Friday, August 6, 2010

They moved the fences in.

Jason Thomas had an excellent article on concerning the changes he has noticed in softball as the seasons roll on over time. As it was on a bowling web site, reading the story had me thinking of the current softball season as an allegory to the current state of bowling leagues. I'm pretty sure that was the author's intention.
It was not a great game to play or to watch being played, one team getting mauled and the other circling the bases regularly with no real effort. How fun was it on the other side? No strategy, no base running, only which guy can jack the ball over the fence the farthest seemed to matter. Is that really why we play the game now?
I've been 'retired' from softball for ten years now. We were all growing older and our kids were now starting their activities. Softball became a lower priority. However, I remember the waning days of my softball career. Our team was composed of primarily engineers by trade. We were a bunch of desk jockeys or meeting attendees. The teams we played were sponsored by air conditioning companies or plumbing companies. These guys did manual labor. Their forearms were bigger than my thighs.
I have played for Coach on Monday nights for 31 years now, from wood bats to aluminum bats to carbon bats to exotic composite material bats.
Yep, these huge guys were swinging the newest technology also. The newest softball bats now cost as much as your high-end reactive resin bowling ball. An extra $250 in my pocket is going for a new bowling ball, not a new bat. With livelier softballs, I started to fear for my life when I had to pitch. Bowling gave me some slow pitch softball skills as I could put some serious arc on a pitch. The pitch may be called illegal for how high it went, but I could drop it in for a strike. No one else wanted to pitch as a flat pitch was going to be hit solidly....HARD...turning it into a lethal projectile.
If we went back to wood bats and didn’t do anything to the ball, the game would be much more fun to watch and much more fun to play. Singles and doubles would matter again, off center swats would be ground balls or pop flies instead of gappers or home runs. Good pitching, timely hitting and tight defense would settle ball games, not a tape measure.
Aren't we really discussing tougher lane conditions, spare shooting, timely adjustments, and a solid mental game? If we go the extreme, this could be a discussion on more rigid equipment specifications. Since I have already written on that subject, I won't rehash it here.

The question you have to ask yourself is do you want to be competitive in every bowling center, or just string strikes with no real measure of your true ability? If the latter, the proprietors have a bat, ball, and short fences for your enjoyment.