April 20, 2018 - - the season opens on Monday, April 30, and I’m looking forward to seeing my old friends and making some new ones. For those who don’t know, I first played in this league during the 1990s, at age 41 – when I was already well past my prime – and last year was probably my last game (when I filled in for the Silkworms once at age 60.) I’m now 61 and decrepit, but still proud to be part of this league as it enters its 48th season.
Let’s go over some of the changes you might soon notice.
Good news is I’ve heard the field was worked on and we won’t have any more dust storms when a high wind kicks up. A new clay-based infield is in place. We’ll see how it holds up to a good downpour, but let’s expect the best until proven otherwise!
I have also heard that additional parking spaces are now available for South Boston residents adjacent to Thomas Butler Park on East First Street. These additional spaces should help ease the trouble of finding those few "Visitor" parking spaces.
VERY IMPORTANT SCHEDULING NOTE: Games will be played Monday through FRIDAY this season. As with last year, we are losing some early game field times on two days a week to another league, so we are scheduling Fridays on a regular basis to make sure all our teams will have at least one game a week; for some, it will be two games a week (barring rainouts and holiday weeks, of course.) Once we get our full field times back, more teams will have two a week. We expect this change will be regarded as good news since we received a lot of complaints about time off between games last year. If you know you will have problems with a specific date or two, let us know and we will try to accommodate you, but we cannot make anyone’s schedule totally free of Friday games and we will not change the schedule later in the season, so let us know NOW if you need special consideration on one or two of those days. Thank you.
Some of you have heard about the alignment of teams. We are going with an “A” division and a “B” division, as we did last year, but this season there will be no crossover between the two and a separate championship will be played for each. There are 10 teams in the “A” and 14 teams in the “B”, with 8 teams qualifying for playoffs in each division. We made our best effort to place teams in a division where we think they will face equitable opposition all year and have a very enjoyable summer. If you’re in the “B” and feel you’re a super team that should have been placed in the “A” division? Prove it by smoking the division and winning the championship. We will apologize when we’re congratulating you at season’s end!
There are a couple of rule changes we’ll be experimenting with in the first couple of weeks. In the “A” division only, runners will be allowed to try and advance on a passed ball. Make sure you’ve got a decent catcher playing, one willing to block those 44-footers bouncing in to him, and make sure you have a pitcher who will not just wind up and fire wildly because he’s got nothing to lose. We will also be extending the bases to 70 feet in BOTH divisions. We’ve had too many football scores and this is hoped to lop off a couple of runs a game, as well as help games stay within the time limit as a result. Both rule changes will be subject to review after the initial couple of weeks, so let me know your opinion – love it or hate it – after your team has played one or two games.
It should be noted that the overhanging branches in left center are now an umpire’s judgement call. Rather than anything that ticks a leaf being an automatic home run, it will be up to blue to decide if your pop fly is a live ball, so don’t flip the bat and start trotting until you hear his call.
EQUIPMENT: We gave serious consideration to going with only single-wall aluminum bats this season but decided to put off the change because some guys invested in bats last year and it seemed unfair to do so with such little notice. As of next season, be prepared to use only single-wall aluminum. As always, NO COMPOSITE BATS ALLOWED. If you have any questions regarding your bat, please ask before play – preferably before the season. We will do our best to give you a definitive answer. If your bat is called into question by an opposing team during play, and is found to be illegal, your hitter will be out and any runs scored will be nullified. Better to find out now instead of then. Also, it is strongly advised that each team invest in a catcher’s mask. They aren’t wicked expensive. A very good wrap-around model can be bought for $80 - $120, but a serviceable standard-issue mask can be had for as little as $20 if you shop around. The league will provide one for your catcher if needed, but rest assured it will be my personal “Frankenmask” (which served me well for many years but is now held together with duct tape. Don’t be cheap. Buy one for your team and save the embarrassment.)
As always, we expect the best from you. Have respect for the neighborhood, please. Clean up after yourselves, don’t antagonize anyone living near us, and don’t make a nuisance of yourself via loud music or excessive obscenity. Keep anything that shouldn’t be on the field OFF the field. Play hard, play fair. Have fun, not fights.
Some of you may also notice that "writer for the Boston Herald" is missing. Unfortunately, the Herald has been sold and they are making major cuts to many of the departments - including the one I where I submitted my writings. It's unfortunate but I'm going to continue writing and hope to get picked up by another publication as I feel I have much to offer.
If you haven't already done so, then please submit your 2018 rosters to the commissioner (Mark3325@hotmail.com) so we can update the league web site. Also, there are a few of you that has not paid the league entry fee - the deadline (April 23rd) is this Monday. Please act quickly so you don't lose your position in the league as there is a waiting list of teams looking to join.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Best of luck to everybody. See you down the ballpark!
Important reminders from your commissioner:
Parking - guys please leave your cars at home as the available parking spaces around the field is VERY, VERY limited. Most spaces are Resident only so unless you are a South Boston resident then you will most likely get a $40 ticket that the league cannot cover. We are told that some parking relief (Thomas Butler Park on First Street will have 1200 parking spaces) is on the way but isn't complete. If possible, car pool, take the MBTA/City Point bus, or bike/walk to the park and save yourself the headache.
Umpire/Scorekeeper fee - please pay the umpire $25 and pay $5 to "Sully" the official scorekeeper BEFORE the game begins.
Forfeits - forfeits are not acceptable in the M Street Softball League as they cost the league money and waste everyone's time. With that said, if you know there is a scheduled game that is going to be a problem then let me know ASAP and I will work with you in finding additional players and/or cancelling the game all together.
Inclement weather/rain outs - the league will usually make a decision by 5pm on whether or not the game is on or off. Once the decision is made then the league will reach out to the coaches - we will not leave you without word. The league website (sbsports.com) will also be updated within minutes of a cancellation.
Bats - just a reminder that composite bats are illegal...however, bats that have a composite handle and metal barrel are OK. DeMarini Steel is a very popular bat in our league as is the Anderson RocketTech. There was talk about banning doublewall bats and going with single wall bats moving forward. Since we told teams that double walled bats were legal last season and plenty were purchased we feel that we cannot change the rule at this time. However, starting in 2019 the league will move to single walled bats only.
Equipment - the league will provide bases and also has a catcher's mask that your catcher can borrow (ask Sully) on a nightly basis.
Pitching rules - we are using the same rules as we implemented last year...that's strict modified pitching - no sling, no windmill, and no arc. It's pretty much straight back with the arm, a forward step to the plate, and deliver the ball. A great source on the "Classic Style" with videos can be found here 10manmodified.com/pitching-rules/videos-of-modified-styles/
Starting lineups - reminder, we use four outfielders, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and if you want (optional) you can use a DH and an EH for a total of 12 players. The EH can take the field and substitute for any defensive player while the DH cannot take the field (unless injury).
Playoffs - 16 teams will be eligible for the playoffs.
Playoff eligibility - although the rosters are open there is minimum number of plate appearances or innings pitched (25) a player must meet to qualify for the playoffs.
Stats, news, etc... - please check the league website for all the latest news, standings, stats, and more.
Schedule - we tried to evenly spread out the amount of start times for each team...it's not an easy or exact science. The regular season will run from May to mid August followed by the start of the playoffs.
Wishing you and your players a great season of softball at M Street.
M Street Softball League