MANALAPAN BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION
As the calendar flips to November and we find ourselves knee-deep into autumn we prepare to put a wrap on another successful MBSA season. It was not without it's occasional bump in the road - there were a few games that we were unable to get umpire coverage for and we had some unfortunate displays of unsportsmanlike conduct, but the weather was basically compliant, most divisions got in a healthy slate of fall games for a fall season and most excitedly we have some passionate new members that were elected to the MBSA board and we are seeing the fruits of a rejuvinated softball program.
The annual election saw a strong turnout from the softball community which led to more board representation for softball than we've enjoyed in years. This has allowed us to name a Vice President of Softball Operations and move forward with aggressive plans towards rebuilding the softball program. One of the projects being explored is the conversion of Lafayette Mills School into a softball only complex, an endeavor which would require "skinning" the fields 2 and 3 and would leave all sorts of exciting possibiltiies from tournaments to clinics and more communal atmosphere to the program. Also on the slate are additional town hall meetings with the softball community so we can insure communication flows freely.
Our summer showcase program brought an additional 20 players in front of college scouts and was an overwhelming success. In the past 2 years 6 players on the showcase teams have accepted scholarships to play baseball in college. This summer we added an "Elite Rookie Team" to our summer mix, which culminated in a tournament championship in the season finale.
The Braves Travel program has been improving each year. Teams are competing at higher levels of across the board and they are succeeding throughout the program. The Braves have truly become the model for what a town travel team can become. We are competitive in and garnering trophies in most tournaments, have been regularly winning USABL champioinships, have have shown that the grass is not always greener on the other field. Many who have abandonded the Braves program and gone elsewhere to pay 2 or 3 times as much have found that the level of training was as good if not better here and the comraderie can't be beat. Next spring we look forward to the introduction of The Braves Cup which will be awarded to the team that gains the most points over a given year. Points will be awarded on variety of metrics. More information on this will be out soon.
As mentioned in the open there were a few bumps in the road, one being the conduct and lack of sportsmanship at the games. This is generally not an issue with the players. It is occasionally coaches and very often parents. This is a problem that has become epidemic within youth sports, but sad to say Manalapan has garnered the worst reputation in this area among any town in the region. Treatment of officials has gotten so bad that many umpires no longer want to work in this town and declince the games when assigned them. Parents have been frustrated at the occasional game where there have been no umpires. This is the cause. Not only does this set a terrible example for our kids, but we frankly will not be able to exist as a program if we continue to struggle to get officials to work our games. The MBSA is not taking this matter lightly. We currently revamping our parental code of conduct and will dealing whith any inappropriate behavior very aggresively. Spectators will not be allowed to communicate with officials and managers will be accountable for what goes on by their dugout.
There are positives to report on the officials front, though. Our junior umpire program continues to flourish. We had an excellent core of young cadets who helped keep our Double AA and younger softball divisions running and they did so in expert fashion. Just a few years ago it was the parents who were charged with the task of umpiring games in the Single and Double A divisions. The junior umpire program was a welcome change as the cadets were very enthusiastic and it was a chore the parents never wanted any part of. It's taken a while, but we've gone from covering 1 in 4 games with juniors to every other game and now we are close to covering them all. Unfortunately, there will still be the occaisional game in these divisions that go uncovered, but we've got a great core and will continue to add to it in the spring.
There is more to look forward to. We hope to introduce a new web system over the winter with greater functionality, flexibility, and mobile access. We will continue to expand on our winter clinic offerings and will be holding mandatory coaches clinics in advance of the spring season. If you have any old equipment gathering dust in your garage keep your eyes open for information on our annual holiday equipment drive. On behalf of the MBSA thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with your children and help them make special memories. We have some amazing coaches in our system that I'm sure will have a life-long impact on the players they coach. As we wind down give your kids the next 6 weeks or so to rest those arms and then start hitting the cages. Spring will be here before you know it.
Have a great winter!
President, The Manalapan Baseball and Softball Association