4-9-10 April 9 Update

APRIL 9  2010 UPDATE

 

COMMITMENTS

Kellie Roudabush (SS/3B) of Hilliard Bradley HS. Current member of Ohio Lady Lasers White, played previously for Ohio Nightmare going to University of Akron

IRISH AND BULLS ON TV

Notre Dame To Tangle With USF On National Television
CBS College Sports will cover first contest of three-game series at Melissa
Cook Stadium.  CBS College Sports will televise the first game of Saturday¹s twinbill
starting at 12 p.m. (ET), with Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Ann Schatz (color) providing commentary.

 

ISF NEWS

CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE COUNTING DOWN
Like the International Softball Federation’s website homepage, the official Internet home of the 2010 Women’s World Championship is counting down to the event in Caracas. Found at http://www.mundialsoftbol2010.org.ve/ (the site is available in both English and Spanish), the tournament website is the place to go for all information relative to the June 23-July 2 competition in Venezuela. Sixteen national teams will participate, coming from all five regions (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania).

JAPAN, AUSSIES PLAYED FIVE GAMES
In preparation for the aforementioned world championship, Australia recently hosted Japan at Blacktown Olympic Park, the site of the 2000 Olympic softball competition. On the first day, each of the two games required an extra inning (3-2 in favor of Australia, then Japan won, 2-1). Again on day 2 the hosts won first (3-0) followed by a victory for the visitors (6-1) before Japan won the rubber match (6-1) on the third/final day.

Japan stayed on two more days and played four more exhibition games against state teams to conclude their tour.

CLINIC TO BE DONE IN SUDAN
In just over a week, ISF clinician Eduardo Sabate will be in the Sudan to teach softball for three days. From April 16-18 the head coach of Argentina’s men’s national softball team will be doing instruction as part of the ISF’s relationship with Olympafrica, as announced in the latter part of 2009. In preparation for the clinic the ISF has shipped two “starter kits” to the Sudan. The boxes contain softball bats, balls, gloves, helmets, and catching gear to be used by the attendees. The participants will be teachers, and the activity will occur both outdoors as well as inside the Sahafa Olympafrica Centre.

SOFTBALL REPS ON THE MOVE
April will be a busy month for softball representatives, traveling to various events taking place on three different continents. From April 22-24 an ISF official will be in East Johannesburg for the Africa International Sport Convention. From April 25-30 it’s the annual SportAccord convention, being held this year in Dubai, where ISF President Don Porter and ISF Secretary General Ms. Low Beng Choo will be in attendance. And, from April 28-May 3 the International Sports Press Association will hold their 73rd annual Congress. The 2010 edition is set for Antalya, Turkey. ISF Director of Communications Bruce Wawrzyniak will be in attendance.

NEW SOFTBALL LEADER IN ARUBA
The national governing body for softball in Aruba has a new leader following elections at their recently held general assembly. Effective immediately, Mr. Endy Croes is the new president, promising that “softball in Aruba will see a huge turnaround in a very short term.” In addition, he expressed interest in bidding for a tournament to be held in Aruba.

COMMEMORATIVE ITEM SELLING
This year marks the 45-year anniversary of the first-ever softball world championship, with five women’s teams having competed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1965. The commemorative logo unveiled by the ISF in January will be worn as a patch (shown below) on the jerseys of the athletes participating in the world championship in Venezuela. A limited supply is being sold at shop.internationalsoftball.com.

ILLEGAL PITCHES

A reader interpreted SPY’s previous story on illegal pitches as though I approved of illegal pitches.  That is not a correct interpretation.  I thought certain umpires at the Garman tournament in Fullerton were both overly aggressive – 42 game changing calls, among dozens of pitches called illegal – and inconsistent.  Pitchers at this level do not change styles/methods from game to game; while any pitcher may randomly lift her foot off the rubber in violation of the rule, a pitcher who gets called a dozen or more times by one officiating crew is odds-on pitching the same way in her next game, but not getting called.  As the NCAA Rules Committee said in a follow-up memo admitting that the rule’s enforcement had engendered unintended consequences, umpires should give pitchers the benefit of the doubt.  That’s akin to what I sought in the editorial – that umpires should adhere to the spirit of the rule, ie, to deny pitchers who gain an advantage through a clear-cut violation.  Enforcement at the Garman was anything but clear-cut.  A member of the umpire coordinating group sat in the press box (where I don’t think he belonged) and offered a running commentary – not trying to take over the game, the rule is black and white, the violations are obvious, etc.  I tried to cut into his commentary by saying I had worked for years in a field where there were only shades of gray, and offered my opinion that the rule was not being enforced uniformly, and the umpires were affecting the outcome of games.  I think Hutch must have given the umpires her thinking on this matter (diplomatically of course in the Hutchins style), so this coordinator retorted, “You people from Michigan…”  I cut him off, by saying I am not from Michigan but a reporter concerned that some of the most experienced coaches in the country were protesting that enforcement was not uniform and that their pitchers were not in violation of the rule. (Subsequent to the Garman, SPY has noted the rule being enforced in the SEC and Big 12.)  Perhaps my most pointed comments at the Garman were on two other matters.  I thought one plate umpire was sorely in need of a strike zone, and, said aloud in the press box that I would be willing to share my portable GPS to help him find home plate.  My more pointed comment was about calls which are made in error all across the country at every level; watch closely on force plays at the plate.  Not infrequently, catchers will step forward to receive the throw (and avoid a collision) and their foot is no longer on the plate when they actually catch the ball – yet some umpires seem to call the out reflexively, oblivious to movement by the catcher. 

All of that said, I genuinely admire the great majority of umpires whose work I have observed.  Many years ago, I filled in behind the plate in a 12U game; at its conclusion, I was being yelled at by both coaches, parents, even the players.  So, SPY very heartily supports umpire training at every level.

 

GAME NOTE

We missed (email came after SPY published Wednesday night) the grand slam home run by Erin Nesbit; the grand slam sparked a seven-run fourth inning as Mississippi State defeated Mississippi Valley State 9-1 in five innings Wednesday night in the M&F Bank Fastpitch Classic at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland, Miss.

POTPOURRI

A Much Deserved PNG.  Qatar is sending home that young Embassy staffer who caused the incident on a Washington-Denver flight.  Initially, the Embassy protected Malabi under a cloud of diplomatic immunity, but, faced with the certainty that the Department of State would declare him persona non grata, this American-educated Arab is going home.  Predictably, the Arab street is proclaiming prejudice against Arabs.  He may be immune from prosecution for smoking on a commercial flight, but any Arab, especially one who has spent so much time in the USA, must be sensitive to the terrorist acts committed by those 19 Arabs who brought down the towers, etc.

Thousands of hearts beat faster when Gordon Hayward launched that last-second, half-court buzzer-beater.  In a nanosecond, he would have joined Bobby Plump (who made the shot which gave Mylan that heralded Indiana championship Hoosiers) and Larry Bird in the Indiana pantheon of heroes.  Interviews indicate that placing second is of little consolation to the Bulldogs (or much of anyone else in any sport), but, not only did they make the 2010 Final Four one of the most memorable in NCAA history, most of that team can come back in 2011 – and hopefully they will disdain the NBA for a year.

The IPad is not for SPY.  I consider any day that I don’t have to call Allison for help a day of computer mastery, but, in reading the reviews, I noticed there are now 150,000 apps created for the IPhone.  My Blackberry had more than 1,000 backed-up messages; the maestro at AT&T eliminated 500 with two button strokes.  If you had a message sent before February 1 which I had not answered, it’s now in email limbo.

Jump rope and cup stacking are now national and international competitions, and have been featured on ESPN and Sports Illustrated reporting.  Incredible!  Don’t tell Rogge – or they might replace stadium-intensive sports like basketball, swimming, track etc.

Corruption in Afghanistan.  Surprise?  In a country where a significant portion of the GDP is proceeds from growing poppies and producing opium?  Corruption is like sand in the Sahara; it shifts but it does not go away, and can blind observers to reality.  There is also endemic corruption in Iraq, fueled by US dollars, and involving US companies as well as Iraqis.  Old story to some of us.  The year before the Soviet invasion, the United Nations Office for Drug Control launched a campaign to destroy thousands of hectares of opium poppy, but, the Afghan inspectors had no vehicles to monitor Helmand and other regions, so UNDCP bought about 70 Toyota and other cars, SUVs, etc.  As soon as they were delivered, they were “claimed” by various warlords and government functionaries, then, they were seized by the Soviets.  When two CIA aides and I reached agreement in Rawalpindi with a Pakistani general on overflights of the poppy fields on their side of the line, the General handed me a list of “ancillary” inducements – beyond the cameras, trucks etc essential to the mapping project.  I balked, and he immediately got the list approved by the Ambassador.  Baksheesh is not confined to the Middle East.  I led negotiations with the Colombian army on photographing areas where we knew that opium poppy and coca had supplanted marijuana.  We offered a special camera.  The Colombian general said he did not have a suitable aircraft.  I went out to the airport where the Colombian national police had stashed aircraft seized from the traffickers, and found an Aztec (for which there is an off-the-shelf photo assembly).  When I reported the find to the General, he went into a dissertation about the complexity of US seizure laws; I retorted that this Aztec was a Mexican registered airplane.  Gleefully, he declared, “I own it already.”  A few weeks later, the US Embassy advised me that this General had given it to another General who did not have a personal aircraft.  Some of these guys wear rubber pockets in their pants so that they can steal soup from the poor.

One thought on “4-9-10 April 9 Update

  1. Bob Milosavljevic

    Regarding your comments on the illegal pitch controversy in the NCAA this year… My own (unscientific) observations over the past several years indicate that upwards of 70% of all NCAA pitchers regularly violate at least one provision of the current pitching rules. The vast majority of these violations involve footwork, in many cases enabling the pitcher to be just 35 feet from home plate at the point of release of the pitch.

    At the core of the problem is a rule that is essentially unenforceable with anything resembling consistency. The only solution to this problem is a re-write of the pitching rule. One very simple change would eliminate virtually all of the illegality and controversy: treat the pitching rubber as an *ending* point (as opposed to the starting point), and allow the pitcher to do whatever she pleases (walk, hop, leap, etc) prior to release of the pitch. The only thing that would matter is the placement of the stride foot at the time of release (behind and within the 24-inch width of the pitching plate). Easily observed, and (most important) no judgment of advantage/disadvantage involved.

    Five years ago, I wrote a fairly detailed paper on precisely this topic. Am happy to share it with you if you’re interested and are willing to keep an open mind…

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