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.

Week 5 Update

Wild one out on Upper Hutch last night…. and we only played 6 games. We had a forfeit on Diamond 4 in the late game and the Cannon/Power matchup was postponed to a double header on 06/28 due to Powers annual company event… and to those who implied special treatment with that situation… not at all… This is an annual company event for Power, they let me know the date before the season begins and assuming a cooperative opponent who doesn’t want to take a forfeit… I’ll do whatever I can for any of your teams in this regard… it’s all about notice… that said, I can’t help you if your office has a deadline everyones working on or a teammate that’s getting married… but for annual company events I’ll do what I can.

On the diamonds we saw half the games played decided by 1 run… Dobbins Group squeezed out a 12-11 win over a battling Kelso-Burnett squad… in the friendly rivalry that exists between theBuzz and Old Stylin’ (Old Stylin’ was born from theBuzz a few years back), theBuzz came out on top this year also by a score of 12-11… and in the late game on Diamond 1, VOA needed all 7 innings to eek out a 7-6 win, which was the difference between 1st and 6th on the Leaderboard for Ruder Group… so goes it during the first half of the regular season, no teams ever too far away from 1st place.

The classic of the evening seemed to take place in the late game on Diamond 3 where SCB and Clune Construction battled back and forth before ending up with a 9-9 tie after 9 innings finally called due to darkness… wishing I would have stayed over there and watched that one.

Pictures have been rolling along nicely… and I thank all teams involved thus far for making it as painless as possible… I know I haven’t posted any of them yet… just trying to find the time… coming soon.

Pictures Next Week; Perkins&Will and Goettsch

I’ve started an album of pictures for the 2012 Season over on the Facebook Page… I’ll be adding pictures throughout the Season… feel free to tag any pictures you’d like or Dropbox me some that you took for posting (let me know if you want to do this). Visit the Facebook page here… and Like it if you’re interested in DL updates rolling down your News Feed.

Have great weekends.

Week 3 Update

So the best thing about the 2012 Season thus far, at least in my opinion, is that we’ve made it through the most tenuous portion of the schedule weather-wise having played all scheduled games, that hasn’t happened in years. Now we head into a double BYE where we’ll come out on the other end at the start of June when weather becomes a bit more reliable… not to mention our stretch of longer games, late game start times will move to 7:15 on our next game day.

Still early on, but Leaderboard activity yesterday was a bit interesting and off the norm as well… of the 3 undefeated teams that remained, two lost with Perkins&Will dropping Cannon 16-7 and theBuzz edging out Clune 10-9 in a thriller that came down to the 7th… and in the ‘I didn’t see that coming’ department… Goettsch, coming off of a forfeit, played the seemingly invincible Dobbins Group into darkness for a 10-10 tie… at the end of the day, the Leaderboard remains anyones for the taking… no team is running away with things going into the double-BYE.

A Short Word About Forfeits

The reason I bring it up is because we’ve had two forfeits so far in the early season… the two teams involved are long time Design League teams that just had circumstances creep up on them, shit happens and this is directed at them in no way… just wanted to remind all Captains that a forfeit not only leaves your opponent that day with no game to play… it also alters the natural progression of the season which of course seeds the Tournament. In other words, a forfeit brings a 7-0 final score, but what we’re interested in is whatever score would have resulted from the game having been played. The closer we can come to this ideal, the more ‘legit’ the Tournaments seeding… Please use whatever tools you have at your disposal within the rules to get a team on the field… playing a late game? Query early game Captains for extra players that wanna play two… playing an early game? Do the opposite… or call friends, friends of friends, whoever… We’ve kept our number of forfeits to a minimum for years now, let’s work together to keep it that way.

Pictures for our next game day on May 31st > Goetch, Old Stylin’ & Kelso-Burnett

To the teams already photographed, thanks for your cooperation… it has gone very smoothly so far.

There is a possibility that Upper Hutchinson will be available to us next Thursday for any teams interested in practicing… I’m going to check in with the Park District again early next week to see if that’s still on the table… If you’re interested in a possible practice, let me know via email and I’ll get in touch with you once I know the details.

Everyone have a great weekend.

Week 2 Update

As I said last night on our Facebook page… one of those wild and wooly weather threatened early season Thursdays yesterday out on the diamonds… initially we were only worried about incoming storm systems, but then as the day progressed I got word of the standing water issues between diamonds 2 & 3… putting the choice of whether to play or not play out to the 8 affected teams, I was encouraged by how fast the PLAY responses returned to my inbox, almost as if no one really even had to think about it… which is the Design League way after all… and in the end this turned out to be the way to go anyway as the mud out there was only a minor inconvenience… plus what’s a little mud on your shoes right?

But then our attention turned to getting all the games in as storms were materializing all across the Chicagoland area over the course of the evening… entering the later innings of the late games we saw lightning to the north and the rumble of thunder was evident… but in the end… we got Week 2 in and escaped the diamonds just as the rains rolled in… not exactly sure if it rained on the diamonds, but it was pouring at the Ohio feeder ramp at 8:20, so I imagine it was… Can you believe this is the first time we’ve played the first two game weeks of the season since 2008? That’s the fact… so I’m really happy as our attention turns to the extended forecast for next week which is currently looking pretty good… we get through next week without any rain and we’ll be in great shape heading into the double-bye.

Not quite ready yet to do any game updates as the Leaderboard is always in a chaotic state here in the early-season… but we did have a couple of 1-run games yesterday as well as a couple of blow outs… 3 of 4 Final Four teams from last season in Cannon, Dobbins Group and Clune have once again jumped out to undefeated starts… but the season is still young, plenty of time to plot and scheme to knock them off ;-)

Pictures Next Week > theBuzz and Ruder Group

Everyone have a great weekend… and feel free to post anything you’d like to the ‘comments’ section of this post… the more voices the merrier… currently, it has only been mine… which is getting a little lonely.

Ringer Rule Rehash + What About The Balls.

As the 2012 season stands poised to get underway, time to look back to last year and correct a couple of things that just aren’t working in their current form. We’ll start with the “Ringer Rule”, which over the years has evolved into Rule A13, Tournament Eligibility.

First a little history… the Ringer Rule was born in ’02 or ’03 after one of our teams that shall remain nameless showed up on Tournament Day with a pitcher straight off the Comcast Sportsnet Super 16 All-Stars. A pot-bellied dude around 50 that was throwing a 20′ arc and dropping it in the well most every pitch… and when he came up to bat he’d shoot a gap every single time not even having to exert himself when rounding the bases. Obviously this cat had never played a regular season game in the Design League or he would have been remembered… but there he was on Tournament Day providing the worlds largest unfair advantage… thus the rule was born…

I can’t even remember the original wording, but the problem from the beginning was how to enforce it. Over the years we’ve tried different wordings, but where its gotten to now is;

To play with your team on Tournament Day, a player must have been in attendance for at least 50% of your teams games that season.

How can anybody ever prove that though? The method tried over the last several years has been with pictures and the team pages… and to a certain extent there’s still a lot of good in that I intend to salvage here. In the effort to document a teams roster to support this rule we’ve actually evolved into a great routine for taking, annotating and posting team pictures/rosters. So good has come from this experiment, but at the end of the day, the Ringer Rule as currently worded is unenforceable for me. It just hasn’t worked out.

So before I get accused of changing the rule for personal reasons… I’m just gonna admit that I’m changing the rule for personal reasons. First the disclosure… going into the Tournament last year I had exactly a 10-person team… that was before our right fielder pulled a hamstring on that last Thursday of the regular season. He let me know on the eve of the Tournament that he wasn’t able to go… I considered going with 9… but then decided instead to call one of our alumni, a fantastic softball player no doubt, but also a guy who has played just about 100 Design League games with the Dogz going back to ’98… but none in 2011… so I broke the rule as written, but the way I felt about it and have for years considering what I’ve OK’d for other teams in the past… is that I didn’t break what the spirit and the intent of the rule was in the first place… which was don’t show up on Tournament Day with some Hall of Famer that nobody has ever seen before in a Design League game.

Within our Tournament Bracket last year, 2 of the 3 other teams in our bracket were vocally jeering the presence of our substitute right-fielder… and here’s the rub… how would any of them even know that he hadn’t played in any games for us last year? Would they know that sort of information about any player on any Design League team out there? The answer is that the Dogz have a website with our entire Design League history meticulously documented, accessible from any smartphone along the sidelines. Unfortunately, we’re the only team in the Design League with such a website and that leaves us over-exposed which turns out to be a competitive disadvantage… After multiple trips walking all the diamonds last Tournament Day I had suspicions about more than a few of the players I saw out there… but there’s no way to prove anything and where would the sportsmanship be in that sort of inquiry anyway?

But keeping that superstar player who’s visiting Grant Park for the first time off the diamonds on Tournament Day is still a priority, so here’s what I propose… Same rules for every team… straight up and above board, very easy to enforce…

  • Pictures will this year become a priority. If you check this seasons Schedule you’ll see that starting in Week 2 we begin to take team pictures, you can check Weeks 2-8 right now to see when your team picture will be taken, pictures are now being scheduled in the pre-season. The goal is to have all team pictures finished by the latter half of June, definitely before the Lollapalooza break. The absence of your new shirts, a low attendance day, etc. will no longer be accepted as a reason to postpone your picture. Pictures happen on your scheduled day come hell or high water.
  • The day after your teams picture is taken you will be sent the annotation request email… in response to that email you will send (a) an annotation of those in the picture, (b) a listing of all those on the roster but not present for the picture… and (c) the new category, Eligible Alumni… to be on this list a player must not be on your active roster but does need to be present (or listed) in at least one of your teams past team pictures/rosters.
  • Once all the team pictures have been taken and team pages updated with the rosters, I will create a 16-page .PDF of all the team pages and post it to the website for anyone to print out as an on-field reference for the second half of the season on into the Tournament.
  • If there’s any dispute on Tournament Day as to a players eligibility, drivers licenses get smacked down on the table and compared to the book… no muss, no fuss… easy to enforce.

And for those wondering why I even feel the addition of an Eligible Alumni list is necessary… the answer would be that I feel the intent and spirit of the rule should allow a team to draw on past members in circumstances of need while at the same time protecting an opponent from having to face a (never played a Design League game before) true ringer, like that one from a decade ago that started all this bullshit in the first place.

So that’s that… Rule A13 has updated on the Rules page as well as on the printable version… but that said, if any of you have thoughts on how this new approach could be made better or further tweaked, feel free to post to the comments on this post… I’m open to the back and forth… but speaking to my executive decision here to change things… all I can say is it’s time to try another approach.

So now after all that, we’re changing one more rule… and I promise that this one is a quickie… Rule A12 which now reads;

The HOME team picks/approves the game ball.

Will now be changed to;

Game Ball Rule; During Regular Season play and the Bracket Rounds on Tournament Day, both teams will agree on the game ball before the game begins. The desire should be to choose the hardest of the available balls. For both Final Four games as well as the Championship Game, all three of these games will begin with new, out-of-the-box softballs that will be provided by the league.

These are our two changes to the Rule book here at the start of the 2012 Season. Opinions, counterpoints and even good-natured ranting are all welcome here in the comment section. If you have an opinion on any of this, go on record… everything’s always open for debate.

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.

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