You see, one of the many hazards of YOU not presenting ME your concerns and objections to what you perceive to be problems with our recruiting practices is that you might just have it ALL WRONG.
There is no possible way that a manager over a two year period can recruit twelve ball players in our park. The absolute maximum number of players that he can get over a two year period is eight, at least one of which must be his own son, unless he specifically requests that his son be placed on another team (which doesn't happen). Think about it... if managers could recruit 12 players, there'd be no one left in the draft. Typically, however, few managers find "out-of-park" players because our criteria is so severe, but it allows a manager moving into our area from South Florida, for instance, to manage his two sons -- this happened at NEP this year.
You presume that our recruiting process doesn't penalize managers with regard to the draft because you've applied a model that doesn't fit here. We don't have draft picks to give up; therefore, a manager CAN'T lose one. However, our managers DO have points and they DO lose points not only for their recruits, but also for EACH AND EVERY PLAYER THAT IS LEFT ON HIS ROSTER FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR. This year, when we got a manager who signed on late and didn't have the opportunity to recruit, we allowed him to pick OFF OF THE TOP from ALL of the players in the draft to equalize his roster. Teams that recruit lose an IMMENSE amount of draft capability. I will submit to you that "as written," our policy regarding player selection MANDATES "equal opportunity." There are other components of what we do that are unwritten and often unanticipated because of exigencies such as the measures we take with new managers who've had no opportunity to recruit.
In your letter to me, you wrote: "Equal opportunity does not mean that all teams will have equal talent but in a multi-league draft the system must reasonably distribute the players between the leagues." However, in your "official ruling," you wrote: "Equal opportunity means that a player selection system provides for a reasonably even distribution of player talent among teams..." This sounds to me like a contradiction.
Speaking of contradictions, it's ironic that a few months ago, the discussion about redistricting this area centered on the fact that folks didn't like the prospect that two teams from the same park (NEP) could be in the State Championship tournament in the same year. You all need to make up your mind -- Are we stacking teams or are we putting too many good teams together?
You're concerned that we're going to misuse "option" selections, and I'm telling you that our own customers would never put up with it if we tried to. We don't stack our teams or our leagues. I have one son who just about always played in one league and the other has just about always played in the other league (in different age groups). My eldest son played on a Gold League Major League team last year and he made the All Star team. They played the Blue team that ultimately won the World Series last year in a practice game and traded blows with them throughout -- played them tight until the end. They ended up as the District runner-up to Pace (Pace is now a Dizzy Dean park five miles down the road from us).
If there was even one word in the rules regarding how leagues should and shouldn't regulate "option" players we would have abided by it, but there is nothing. You express concern that our by-laws don't "specifically limit the option player to being the son of a manager." You look for our by-laws to specifically meet a standard that DYB by-laws don't specifically describe as a concern. If DYB had specified ANYTHING -- even a pure draft process, we would have happily gone along with it -- a lot of us even prefer that method, including me. However, the fact that I have a personal preference doesn't make it law here.
Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I'll talk with anyone about anything in order to find workable solutions. Among all of the words you spilled over this issue on paper, none of them indicated there was any maneuvering room, and you never called or e-mailed me. My e-mail address is on our web site and is a heck of a lot easier to find than our by-laws are. I assure you that we have been painfully open-minded about this matter and a lot of other things. I already told you in my last letter what I think you should have done. I understand your position perfectly because it's not too dissimilar from my own, but on a different scale. Your error was in judging hastily -- you blackened the eye of a great program and now you ask us to be "open-minded" about it.
Charlie Kirkland, Bill Williams, Jack King, and Steve Sutherland communicated to our Board of Directors last night that you had made up your mind and that they didn't think you'd change it with regard to finding "a just outcome." WE ASKED. You put us in an utterly untenable position by drawing outlandish conclusions about our program without giving us the benefit of a query. Furthermore, your serialized "Official Ruling" and "Notification of Rule Violation" with a finding that rendered us "ineligible for tournament play in 1998" unless we corrected the situation by following your three provisos forced us to make a decision right then. Those documents sounded decisive and final to me and to the Board of Directors. I assure you that we had no desire to change course at this juncture, but you painted us into a corner. We even considered seeking a court injunction against your decision, but we didn't even have time for THAT.
Put yourself in our shoes and reread what you've written before you say DYB hasn't declared us "cheaters." You cite the words "gaining an unfair advantage over another" in developing background for your ruling -- try to read it another way. Try to read the language and tenor of the Notification of Rule Violation as a negotiating position and not as a pronouncement on our condition. Neither of those documents was a proposal -- they were decisions. There was no call-back number. There was no "if I've misjudged this..." You didn't ask for our philosophy or anything. We have nothing to hide or defend. I personally gave you and Matt Goyak a copy of our By-Laws and invited you to visit our web site. Does that sound like outlaw behavior to you? If you didn't like what we were doing we would have changed it, but not 10 days before our season begins.
You've managed to chase off a model program, and I'm telling you that there will be others right behind us. I CAN'T negotiate this now because you tied my hands; the Board had to do something quickly and you left us no room to maneuver. We have real jobs and can't ride all of your peaks and valleys -- no one gets paid here. We do a pretty darn good job with this and this seems like it's a game to you -- you seem to assume that the good programs got that way because they're getting one over on someone else. There are some folks who believe you've been trying to run us off for some time -- well, you did it. You need to look around you, Wes, before you puff your chest out and step on good folks.
And Wes, we're not your little brother who has not yet matured enough to know what we're out here for. Our program will go belly-up overnight if we forget that we're a community youth recreation program. Don't assume for a moment that my response to your ruling has anything to do with the adults in our program, and don't do what you've done to us and presume to remind us that we're in it for the kids or lecture us about adult egos. You haven't hurt a single adult by your decision except for the fact that we are the parents of our children. The people who are most hurt by this action are our players. It's the players who've been in the hunt for the DYB title for so many years, it's the players who finally won the championship last year, it's the players who wanted to go back-to-back in the World Series, and it's the players whose older brothers and fathers played Dixie Youth Baseball -- they're the one's who're hurt by this. You need to appreciate the fact that there are people who have been lifelong supporters of DYB in our program who feel like you've betrayed them and their kids.
You appear to be backing off of your "Notification of Rule Violation" that came across the wire as a companion to the "Official Ruling." Our Board of Directors recognized your correspondence as a mandate and now expects you to vigorously enforce it throughout Dixie Youth Baseball. The Board does not take your action lightly, and I hope you don't either.
We've been a rival to a lot of parks around here for years, but I believe I'm right in saying that the parks around here respect the integrity of our program. You've sent a chilling message to those parks. Check out our web page. Our banner has proudly boasted for months that we're the "Home of the 1997 Dixie Youth Baseball Champions" and beneath it the newsletter headline now reads "NEP Leaves Dixie Youth Baseball." Everyone around here knows that we've left the program and why. Yes, Wes, you've made a difference...
President, Youth Association of Northeast Pensacola