Friday, January 12, 2018

Spade Racing Films 6 for 6: An Offseason Documentary Series--Brian France: Softball, Hard Knocks (Part 2)

Phil Brown: “I hold here in my hands the rulebook from the 1980 season—as you can see, its not a book, its just a mimeographed sheet listing the schedule and a few regulations.  Here is the rulebook from 1981 when Brian France took over—pretty hefty, isn’t it?”

Jarrod Hampton: “We all got these copies of the new rule book, and our eyes just bugged out—what was the point of all this?”

Mike Calloway: “So here’s what we had now—you couldn’t score more than five runs in an inning.”
Brown: (reading from the rulebook) “All teams must abide by the run limiting rule of no more than five runs per inning, so as to maintain competitive balance.”

Sean Treadwell: “Instead of wins and losses, we had this points system that would determine the standings.”

Brown: (reading) “Teams shall receive 10 points for winning a game, as well as a bonus point for every inning they win.”

Hampton: “Wasn’t there something about later games being worth more than the others?”

Brown: (reading, incredulously): “After the season is 3/4s over, all games will be worth double-points, although inning-points will remain the same.”

Calloway: (stares at camera exasperated)

Brown: “This was all to run a six-team softball league.  You know, for people to HAVE FUN.”

Treadwell: “Everybody was asking me why Brian was doing all this—they were asking ME because once the season started, we basically didn’t see Brian again.”

Hampton: “Brian was running the thing, and he was still paying athletic field fees on time, so he WAS actually running it, but we’d never see him at games.”

Brown: “There were all sorts of rumors—some people were saying that he’d resign because he’d broken up with his girlfriend.  Some people were talking about drugs being involved.  One guy called him ‘a hands-off control freak’, that pretty well summed it up.”

Hampton: “What was REALLY strange was that all our games were now being broadcast on tv.”

Treadwell: “Yeah, TV, that was Brian’s idea.  The campus had a public access student station and he arranged for all our games to be broadcast on it.  Of course, once we started doing that, we had to finish all our games in under two hours to fit the timeslot, and sometimes we’d take breaks between outs just to let them play commercials.”

Calloway: “I missed a game once with a head cold and I watched it on that student station in my dorm—I’ve never seen so many commercials in my life.  And all for the same four companies too!”

Brown: “I heard he was even trying to have all six teams play at the same time in the championship game.  I don’t know if that was true or not, but I wouldn’t have put it past him.”

Hampton: “After that ’81 season, nobody really wanted to play that kind of softball anymore.  It just seemed like all those changes, everybody just lost interest.”

Calloway: “I graduated after that year, but I heard that virtually nobody returned for the league in ’82.”

Treadwell: “Most of the players gravitated to other sports—a few went to football, some went to soccer, but nobody wanted to play softball anymore—or watch it, for that matter.”

Brown: “That year really killed the league.  Its a shame, because how many times do you hear about a college intramural league dying out?  Well, then again, my cousin went to college in Indiana, and he said some guy split the entire basketball league down the middle over what kind of surface they played on.”