A special thank you must be extended out to the 260 participants who filled out the survey this past month. The survey provided us with a wealth of insight about our league, and the participation rate was excellent. It remains clear to us that players in our league are a passionate group who care about the league beyond their place in it. The full results of the survey are available on this post.
The board and head of umpires met on December 13, 2018 to discuss these results and to lay out a plan to make changes. Present at the meeting were board members Jeff Oltmanns, Jordan Gillis, Steve Riswold, and Lucas Smith. Also included were Umpire-in-Chief Chuck Buchheim and his assistant, Jerry Micke. Doug Wagner was not present.
The survey results indicated that team costs need to be maintained, if not lowered. Accordingly, the cost of the league for teams has stayed the same the last three seasons, and our goal is to improve on that. However, the league did not make money in 2018. To reach our goal of keeping team fees the same or even lowering them, the following cost-saving measures will be taken in 2019:
- Eliminating Friday night league play.
- Reducing board position and pay.
- Addressing game scheduling, start times, and use of field lights.
- Developing an inclement weather communication policy.
- Implementing ruling changes.
ELIMINATION OF FRIDAY NIGHT LEAGUE SOFTBALL
The first major change for the 2019 season will be the elimination of Friday nights in 2019. Moving Sioux Falls Slow Pitch to four primary nights allows us to eliminate one board position, and reduce costs associated with field maintenance, lights, and umpire staffing, among other miscellaneous costs. We understand that to those Friday teams, this will not be a popular decision. However, for the long-term health of the league, we can no longer feasibly run divisions at a financial loss.
With that, all Friday night teams returning into the 2019 season will have priority in the Monday divisions. From there, there will be movement up through the entire system. It will be more imperative this year than ever before in Sioux Falls Slow Pitch to sign up for the 2019 season early and pay the team’s first-half league fees sooner to get placed in the proper division. Because we now have more precise data on players and team rosters over the last two years, we feel much more comfortable placing and moving teams to help us ensure competitive balance. While we understand that for the individual, it is often important to play on a desired night, for the long-term health of the league and for competitive balance, we need to ensure the integrity of the divisions from the bottom to the top.
In light of this change, we’ve made the determination to eliminate a board member position. Thus, Lucas Smith has resigned from the Sioux Falls Men’s Slow Pitch Board effective immediately. Lucas has been a valued board member since 2016, and we want to thank him for his service to the league. In addition to Lucas leaving the board, all board members will serve shorter terms, decreasing from three years to two years, in an effort to increase accountability and variety and to keep the face of the league fresh.
Eliminating a board position and cutting pay to the other four board members and umpire in chief will provide a significant savings going forward to help keep the league affordable. These cost saving changes will reduce the overhead of the board and administration by 30% compared to years past.
In addition to this change, there are currently two board positions open (those currently held by Jeff Oltmanns and Doug Wagner). A vote will be held on February 28, 2019, at the first managers meeting. If you have any interest in running for the board position, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Going forward, there will always be two board spots available, with next year’s open positions being those currently held by Jordan Gillis and Steve Riswold.
LIGHTS, SCHEDULING + START TIMES
One of the biggest variable expenses that our league has is paying for lights. In 2018, the league paid approximately $12,000 in electricity. Any way that we can work on making the schedule more efficient and keep the pace of play quicker, we will take advantage of. The survey results indicated overwhelming support for more teams to have back-to-back scheduled games and for teams to be scheduled against the same teams less often.
To do that, we will be changing our schedule templates going forward so that teams do play fairer and more consistent schedules. Examples of these schedule templates will be posted prior to the season. In addition to the scheduling changes for games, procedural changes will also take place in 2019. If at the end of any night, there is an open diamond and there are two teams who are ready to play, the game can be moved to that open diamond. This should ensure that nights end sooner, which also saves light fees. Furthermore, to conserve energy, lights will be shut off ten minutes after a diamond has ended play for the night.
Scheduled start times for games will be moved up by ten minutes in an effort to keep games going. In 2019, games will be scheduled to start at 6:30p, 7:20p, 8:10p, and 9:00p. The umpires will afford managers 5 minutes past this time to gather their team before enforcing a forfeit.
Finally, the league will be returning to a split-season format. In the past, Sioux Falls ran on a split-season format, which helped the league move the top two teams from a night’s lower division up and swapping the bottom two teams from a night’s upper division down, and we will return to this model for the 2019 season. What’s important, however, is that a team’s scheduled night of play WILL NOT CHANGE in the middle of the season.
COMMUNICATION IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER
With South Dakota weather always being unpredictable, many difficult game-time decisions have had to be made in the past by our league board. Starting in 2019, based on survey results, the board will make an inclement weather decision at 4:30pm for games. Because the City of Sioux Falls does not work on the fields past 3:30pm, if the fields are ready to go, we will attempt to play all games. If the fields are not ready by 4:30pm, the call will be made. Because we cannot predict the future, we know that in some cases, the wrong decision (in hindsight) will have been made. But, we take the responsibility of serving everyone’s busy schedule and travel considerations seriously, and we hope to do best by everyone.
OTHER RULING CHANGES
In 2019, in order to reduce forfeits due to players arriving late, we will allow teams to start games with 8 players who are dressed and ready; this is a change from the previous requirement of 9 players. However, teams with 8 players at the start of the game will have to take two outs at the bottom of their line-up until their remaining player(s) is/are present.
Additionally, the survey results indicated a need for increasing the number of home runs allotted per team. In 2019, Thursday nights will be afforded 8 home runs per game, Wednesday nights will be permitted 6 home runs per game, Tuesday nights can hit 4 home runs per game, and Monday nights will be allowed 2 home runs per game.
Finally, according to survey results, the two-team rule was determined to be a success overall. In light of this, the program will be expanded upon and simplified in the 2019 season. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday players will be allowed to play on a second team of any other night. Thursday players who are nationally rated C or higher can play for a second team, but that team must be a Wednesday night team. Thursday players rated below a C can play down further. All Monday teams may add one Thursday (D-rated or below) player to their roster. All Tuesday teams may add two (D-rated or below) Thursday players. All Wednesday teams may add three (any rating) Thursday players to their roster. This allows players to play with their friends and lowers the impact of clustering to create major competitive disadvantages to lower divisions. By allowing lower-night players to fill in for teams on other nights, it is our intention that this flexibility will allow managers to more quickly find fill-ins to avoid forfeits. In addition, adding and removing players from the rosters in 2019 will be addressed in order to make that process easier.
We are open for discussions either by team or individual inquiry. We will be at the manager meetings as long as necessary to answer any and all questions as best we can. To reach out to any of us individually please call or text us. This pertains to any rules or team placement in 2019.
While it is our goal to improve the integrity and the quality of competition within our league, we understand that change is hard, and that it affects everyone differently. We have heard your concerns and are actively trying to enact changes that will allow the league to function better both competitively and financially. Please know that now, more than ever before, your thoughts, opinions, concerns and suggestions are being heard and considered. We ask you to continue this conversation by attending the scheduled managers meetings in 2019.
2019 Managers Meeting Schedule at Shenanigans Bar and Grill:
January 24, 2019 – 7pm
February 28, 2019 – 7pm – First half of league fees due.
March 28, 2019 – 7pm – Second half of league fees due.
Contact the Board: email@example.com
Jeff – 605.929.7859 | Jordan – 605.254.3627
Steve – 605.212.0657 | Doug – 605.838.5031
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