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  • saneman

    You gotta be an uncoordinated gimp not to be able to hit slow pitch softball. But yeah, I find an occasional game entertaining to play because I like playing defense. . I don’t think I could do a league because I do not find it that gripping. Softballs at office parties and picnics – great idea. . I just hate fielding a softball compared to a baseball. It beats playing golf anyway. I prefer tennis or basketball as sports to play.

    In any case, it really pisses me off when even 5 year olds have to wear uniforms and go through regimented softball practices on weekend. I am a generation younger than Paul, but even I remember just playing with street clothes casual sports on the weekend in the neighborhood free space or nearby park.

  • Gunny

    It’s just a dying sport John. Soccer is more popular than baseball these days and less baseball players means less softball players so we’re not feeding the ranks. I’m almost 50 so I play senior softball twice a week and flat belly tournaments if we decide to put a team together. We do well, beating the younger guys more than they beat us due to our DEFENSE!

    I love video games but they’re for the lethargic. We have 3 XBOX 360’s, a Playstation 2 (yes, STILL!) and a Playstation 3 at my house. I play Halo, Gears of War, Red Dead Redemption and other games like that and they’re quite fun but I only do it when I’m not playing ball, lifting weights 5 days a week or running. Kids these days play video games INSTEAD of other activities. My kid works 8 hours a day, goes home and plays video games or watches Net Flix. 23 yrs old. Just amazes me. When I was 23 I played 5 nights a week and tournaments twice a month. I’ve played just as much the past 10 years playing about 150 games a year but my knees are starting to feel it since I’m a left center fielder. Some times I get to play shortstop if I can sucker the guy into playing in the field to give me a break. lol

    We’re a dying breed my friend. Our jobs and families require too much time (which is a GOOD THING!!!!!), the fields aren’t taken care of as well as they used to be, good umpires are few and far between, good players are ESPECIALLY hard to find let alone a complete team of good players.

    All we have left is senior softball. SPA and SSUSA are the top two organizations. A decent amount of teams are out there but most are from California, Texas and Florida, the southern states.

    Be aware that the “hot” bats are allowed in senior ball for some Godforsaken reason. Somebody earlier said doublewall and triplewall bats and he’s behind the times. Those were metal bats and that was the 90’s. These days it’s composite fiber with most of the hottest bats being banned from ASA and USSSA but perfectly legal for seniors.

    Tournaments are held all over the US. Very competitive.

    Like several of you, I laugh at the guys who think they can hit 1.000 in a softball league. Obviously they play rec ball. Play against my Major team and you’ll go 1 for 3 with a Texas Leaguer cuz you can’t figure out our pitcher and be embarassed cuz old guys can run down your shots to the gap. You’ll get those 3 at bats ONLY if you bat near the top. More likely than not you’ll only get TWO at bats. Happens all of the time.

    Wanna learn how a REAL softball pitcher can pitch? Check out Ray Cash on Youtube. Wonderful born again Christian man so he’ll preach to you but pay attention to his technique. He plays Major Plus with a team from another state!!! You’ll get a hit off of him only if he feels sorry for you. 😉

  • brian

    Softball isn’t a tough game, John. Sorry. I put it on par with kickball.

    You are stuck in the past with this fictional belief that everything that is okay, remains okay. The world changes. I’m not saying that we should full on embrace every new idea, but let’s be open to considering new possibilities. Don’t get left behind.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Who said it was a tough game? It’s a game that requires athletic ability to play well as opposed to kickball which requires showing up.

    • Ken

      I don’t have a problem with people playing kickball. Whatever floats your boat. It is a “baseball-like” game, but to me it eliminates one of the best possible feelings in sports: the feeling when you really connect dead on a pitched ball with a bat. Yeah, it’s far more satisfying when it’s a baseball vs. a softball, but when you really connect and drive a softball into the gap or over a fence, it still feels pretty good.

      You have to define “tough game.” Softball can be tough. Depends on the level that you play. There are organized leagues where it is very casual and recreational. There are also organized leagues where they play at a very high level. For all the people here that think they’d hit 1.000 playing slow pitch softball, they’d find themselves very annoyed when they weren’t good enough to play in one of those high-level leagues. It’s like anything other competition; some people are going to be better than others, a lot better.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        It requires a better than average level of athleticism to play good, competitive softball. Kickball requires a tremendous ability to show up.

  • Ken

    Hey John, some of the comments here about guys claiming they’d hit 1.000 in slow pitch remind me of games that you probably experienced too.

    I played on a team when I was in my late 20s/early 30s and I was one of the youngest players. Most of the guys were over 40. It was in a Northern VA league that had different skill levels of play, and we were in the top league. We won the championship 4 times in my 5 years, and the guys had been winning for years before I got there. These guys were serious players who played to win. I’ve still got a pile of trophies gathering dust in my basement.

    Our favorite games of the year would be against the teams made up of early and mid-20s players, guys just out of college. They had that “This is easy, I’m going to hit 1.000” attitude like some other posters here. These games were so fun because all of those guys would come to the plate and swing for the fences every time up. For every home run, there would be at least 15 easy fly ball outs.

    Our team played to get hits and score runs. We would pound teams like these. They were just young cocky showboats who just didn’t get it and didn’t play as a team. In a lot of cases, the frustration would build and some guy would pop off and challenge our entire team to a fight. They were great times!

    By the way, technology is hurting slow pitch softball. In the late ’80s/early 90s, I was no power hitter, but I could hit the occasional ball over a 290-300 foot fence if I really caught it good. Now they have these double- and triple-walled bats that cost $300 or more and the ball just flies off of them. I played 2 games as a fill-in two years ago. I was 45 then and I popped two balls over the fence (one to dead center over the 310 sign) and came very close a couple other times. I’m not getting bigger and stronger in my 40s like Barry Bonds. These new bats make anyone a power hitter.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Great stuff and I know exactly what you mean about guys swinging for the fences. My dad told me when I was very young not to fall in love with long outs. They’re still outs. I was a leadoff hitter. I was pretty good at placing the ball. My goal was always to start the game off by ripping one up the middle. I also believed in forcing teams to make bad throws by going for the extra base. Bad teams would lose because of outfielders trying to throw a runner out at third instead of hitting the cutoff man and holding the hitter at 1st after a single.

      • Mike V.

        You were the Pete Rose of the Beer Leagues…. Congratulations.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Get back to your joystick.

          • Mike V.

            What’s a joystick Grandpa? :)

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I think it’s something that allows grown men to PRETEND that they’re playing sports instead of actually playing them.

  • Al

    I love softball, and will keep playing until no one wants me on their team anymore. Unfortunately the leagues in Western PA have dried-up. Several theories, one, there are just less guys in the area. Young people have had to leave to find jobs. Two, we don’t live for ourselves anymore, it’s all about the kids. You’re running them from t-ball, to soccer, to karate, to dance class, to girl scouts, to whatever. It used to be that the kids activities took a back seat to the adults, not anymore. Third, for some reason, adults aren’t supposed to have fun. If I like playing ball, I’m some loser living-out my childish dreams, not just some guy that likes to play ball. And finally, the wives. They don’t want to be stuck at home with the kids, they don’t want you hanging out with the guys, they don’t want you having any fun. They probably always felt that way, but now that they make as much if not more money than us, they are more vocal about it.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Great explanation. I’m not as shocked by guys playing less softball as I am with any grown man playing organized kickball.

    • dg

      God forbid you have to have fun with your wife and raise your kids.

      I play softball and my wife and kid come to the game.

      I know, I know. I’m whipped because I love my wife and support my kids.

      • dg

        OK maybe I went too far on that one…

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        My wife and kids came to my softball games. My wife didn’t play. That would have been a non-starter.

        • Al

          I have a very happy home life, which is probably why I’m still playing. Many guys who don’t play anymore site trouble at home (or there would be trouble at home if they still played) for the reason.

          Not sure how kickball became popular with adults, it’s probably the same people that played soccer when they were young. No need to learn any actual skills.

          Let’s not forget the Buccos here either. They have been so bad for so long that we have lost a whole generation of baseball fans/players in this area. Baseball players become softball players when they get old.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I told my wife that playing softball would not be an issue when I got too old to play and that I was going to play as long as I could and I made it clear that it was not up for negotiation. I felt I could do that because I wasn’t otherwise going out with the boys. I don’t drink and I stopped being interested in hanging in bars when I was about 23. It’s tough to negotiate a couple of nights of s0oftball if you’re also out with the boys in the bar two nights a week.

  • Jim

    I know John doesn’t think much of women’s sports, but…one explanation for the decline in slow-pitch softball is that more young girls are playing fast-pitch softball. John’s neighbors in Scott, for example, don’t even offer slow-pitch anymore; as recently as 10 to 12 years ago it was thriving. Both are actually great games, though fast-pitch too young can be torture. But at the high-school level- it can be an intense, very enjoyable game played by excellent, gutsy athletes- with the ball at the batter quicker than in baseball, the bases closer requiring near perfection on defense. And guys, just try to master that motion, delivery, and pitch.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      It’s not that I don’t think much of women’s sports. I’m just not interested in watching them. I will say that I have been impressed by the pitchers. I don’t know who’s “offering” softball. There used to enough of a demand for it that there were several leagues to join. I batted against Eddie Feignor a couple of times, by the way. (Google King and His Court Softball if you’ve never heard of him.) He struck me out.
      From second base.
      Although I did get a foul tip.
      He also struck out Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Willie McCovey.

  • Ochotexto

    Dg has it backwards. Fast or modified softball is boring. If you have a dominant pitcher it’s all you need. The games are 1-0., 2-0 ,., and your center fielder may not get action all year. Its for chicks.
    Slo pitch encompasses the whole game. Running., fielding., throwing., hitting.All facets are involved.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Ocho is right. Only someone who has never been in a good softball league doesn’t understand the effectiveness of a good pitcher and the fact that it’s all about defense. And it takes athletes to play defense. What makes it a great game is that the ball is always in play and there are plenty of defensive plays to be made. I think, if Ocho had tried to score from second on a single when I was playing CF, I would have thrown him out by 15 feet. I can’t prove it, of course. Just pure speculation on my part.

      • Mike V.

        The ball is always in play in soccer and it’s a defensive game. I hate soccer, but at least a guy doesn’t have time to drink a beer between innings.

        I don’t care for softball or kickball, but what’s the difference? Both are baseball-like games. At least in kickball you can have the added joy of throwing the ball at someone.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I refuse to use the energy it takes to punch the keys to explain the difference between kickball and softball.

  • imgreat95

    Must be a Pittsburgh thing. Where I live, there are softball leagues everywhere. Men’s leagues, women’s leagues, co-ed leagues, fast pitch leagues, youth leagues, church leagues. Its everywhere.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The national stats show a 37% decline.

      • imgreat95

        That is a national decline in slow pitch, according to what it said though, right?? I quit playing slow pitch about 10 years ago and now play modified. I find it much more of a challenge than the slow pitch. So that would mean there is no decline. At least not here. Of course, where I live, there isnt much else to do in the summer aside from finding a softball league.

  • Joe

    Everyone is just too damn busy these days. Just look at this blog we are all bitching about what’s wrong (including me) while sitting and staring at a blog on the computer. We are all to blame.

  • Mr. Diddles

    Man, John, it must have been great running down a ball and catching it over your shoulder during… a slow pitch softball game, really?…slow clap, slow clap…were you trying to be like Willie Mays? Roberto?

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      No. I was actually playing a sport and running down a ball in centerfield in slow pitch softball isn’t much different from running down a baseball. I’ve done both. The fact that you would ask for an explanation tells me that you’re probably on board with the kickball craze and couldn’t throw a softball or a baseball 90 feet if you’re life depended on it.

      • Ken

        Yeah I doubt that Mr. Diddles gets off his couch much.

        I could hit, but I admittedly wasn’t the most graceful fielder when I played slow pitch. I was a barely adequate outfielder, but I had a good arm and played a competent first or (lefthanded) third base.

        However, a friend of mine who played shortstop was to this day one of the most gifted fielders that I have ever seen. There is no doubt in my mind that, even though the game is faster, he could have played major league shortstop. Speed and quickness were not a problem for him. He was extremely quick and just had those instincts and was good at any sport that he tried.

        It was nothing to see him make a diving stop behind second and, while diving, backhand flip it with his glove to the second baseman. The only problem would be that the second baseman often wouldn’t see it coming because the play was that good.

      • Mr. Diddles

        I’m clearly capable of doing all those things. And no, I’m not on board with any kickball craze-to quote you, “I stopped playing that when I was 8.” I hung my cleats up a long time ago to avoid people like you on the softball/baseball fields living their lives vicariously through their favorite pro team/player.
        On another note, isn’t softball dominated by women? Which subjected you to playing a “woman’s game?” With your whole spin on the wussifcation/sissification of America, I would say this puts you up there with it. Even though you played in a men’s beer league, you played slow pitch, too! Which puts you on an even lower tier in the softball world.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I played in good leagues with very good players. The best teams were the ones with the best athletes who could play defense. Everybody puts the ball in play, so speed and a good arm was a necessity in the OF and you had to be able to pick it in the infield. It wasn’t about the hitting. It was about the defense. If you think islow pitch softball is all about the hitting, then you have no credibility on the subject.

          • Mike V.

            Couldn’t you say the same thing about kickball if it was an all male league? I mean, seriously, over the shoulder catches are required in kickball, catching a ball is required, striking a ball is required (although with a foot), running is required and you get the added benefit of trying to hit another person with a ball while they are running.

            I’ll be impressed by slow pitch softball players when they play without gloves and the pitcher throws the ball at a pace that makes the ball hiss as it comes to the plate.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            No.

          • kg

            Play soft ball with no glove? Softballs are much harder than a baseball so that won’t happen. Also I have never seen a kickball pitcher hiss one rolling in the dirt. Sorry but I just don’t get your point brother.

  • Chris

    Hey John, hope all is well..I have some theroies as to why softball has died in western Pa. I played in a league until about 15 years ago or so. I am from Fayette County, and 20-25 years ago, there were 10-12 leagues around. Now there maybe be 1. It is too easy and simple to just blame video games. Here are my thoughts as to why:

    1) Baby Boomers have gradually gotten older of course and have moved on to other things. My dad and all of his buddies played when I did. But they were at the end of their playing days. And leagues have dried up as they have all retired from the game.

    2) My generation (I am 38), seems to have moved on to golf, raising our families, etc. Every friend I know that I played either with or against, now golfs. I guess that came from us getting into our late 20’s, early 30’s, starting making more money, and could afford to golf at various places on a regular basis. I also have gotten involved in coaching my sons (baseball and hockey), so that takes alot of my time, which is fine.

    Also, alot of my generation has simply moved to other locations around the country for jobs. You see those folks at Steelers and Penguins games in various cities.

    3) We talk alot about the growth of hockey in our area, and I think that applies here also. There are a ton of adult hockey leagues around the area today. 20-25 years ago, there were virtually none. Whether it is on the dek, inline, or on the ice, more adults between 25-40 are playing hockey. Where they once played baseball/softball in that age range. As this current generation grows older and gets out of high school/college, adult hockey leagues of all kinds will continue to grow around the area.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The fact that more guys are playing hockey makes me feel a little better, but all the other things you mentioned …golf, raising a family… existed when I was playing. When I was at Channel 4 we had a team called the Channel 4 No Stars. We played charity games against all star teams in the area and more than held our own with the help of several ringers. We played a doubleheader every Sunday morning in a league and then we would jump in our cars and head for a charity game–sometimes with crowds of a couple thousand people. After several years the GM decided to ruin it by decreeing that women had to play. I lasted one season. I guess if they put together a team now it would be co-ed kickball. That’s tragic and terrifying beyond words.

      • Jack

        To add to Chris’s point. I just turned 32 and participate in 5Ks, soccer and dek hockey leagues. I really enjoyed playing intramural softball in college. I considered playing afterwards but it was too much of a hassle. The teams seem more interested in the labor day weekend tournament than the regular season. And to pay for that trip you have to fundraise by selling tickets regularly. Also, games get rained out and you end up playing 5 days a week by the end of summer. I go to the gym and lift weights/cardio 5 times a week and prefer to do that over standing around in the field waiting for some meathead to hit a homerun(which is what the game has become with the juiced bats/balls and arc limit). Maybe I’m part of the ADD generation but softball does not scream “activity” to me.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I can see trading softball for dek hockey or any kind of hockey. Not kickball. We played a version of soccer when I was a kid but it was really hockey with a ball. I had no interest in real soccer. Too socialistic. Lots of work, very little reward.

  • Mike V.

    My understanding is kickball has become popular. I think it has a lot to do with co-ed leagues.

    When I first got out of college, I played a couple of softball games. Had not taken a swing at a ball since high school. I got a hit every at bat. The only thing that would have made it easier to hit the ball would have been if they set it on a tee. The was no challenge so I didn’t play anymore. Seemed kind of silly.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      You weren’t playing in a very good league if you got a hit every at bat. Good slow pitch softball pitchers knew how to put a 10 foot arc on the ball. Anybody can underhand it in there like it’s on a tee. Co-ed sports is another sign of the feminization of America. Please tell me that grown men have not traded playing softball and flag football against other grown men with playing kickball, which I stopped playing when I was 8. If that’s true, the continuation of the human race is in serious doubt. Men are on their way to becoming completely feminized. That is really terrifying. There was a time when one of the primary reasons for men getting together for competition was to get away from women. If men are now playing kickball in order to accommodate women, there really is no hope for the gender.

      • dg

        I would put slow pitch softball and kickball in the same category.

        I will point out that there also was a time when men thought women were inferior and only good for cooking and making babies.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          That would show that you have no clue. If you compare someone backhanding a shot on the third base line and throwing the runner out or turning your back to the plate and running a long way for an over the shoulder catch in CF to anything that happens in kickball, I’m going to have to assume that you never played a game of competitive softball or baseball in your life.

          • dg

            You don’t catch and throw in kickball? What is the difference if I run and catch a softball over the shoulder or a kick ball?

            Softball isn’t baseball. I play in a fairly competitive modified league and I know it’s really just an easier form of baseball.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            If you don’t know the difference there’s really no reason to discuss it further. Thanks, though.

      • Matt

        Pitching makes all the difference. I played in an organized league in high school and we went to the National championship tournament. I was a power hitter that pulled everything. We scrimmaged the girls HS team that had a standout pictcher. WIth two strikes on me I managed to hit a HR to dead center. two more batters and the girls coach showed up and stopped the game. In the tournament it was a short field I thought I would hit several HRs. We only lasted 2 games and I managed 4 singles in 8 at bats.

      • Mike V.

        I can’t tell you for sure kickball is why they traded in softball and flag football, but I have a hunch it might be. Since I don’t play kickball, I really can’t answer that.

        Getting back to my batting 1.000 in softball. I had just completed college where I played football at a D-1 school. Nothing to do with softball, or baseball, or my football playing ability, but there was no way at that age I was going to allow a 40 year old, out of shape guy re-living his glory years get an out on me. Now I am the 40 year old guy and there is no way I would have let me get myself out.

  • Matt

    I wonder how much of it has to do with lawyers and insurance companies.

  • Ken

    I played as often as four nights a week back when I lived in Northern VA in the late ’80s early ’90s, where softball still is very popular. It’s hard to get a team in those leagues. After moving back to Pittsburgh, I continued playing into my early 40s. it was a a great time and I do still miss it. Hard to find a lot of people who want to play now.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      There are millions of grown men who have substituted actually playing competitive sports with something called “PLAY STATION”. Pretty scary.

  • Meathead

    Ran a local men’s league for a few years. Never saw such a group of spoiled crybabies. Perhaps no one wants to run or organized these leagues any more.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      How long ago?

      • Meathead

        I hung it up about eight years ago.

        The expenses to run a league were getting beyond the means of many sponsors, more fundraising or player fees were proposed. Most guys just wanted to show up and play. They didn’t even want to retrieve foul balls or home run balls let alone pick up a rake or shovel and get a field ready for play.

        • Jimmy

          You hit the nail on the head. The cost is very high and too much for sponsors although if you get a bar to sponsor they more than make up the cost as long as the guys patronize.

  • dg

    I know a lot of guys that play modified instead of slow pitch. That might have something to do with the percentage.

    I tried to play slow pitch and I didn’t get it. It was basically tee ball for drunken meatheads.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      There is good slow pitch pitching and there is somebody out there underhanding it in there. Two very different things.

    • Ken

      In a good slow pitch league, the games are suprisingly low scoring. Not everyone can hit, even a slow pitch, there’s more skill involved in pitching than you may realize, and in better leagues, you’ll see some great defense.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        The team with the best defense will usually win –teams that know how to hit the cutoff men etc. The only thing that bothered my about getting old was not being able to play centerfield anymore.

        • a-dawg

          I understand where you are coming from John. I just hung ’em up after 18 season of softball. I played shortstop until a fefw years ago….then was moved to third. My shoulder blew up and I spent the last 2 seasons playing first.

          It sucks getting old!

  • Dave H

    Apparently, everyone is jogging and playing ping pong. That last stat about under 34 and inactive is frightening. I never see pickup games anymore. Playgrounds are empty.

  • T

    Every ‘active’ 30 something I know is very active at paying a gym to run in place.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Sad.

  • Ochotexto

    Played softball till I was 42 in a traveling league and it was very competitive. Lots of ex college players ., some ex minor leaguers,and other great athletes. The fields were filled every night., now they are empty. The younger guys in my neighborhood have no interest. They are on their computers playing fantasy., smoking weed, or watching their big screen TVs.
    It’s a shame. Those were great times.

  • Mike from Boston

    I was in a softball league with a few friends in the Boston area a couple years ago. It was a miserable chore. The whole team fell apart after that first season and we haven’t even bothered trying since.

    Just like how kids games these days are overrun by helicopter parents and “snack moms”, adult softball and flag football leagues are going through similar over-officiating. Half the people take the game way too seriously and want it to be like what they see on ESPN or what they play in video games, and the other half are just in it for the beers after the game.

    Maybe you should call your next book “Just Play the Game”.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Good idea for Book III.

  • mickey

    video games rule, have you ever played them?

    i think dancing is stupid, but it really helps with the chicks if you can dance

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      There’s nothing that you can do in a video game that can match hitting a triple or making an over the shoulder catch in CF.