The Huntington Wiffle League meeting was a success last night. The commissioner met with a few team captains and went over changes with the league's upcoming 2013 season. After all parties involved consumed their massive burgers at Fat Patty's they got down to business. Lots of changes are coming for the upcoming season particularly with equipment, field layout, and having a rigorous playing schedule. Teams will be more accountable for attendance as each team will have a 16-game playing schedule for the 12-week season. Games will be played on Tuesday nights (more days if more teams sign up) at 5:30, 6:30, & 7:30. Individual teams will only have to play double-headers during 4 weeks of their schedule. So, during the other 8 weeks of a team's regular season they can show up only for their game time slot if they choose to do so.
The field set-up will be very different than last year. We will be playing at a 90 degree angle which will increase the amount of fair balls possible. The Pitcher's Circle will be spray-painted onto a carpet (that will be staked to the ground) and there will be a 5-gallon bucket with balls (rather than just a bag like last year). There will also be a bucket behind the strike-zone board for the offense to put balls into. When the pitcher runs out of balls, simply switch buckets. Foul tipping into the strike-zone (if a batter has two strikes) will still be considered a strikeout. Also, if a hitter does not swing at the first strike (meaning it hits the zone) it will be an automatic strikeout. This is a newer rule that will hopefully move games quickly since the goal is for each game to finish within an hour. There will be carpeted batter's boxes on either side of the plate to prevent slipping and the bases will be raised this year so that it will be clearer to see when runners reach any given base. The proposed changes have not been put into practice yet so the field dimensions are still unknown but the rough estimate is 100-115' to center field and 60-75' to left and right fields.
A major change that gained much support of those at the meeting was the decision to use slightly bigger and durable bats. The league has not officially decided which bat(s) will be allowed to be used in regulation play but most players agree that the Sandlot Stick does not have much "pop." There are three bats that will be tested during Spring Training: Easton Pro Stix 1000, Louisville C271 (aka Ken Griffey Jr. Bat), and the Skyball Bat. The Easton and Louisville bats have been extensively tested and reviewed by SAHDwiffle, a wiffleball product rating website bases in Akron, Ohio. The Skyball Bat is a bat that no other wiffleball league has toyed with. Whereas the Easton and Louisville bats are about 33" in length, the Skyball Bat is only about 29''. The commissioner will be experimenting with lengthening the bat to 33'' using pvc pipe. The short length of the Skyball Bat as is would make it useless in the league and would be no advancement at all for batters. In fact, it would be a step down since the Sandlot Stick was 30'' long. So the modification, if successful, could perhaps be used for the Sandlot Stick as well. No one is sure how well each bat will perform or how far they can hit balls but that will all be tested soon enough.
Opening Day is April 2nd and Spring Training 'officially' begins two weeks earlier on March 19th (but could be sooner). Teams will be allowed to have a maximum of five players on their team instead of four and new players are welcome to join all season long. However, players who join after April 30th will not be permitted to participate in the post-season. May 7th is schedules to be the All-Star/Fun-Star game/League BBQ. Regular season ends June 18th and June 25th will be for make-up games (if needed). Playoffs will begin July 2nd.
A couple of issues were discussed but not decided upon. There is still no consensus on whether or not to have a small fee (approx. $20) per player to pay for all the equipment and a real trophy for the league champion. The commissioner and co-commissioner went 100% out of pocket on all expenses and it does add up after a while. Also, there is talk of getting a 4 to 5 person team together for the 15th Annual London Wiffleball Tournament and/or sending a team to Chillicothe, Ohio to play the Central Ohio Whiffleball League at some point this summer.