Over the past couple of days there are been a lot of interesting comments regarding the news release sent by Stratford Park and Recreation Director and Stratford Softball Tournaments Inc. member Pat Patusky regarding the cancellation of the 2010 ASA Women’s Fast Pitch Tournament that was meant to be played at Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field.
Right off the bat, the headline of the release: “Brakettes Refuse to Play, Tournament Cancelled” should have been a clue for someone (Patusky) to take a deep breath and think about what she was about to do.
But I guess she didn’t.
“The Stratford Softball Tournament Inc regrets to announce the cancellation of the 2010 ASA National Major Women’s Fast Pitch Championship,” the release began. But as it went on, the facts started to get a little cloudy.
“The tournament brings in approx $900,000 in revenue to area business.”
Really? Who determined that figure? Let’s say six teams came to Stratford, 20 team members total (players and coaches) that’s 120 people. Two to a room, that’s 60 rooms. At $100 a night for three nights, that’s $18,000. Even if you’re generous and say the teams spend $50,000 on food and other miscellaneous things, that’s still just $68,000. Where does this $900,000 number come from?
“Up until Thursday July 21 we had 4 teams and unfortunately 2 teams dropped out.”
That is not true. Only the California Hurricanes and the Brakettes had officially paid to enter the tournament. Speaking with DeLuca, the SSTI president on Friday, two days before Patusky’s release, he told me that he thought a third team had entered (it hadn’t) and they were still looking for a fourth.
“As a result, SSTI planned a 2 team tournament between the 2008 defending champions California Hurricanes and the Brakettes, the two best teams in women’s’ softball. Even with the 2 team tournament format the Brakettes decided to withdraw their participation commitment.”
First of all, deciding not to play is totally within the Brakettes rights. Second, I didn’t see anything in the release that said the Hurricanes had committed to play a “series” style tournament. This looks to be an attempt to blame the Brakettes for the tournament’s failure.
“Stratford Softball Tournaments Inc Treasurer, Carl Alber and Secretary Cathy Ralston have attempted to sit down with General Manager Bob Baird since last August to work out a compromise. Ralston expressed disappointment ”unfortunately because of Bob Baird’s feud with the National ASA organization, he refused to talk to us, we could have made both tournaments happen if we could have worked together.”
Bob Baird refused to talk? Come on. There is no “feud” between Baird and the ASA. The ASA tournament has become a joke. The only reason the Brakettes decided at first to play in 2010 was because the tournament was taking place in Stratford. And when SSTI only gets one other team to commit, it suddenly becomes the Brakettes (who had created and played in their own fast pitch tournament, drawing eight teams) fault? I don’t think so.
I feel Patusky used poor judgment when she decided to vent her frustrations over the failure of the 2010 tournament. This was SSTI’s fault. No one else’s. The first inkling about the ASA’s lack of caring should have come when the “sign-up, fact sheet” for the tournament wasn’t even posted on the ASA website until late June. How could SSTI not know that the fact sheet wasn’t on line? And knowing of the recent history regarding the ASA tournaments – late lineup changes, teams that never even played a regular season schedule, canceling the tournament early for travel and/or weather – hence Baird’s “feud,” someone should have called all these teams that used to participate in the ASA event and find out why they weren’t and what could be done to change that mindset.
Did anyone from SSTI do that? No.
Even the mayor’s office is trying to distance itself from Patusky’s statements. I received this e-mail from Adam Bauer, chief of staff to Stratford mayor John Harkins on Tuesday:
On behalf of Mayor Harkins, I would like to make very clear that any statements regarding the SSTI tournament cancellation and the Brakettes issued by Pat Patusky on behalf of SSTI do not reflect the position of the Town of Stratford. Ms. Patusky is free to be involved in outside groups such as SSTI on her own time, however, her work on SSTI’s behalf or comments related to that work should not be in any way construed to be sanctioned by the Town unless explicitly stated otherwise. Both the Brakettes and SSTI have long standing relationships with the Town of Stratford which Mayor Harkins wishes to see continue. While it is unfortunate that the SSTI tournament was cancelled due to lack of interest this year, the Town has no interest in assigning blame for said cancellation and encourages both the Brakettes and SSTI to continue to work to bring softball to Stratford.
Adam R. Bauer
Chief of Staff
Office of Mayor John A. Harkins
And after I wrote my column regarding the “mess” that this whole thing had become, I received this from a veteran Maryland softball player:
Was visiting Trumbull Sunday and caught your column on ASA.
I’m from Maryland and in the national senior hall of fame and play on the top rated 60 plus major plus team in the country. We have not played in ASA’s national championship in three years due to the lack of competition, as no other major plus team has signed up.
ASA is the least “ player friendly” group ever. Their officials act like they are doing you a favor running a tournament and their umpires are always more concerned with how many players are out of the dugout then what happens between the lines.
Just me on my stump letting you know that the dislike of ASA is universal.
And then, of course, this letter from city councilman Gavin Forrester:
“I would like to address the press release issued by Pat Patusky. Last year the group organizing the Women’s Major ASA tournament in Alabama met a similar fate and the previous year the Tournament in Buffalo was shortened because there was no contingency for rain delays and the California Hurricanes had to catch a flight so this particular event has been on the decline for years. It was noted that the “tournament brings in approx $900,000 in revenue to area business.” (I would be curious how that figure was arrived at) Last year the Brakettes held their inaugural Major Womens’s Fast Pitch Tournament at Deluca, something that they were prevented from doing by contract with the Town of Stratford this year to void competition, and despite the fact that the Brakette Tournament was held one week prior to the National ASA event, so the Town could have had a double benefit this year with hosting two major events instead of one had it not been for a short sighted stance by the
“Ms. Patusky goes on to state that ““I do not understand how any competitor could pass up the opportunity to play the defending ASA national champions.” All I will say is that the Brakettes and their 27 national titles don’t have to feel compelled to play anyone in a half hearted best of 7 format which is all that remained after the two other teams withdrew for reasons not indicated in the press release. Couldn’t the same statement be made for the teams that withdrew, that they are passing up the chance to play the ASA Champions, why is the sole focus on the Brakettes and not the other two teams that withdrew? “Town of Stratford gave them $25,000 this year”. That is correct, but it should be noted that the grant actually came from the previous Town Council in 2009 from the proceeds of the sale of a piece of property that the Town acquired under foreclosure, that they never asked for it but rather the Town Council, in an effort to support the Brakettes and their
inaugural Tournament which did bring significant revenue into Stratford, and the Town delayed releasing the one time grant until 2010 because of a variety of administrative issues.
“The release further states that “”unfortunately because of Bob Baird’s feud with the National ASA organization, he refused to talk to us, we could have made both tournaments happen if we could have worked together.” However what the release fails to state is that the contract that was presented to the Brakettes by Pat Patusky as a representative of the Town of Stratford back in April/May specifically excluded the Brakettes from having any tournament here in Stratford so for anyone who is a member of SSTI to make the assertion that they in some way could have spoken on behalf of the Town of Stratford and made some “deal” binding the Town of Stratford is beyond my understanding. Bob Baird met with the Town Administration, and I have spoken to the Administration as well since becoming a Member of the Brakette Board of directors in May 2010, but we were unfortunately unable to come to an agreement on using Deluca Field for both Tournaments so discussions were underway for several months. It should be noted that the Brakettes did agree to play in an ASA Tournament in Stratford, but two teams do not a Tournament make, and the failure of SSTI to attract additional teams is not the fault of the Brakettes.
“SSTI goes further to indicate that the reason the Brakettes withdrew from the professional league was because the final game was played under questionable field conditions against Mr. Baird’s preference”. Again their statement is false and misleading. During that Professional Season the sponsor of the team, Mr. Carpenter, passed away suddenly and his son James indicated that the family would not be in a position to fund the team any further. The cost to have a professional team paying plays was over $100,000 and the interest in the sport and revenue that can be generated is not sufficient to sustain a professional team. If you look at the make-up of the current professional league almost every team that played the 2007 season with the Brakettes have also folded up and no longer participate in the league because the costs outweighed the revenue. It’s not a matter of play it my way or we will go home, which is what the tone of this press release, but rather the economic facts did not warrant the continuance of a professional team.”
Baird, to his credit, has kept quiet about all this. He just wants to let this pass and get on with working toward another season in 2011 of Brakettes softball. Patusky should let this pass too. But after an apology to Baird and Brakettes fans everywhere.