Michiana Senior Softball Jan. 30

Last call for umpires

The Byers staff is willing to have a workshop for those of us who are interested in becoming umpires for the 2023 season. Presumably, we would be working games at the Byers Complex but not on our league nights.

The city pays umpires $30 a game, so this is a chance to earn a little extra cash during the summer. It also could give the Byers folks some flexibility in their planning, because there is an areawide shortage of umpires.

We’ve had three candidates step up. If anyone else is interested in the training, please contact kenbradford@comcast.net by noon Friday, Feb. 2.

A midseason break

The schedule approved by commissioners in both divisions includes a full week off for the July 4 holiday. Independence Day is on a Tuesday. We will be taking off on Thursday, July 6, as well.

Sponsor your own team?

We’re just beginning our effort to find sponsors for the 2023 season. Our first step will be to contact last year’s sponsors to see if they’re still with us. We know this much already: We will need some replacements.

Of our 12 sponsors from last year, four were there because of players who have left our league. Those include Access and TAG in the junior division and Christman and AIM in the seniors. We hope to have the other eight return. If they do, and if we have 10 total teams, we still will need two new sponsors. If they don’t, we may have room for even more.

We will be talking with friends who own businesses or lead other organizations, and we ask that you do the same. The sponsor fee is $400 per team, and we can help with details on that. Our preference is that we give league members a chance to become sponsors before we go outside.

One extra bit of information: If you pay a team sponsor fee, that covers your annual player dues. In effect, it would cost you $400 for the sponsorship but save you $100 if you’re playing in both divisions, or $60 if you play in just one. The net cost to you would be $300, or $340.

The way it looks now

We’re expecting to hear from new recruits throughout February and March. But if the season were to start today, we would have five solid teams in both our divisions.

A five-team junior division would be great for several reasons. For one, we would be able to use just two diamonds instead of three. We would be putting up and taking down fewer home run fences. We also would be needing fewer umpires.

Another advantage is that we could have a 24-game season on just 20 dates. That’s because one team every night would be scheduled for a doubleheader. Four teams would play at 6:30 – 1 vs. 2 and 3 vs. 4, for example. Then Team 5 would play at 7:30 against one of those four teams from the earlier game. We’ve constructed a tentative schedule that would give every team an equal number of later starts and the same number of double-headers.

Another advantage would be that no team should ever have to play short-handed or forfeit. There always would be substitutes available – at 6:30, from the team waiting to play the late game, and at 7:30 from the three teams who completed the early games.

The senior division would have the same benefit of players being available to avoid forfeits. With five teams, one always would have a 5 p.m. bye. The downside is that the seniors don’t have the option of playing a late game, so a 20-date regular season would give each team just 16 games, plus a minimum of two in a double-elimination tournament.

The commissioners will need your input on this. Some seniors like the bye as a night off. Others want as many games as possible. If we want to turn our 16-game schedule into 20, we could add some extra games, once or twice per month on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. If we want to spice it up, we might be able to play those games away from the complex, at other city parks.

Or, if we get permission from Byers, we could stick with the 20 dates and add an early game, at 4 p.m., for four senior doubleheaders per season. One game would be at 4, followed by two at 5. All ideas should be on the table. Think it over and talk with your manager or your commissioners.

Our preference would be to have six teams in each league. It would be consistent with our steady progress during the past quarter-century. But this is an unusual year. We believe it will be better to have five solid teams this season than six shaky ones. We’ll have fun either way.

First spaghetti dinner

The league collected $120 from its fundraiser with the Knights of Columbus on Jan. 20. Tickets were $14 apiece with $4 going to the league. Thanks to all who attended. If we end up paying $8 or so per shirt, we just found enough money for uniforms for an entire team.

We ended up selling 30 tickets, about half of which were used for carry-outs. The dinner also served as a chance for a dozen or so league members to socialize during the off-season.

If there is interest, we could have one more chance for a spaghetti dinner before Lent. The date would be Feb. 17. Let us know if you would attend, at kenbradford@comcast.net.

Only if you’re interested

Most of us would rather just know when to show up with a glove and a bat once the season starts. Others want to know how decisions were made on everything from the preseason player draft to the menu at the season awards program. Reports on the annual league meetings are posted on this site, and so are these newsletters. If you have questions, let us know. Otherwise, we’ll look forward to seeing you at the Complex on May 9.

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