NAGAAA Winter Meetings – Wrap Up
The NAGAAA Winter Meetings weekend was full of spirited debate, new ideas and decisions that will change the way we participate within the NAGAAA softball structure. Now, let’s wrap up the meetings by touching on all of the highlights and major issues that were taken up and discussed at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend.
2017 World Series Bids
Will 2017 be the year that a West Coast city hosts NAGAAA’s signature event? A West Coast city hasn’t hosted the World Series since Seattle in 2008. By the time 2017 rolls around it will have been 9 years in between West Coast Series hosts, providing that either Portland or Phoenix win the bid this Summer in Columbus, Ohio. Tampa would like to bring the tournament back to Florida for the first time since 2006 when Fort Lauderdale hosted. Other regional areas experiencing World Series hosting droughts include the Southeastern United States (1998, Atlanta), Canada (2000, Toronto) and the Northeastern United States (1991, Boston).
Each potential site has a set of pros and cons attached to it and the Diamond Dish looks forward talking to the bid committees as we move toward the all important vote this August at the NAGAAA Summer Meetings in Columbus, Ohio.
The NAGAAA cup is set to commence in conjunction with the Saguaro Cup this April in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix is hosting the NAGAAA Cup for the second consecutive year, which should have clued everyone into the fact that Phoenix might be gearing up for a World Series bid. The 2014 NAGAAA Cup saw the Pick A Stick format used throughout the tournament and its success was a big reason why it was voted for at the Summer Meetings in Dallas this past September. Currently, NAGAAA Assistant Commissioner Keith Speers is looking for a few more B Division teams to take some spots that recently opened. If you have a B team that is interested, email Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco announced plans to bid for the 2016 NAGAAA Cup at the Winter Meetings.
If there was any doubt that this year’s World Series in Columbus, Ohio was going to be something special, all doubt was put to bed after the host committee’s presentation at the Winter Meetings.
There is a recurring theme of technological advancement at this Series. The Columbus host committee has changed the landscape of the World Series forever with the unveiling of its GSWS App. A World Series first, the app features information about the tournament, events, destinations in the host city, a city map, map of Lou Berliner Park and sponsor information. This a huge leap forward in the overall participant experience at Series and the Columbus host committee must be complimented on having the foresight and initiative to come up with this idea.
Teams coming to the World Series in 2015 will experience electronic registration too. Banks of electronic tablets will be available to register on when players/managers arrive in Ohio. This is yet another game changer that should create an ease in registration that the event has never had before.
The Columbus host committee has so much more in store for its visitors this Summer and the Diamond Dish looks forward to showcasing each and every one of the daily/nightly events that are planned for the 2015 GSWS along with giving more information on the overall vision that the committee has for its guests as the year progresses.
Pick A Stick
The success of the Pick A Stick format at the 2014 NAGAAA Cup prompted NAGAAA to bring back Pick A Stick for the 2015 NAGAAA Cup and for this year’s GSWS. The Diamond Dish will have a post up soon specifically geared toward the Pick A Stick format, but in general there will be two types of bats available at each field with different weights to choose from. Each team on the field will use the same bats and those bats will be tested prior to the start of the tournament and every evening during the tournament. Testing of the bats used each evening will ensure that no bats fail and become “hot” while the tournament is ongoing. Any bats that do fail testing will be removed from the bat pool and replaced. All American Athletics is partnering with NAGAAA to provide the bats needed to achieve this monumental undertaking at the 2015 GSWS.
What would a NAGAAA meeting be like without talking about ratings? New NAGAAA Assistant Commissioner, Keith Speers, made a compelling presentation of ratings data compiled from all NAGAAA member cities at the “threshold” player rating numbers of 10, 11, 14, 15, 19 and 20. The preceding numbers are not the questions, but the actual player rating totals themselves. The information was fascinating to look at and one could just look out over the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency at all of the faces in the room scanning the large pages of numbers. The information broke down what percentage at a certain player rating within a member league had specific questions related to their overall rating. First, I think Keith Speers should be applauded here for serving up this information front and center to the delegates to consider. The other thing that was especially impressive about Keith’s report and presentation was that he didn’t necessarily try to influence anyone either way about the information that was presented to them. His goal was to get a conversation started about how we can improve the ratings system and certain ambiguities that we find related to some questions.
It was refreshing to see that wealth of information given to everyone at the same time and then hearing some of the comments and thoughts that various league representatives had about the numbers. While nothing major was accomplished by the voting body in relation to ratings at these meetings, this is hopefully the first step in creating an open dialogue about issues some cities may have in interpreting certain questions. It was made clear by Speers that cleaning up some rating questions language doesn’t mean there won’t be protests. “If we ever get to a system where it’s impossible to protest a player then we shouldn’t have that system,” said Speers. Protests are how we as players and managers can try to hold other players and managers accountable for fair play. Speers was also very honest about what he thinks the overall goal should and shouldn’t be when it comes to ratings adjustments. “Eliminating cheating should not be the goal. If people want to cheat they will and they will hopefully be held accountable for that. We should be worrying about how much clarity we can provide to the existing questions,” added Speers.
NAGAAA Donating to Michael Petracca Fund
There weren’t very many dry eyes in the house when a video was shown outlining the events that befell San Diego’s Michael Petracca after being hit by a wayward bat at the Sin City Shootout a little over one month ago. The Diamond Dish reported on the tragedy after it happened along with several other media outlets and a Go Fund Me website page ended up raising over $50,000 to help with his ongoing care and recovery costs. San Diego delegate Roman Jimenez, read a letter from Michael Petracca out loud to the NAGAAA international delegation at the Winter Meetings thanking everyone in the softball community for their support. NAGAAA Commissioner Chris Balton, asked for and was granted consent to donate $1,000 from NAGAAA to the recovery fund for Petracca. Yet another way NAGAAA as an organization shows that it is about more than just softball.
Jeff Stewart Named 2015 GSWS UIC (Umpire In Chief)
The NAGAAA international delegation confirmed Jeff Stewart as the new UIC for the 2015 GSWS. From Jeff’s comments it looks like there will be less than a handful of secondary UIC’s spread across the massive Lou Berliner Softball Complex this Summer in Columbus to make sure we have swift answers and solutions to issues, however Jeff will be the head man in charge of umpiring for the tournament. Stewart is highly qualified and has an umpiring designation that less than two tenth’s of one percent of umpires nationally have. It looks like the 2015 GSWS is in great hands in regard to officiating.
A Division Territories Redefined
A restructuring into a region format for the A Division took place at the 2015 Winter Meetings. The association territory regions for the A Division only will look like this:
British Columbia (Vancouver), Washington (Seattle), Oregon (Portland), California (Long Beach, Palm Springs, San Diego, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles & Sacramento), Nevada (Las Vegas), Arizona (Phoenix), Colorado (Denver), Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii
Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Tulsa), Tennessee (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville), Louisiana (New Orleans), Alabama (Birmingham), Georgia (Atlanta), Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando), Virginia (Mid-Atlantic), Washington DC, Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas
Ontario (Toronto), Quebec (Montreal), Minnesota (Twin Cities), Ohio (Columbus), New York (New York), Missouri (Kansas City, Saint Louis), Illinois (Chicago), Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Madison), Massachusetts (Boston, Southern New England), Rhode Island, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
NAGAAA Wants To Move Away From Cash Payments
Specifically in terms of protests fees, NAGAAA Treasurer Jerry Travis, told the delegation at the meeting that it is difficult to track cash payments and if the money is collected at the fields it unfortunately could be in the hands of several different people before it got to him to deposit. Look for credit/debit cards to be the only method of payment accepted at the fields for protests in the future.
Changes coming to Masters Division ratings in 2016
A vote to lower the player rating threshold in the Masters Division from 15 to 14 and moving the team cap in Masters to 135 took place. The vote missed implementation for the 2015 GSWS by just one vote. That means the changes were adopted, but won’t take place until Austin Series 2016. For one season, now B rated players could be on the field with D rated players in the Masters Division.
Hall of Fame nominee applications due March 15th
Do you have someone in your hometown league that has contributions worthy of submission into the NAGAAA Hall of Fame? If you think so, get with your local NAGAAA delegate and Board of Commissioners to get an application and supporting documentation together. The deadline is approaching quickly! Go to the NAGAAA website for more information.
New Member Cities Not Likely Anytime Soon
Louisville was represented at last year’s Summer Meetings in Dallas, but was noticeably absent at the 2015 Winter Meetings. During the membership committee report, NAGAAA Hall of Famer Ken Scearce of Los Angeles notified the delegation that a special board meeting took place in Lousiville a few days before the Winter Meetings with a vote taken 7-5 in favor of not pursuing membership in NAGAAA at this time. According to several sources, Raleigh, North Carolina has been mentioned as a next possible membership addition and could be provided they’re represented at the Summer Meetings in Ohio this August.
Executive Board Elections
NAGAAA Executive Board positions that were up for election included Commissioner, Treasurer and Member at Large. Chris Balton was re-elected as NAGAAA Commissioner. He ran unopposed for the position. Jerry Travis beat out Mike Rice of Chicago to be re-elected as the NAGAAA Treasurer. Finally, John Hunking of Toronto bested Brad Sullivan of Tulsa to become the new NAGAAA Member at Large. John will replace Paula Cline who previously held that position.
All told it was a fantastic weekend with so much information in a short amount of time. These delegates worked for twelve hours on Saturday and another six hours on Sunday to try to better the organization that we all enjoy playing under in our member cities and at tournaments. The information discussed on this blog post was only about half of what was discussed and took up at the meetings. Much of the meetings focused on getting some issues with Instruments of Governance and the Softball Code fixed along with taking up some motions that cleaned up other areas of the organization. The administrative issues that an organization of this size normally has can be daunting, but the delegates and the Executive Board do a good job of exercising patience and getting through the somewhat arduous agenda that is usually set before them. Until Columbus this August……