THIS PAGE IS WHERE I GET TO SOUND OFF ABOUT ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE STATUS AND HEALTH OF YOUTH SPORTS, IN PARTICULAR "THE SPORT OF BASEBALL" THESE WILL BE MY OPINIONS AND ONLY MY OPINIONS. YOU CAN AGREE OR DISAGREE, BUT IN THE END, I DON'T CARE!!
AAU/Club Baseball. Will the rise of these so called “elitist” baseball teams benefit or destroy youth baseball. It’s a good bet that it will negatively affect local teams and leagues at all age groups, but particularly in the 12 to 18 age group. Unfortunately, "destroy" would be the best word to describe what has happened to youth baseball in many communities. Bristol CT is a good example. They had many low cost baseball programs for different skill levels. Some were national affiliations and other were controlled by the city. With the development of private baseball training facilities, private teams were soon created and AAU sports teams were formed. It did not take long for the low cost existing baseball programs in Bristol to fall victim to the specialzation of baseball programs offered by the private "Elitist" sector. Participation dropped and soon the Bristol programs disappeared and all of this happened in the span of 4-5 years. Along with the rise of these elistist teams which cost team members a fee of $800 to a high of $5000+, the negativity is pervasive discrimination. The poor and lower middle class, mostly minority, cannot afford the fees and associated expenses and are subsequently locked out of the opportunity to play team baseball at all of the age levels Even more frustrating is the cities and towns who allow these teams to play on the taxpayer owned fields thereby enabling this discrimination practice.
Parents always want the best for their children as it should be and as a result, easily fall prey to the hucksters who organize these teams and play to the parents emotional element. They will promise specialized individual training (some maybe) competitive baseball games, (sure all “games” are competitive), usually on weekends, attended by college and professional scouts (laughable) an education to get players ready for a collegiate career (ridiculous) etc,etc. All of this for a fee of course as mentioned above. In most cases, this fee does not include transportation to distant games, food or lodging if an overnight is required. If you can pay, you can play, yet for many, meaningful playing time is a dream. These programs are all about the money
The false narrative from the various teams, in their recruiting attempts, flies against the statistics. So few make it to any college baseball career and even less make to Division 1 or 2 colleges that offer scholarships, but parents will spend the money on these “elitist” teams, money that could and should be used for the children’s future education at post high school institutions. Young players, when they enter High School and begin playing Jr. Varsity and Varsity baseball, begin the realty process that their parents could not grasp. They may be good players, but equal, more less, to most of the rest of the players at the various High Schools they play against and unfortunately, their parents have blown thousands of dollars for dream, that from the get go, was a statistical nightmare. As their maturity grew, these players attention turned to looking for a college to further their education. Playing a summer sport for fun becomes a major factor in these years. Low cost competitive summer baseball programs such as Mack Baseball or American Legion provide this outlet
I have had a number of players from these “elitist” teams show up for Mack tryouts. Almost all did not enjoy the so called elitist experience including most of their parents. As they got older and started to play HS ball, playing with their friends was more important than the gamble of potential fame and fortune from what they now know, was costly, false promises. Looking to get into a decent college and getting an education was now the priority. (3) players from last year’s 2014 Torrington Mack team will continue their baseball careers and will be soon starting their baseball seasons at the colleges of their choice. This is great opportunity for them and testimony to the competitive strength of the independent and low cost Mack summer program. They got there with commitment, hard work and skills, but certainly did not have to pay the large amounts of money demanded by the scam artists who are doing their best to destroy youth baseball with their false narrative and exclusive policies. They do not give a damn because, Again, it is all about the money!! Soon 9-19 year old youth baseball programs will be available to only those who can pay the price.
THAT’S MY SAY!
So now our politcos have decided that the Titans “family entertainment “college baseball team is an elitist entity that does not have to live by the rules, laws and ordinances that rest of the people in this community have to live by. They are entitled to be above this with their recent permission to serve and consume alcohol in a city park especially when one politico absurdly classified them as being part of “Economic Development” in Torrington. Really! A mediocre team playing in the lowest rung of collegiate summer baseball leagues, not to be mistaken with the prestigious Cape Cod league or the established and respected NECBL, entertaining according to published reports, an average of 400 per game that includes players and coaches of both teams, park workers, the geese in the outfield and the resident skunk behind the outfield wall, from a community of 40K residents and a total of an additional 40-50K in the surrounding community, subsidized with tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, moneys, that until the Titans arrival, was used to help fund youth athletic and recreational programs, but no more.
Exactly, what message are our politicos sending to our young student athletes. Rules can be broken if you are part of the elite and entitled in our society, but until you are part of that, you have to toe the line. These intellectually challenged legislators have conveniently forgotten the recent sexual assaults of two 13 year olds girls by a number of student athletes. They were subdued, by not a knife or gun, but by alcohol and according to reports, alcohol forced down the throats of the victims.
Substance abuse is epidemic in the youth culture. Many organizations such as MADD, the Police Dare Programs and individuals such as school administrators, counselors, teachers, coaches and responsible adults are active in informing and educating our young people regarding the dangers of substance abuse with both drugs and alcohol. These are on going programs, but then we have what is supposed to be our community leaders undermining these efforts to honor our communities moral values and respect for our rules and laws. These politicos have become part of the problem instead being part of the solution and as a result they should forfeit their right to govern. This park alcohol deal was a pathetic decision.
THAT’S MY SAY!
RECENTLY, A FIESTY LITTLE ITALIAN MAN, AND AN EX-MARINE BY THE NAME OF VINCENT "VINNIE" TESTANERO PASSED AWAY. WHO WAS HE? WELL, AT THE END OF 1982, HE FINISHED A SEASON COACHING IN THE TORRINGTON "BABE RUTH" LEAGUE, BUT WAS NOT HAPPY WITH THE STRUCTURE AND PLAYING RULES OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION. AS A RESULT, HE WENT LOOKING FOR AN AFFILIATION THAT WOULD OFFER MORE INDEPENDENCE IN RUNNING A LOCALIZED LEAGUE AND ONE THAT DID NOT OFFER MANDATORY ALL-STAR PLAY. AFTER CHECKING AROUND, HE DISCOVERED THE "AMERICAN AMATEUR BASEBALL CONGRESS (AABC)" AND THEIR "CONNIE MACK" DIV. HERE WAS A ORGANIZATION THAT ALLOWED YOU TO STRUCTURE YOUR LEAGUE ANYWAY YOU WANTED TO, BUT IF YOU PLAYED IN AN "AABC" SANCTIONED TOURNAMENT, YOU HAD TO PLAY BY THEIR RULES. THE OTHER REQUIREMENT WAS THAT YOU COULD ONLY FORM A LEAGUE IF YOU HAD A MINIMUM OF (4) TEAMS. HE STARTED THE 1983 SEASON WITH TEAMS FROM TORRINGTON, WASHINGTON, SHARON AND WOLCOTT. IN 1984, HE ASKED ME TO HELP HIM OUT WHICH I DID AND THE LEAGUE WAS EXPANDING WITH THE ENTRY OF LITCHFIELD FOR THE 1985 SEASON. VINNY STEPPED AWAY FROM COACHING AFTER THAT, BUT THE LEAGUE WAS EXPANDING AGAIN AS WATERBURY, AMENIA NY, WINSTED AND NEW MILFORD CAME ABOARD TO FORM THE CORE GROUP OF TEAMS THAT EXISTS TODAY. OVER THE YEARS, TEAMS FROM AVON, CANTON, TERRYVILLE, THOMASTON, NAUGATUCK, SEYMOUR, TRUMBULL, SOUTHINGTON, DANBURY, BROOKFIELD, BETHLEHEM-WOODBURY, MIDDLETOWN-SOUTHBURY CAME AND WENT AND SOME CAME BACK AGAIN. 2012 MARKED THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY FOR THIS POPULAR AND COMPETITIVE SUMMER BASEBALL PROGRAM.
I LOST TOUCH WITH VINNY A FEW YEARS BACK, BUT I AM SURE HE FOLLOWED THE PROGRAMS SUCCESS WHICH WAS A RESULT OF HIS VISION AND EFFORTS IN 1983 AND 1984. HE IS GONE NOW, BUT HIS LEGACY LIVES ON. RIP VINNY
THE TAXPAYERS PROVIDE THE TORRINGTON PARK & REC. DEPT. WITH A BUDGET OF 1.9 MILLION DOLLARS. FOR THE OVER 35 YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED, THEY HAVE PROVIDED THE YOUTH SPORTS PROGRAMS IN TORRINGTON WITH VARIOUS LEVELS OF SUBSIDIES. THIS YEAR, ALL THE SUBSIDIES HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED, MEANING THE PROGRAMS WILL NEED TO FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL BY INCREASING THEIR “PAY TO PLAY” FEES AND DO MORE FUND RAISERS.
THE TITANS COLLEGIATE BASEBALL TEAM HA BEEN GIVEN A $1 LEASE TO FUESSENICH PARK WHICH MEANS THEY RECEIVE A TAXPAYER SUBSIDY OF WELL OVER $20,000 FOR LABOR SERVICES TO MAINTAIN THE FIELD AS WELL AS PARK UTILITIES.
THE NET RESULT IS THAT THE SLASHED SUBSIDIES FROM THE YOUTH PROGRAMS WILL PAY THE SUBSIDY FOR THE NON-RESIDENT, NON-REVENUE PRODUCING, FOR PROFIT TITANS COLLEGIATE BASEBALL TEAM. I FIND THIS BUREAUCRATIC DECISION TO BE MORALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST.
THE PARK AND REC DEPT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A STRONG ADVOCATE OF YOUTH SPORTS IN TORRINGTON. I HAVE WORKED WITH 8-10 PARK AND REC DIRECTORS OVER THE LAST 30+ YEARS, BUT TO A MAN OR WOMEN, THEY AND THE VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THE P&R COMMISSIONS, WERE STAUNCH ADVOCATORS OF SPORTS AND PARTICULARLY YOUTH SPORTS. NOT ANYMORE! TODAY WE ARE ABOUT TO BECOME “REVENUE GENERATORS” AND A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THIS IS THE CONSIDERATION OF A $10-$20 PARTICIPATION FEE (BACK DOOR TAX) FOR ALL ADULTS AND YOUTHS FROM AGE 6 TO 60 INVOLVED IN A CITY SANCTIONED SPORTS OR RECREATIONAL PROGRAM. IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE THAT MOST, IF NOT ALL OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS, ARE PRIVATELY RUN BY VOLUNTEERS WHO MANAGE THE PROGRAMS AND RAISE THE NECESSARY FUNDING. THE PARK AND REC DEPT. IS STRICTLY ADMINISTRATIVE IN THAT THEY PROVIDE THE TAXPAYER OWNED FACILITIES IN A REASONABLE CONDITION FOR WHICH THE PROGRAMS CAN OPERATE ON OR IN AND IT AMOUNTS TO A SMALL PORTION OF THE 1.9 MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET PROVIDED TO THEM BY “WE THE TAXPAYERS”. NOW THE CITY WANTS A CUT FROM THE CANDY SALES, CAR WASHES, GRINDER SALES, DONATIONS ETC. THAT HAS LITTLE JOHNNIE AND JANEY OUT AND ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOODS, WORKING TO RAISE MONEY FOR THEIR PROGRAMS.
I AM NOW IN THE TWILIGHT YEARS OF MY SPORTS VOLUNTEERING EFFORTS, BUT IN THE NEAR FUTURE, WHAT I THINK HAS TO BE DONE BY THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF THE TORRINGTON “SPORTS COMMUNITY”, YOUTH AND ADULT, IS TO ORGANIZE SOME TYPE OF INDEPENDENT REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL, COMMISSION OR ASSOCIATION TO ACT AS ONE ACTIVIST VOICE TO COUNTER THE BUREAUCRATIC ABUSES THAT SEEM TO BE COMING DOWN THE PIKE. A COMMON FRONT WINS. SEPARATELY AS IT NOW IS, YOU WILL LOSE AND IN COMPETITIVE ATHLETICS, THAT IS NEVER AN OPTION. "THATS MY SAY"
BATS: SAFETY OR SCAM!! MAYBE A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH.
IT SEEMS THAT THE BAT INDUSTRY CHANGES THE SPECIFICATIONS OF BATS EVERY FEW YEARS IN ORDER TO ADDRESS SAFETY CONCERNS REGARDING PITCHER HIT BACK DANGERS OR SO THEY SAY. BUT, IS THAT THE REAL REASON OR IS IT JUST A COVER-UP TO SELL MORE BATS?
ALL SPORTS ARE INHERETLY DANGEROUS TO YOUR PHYSICAL WELL BEING, SOME MORE SO THAN OTHERS. I HAVE COACHED IN OVER 600+ GAMES WHICH WOULD BE MINIMUM OF 4200+ INNINGS. I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE THAT NO MAJOR INJURIES OCCURRED TO ATHLETES UNDER MY SUPVERVISION. NO BROKEN EXTREMITIES EXCEPT FOR A FEW FINGERS AND A NOSE. LOTS OF BUMPS, BRUISES, SPRAINS AND MANY HIT BACKS TO THE PITCHERS, MOST OF THEM FIELDED AND OTHERS EVADED. AS I CAN RECALL, (2) WERE HITS TO THE FACE AND WHILE SCARY, THERE WAS FORTUNATELY, NO SERIOUS OR PERMANENT DAMAGE SO FOR ME ALL THE BAT TESTING AND CHANGES WAS MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
THE FIRST BAT RULE INITIATED TO PROTECT PITCHERS WAS A CHANGE FROM A 2-3/4” DIA BARREL TO A 2-5/8” DIA. BARREL ALONG WITH THE MINUS 3 WEIGHT BAT TO LENGTH RATIO. OUT WITH THE OLD BATS AND NEW BATS HAD TO BE PURCHASED, A WINDFALL FOR BAT MANUFACTURERS. AFTER A FEW SHORT YEARS, THE COMPLAINTS CONTINUED ABOUT THE RISK TO PITCHERS SO THEY SAY. THE BAT INDUSTRY DECIDED TO START TESTING THE “BALL EXIT SPEED RATIO AND CAME UP WITH A “BESR” RATING FOR BATS. ONCE AGAIN, OUT WITH THE OLD EXPENSIVE BATS AND IN WITH THE NEW BESR RATED BATS. ANOTHER SALES WINDFALL FOR THE MANUFACTURERS. NOW THEY WERE ON TO SOMETHING.
ALONG WITH THE METAL BATS, A COMPOSITE FIBER BAT WAS INTRODUCED AND WAS SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS THE “HOME RUN” BAT. WHILE THESE BATS MET THE BESR RATING WHEN NEW, SOMETHING DEVELOPED THAT WAS UNSEEN BEFORE. THE COMPOSITE FIBER BAT DID NOT WEAR OUT, IT WORE IN. THE MORE IT WAS USED, THE MORE FLEXIBLE IT BECAME AND SOON THE BALL EXIT SPEED WAS NOWHERE NEAR THE BESR RATING. MORE TESTING WAS DONE AND IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE BALL EXIT SPEED WAS AS FOLLOWS
WOOD BATS – 92.3 MPH
BESR BATS – 100.7 MPH (UNLESS YOU WERE USING A USED COMPOSITE FIBER BAT)
THE BAT INDUSTRY, AFTER MORE TESTING, DECIDED TO COME OUT WITH A NEW SPECIFICATION AND RATING, “BBCOR” THAT HAD A EXIT SPEED RATING OF 95.6 MPH. HERE WE GO AGAIN, OUT WITH OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW AND ANOTHER SALES WINDFALL. INTERESTING ENOUGH, A COMPOSITE FIBER BAT WILL STILL BE AVAILABLE AND FOR THE FUTURE, WE CAN SEE THE NEXT RULE CHANGE COMING FOR ANOTHER WINDFALL SALES OPPORTUNITY.
SCAM OR SAFETY. YOU BE THE JUDGE. I KNOW WHERE I AM ON THE ISSUE. "THATS MY SAY"
THE TORRINGTON TITANS COLLEGE TEAM IS IN THE PROCESS OF FORMING FOR THE 2012 SEASON. TO IMPROVE THEIR REVENUE STREAM, THEY WILL BE ASKING TO BE EXEMPT FROM THE CITY ORDINANCE THAT BANS ALCOHOL IN THE CITY PARKS, UNUSUAL FOR THEIR "FAMILY ATMOSPHERE" PROGRAM. THEY NOW RECEIVE GATE RECEIPTS, MOST IF NOT ALL OF THE ADVERTIZING RECEIPTS, DONATIONS, THE CONCESSION STAND RECEIPTS AND THOUSANDS IF NOT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN CITY SERVICES. HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? OBVIOUSLY NOT ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT COMPROMISING THIS COMMUNITIES
PRINCIPALS AND VALUES. THEY KNEW WHAT THE RULES WERE WHEN THEY DECIDED TO COME TO TOWN ON THEIR "FAMILY ATMOSPERE AND VALUES" PLATFORM, BUT IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY AND THE BEHIND THE SCENE DEALINGS SUCH AS OFFERING TO PAY THE COST OF A NEW SOUND SYSTEM FOR THE PARK, (NORMALLY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FUESSENICH PARK UPKEEP COMMITTEE), IN ORDER TO GAIN FAVOR FOR A POSITIVE DECISION ON THE ALCOHOL ISSUE. HOW ABOUT PUTTING A QUALITY BASEBALL PROGRAM ON THE FIELD TO BRING FANS IN, OR IS IT THEIR BELIEF THAT A FAMILY THAT DRINKS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE HAS OFTEN BEEN STATED AS BEING OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS AMONGST TEENAGERS. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE, TEACHERS, COUNSELERS, COACHES AND THE POLICE TROUGH THEIR "DARE PROGRAM" WORKING TO DISPEL AND COMBAT THE GLAMORIZATION OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IN THE "SPORTS WORLD" AS WELL AS IN EVERYDAY LIFE. IN A PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT VENUE WHERE THERE ARE MANY IMPRESSIONABLE CHILDREN IN ATTENDENCE, IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE TO EXPOSE THEM TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ALCOHOL AND SPORTS, YET WE HAVE THE HIGHEST OFFICIAL IN THE CITY PUBLICLY STATING HIS AGREEMENT TO IT, THEREBY WORKING AGAINST THE FIGHT MANY OF US ARE ENGAGED IN, REMINDING ME OF AN OFT USED SAYING, " IF YOU ARE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM." SHOW THE LEADERSHIP YOU WERE ELECTED FOR AND DO YOUR RESPONSIBLE DUTY. THERE IS THE RULE OF LAW AND A SPECIAL EXEMPTION FOR SPECIFIC ORGANIZATIONS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
"THAT'S MY SAY!"
A GOOD MAN DIED IN EARLY OCTOBER. JOHN FERGUSON WAS NOT ONLY KNOWN BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS, BUT BY THE LOCAL SPORTS COMMUNITY IN PARTICULAR. AS A COACH OF SEVERAL SPORTS, HIS MAIN LOVE WAS FOR THE GAME OF BASEBALL PRIMARILY COACHING AT TORRINGTON HS. JOHN WAS AN INTENSE COMPETITIOR AND A CLASS GUY. HE WAS THE LAST OF A BREED , A GIFTED TEACHER OF THE GAME WHO TAUGHT AND TOUCHED MANY A YOUNG MAN, MAKING THEM BETTER PLAYERS AS WELL AS MAKING THEM A BETTER PERSON. MANY OF THE PLAYERS HE WORKED WITH, PLAYED ON THE MACK TEAMS OVER THE YEARS. WHEN THEY TALKED ABOUT JOHN, IT WAS WITH A HEAVY DEGREE OF REVERANCE AND RESPECT. I NEVER HEARD A PLAYER SAY A BAD WORD OR ANY CRITICISM ABOUT JOHN, ALWAYS REFERRING TO HIM AS MR. FERGUSON OR COACH FERGUSON.
I WAS ONLY AN ACQUAINTENCE OF JOHN SEEING HIM OUT AND AROUND. WE WOULD TALK BASEBALL AND THAT YEARS MACK TEAM. HE TOLD ME HOW HE RESPECTED ME FOR WORKING WITH THESE YOUNG MEN AND TOLD ME TO CONTINUE TO DO SO BECAUSE THEY NEEDED ROLE MODELS. I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT.
ONE YEAR, I TURNED THE MACK TEAM OVER TO JOHN TO COACH IT WAS NOT A PARTICULARLY GOOD TEAM, BUT JOHN DID NOT LIKE SUMMER BALL. NOT ENOUGH TIME TO PRACTICE AND TEACH AND THE BIG FACTOR WAS THE LACK OF COMMITTMENT. HE EXPECTED 100% COMMITTMENT AND 100% EFFORT. IN LATER YEARS, THE COMMITTMENT WAS BETTER, MAYBE NOT 100%, BUT FAR BETTER. I NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO TELL HIM THAT.
JOHN IS GONE NOW, BUT HIS LEGACY WILL LIVE ON IN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THOSE HE TOUCHED. A NICE PERSON, A CLASS GUY, A COACH AND A RESPECTED TEACHER OF THE GAME OF BASEBALL. HE WILL BE MISSED. RIP.
EARLY MARCH HAS BROUGHT A NEW "COLLEGE" TEAM TO TORRINGTON. WHILE I AM NOT TOO HAPPY ABOUT IT, I WILL DEAL WITH IT LIKE HAVE FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS. MORE WORK, LESS SPOTLIGHT ON THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE PLAYING THE GAME, OVERBLOWN AND MIS-LEADING HYPE ON THE QUALITY OF THE SKILLS OF THE PLAYERS AND TAXPAYER MONIES SPENT TO SATISFY A VERY SMALL MINORITY OF FANS. NOT ALL COLLEGE PLAYERS ARE EQUAL IN THE SKILLS DEPT AS LAST YEARS TEAM EXHIBITED. THERE ARE, NOW, SO MANY OF THESE COLLEGE LEAGUES AROUND THE COUNTRY THAT THERE IS SIGNIFICANT SHORTAGE FOR THE HIGHLY SKILLED PLAYERS FROM LARGE WELL KNOWN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES WITH THE RESULT THAT SMALL JR COLLEGES, AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE NOW SCOUTED FOR RECRUITS TO FILL THE RANKS OF THESE TEAMS. YET, WE HAVE SOME GREAT BASEBALL BEING DEVELOPED AND PLAYED IN THIS AREA. THAT WOULD BE THE TRI-STATE LEAGUE, ONCE A BEER DRINKING, CUSSING, GOOD OLE BOY LEAGUE, IT IS NOW LED BY LEAGUE PRESIDENT, ED GADOMSKI, A MAN WHO HAS TURNED THE REPUTATION OF THIS LEAGUE AROUND, GROWING IT FROM (7) TEAMS JUST A FEW YEARS AGO TO (18) AND GROWING. HE HAS CHANGED THE CULTURE OF THIS LEAGUE INTO A SKILLED LEVEL OF WOODEN BAT BASEBALL. IT IS NOW THE PLACE TO BE FOR EX COLLEGE PLAYERS, SOME EX PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS (MINOR LEAGUE) AND GOOD HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS WHO HAVE MATURED THEIR SKILLS. WHEN TOLD THAT THE FIRST TITANS TEAM WOULD NOT BE BACK, ED CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF HOLDING A SATURDAY NIGHT TRI-STATE GAME OF THE WEEK AT FUESSENICH PARK TO FILL THE VOID. THIS GAME WOULD SHOWCASE THE TOP TIERED TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE. THEY HAD PLANNED TO CHARGE A MINIMAL GAME FEE ($2-3 DOALLRS) AND ANY MONEY EARNED WOULD HAVE GONE TO THE FUESSENICH PARK FUND AND/OR SELECTED CITY CHARITIES. HE WAS IN THE PROCESS OF PREPARING A PROPOSAL TO PRESENT TO THE PARK & REC COMMSSION IN THEIR MARCH MEETING, BUT DISCUSSIONS WITH A NEW TEAM WERE BEGINNING TO TAKE PLACE. THE PARK & REC DEPT ASKED FOR AN OUTLINE AND THEN PRESENTED IT TO THE MAYOR WHO SHOT IT DOWN, PREFERRING THE COLLEGE TEAM IF IT COULD BE WORKED OUT. ANYONE WHO KNOWS BASEBALL ALSO KNOWS THAT THE TRI-STATE TEAMS, IN GENERAL, PLAYS A FAR BETTER CALIBER OF BALL THAN YOUNG PLAYERS FROM SMALL SCHOOL USA. THEY JUST DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT IMAGE FOR THE CITY POLITICOS, YET IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TRUE COMMUNITY BASEBALL WITH TEAMS FROM AROUND THE GREATER MARKETING AREA OF TORRINGTON COMING TO TORRINGTON WITH THEIR FANS AND THE ABILITY TO GENERATE NEW FANS. MAYBE THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CLOWNS RUNNING AROUND OR FREE BALLOONS HANDED OUT OR ANY OF THE OTHER GOOFY PROMOTIONS, IT WOULD BE JUST GOOD BASEBALL ON A SATURDAY NIGHT WITH A TRUE COMMUNITY SPIRIT AND MEMORIES OF THE SANDLOT BASEBALL ERA OF OLD. INSTEAD WE GET THE FAILED SAME OLD, SAME OLD.
"THAT'S MY SAY"
DURING THE RECENT PARK AND REC MEETING TO DISCUSS THE RULES REGS AND POTENTIAL NEW FEES, (3) ISSUES OF CONCERN WERE BROUGHT UP.
1) THE P&R COMMISSION AND DIRECTOR, CANDIDLY, POINTED OUT THE FAILING INFRASTRUCTURE OF OUR PARKS AND FIELDS THAT HAS RESULTED FROM INADEQUATE FUNDING IN THE P&R BUDGET. ANY CAPITAL MONEY REQUESTED TO CORRECT SOME OF THE MAJOR PROBLEMS AND NEEDS HAS BEEN SHOT DOWN IN THE LAST SEVERAL BUDGETS. THIS IS UNDERSTANDABLE WITH THE POOR ECONOMY WE ARE IN, BUT IGNORING THE PROBLEMS WILL ONLY MAKE IT MORE COSTLY TO CORRECT DOWN THE ROAD. IT WOULD BE PRACTICAL FOR THE CITY TO REVIEW AND FUND SOME MONEY EACH YEAR TO MEET SOME OF THE NEEDS TO STAY AHEAD OF MAJOR PROBLEMS. THE P&R COULD ALSO CUT BACK ON SOME OF THEIR PROGRAMS, PARTICULARY ON THE RECREATION SIDE. FOR EXAMPLE, THE NUMBER OF FREE CONCERTS AT COE PARK THAT NOW COST THE CITY $25,000 OR MORE COULD BE CUT BACK SOME. I AM SURE THERE IS FAT IN MANY OF THE OTHER PROGRAMS AS THERE IS ALL PROGRAMS. MANY CAN BE STREAMLINED AT A COST SAVINGS. ASSESSING A TARGETED FEE (TAX ON A TAX) ON SPORTS PARTICIPANTS IS EASY FIX, BUT NOT THE ANSWER.
2) FUESSENICH PARK PROBLEMS ARE INCREASING. THE OLD WOOD BLEACHERS ARE A LIABILITY WAITING FOR A LAWSUIT. THEY NEED TO BE REPLACED. FIELD LIGHTING IS INADEQUATE AND THE LIGHTING INFRACTURE IS HEADING TO A PERMANENT BLACKOUT. OUTFIELD SURFACE PROBLEMS ABOUND WITH DIPS AND HOLES. ONE SERIOUS INJURY AND THE PARK WILL BE CLOSED. THE SOUND SYSTEM IS AN EDISON ERA DESIGN AND NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT UP TO TODAYS BASIC STANDARDS. THIS BRINGS UP THE "FUESSENICH PARK PARTNERSHIP" FORMALLY HEADED BY EX- MAYOR GRYNIUK AND A FEW OTHER MONEYED ELITISTS. IT WAS SET UP TO SEEK DONATIONS AND OTHER MEANS OF FUNDING FOR RENOVATIONS. THE PROBLEM WAS THAT THE IN THE 10-12 YEARS SINCE THE REFURBISHED FIELD WAS COMPLETED, THIS GROUP FELL OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. THEY OPERATED IN THE DARK, NEVER COMMUNICATING WITH THE PARK & REC DEPT OR P&R COMMISSION WHEN REPEATED REQUESTS WERE MADE FOR REQUIRED UPGRADES TO THE PARK. THEY NEVER SPEND A PENNY FROM THE FUND FOR WHICH IT WAS INTENDED NOR DID THEY RELEASE ANY INFO AS TO HOW MUCH WAS IN THE FUND AND HOW IT WAS DISPENSED. THERE WAS NO OVERSIGHT BY CITY OFFICIALS AND AN AUDIT WAS NEVER DONE. FINALLY, AFTER PRESSURE, THEY HAVE RELINQUISHED CONTROL AND A NEW GROUP WILL BE PUT IN CHARGE. ONLY $43,000 WAS IN THE FUND, ALTHOUGH IT WAS THOUGHT TO BE MUCH MORE. HOPEFULLY, THIS NEW GROUP WILL PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK WHERE IT WAS INTENDED, FUESSENICH PARK
3) THE TORRINGTON TITANS!! AT THE MEETING, WE LEARNED WHAT A $1 DOLLAR FUESSENICH PARK LEASE MEANT. IT MEANS THE TITANS HAVE PRIORTY ACCESS TO THE FIELD AND THEY UTILIZE PARK & REC LABOR AT NO COST TO THEM. THE TAXPAYERS OF TORRINGTON FOOT THE BILL FOR THIS "FOR PROFIT" TEAM OF OUTSIDE OWNERS, COACHES AND MOST OF THEIR PLAYERS, PLAYING THE LOWEST QUALITY OF PLAY IN COLLEGIATE BASEBALL (SEE BELOW). USING THE P&R PARK FEE SCHEDULE FOR OUTSIDE TEAMS TO PLAY AT FUESSENICH PARK AND USING A 20+ HOME GAME SCHEDULE WITH AT LEAST 12 NIGHT GAMES, THE COST WOULD BE AROUND $10,000 DOLLARS OR MORE, NOT COUNTING THE SAT. TIME AND 1/2 AND SUNDAY DOUBLE TIME. YET, THE CITIES PARKS AND FIELDS ARE FALLING APART AND THE P&R IS CONSIDERING "PLAYER PARTICIPATION FEES" FOR PARTICIPATION ON TAXPAYER TEAMS!! I DON'T THINK SO!! THE LOCAL POLITICOS MUST HAVE MISSED THE RECENT ELECTION CRYS FOR LESS SPENDING AND LESS TAXES. WHY DO THE PEOPLE OF TORRINGTON HAVE TO SUPPORT THIS TEAM WHILE PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR HOMES AND HALF THE CHILDREN IN TORRINGTON ARE ON LOW COST OF NO COST SCHOOL LUNCHES. MANY OF THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE VARIOUS SPORTS CANNOT PAY THE "PAY TO PLAY" FEES, BUT NO, LETS THROW MONEY AT A TEAM THAT SHOULD BE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING MONEY AND STANDING ON THEIR OWN FEET. IF THEY FAIL AFTER THEIR COLLECTION OF MONIES FROM TEAM OWNERSHIP FEES AND GATE RECEIPTS, THEN SO BE IT. OUR TAX MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THIS COMMUNITY'S RESIDENTS. LET'S GET OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!! "THATS MY SAY"
THE PARK AND REC. DEPT. CALLS A MEETING FOR SPORTS TEAMS IN TORRINGTON AND THE TORRINGTON AREA TO DISCUSS RULES REGULATIONS AND NEW POTENTIAL FEES. WHILE THEY MADE A COMPELLING ARGUMENT FOR THESE NEW POLICIES, IT IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF A HEAVY HANDED GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY NOW INTERFERING IN THE LEISURE ACTIVITIES OF OUR YOUTH AND ADULTS INVOLVED IN SPORTS PROGRAMS. DUMMY ME! I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING TOGETHER IN PROMOTING AS MUCH PARTICIPATION IN THESE PROGRAMS AS WE CAN BECAUSE OF THE OBVIOUS BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY.
1ST, THE RULES AND REGULATIONS: WHILE MANY, IF NOT MOST, ARE GOOD COMMON SENSE RULES AND REGS, A FEW ARE JUST PLAIN ASININE. ALL WOULD BE VIRTUALLY UNENFORCEABLE UNLESS THERE IS A PARK "SECRET POLICE" OR A NETWORK OF SNITCHES INVOLVED. THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING IN TODAYS WORLD, THAT MIGHT NOT SEEM SO RIDICULOUS.
2ND, FEES: THE PARK AND REC IS PROPOSING A TARGETED "PLAYER PARTICIPATION FEE" (TAX) FOR EVERYONE FROM AGE 6-60 WHO PARTICIPATES IN ANY SPORT IN TORRINGTON INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, SITTING ON A PARK BENCH TO PICKING THEIR NOSES!! . THE GENERAL OPINION BY THE GROUPS ATTENDING WAS DISMISSIVE ON PAYING ANY KIND OF FEE FOR THE FOLLOWING REASON. ALL SPORTS, EXCEPT FOR SOME BASKETBALL AND ADULT SOFTBALL, ARE OPERATED INDEPENDENTLY. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT PEOPLE, TAKE CARE OF THEIR SCHEDULING AND RAISE THEIR OWN FUNDS TO FINANCE THEIR PROGRAMS. ALL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE A "PAY TO PLAY" FEE POLICY THAT IS COLLECTED FROM THE PARTICIPANTS TO HELP FINANCE THE VARIOUS PROGRAMS i.e. LITTLE LEAGUE, SOCCER, BASEBALL, ETC. IN MANY CASES AND BECAUSE OF THE LOUSY ECONOMY, MANY OF THE PARTICIPANTS ARE UNABLE TO PAY THESE FEES. YET, NO ONE IS TURNED AWAY FOR THEIR INABILITY TO "PAY" AND THAT PRESENTS SERIOUS PROBLEMS TO THE SUCCESSFULL FUNCTION OF SOME OF THESE PROGRAMS. THE PARK & REC DEPT. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OPERATIONS OF THESE ORGANIZATION AND THEIR PROGRAMS, EXCEPT FOR MAYBE SOME OVERSIGHT. THEY HAVE A BUDGET FOR OVER 1.5 MILLION) AND ONE OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES IS TO BE THE CARETAKER FOR CITY OWNED PROPERTY (I.E. TAXPAYER PROPERTY) AND TO PROVIDE THEM IN A REASONABLE CONDITION TO THE CITY TEAMS. A "TAX ON A TAX" TO ACCESS THESE FACILITIES WHICH WE CANNOT TOUCH DUE TO LABOR AGREEMENTS WITH CITY UNIONS IS "NOT ACCEPTABLE". ALL SPORTS ORGANIZATIONS MUST BE FIRM AND STAND TOGETHER AGAINST THIS PROPOSAL OR A PRECEDENT WILL BE SET FOR ETERNITY AND THE AMOUNT CHARGED CAN CHANGE AT THE WHIM OF AN ANY IGNORANT POLITCIAN. NO TAX ON A TAX!! GET OFF OUR BACKS AND OUT OF BACK POCKET AND LET US DO WHAT WE DO. "THATS MY SAY"