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Oct. 4, 2022
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Poor planning in vegas

There is Sunset and SUNSET. The higher numbered fields are 11, 12, 13 (14?) and are very playable. The lower numbered fields, across the park, are not SSUSA quality. No trees. No shade. Dugout seating for 9 players. No water (I brought my own). Drinking fountain was broken. Not being able to refill container at the drinking fountain, try the restrooms? Restrooms are closed because of "vandalism". From the look of them, they have been closed for months if not years. So...no water available and no concessions open. A taco-type truck did arrive. There were porta-potties available (about 150º inside thanks to direct Vegas sun).

Big League Dreams is really showing its age. Patches everywhere. Not all scoreboards working. Fun pictures of fans are mostly disintegrated. All this for $8.00. At least the air conditioning inside worked and drinking water was provided! The misters came on about noon in our dugout. For our team with players, coaches, wives, and fans, that was a supplement of $160 per day, raising our tournament "fee" to the equivalent of $1100!! Play all four days at BLD and you would be looking at $1400 to participate.
Aug. 27, 2022
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Teams on FIRE WOW!!

It is certainly a tough call. The 80s bracket in the Western Nationals this year had a team that many of the players on other teams recognized as a Major team, yet it was playing in the AAA bracket. Turns out they were rerated down a notch the month before! A solid team—sluggers throughout the lineup, good fielding, decent runners all (not so common when you get past 75s). Well, the team rolled through the seeding and the bracket without a defeat! Only one team gave them much of a battle. They won the Westerns 80 AAA undefeated—should they be boosted back to Major? or was the downgrade not the right choice? In any event, they likely will be at the Worlds playing again against AAA. Good luck to any team that tries to beat them.
Aug. 27, 2022
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Baden Fire Ball

The Baden Fire Ball has an interesting history in northern California. The Northern California Senior Softball Association (NCSSA) is likely one of the larger associations in the country with around 100 teams each year (94 so far this year). For many years, starting about a dozen years ago, the Fire Ball was the official ball of the many tournaments held in northern California. It was a lively ball. It didn't match the ridiculous bounce of the Rock, but was closer than most competitors. In fact, it was too much ball for many of the venues in the area and it was considered dangerous by many teams to pitchers and infielders. It held up well in the heat (mostly dry heat in California).

Then, about 5 years ago, there was a noted change in the ball (at least it was perceived as such by younger teams). It didn't carry as well, they thought, and all ages noticed that its performance dropped off in the hot afternoons. Same ball. Same name. Same manufacturer. But evidently not the same process or materials. After a couple of years of complaints, the NCSSA dropped the requirement making it the official ball. This was not welcome news to many Clubs or organizations who had large quantities on hand for tournaments. So the NCSSA allowed the Fire Ball as well as others.

Now we have a "new" Baden Fire Ball. It will be interesting whether it resembles the recent version or the previous version that was popular with teams that like to see the ball fly to or over the fence. And how will it hold up in heat (maybe pretty well in Las Vegas which has a dry heat)?
May 12, 2022
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: What's the call on a pitch

Hey Rob64, it's not a joke at all. Many fields do not have dimensions for the plate that match SSUSA standards so often a mat is placed on top of the plate to conform to the correct size. About once a tournament on such fields, a ball will hit just in front of the plate, bounce up and hit the edge as B.J. said, and the watchful ump will correctly call it a ball, even though it may not be obvious to the infielders, much less the outfield. To them, it looked like the mat moved and they assume a strike. The catcher always knows it's the correct call, and the batter will gladly agree.
Feb. 28, 2022
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Probably a silly question, but asked anyway.

Excellent response by Scott. I have pitched at the AAA and Major level. There is certainly, in my experience, a difference at the Major+ level. I throw a high arc around 12-13 feet. I have found that about 1/3 to 1/2 of batters at my level have trouble hitting that height well. In those cases, a pitcher makes a difference. I admire a pitcher I watched at a tournament who threw a knuckleball that moved all over the place. Not a very high arc, but very effective as few could really dig in and hit it. He was the difference between two 50-year major teams.

In my limited experience pitching against Major+ in seeding rounds, it seems like neither height nor knuckleball make a significant difference. These boys can it anything! There, fielding well can make a difference, but unless they have a nasty streak, they have enough bat control to hit to other places than right up the middle.
July 22, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Question about Brambleton, VA fields

If you were playing in that bracket, you would be correct that there was only one major plus, but the way the other teams were hitting the ball I assumed more than one team. Yes, there were temporary fences at the edges to shield passersby, it seems, and to define what a walk-off home run is. I'll bet there were tired outfielders at the conclusion! They were remarkable and it was a real tour de force to see them gather in the long shots. I kind of agree with Nancy Allen that having artificial fences closer (whether 300, 310, or 350) makes an artificial hazard. But three bombs, I heard, from that big guy! Wow! It was a joy to see.
July 21, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Question about Brambleton, VA fields

Three weeks ago I was watching some major plus teams battle it out in a tournament in Redwood City, northern California. They were playing on a field whose dimensions were 370-380' down the lines and 400' to left center, center, and right center! They seemed to enjoy it and I certainly enjoyed it as a spectator. It was not only the occasional home runs (about 10 that I saw or heard of in the two-day tournament), but the showcase for the outfielders who could demonstrate their skills at running, leaping, catching and throwing.

There was a little bit of talk about the change in strategy (little reason to conserve home runs in that environment), but it was the sheer joy in trying to hit the long ball (lots of balls went 370-390 feet, but were often gathered in by the outfielders). One of the teams was the top-ranked team in northern California and their big hitter put at least three over the fence, but every team had a batter capable of the walk-off home run. Took me back to the old wooden bat days when home runs were rare (but not impossible), and victory was often dependent upon stellar defense and base running, as well as appropriate singles at the right times.

As to Brambleton, wish I could be there. My advice to the teams is to enjoy the experience and the chance to use new skills (particularly by outfielders) and recognize the true bombers, not just those who can consistently hit 320-330 feet with today's hot bats.
June 9, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Pitching motion

15 years ago I am pitching in a tournament with NCSSA rules (same, for the most part, as SSUSA rules). I have a 2 strike count on the batter, a formidable hitter. I present the ball in front of my body, then I go to a full windmill windup and pitch a legal strike (I used to be a fast pitch pitcher). The umpire calls out "illegal pitch". I walk in for a short conference and ask why it was illegal since I only passed my hip once and the pitch was neither illegally high nor low. The ump was stumped for a bit, then said "you were trying to confuse the batter!".

Irony: the opposing pitcher was known for his distracting motions: pitching without a step, pitching with a step, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, hiding the pitch in his glove, pitching with his glove hand by his side, pitching at the top of the arc, pitching at the bottom of the arc—all legal...and very effective. Our weaker batters could do little with him.

And the umpire's bizarre comment held true and I had to throw another pitch with a full count...which the batter slammed for a single!
May 19, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: merging stronger players with weaker players at local level

We have a similar disparity in our league, but even more radical. Our oldest player is 97!! Our youngest is 50. A lot of players (50% since it is a day league) are over 70. We solve this by not allowing any player under 70 to use any bat but the old standard single wall. 70-74 can use a double wall. 75 and older and women can use a composite. With the exception of the dangerous Steele bat, we have had very few accidents over the years (not that the Steele caused an accident, but it is obviously hotter than most single walls).

We also use a restricted flight ball. Good hitters can still reach the fence (about 265) but pipsqueaks like me have no hope. To compensate for the older players, outfielders must start from behind a 150 foot arc until the ball is hit. As a California team, we occasionally have 90-100 games a year.

Most injuries are self-inflicted (e.g. misplaying a ball) or age-related (e.g. hamstring pull). We play on turf so bad bounces are very, very rare. In short, it isn't the hot bats that cause the injuries since only oldsters use them, nor the hot ball but just old-fashioned misplays of the batted ball.
Jan. 31, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: 3rd Base Commitment line

By the way, shortstop apologizes to me after the play because he knew I didn't see him (and he outweighed me by 50 pounds).
Jan. 31, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: 3rd Base Commitment line

I have a related question for a play that I was part of.

I'm on second, a runner is on first. One away. Ground ball hit near to pitcher and on his right. Shortstop playing very deep (good arm).

I'm watching to see if pitcher fields ball or boots it with chance for me to go to third then home. I am running at the crack of the bat because of potential force at third.

BOOM! Shortstop rushing in from his position and he hits me from behind on right shoulder and side. We both go flying. Ball goes through into left center. Umpire says nothing and I get to my feet and scramble to third before ball is retrieved by outfielder. Should I have been out for interference? I had no idea shortstop would come rushing up out of my vision.
Jan. 22, 2021
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: VEGAS

Hello Tomar and Dave,
A few years back there was quite a discussion on this board about the Rock softball, used only in Vegas at that time (I believe). The comments were basically split between those who thought it was too hot (I among that group) and those who liked the way it carried.

In any event, discussion was ended when you noted that part of the agreement with LVSSA was that the Rock would be used in the world tournament to the exclusion of other options. Evidently, that requirement has also ended. So I was disappointed to read that SSUSA will continue to use the Rock in tournaments until the supply is exhausted.

I understand the economics of this decision (my Club has some Baden FireBalls that will be used until gone), but I would prefer seeing the Rocks on hand being used in a tournament plagued by high humidity and played at a lower altitude (and of course with ample warning to tournament teams). Just my opinion.
Dec. 1, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Senior League Play with Pitcher using a SCREEN

Hello spider, Our senior league uses a screen for the pitcher, in fact it is mandated that all pitchers must have the screen. Most pitchers place it 3 to 4 feet in front of them so they can take a step. However, there is no rule as to placement left or right (although no one moves it drastically in either direction) so some like to be halfway behind the screen when releasing a pitch and others like to be on the side of the screen in order to better field a ball (depends on the power of the batter!).

No one has ever positioned themselves 10 feet back and thrown over the screen with one exception. We have an invitational Saturday league that is mostly tournament teams and one excellent pitcher tried exactly that so the ball rose above the screen and dropped down. The League Commissioner told him that was illegal and he accepted it and there was no repeat of it (even though we didn't make it a rule).

I never experienced batting against it but I would not like it and it changes the game too much.
Nov. 18, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Infield fly rule......

stick8, you are correct—that would be an accurate call, but since we don't pay any umpires, we take what we get and the call "infield fly" is usually enough as most of the players know that the batter is out. I can't remember the last time that an infield fly ended up going foul—might be years, but it would certainly result in a lot of discussion no matter what happened to it next. However, since we don't have the option to advance on an infield fly, it keeps the discussion lively but not heated. By the way, our night leagues and Saturday leagues do follow the normal infield fly rules since many of the players there are also tournament players and like to practice in realistic conditions.

Our players are so congenial that in the absence of a dedicated umpire for a game, the catcher becomes the umpire!! We just changed that rule last year before Covid hit, where bench sitters become the umpires for home plate as well as first and third. Still works out well and does help overcome the normal "homer" tendency to call one's own team safe on close calls on the bases. Wish we were playing again and we could see if it continues to be an improvement.


Nov. 17, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: empire/winter nationals

Dave, beautiful response to hitking.
Nov. 17, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Infield fly rule......

Our weekly (pre-Covid, sadly) Club league also changed the infield fly rule about 15 years ago. We have a variety of ages, even players into their 90s, and a variety of skills. It is still the umpire's decision to call an infield fly when the appropriate baserunners conditions are there, but we do take into account the infielder's abilities. One shortstop easily makes plays on a popup, even up to 40 feet behind him; another second baseman is almost immobile (injury or physical condition) and has trouble coming forward 15 feet for a popup. Should both be an "infield fly" call by the umpire? We decided no.

But the significant rule change is that no one can advance on an IF. So when it is called, players just rest on their bag and wait for the next batter. Occasionally a newer player will try to advance after an infielder muffs the catch, but we calmly explain our rule. Our experience is the same as Turbobob's—the result of the change was almost all arguments were eliminated, we just play softball without it and with compassion for our less experienced or less skilled players, and we play on, happy that we can still play at our age (average about 68 years and women welcome).
Nov. 13, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Bats
Discussion: Pure - Fast Eddy

I disagree. When you plunk down $300 for a "new hot bat" and doesn't even have the power of your old game bat, then when friends ask you how the new bat is working, you say "takes a while to break in."
Nov. 9, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: Interference

Randall, consider this oft-seen scenario. Runner on first, no one out. Runner is a big fella, and slower than average. Batter is leadoff and the fastest on the team. Batter hits ground ball to short, shortstop bobbles the catch, retrieves the ball from the ground, runs to second for the successful out and then cocks his arm to throw to first for the potential double play. Guy lumbering down from first is not going to slide and in fact comes in straight up. Ump correctly calls the out at second, but realizes that the batter has already made it to first and is poised to continue on if short continues to bobble ball. It certainly would be interference if there were a potential out at first, but that option has already expired. Why call the batter out when he is already past first before the ball even arrived at second.?
Oct. 12, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: TEAMS MOVING UP

Let's see. A major team wins its bracket in all but one tournament they entered. At St. George they similarly do well, beating all teams but one in bracket play and later rounds, and by an average of 7 runs. They meet the sole undefeated team in the finals and win—leading to the if game which they lose by one run. Of course the winner gets moved up to Major Plus. Will the other team complain if they also get moved up?


Sept. 22, 2020
Omar Khayyam
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: C19 at Worlds.

Dave, I feel for you and the SSUSA staff. Publicize the rules, again and again. Warn all the managers. Revise the rules and republicize (making them more healthy). Rewarn all managers. Point out the need for health rules obedience, if not for your own belief, than to make the site governors happy. Decide you have no option but to enforce rules. And then get lambasted by disgruntled folks—players would be a bit more understandable, but spouses?! It's been some year, hasn't it?!
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