The Irony is dripping!

May 9th, 2007

Usually when I write things, I double dip.  I use my monthly newsletter as my article for Softball Magazine.  Sometimes those articles are in turn published in NFCA “Fastpitch Delivery”.

For those unfamiliar, the NFCA stands for “National Fastpitch Coaches Association”.  I’ve had a few articles printed in their monthly paper but, I’m willing to give odds that this one won’t make the cut.  This will get left right on the editor’s floor.  Why?  Because in my usual fashion, I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room that people are trying to ignore.

When I picked up this month’s issue of the Fastpitch Delivery, and I opened to page 16.. I was stunned to read the headline.  “The Bush Administration’s attack on Title IX”.  Now, if you’ve lived under a rock for the last 30 years… Title IX is a federal law.  In effect, it means that sports and other things need to be equal for both genders.   That’s a layman’s definition but, it’s somewhat accurate.  In sports, Title IX has come to mean that men and women should have equal opportunities.    But, in softball terms… it seems the masses don’t want equality.  They want dominance.

When I read the column written by Ms. Rayla Allison in Fastpitch Delivery, I couldn’t stop shaking my head.   It amazes me how many double standards there are in this game of softball that nobody wants to discuss.  I’m not talking about the double standards on the field, like: Why is it a baseball pitcher can get 21 ground ball outs and be considered a success but in many circles, if a softball pitcher gets 21 outs without 14 being strikeouts… people think the pitcher didn’t do well?   Doesn’t that seem odd?

I think the NFCA should change their name.  It should be the NWFCA.   National WOMEN’s Fastpitch Coaches Association.   Because this newspaper COMPLETELY disregards the other gender’s particiapation in the sport.   Yet, the irony of all ironies is… more and more guys like myself (former or current US Men’s National team players) are becoming Division 1 College coaches.  Shawn Rychcik (Boston U), Kyle Magnusson (Utah), Ehren Earlywhine (Georgia Tech), John Bargefeldt (Tulsa), Ken Eriksen (South Florida), Mike White (formerly at Oregeon), Mike Larabee (Wright State), etc.  These guys weren’t just beer league players… they were/are WORLD CLASS!   These guys are a far cry from the average college coach who “played in college” so they have experience in the game.
If everyone believes Title IX is a great thing then let me ask a question:  Would it be ok with you if a male played college softball?   Afterall, softball is not offered as a sport for males right.  And we ALL agree that softball is VERY different from baseball, right?  So, why not?  What if I would’ve attempted to play softball at the college level?  Would I have been allowed?   If not, then why are women allowed to play on the male football teams?   Or the wrestling teams?    Now, we probably all remember that pack of idiots in Arizona several years back.  You know, the group of boys who played in a girls little league softball tournament…. remember that?   Obviously, those kids did it as a political statement and had NO passion for the game of softball.  They just wanted to be jerks.  But, what about me?  I’ve never played baseball in my life!   What if I would’ve called Mike Candrea in 1990, my senior year, and said “Hey Mike… I’m either going to pitch Internationally in New Zealand this year or I can come play for you.”   What would his response have been?   What would the response of the nation been?

The reality is, NFCA isn’t really about fastpitch as much as it’s about women’s fastpitch.  There are so many people who claim to love this game that have no idea about the “other side”.   Many think men’s softball is King and His Court, the 4 man team that does tricks and jokes during their show.    They don’t realize the level and styles of play that men’s fastpitch has.  Moreover, the international flavor of the top US club teams.  Nearly every roster is laced with players from all over the world.   The speed of the pitchers is astonishing and level of play doesn’t get any better.  Yet, NFCA won’t cover it despite the fact more and more of the college coaches are coming from the men’s side of the game.

I’m all for Title IX.  But, it has to work both ways.  Sometimes people forget that.

Red letter day in history

May 9th, 2007

Ok, I was wrong. Mark it down, celebrate it annually. Being incorrect doesn’t happen often to me (just ask my wife) but for once I’m sorry to be wrong. The Olympics decided to keep softball out. I predicted they would get it back in. Actually, that’s only 1/2 true. I predicted that if there was a revote, that softball would get back in. There was no revote. And, in typical beaurocrtic fashion… there was a vote to decide if there would be a revote. Instead of just taking 5 minutes to revote, they had to take 20 minutes to decide if there should be a revote.

I don’t know when the vote would be held for the 2016 Olympics to see if softball can get reinstated but, that seems like an eternity away. I feel bad for the sport and for the people that worked hard to get it back in the games. However, the reality is everyone thinks their sport belongs in the Olympics. The 2 sports that were voted in as replacements for softball/baseball are probably feeling it’s long overdue they are in. It will provide the kids who play those sports “the Olympic dream” that many softballers had for many years.

ISF president Don Porter stated his belief that softball was left out was because many don’t understand the distinction between baseball and softball. And with the steroid scandels in baseball, the IOC wants NOTHING to do with baseball! That sounds reasonable I guess. Except… the Olympics has never had the professional MLB players in the games. Those are the ones with the steroid scandels, right? The IOC would be painting with a very broad brush if they labeled everyone in baseball as a steroid risk.

I may be in the minority but, I also don’t buy the “anti- American” argument that many have for softball’s dismissal. It’s pretty arrogant for us to assume the USA is the only country that cares and would be effected by this decision. Having been all over the world, I can tell you there are kids playing this game everywhere. I’m sure there are upset people in Australia, Japan, China, Aruba, everywhere. If the IOC was sooooo Anti American that they didn’t want American domination… they would’ve banned the NBA players after the 1992 Dream team. Look what happened in 12 years since that team… the rest of the world got better. USA finished 3rd, which is something NOBODY would’ve ever believed possible, even with the worst NBA players.

I’m sure the game will continue their Olympic push. But, I have to wonder… if softball and baseball are so closely tied together in some IOC minds… and they want baseball out… did the thought of men’s fastpitch enter into the picture? Same sport, different genders, no steroids.

A fresh start….

May 9th, 2007

Well, it finally happened. After months of secretly complaining and getting angry at my computer, I made a change. I changed my server that hosts my website. For months now, when I’ve had time to write in this blog I couldn’t because my website would be down and inoperable. Then, there would be times I’d lose information on here because the former company would “reset” their system. Uggggh! But, I hope it’s all fixed now. Who knows, I may even have more blogs than before. Afterall, if all goes according to plan then when I DO have time to write, I won’t have to worry about the system being down.

The downside to this freshstart is that I lost all my previous blogs, and I lost all my emails. My email address through the website stays the same but, all the messages I sent, recieved and threw away are gone. And that is particularly painful because I would frequently go into my mailbox trash to retrieve an email address or something. So, that’s all gone now. What a bummer. However, this will be better in the long run.

Well, there may be more than one fresh start coming too. The IOC is likely to do a revote on the Olympics in the coming weeks. Will softball be readmitted? I am going to venture a guess that IF there is a revote, softball will be reinstated. The outcry and backlash was bigger than the IOC anticipated, that’s for sure. And kudos to the ISF for doing EVERYTHING in their power to make this happen. Remember, 6 months ago there was no hope of even having a revote! Now, enough has been done that it’s likely the revote will happen.

The question then becomes, will the ISF stop there. Will they use this opportunity to see about getting men’s fastpitch softball in the Olympics? Yea, right. When monkeys fly! However, now would be an excellent time. In fact, there never would be a better time. Baseball was eliminated for a couple reasons but, most noteably was the steroid scandels. I think it’s incredibly gender biased if the ISF only pushes for women’s softball. But, that’s likely going to be the case. And, realistically speaking.. that’s probably the best thing. Softball probably shouldn’t push their luck with asking for the men’s game too. But, remember, in 1992 softball was a demonstation sport in the Barcelona summer games. Wouldn’t this be a nice opportunity to try men’s softball as a demo sport?

When I was a kid, I never played a game of baseball in my life. Fastpitch only. Nolan Ryan wasn’t my hero, Peter Meredith was! (Meredith was to men’s softball what Ryan was to baseball.) Maybe some more young men would realize they’d have a better shot at winning the lottery then making it to the major leagues, then they’d try fastpitch softball like I did. Kids I grew up with that played baseball in school and couldn’t understand my obsession with softball are now sitting home and reliving their glory days the same way Al Bundy does about his 4 touchdowns for Polk High on Married With Children. But, me? I’m still traveling all over the world playing (and now teaching) softball. Softball has taken me everywhere from Down Under to Europe to the Far East to Central America to the Carribbean. Sometimes I sit back and shake my head at how blessed I am and have been.

It’s really too bad other young men don’t try the same thing at an earlier age in this country.