Sunday March 24th, 2019

2017 Conference Meeting Notes, Awards, and World notes from the Convention


General Assembly Awards (Thursday, November 16th 9 AM)

my apologies if I mispelled any names

Dwight Hall Sparkplug of the Year Awards: 
 Baseball: Tonya Waters FL
 Fast Pitch: BJ Sigler
 Slow Pitch: Brian Mayfield IL
 Basketball: McGee

National Headquarters Award of Excellence: Strojan Kennison

Distinguished Service Award: Doc Beckwell

USSSA Award of Merit: Rene Pereira

Complex of the Year Award: Memorial Park in Arkansas

Official of the Year Award: GSL: Eric "Slim" Rice

Conference Umpire rookie of the year: Eric "Slim" Rice

USSSA Conference Umpire of the Year: Levi Lynch WA

Official of the Year: Jason Oberlag AR

State UIC of the Year: Dale McGregor WA

Presentation of Director of the Year Awards:
 Slowpitch Jim Pilla NJ
 Fastpitch Jerry Param and Jeff Ritt GA
 Basketball Greg Williams NC
 Soccer Daniel Pitapow

Conference Meeting (Thursday, November 16th at 4 PM): Lasted 1.5 hours.  There was about half as many people as normally attend.  Most were directors and umpires.  Very few players or team representatives.  I would say about 40 people over all.

LINK to the Conference meeting livestream (if you have facebook)

note: the livestream was just a facebook live ipad sitting on a chair so the sound, volume etc is not great.  But if you turn up your sound you should hear everything.  Doing most of the speaking is Stro Kennison, DW, Andy Purcell, Don Cooper, Doc Beckwell, Brett Helmer, Dale McGregor, Don Dedonatis Jr, Brian Wegman, Scott Brown, Chris Walker, and a couple other umpires and directors.

The 2018 Conference Schedule was released:

  – Aurora, Colorado was added.
  – Some tournament dates were moved around.
  – California was deleted.
  – The team bump list will be out December 1st
  – World Dates were not finalized and should be out Friday, November 17th.  Men's Worlds will be throughout September.  Women's will be later September.  Mixed will be October.  There will be a Men's 'D' West in Kent, Washington.  At least one world for each men's, women's, and mixed classification will be held at the new complex in Viera where there is no curfew and games can be played all night if needed.  There are plenty of hotels up and down the I95 corridor but very few if any houses for rent.  

  – Indianapolis Major was moved to June.
  – Dudley moved to end of June.
  – Seattle first Dual tournament will include local teams like normal.  The 2nd Seattle Dual may be just for Conference teams and feature unlimited home runs with the top teams and big games played on the baseball field which now has artificial turf.
  – No changes the way the way Conference points are dealt out.
  – Top 16 teams in points after the Columbus Ohio Major will be locked into the Major World Series.
  – The 17th seed for the Major will be given to the highest finishing non-qualified 'A' team at the USSSA 'A' World Tournament over Labor Day Weekend.
  – The 18th seed will be awarded to the Military who will use it to field an "All Armed Forces" team from all branches of service.
I reached out to all 2017 Conference teams for suggestions on how to make the Conference better.  After they responded I emailed all of the teams again to see if there was any support for each of the suggestions.

Here are the results of the discussions about each of the ideas that received support from the teams via those emails:

1) Bats should not be painted yellow.
   In the meeting there was zero support.  Many felt it didn't make a difference and felt the catcher wearing a yellow uniform was much worse than the bat being yellow.

2) Move the pitchers mound to 53 feet.
   In the meeting there was zero support.  Many felt the speed of the pitch would go up resulting in higher batted ball speeds coming off.

3) Pitching helmets should not be painted with reflective paint.
   In the meeting there was zero support for this.  There is a provision in the rules that says the umpire can make the player cover up the shiny paint if it is a distraction.

4) Name the 2nd team All Conference Manager Award the "Fred Budnarowski Manager of the Year Award".
   This was voted in and received good support.  Fred Budnarowski loved the game like no other and passed away last month.  He won the award himself with Line Drive and managed teams like Bud Light to World titles.

5) Ideas on how to stop tampering?  Should all players, managers, and sponsors sign the USSSA player contract?
   It was determined that there is no way to enforce tampering although the contracts could still be used to lock in players in the offseason.

6) Make the conference only for A and above teams. Keep the B and below teams as true regional/local teams.  B and below teams would still be allowed to play in Conference events, just not actually join the Conference.
   There was no support for this.

7) Have a Conference rain out number with updates.
   The website for Directors has been changed so that a Conference tournament Director can email all of the managers in the tournament.  This change makes it so a rain out number isn't needed.

8) Continue to expand the strike zone (allow that 10' high strike that lands directly behind the plate).
   This was near unanimously supported.  After a long discussion between umpires and current players it was determined that the effort will be made to allow a higher strike.

9) Only allow 'A' and below teams 8 hr's when they play A or below teams. It makes no sense to play all year with 12 and then go to your biggest tournament of the year and only get 8.
   There was no support for this.

10) What was the results of the bats being cut open at the major?  Were their shaved, painted, or factory thinned bats?
    There were zero bats found to be altered at the Major World Series where they cut open all of the bats on the final 4 teams.
Finally there was a long discussion about the number of game balls at Conference events that get stolen by players and fans.  Penalties like suspensions and fines were talked about.  A final determination was not made but this is a topic that will not go away.  Taking a game ball and putting it in your ball bag is STEALING.

Also talked about was the possibility of raising the entry fee to help pay the umpires more money or help with travel expenses.

Pitcher safety was brought up briefly and it was determined that the ball is the best way to help with pitcher safety although a good alternative ball for the conference has not been found.  I also talked with the insurance people and they said claims with the current ball have not gone up and they didn't see any need for a change.

Posting this picture again because it's COOL!

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