My July comments about playing 7-inning games in the Timeless Division definitely got the attention of a number of Hobbs participants.
Several managers emailed or called to say they thought it was a good idea but three added: “Don’t quote me!”
Two managers adamantly disagreed, and one made some cogent arguments and offered potential suggestions, about which I have been thinking.
And several players made their feelings known as well.
The majority of the responses, however, have been positive.
To review, the issue is too many teams and not enough available fields for any number of reasons. The situation is improving, but it is much akin to trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
I was not clear previously on what options we have. This is not an attempt to start a debate but rather a realization of the challenge and our making a decision on which path to take. Our friends with Lee County Parks and Rec have told us we can play 4 games a day at Terry Park that week. Those fields are lighted which mitigates the fact that during 60s-70s week we lose daylight around 5:30 p.m., and we know 70s don’t want to play under the lights although the third game will run up against darkness.
Our options are:
- Invite another 4-6 70s teams to drop out.
- Cut the game guarantee from 6 games to 5 games.
- Institute significant game time limits.
- Play 7-inning games.
- We thought we had the Cape Coral complex but that’s not an option now; however, we do have the option to use several community parks, only if we have to, as staffing and accustomed amenities become problematic.
Obviously, no one wants to see options 1 or 2.
Option 3 could well be the good solution, but it is fraught with issues that will lead to controversy.
The easy option is #4 – 7-inning games.
On Option 3, If we set a firm game-ending time (2:40 is our goal), is the final score set at the time limit? Or do we follow the rules of baseball and revert to the score at the end of the last inning completed? Either way, in a tight game, we will have ‘claims’ of one team or the other stalling, leading to the team behind believing they were cheated. This is not something we want to debate with anyone!
If we go with a strict time limit, we can schedule the games for 9 innings and put the onus of getting 9 innings played on the teams to NOT waste time. (In such a case, we would guarantee 7 innings as a complete game and adjust mercy rules.)
It is quite possible to play a 9-inning game in 2:45 as long as speed up rules are in place. How?
One obvious guideline would be mandatory runners for catchers and pitchers, but if those runners are NOT ready, it defeats the purpose. And if the catchers and pitchers are not ready to take the field at 3 outs, it also defeats the purpose.
So, how about mandatory 2 minutes at each change of sides. At 2 minutes, plate umpire signals “play ball.” If battery not ready, call a ball; if hitter not ready, call a strike! Repeat every 30 seconds. Of course, our umpires would have to agree to enforce the 2-minute guideline.
I can hear the fussing now.
In a normal Hobbs game, change of sides is generally about 3 minutes. Multiply that by 17 changes in a 9-inning game and you get 51 minutes. If we cut 17 minutes out, the chances of a complete game increase proportionately.
So, even time limits lead to concerns about being cheated on innings.
Regardless of what we do on this, we will reset the mercy rule to 15 runs at 5. We will suggest strongly that at that point, the team behind get 6 outs (3 outs, clear bases, 3 outs) so they can get their at-bats. The team ahead would get one last at-bat if they cannot hold a 15-run lead; however, have to say my sympathy for that team would be really limited.
Please understand we have been working on this for 3 months and have examined every alternative, including high schools; with school in session, that simply does not work.
Which brings us back to square one: Like I said … 7 innings is the easier solution to the puzzle.
Sunshine Classic … dates will be announced by the end of September, but invitations to teams in good standing will not go out until after Thanksgiving.