (4) ties this Tournament Day… I can’t remember that ever happening before… amongst those four, the Dogz and VOA were able to play an extra-inning to try and break one to no avail… and one of the others was a 7-7 tie awarded to Ruder Group/Skender for failing to report their score in a game that didn’t mean anything in the 1 o’clock hour… that said, regardless of whether the game means anything towards continuation in the Tournament itself, it does mean something towards the final standings for the season… it now bothers me that this years final standings are perhaps not an accurate record of what happened… but it is what it is… the rule was instituted this year and these two teams chose to ignore it, which was disappointing… but on to happier tales…

A long time coming… Perkins&Will, a charter member of the Chicago Design League at Grant Park with teams stretching all the way back to the Lincoln Park days… yet no Championships in the recorded era… until this year… their epic run to a title began by overcoming a tie in pool play with JC Anderson with a 7-5 win over the 4th seeded Reservoir Dogz in the 2pm game… they rode that momentum to a 10-2 rout of 1-seeded Old Stylin’ in the Final Four… and then down 8-4 entering the 7th inning against defending Champs Clune ConstructionP&W was able to dig down deep for one last go unleashing an onslaught of hits that was nothing short of legendary… when the dust had settled they put a crooked 6 on the board for a 10-8 lead heading to the bottom half of the 7th… and then as if nothing else would do, they needed to get through Clune’s 2-3-4-5 murderers row which has wreaked havoc across the League over these last few seasons… each at bat in the bottom of the 7th was a long one as Clune’s best waited for that perfect pitch to smash… and smash they did, but sans one solitary base hit, P&W’s outfield was able to make the plays necessary to secure the win and the 2015 Championship. Happy for this team. Happy for their Captains, Rick and Bobby became the tandem at the helm back in 2012 and were able to reach the top of the mountain here in their 4th year together…

I’d also be remiss this year to not mention the multi-talented Clune Construction team, that this year at least, had to swallow the bitter pill of being on the wrong end of the amazing softball Perkins&Will was able to conjure up, especially there in the 7th inning of the Championship Game… it blew me away that Clune’s first move after shaking P&W hands after the game concluded, was to give a dozen or so bottles of champagne they had on ice to their victorious opponents… class move of the highest order, as sportsman-like as it gets and the mark of a great champion. Kudos to Joe, Wes and the entire Clune team who you can bet will be back next year in their role as one of the primary teams to beat.

Looking back to the regular season for a minute, it was an odd one in terms of how things played out in that we were able to play through Week 9 without a single rainout… at that point we had (10) more game day slots to play (6) more games and things looked golden… but the rain patterns through Chicago this year had different plans as after the conclusion of games on June 6th, we weren’t able to take the field again until July 2nd… whenever that happens, at least to me, the season feels like it had a hole in it in retrospect… even though we were still able to play our typical 13 of 15 games… I was hoping very hard that we would have gotten to play on July 16th for the whole 15, which I think would have made the regular season feel a lot better as well as provide the opportunity for the Tournament seedings to be in-flux one last time with those closing day match-ups… but as it turned out, the rain that day showed up 2 hours earlier than we needed it to and all said, I’m sure Perkins&Will is more than grateful things went exactly as they did.

One last observation I wanted to mention regarding the League in general that I really haven’t said enough over the years… is to say how many truly fantastic softball players I see amongst our ranks as I walk around the diamonds on Tournament Day… usually I don’t get that chance, but I always make a point of it during the Tournament… amazing plays made by infielders and outfielders alike, day in day out in the Chicago Design League… the level of play and of competition has never been better and it’s really fun to see and be a part of… on a similar note of things I should say more often would be my kudos to ALL of our teams for our continued ability to play without umpires and for the most part, work all of our disagreements on the diamonds out amicably… a testament to our tradition with roots stretching all the way back to the squatting days. More and more, Captains are policing their own rosters and arbitrating issues out between themselves to satisfactory conclusions… as it should be.

So that’s about it for 2015… I’ll be posting some pictures to the Facebook page sometime soon from around the diamonds on Tourney Day… Congratulations one more time to Perkins&Will… everyone have a great off-season and I’ll talk to you again early Spring 2016.


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.


2013 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

Perfect weather for Tournament Day this past Saturday… and I would have to say that being on Lower Hutchinson was fine with me… awesome perspective on the south skyline and those perfect blue skies just made it that much nicer… anyway, a nice end to a season that made it past its midway point in fine shape… but then stumbled a little for consistency post-Lollapalooza… but more about that in a bit…

As for the days results on the diamonds, this marks the first year since I started this Forum that I’ll be writing my own story here in the Tournament Edition as once the day finally reached its conclusion, it ended with a Reservoir Dogz walk-off hit for the Championship as the sun set on what was arguably the most exciting Championship Game in our 13-year history at Grant Park…

What made this game so great in my mind were the momentum shifts and the battle back and forth, inning by inning as it went down. To say right up front.. the Dobbins Group is a fierce softball team. It struck me that there wasn’t a down spot over their entire order, no place where you could semi-assume an out, no place to rest… and being down 8-2 heading to the bottom of the 3rd, I personally felt as though there was a good chance my team was cooked… long day, hot sun, entering our 28th inning of softball over the last 9 hours… on top of that our Final Four hit-fest with old rival Ruder Group racked up 28 combined runs under the last of the days sun… so I felt we were tired and in trouble… but then the tides started turning as the Dogz found a second wind, started chipping away at the score and by the time the top of the 7th rolled around, we had the lead for the first time in the game 12-11… then the Dobbins Group tallied twice in the top of the 7th to regain the lead, 13-12… The Dogz then tied the game in the bottom of the 7th, proceeded to load the bases with only 1 out… but then a weak pop to 3rd and a medium depth fly out to left ended the inning with 3 stranded and the game tied…

Extra Innings. Dobbins Group bats in the top of the 8th… they make two quick outs, get an infield hit before a grounder to short ends the inning with a force at 2nd… which sets the stage for the finish… Dogz lead-off hitter singles and then advances to 2nd on an error… next Dogz batter intentionally flies out to right sacrificing the winning run to 3rd… and then an infield hit precedes the walk-off game winner which was a line drive single up the middle by Dogz left-fielder Dustin Fife… to a man we all felt it was the best 16″ softball game any of us had ever played in and we thank the Dobbins Group for being the height of competition for a historic Championship Game that was the only one to ever go to extra-innings, featured a record 27 combined runs and became the first Title Game won on a walk-off.

Not that the following would be something many of you would be interested in, but who knows… I was extremely fortunate in that my 10-year old son decided to run video over the end of the game… the following picks up with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th and runs through the end of the game…

Also to be congratulated would be Perkins&Will who were able to advance from their bracket to the Final Four with a 2-1 record in a situation where the head-to-head tie-breaker was off the table and they made it out by virtue of 2 less runs allowed over SCB… so it was a hotly contested fight in Bracket 2 on Tournament Day… P&W also represented the days biggest jump in seed at +7… entered the Tournament the 11th seed, finished in 4th place… and last but not least, congratulations to Ruder Group who had an easier 3-0 sweep into the Final Four before going down 15-4 to the eventual champion Dogz, but then reeling off 9 unanswered runs in the 6th and 7th inning to bring that Final Four game down to the wire… always tough competition, congrats to Ruder Group and their 3rd place finish this year.

The 2013 Final Standings along with all the scores from Tournament Day have posted under the “Tournament” menu on the Design League website. Pictures from around the diamonds have posted to our Facebook page as well…

So… getting back to the nature of our season post-Lollapalooza the last couple years… the plan for right now is to do what I can towards finding us some better continuity for the end of our seasons moving forward… in light of the current circumstances, what really becomes the key issue is preserving the 15-game schedule… The Park District has mentioned and would really prefer if we were to let that go and instead settle in on the amount of available game days that were available prior to Lollapalooza and end our season there… which amounts to an 8 or 9 game regular season… but my intention will be to fight that for as long as I possibly can… there’s numerous reasons why I love the 15-game schedule… but end of the day… it’s our tradition and I’m not going to let that go easily…

But that said, something needs to get worked out that will once again simplify things for me from a planning perspective… I spent WAY too much time this year trying to figure out post-Lolla and we spent way too much money on Lincoln Park for only ONE night! Trust me when I say that that experience cannot be repeated…

So what I’m going to do in the short term is go personally to Union Park and talk to the Park District Rep there… Union Park for those that don’t know it would be the perfect location or us to relocate for the necessary period post-Lolla… near west side (Ashland & Lake), 4 diamonds, under the lights, easy parking… and even though I’ve been told two years running now that there were NO dates available at Union when we needed them… I’m hoping that going over there and having an in-person conversation might garner us some favor… all we really need is two nights sometime between 3rd week in July and end of August… we might need to be flexible and change the night we play those games, but that will be a concession I’d be willing to make if we could get 2-3 nights promised to us and paid for before the season even starts… which is what I need to have happen.

So we’ll see how it goes… I’ll keep everyone informed if anything were to develop along these lines in the off-season… but for right now, know I’m concerned about it and working on it.

And finally, a big thanks to ALL of our (16) teams in the Design League this season with an extra special thanks to all of our Captains for keeping everyone organized and ready to go at game time… back on track again this year when it came to forfeits… only 2 forfeits over 131 games. Absolutely fantastic, thank you all.

Have great off-seasons. See you in the Spring.

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… 

2011 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

Sorry its taken me a bit longer than usual to post here with this final game day update of the year… truth is, I’m burnt out a little… not on softball, but rather organizing softball, which got really tedious here at the conclusion of this season… I’m sure most of you are as sick of reading emails as I am of writing them… so thanks for hanging in there with me to the bitter end. It made a big difference towards keeping the train on the tracks.

For the second straight year, our Tournament Champion arrived at the Final Four having only given up 2 runs. The Tournament is inevitably about defense and Cannon Design exhibited that in spades this past Saturday. In fact, they gave up less runs in 5 games (10) than any other team did in 3 or 4 games… pretty amazing.

In the top of the 1st inning of our Final Four game, the Dogz started with a deep ball to left that had triple written all over it, Cannon’s left fielder ran it down with an amazing over-the-shoulder catch… next batter, a line shot at the pitchers head… which he snags… third batter hits a hard shot to the hole at short, a base hit against most other teams, Cannon’s fantastic shortstop sticks it and shotguns a throw across to their sure-handed 1st baseman. As an opposing Captain it gets you thinking ‘oh shit’… and that’s more or less how it worked out as Cannon dropped theDogz 10-5.

And then one last twist of fate to find out that the other Final Four game had ended with #9 Clune knocking off the #1 seeded Dobbins Group… No need to change fields, the 2-seed was now the trump card. Clune traveled the Upper Hutch diagonal crossing from Diamond 2 to Diamond 4 for the title game, which got under way around 4:30 with a bright sun in the right field sky. Clune looked a little tired from the outset, it’s a longer road to a championship game from the #9 seed. They advanced from their bracket at 2-1, which is always more stressful and then they switched diamonds to play a team that had won 16 straight. Lost in all of this was the fact that Clune hung the only loss on Dobbins Group they experienced this year… but that they did… for the right to take that long walk over to Diamond 4 and a shot at the crown…

They were a bit gassed though… and Cannon seemed cool, calm and on a mission… which was how it worked out… a valiant effort on the part of Design League vets Clune Construction, but in the end, this was Cannon’s day… Final Fours in ’06, ’07 and ’10… but here in 2011 they’ve finally reached the promised land and grabbed their 1st Design League Championship since the move to Grant Park.

Congratulations on a great season.

On a side note, from my own perspective of having had the Dogz lose to Cannon in the Final Four game, a chain-of-events revealed itself as I thought about it in the aftermath that seems to give weight to the importance of your regular season seed’s influence on your chances on Tournament Day. One scenario that’s quite possibly true is that Cannon Design was just unstoppable this year, regardless of what their path to a title ended up being. On the last day of the regular season though, Cannon (#2) dropped a 3-2 game to 11th place Gettys Group. That should have dropped them from the 2 to the 3 seed, however the Dogz (#3) ended up tying 15th place Kelso-Burnett, equally unlikely, yet still missing out on the opportunity to take the #2 from Cannon. Assuming that the Dogz and Cannon would both have advanced with flip-flopped brackets, how that translates two days later on Tournament Day was that in their Final Four game, the Dogz were both the visiting team as well as having to move diamonds for the game… the result could very well have been exactly the same, even with the situation reversed… but it still makes me want to work towards the highest seed possible every season. The #1 seed is the ace-in-the-hole, you just need to win 4 games before you truly get to use it.

One way or another, a great season ending in the crowning of a deserving champion in Cannon Design, 5-0 with 10 runs allowed and 48 runs scored, a fantastic day.

The (extremely loud at times) Mexican Parade aside, it felt like a pretty laid back Tournament day to me. The dire weather forecast never came to pass and I think everyone was happy to be back on Upper Hutchinson. The consensus seemed to be that the outfields were still a little rocky, but considering the entire park was a steamy stew of slop less than a month ago, I’m actually amazed at the job they did in getting it playable again in such a short time. My wife and I took a couple trips around the diamonds taking some pictures… many of these will be posting to the leagues Facebook page over the next week or two… so if you’re on Facebook and not yet a fan of the page… stop by here and get it done so you don’t miss those.

At the end of the day, after the sun had set on Grant Park, I looked around and saw my Dogz, Power ConstructionVOA and theBuzz, flagship teams still with camps that were going strong, squeezing every last bit of time out of the annual event… got me thinking once again of the ‘tradition’ that’s been spoken of so much over the last month or so. It’s worth fighting for. Due diligence will be paid and we will return strong as ever next year to carry things on…

In the meantime, have a great off-season.

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…  also find links below for sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter and all the rest…

Regular Season Wraps : Tournament Primer

A little bit of a longer post this morning as I’ll do the game day update from Thursday along with all the information I have at this point regarding Tournament Day. Captains are responsible for reading all this info and please… forward the link to this post on to all your players.

First off, my sincere thanks to each and every team for what they’ve had to endure over the last 3 weeks. The longer trip to Waveland coupled with the earlier sunset and earlier start times created some real hassle for many of us… but in the end, of the 24 games scheduled at Waveland, 4 were decided by forfeit, which I feel was better than expected considering the circumstances. 13 of out 16 teams fielded teams for all 3 games. And a special thanks to Sean Bock from Old Stylin’ and the crew from Ruder Group who helped me out a lot getting the bases staked before each Thursday’s games. And last, to all the folks that took up the bases after the late games and humped ’em over to Diamond 2, my sincere thanks as well…

Our last game day of the regular season and hopefully our last game at Waveland ever turned in a few exciting finishes as well as a couple of surprises… Surprise #1 was 13th seeded Gettys Group knocking off 2nd ranked Cannon 3-2 in the early game on Diamond 1. From what I heard, Cannon had two on and one out in the top of the 7th and failed to tie it… the Cannon loss opened the door for the Dogz to take the 2 seed if they could beat Kelso-Burnett in the early game on Diamond 2… In that game the Dogz entered the bottom of the 7th down 5-3… the Dogz picked up a run to make it 5-4 and brought one of their better hitters to the plate with 1 on and 2 out… a triple to right center tied the game but then the Dogz runner tried to stretch the game-tying triple into the game-winning score and was tagged out at the plate. Dogz tie and remain the 3 seed. Hats off to Kelso-Burnett who played a spirited game.

JC Anderson and Perkins&Will played a close game that appears to have ended in some controversy as it grew too dark to play… but in the end, JC Anderson’s 9-8 loss coupled with Clune Constructions 9-1 win over Old Stylin’ finds JCA and Clune swapping the 9 & 10 seeds… And the 3-2 win by Gettys Group over Cannon mentioned earlier allowed Gettys to jump 2 seeds from 13 to 11 as Old Stylin’ and VOA each drop down a seed courtesy of a loss and forfeit respectively.

But the most interesting game of the night was theBuzz @ Dobbins Group in the late game on Diamond 3… how the hell you start at 6:35 with the sun setting at 7:16 and have a 7-inning game where 32 runs are scored is beyond me… but these two pulled it off as theBuzz lost a heartbreaker 17-15 as they took the best shot at Dobbins of any of us in their attempt to knock off the undefeated… what’s more amazing is that the game had no real consequence for either team… this was simply theBuzz trying to hang a loss on ’em heading into the Tournament… and Dobbins fighting like hell not to let it happen… from what I heard theBuzz put up an 11 run 3rd inning dropping Dobbins way down in the hole… and they came back from it… as the regular season comes to a close, I think all hats are off to the Dobbins Group, a rookie team that ran the table on the regular season… let’s give them a collective pat on the back and then commence trying to knock ’em out again on Saturday… 13-0, 8th ranked defense, 1st ranked offense. Congrats.

Tournament Info

Field Conditions : After the games last night I headed over to Upper Hutchinson and walked the diamonds. All the grass is firmly in place and looking pretty good… the one trouble spot is on the south end of the park where there’s a little patch of 10% grass 90% dirt… this affects right field for Diamond 2 and left field for Diamond 3 but I wouldn’t say it’s enough of a thing to really cause any problems. They’ve also already cut all the grass which was good to see. They were scheduled to do that today (Friday), but I’m assuming they cut it yesterday with the forecast for rain Friday… this ends up good for us I think, hopefully the fence will come down today… The last remaining issue would be the bases. Of the 12 on Upper only 9 were staked… I hold out hope that this can be rectified today… but I’m guessing we’ll have to stake in the bases we’ve been using at Waveland…. problem with that is I need more stakes (that aren’t bent) and what are we supposed to do about the sticks that are sticking out of the ground where the bases are supposed to be? Removing them will lose the spot… coordinating with the Park District on this one today…

So assuming the weather holds out it would appear all systems are go for Upper Hutchinson this Saturday morning… that being the case, the official Tournament Scoreboard will be located in foul territory behind 1st base on Diamond 1, along the train tracks. As always, one Captain from each team is responsible for checking in at the Scorer’s Tent between 8:30 and 8:55.

Captain’s Checklist

MOST IMPORTANT > Make sure your players understand not to assume a Tournament rain-out… Short of an all out deluge, the Tournament will go down as planned tomorrow even if we have to play through some rain. Too many teams would be adversely affected if we moved to the rain date to give up on tomorrow too easily.

This is what you need to do today… (1) Email all your players and get confirmations on their attendance, coordinate the supplies for your base camp and have everyone prepared to deal with some rain (tailgating tents, umbrellas, plastic bags, tarps). (2) Read and Print the conditions and info specific to Tournament Day on this page. (3) Print out the Rules, have a copy in your bag, re-read them quickly to get things fresh in your heads. (4) View the Tournament Game Day Matchups and extract your teams schedule. (5) Go to bed early with the alarm clock set.

On a side note, I still need pictures for Perkins&Will and SOM… I’ll be visiting Perkins&Will with my camera in the 1 o’clock hour… and I’ll be taking pictures of SOM in the 9 o’clock hour.

Feel free to comment on this post, I read all comments as they’re posted… or you can email if you have any questions… I’ll update via email today with any relevant new information as it becomes available.

And as always… Good luck to all.

The 2010 Season Wraps : Tournament Edition

This season was a great one… It has been my favorite since we moved to Grant Park.

Things got rolling back in March when we only had 12 confirmed teams. Our waiting list had been decimated along with everything else in a free-falling economy and it looked like we’d be hitting the fields short of our 16 team capacity for the 2nd season running… but then as March turned into April, fresh teams emerged that not only brought us to capacity, but added a couple new viable teams to the waiting list… so this bodes well for a full field again for the 2011 season.

The second thing that made this season great was the almost total cooperation of the weather. Week 2 rained out… but we were able to reschedule those games to Week 16… that twist of fate paired the #1 and #2 seeds in the last game of the regular season which had some impact… but you never would have guessed it would have held that much significance back in Week 2… and then for the season as a whole, we only ended up losing Week 14 to rain-induced cancellation… This took theBuzz@RuderGroup off the books as well as Cannon@REX… but those are the twists and turns of any season… and as we typically average 3 rainouts a season, we got off really light this year… The final indication that the weather was smiling on us was when it threatened our Tournament, but didn’t deliver a knockout punch… we ended up having our first ever “rain delay” and I thought it was cool how all the base camps cheered in unison when the horn sounded for games to resume, many spent the hour of down time drinking I’m pretty sure… and the rain we did get ended up making the field conditions perfect for the remainder of the day… thinking back to ’06 when the Tourney washed out at 3 pm, trust me when I say that it’s a lot easier when you get it all decided on the one day… Allow this paragraph to be a sacrificial offering to the weather gods… your contributions were noticed and appreciated.

The third thing that made this season great were the (4) new teams we added in JC Anderson, Kelso-Burnett, STV and SOM… all four solid and more than we could have hoped for in a season where we added more new teams than in any season past. All of these teams caught themselves up on the traditions and the rules pretty thoroughly and did a great job of playing relaxed and getting their feet wet so to speak as they made their way through the season… also impressive was the always raised spirits of STV and SOM who had a rough go of it here in their inaugural campaigns… challenged in the WIN column perhaps, but May will be here soon enough when they’ll get another chance at it… hopefully all four of these teams will be back.

And of course the biggest story line of the 2010 season was the worst-to-first story of REX Electric… just last season they entered the Tournament as the lowest seed after a 1-11-0 rookie season, yet managed to beat the eventual 2009 Champ Ruder Group 3-2 in their first game of the Tournament. It didn’t end up amounting to anything in ’09… but once we got to the mid-point of this 2010 season it became apparent that REX Electric had figured some things out… and their roll continued, hampered only by a tie with Clune in Week 10 and their only loss of the season to VOA in Week 15. Other than that it was perfection until the end when they ran into defending champs Ruder Group and what amounted to one bad inning… but in Design League softball, that’s all it takes sometimes to shift a season… and although they fell the one game short which I’m sure is really disappointing… they enter next season as one of the teams that you highlight when you’re looking at the schedule… a squad to be reckoned with…

In the end though it was the Ruder Group’s day once again as they stirred a brew of some pretty fine defense, which is what’s needed in a league that favors a teams ability to not allow runs to score over everything else… in 4 of their 5 Tournament day victories they allowed a grand total of 3 runs to cross the plate… and as they’re also a team that’s big with their bats, they were able to overcome giving up 15 to Cannon Design in their Final Four game by scoring 23 of their own… an impressive showing on our League’s biggest stage… and the Design League’s first ever back-to-back Champs. The League congratulates Ruder Group, best of the field in 2010.

Looking over the days results, the biggest jump that occurred from regular season standing to final standings was for JC Anderson who entered the Tournament as the #14 seed yet finished in 6th place… they missed the Final Four by virtue of allowing only 3 more runs than Cannon Design, both teams finished bracket play at 2-1. This is huge for a brand new team and like I’ve always said… all bets are off come Tournament Day.

I wanted to thank all of you for rolling with the changes as the weather affected the proceedings this past Saturday… also for doing a great job (as always) getting your garbage where it needed to go and treating the Park with respect. To all the Captains I offer my heartfelt thanks for doing the weekly coordination job that got your respective teams to the fields each week ready to play… we only had 3 forfeits this season and all were handled correctly per the rules. And one last thank you goes out to the Chicago Police Department who chose to steer clear of coming onto the diamonds where they would have had a revenue jackpot as the “open bar” setups some of you were sporting were felonious ;-) I’m also thankful to all for your cooperation regarding picture taking, I was able to get all of the 48 required pictures to give us a complete set for 2010. Thanks one and all.

The end of the season always holds dueling emotions for me… on the one hand I’m glad to not have to sweat the weather, update a website, take a picture or whatever else for a while… but on the other hand, Thursday evenings never feel right for a spell as I always miss not heading out to Upper Hutch and our softball brotherhood anymore… with only the long cold winter ahead… but May will roll around again soon enough I guess…

See you all then.

Have a great off-season.

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