MINNEAPOLIS - The HRL and friends gathered last night for the 6th installment of the legendary HRL Winter Meeting. Again we gathered at our traditional watering hole for the Winter Meeting, Preston's Urban Pub in Minneapolis. Almost immediately the beer and conversations started flowing and the discussions turned from catching up with one another to talk of wiffles and the upcoming season. The crowd grew slowly over the next hour, to what was possibly record attendance.
The meeting was called to order after an hour or so...and thanks to the Blue Jays you can catch the first 10 minutes of the meeting online:
The meeting agenda was somewhat lengthy. With the changes in the league office, we wanted to try and share as much information as possible in the first go-round, and some news and announcements leaked their way into the meeting.
With that, let's get to a full recap for those who missed out on any of it.
General league news
- The league officers were introduced. If people are not sure who is responsible for what, or who to contact about a particular topic, see Truck's note on the MB from a few months ago. If you're still unsure, ping me and I'll redirect you as needed.
- Also noted was the fact that Truck will have an honorary position in the league office. Mainly as advisor but he still has as much of a say as he would like. The guy built the league and set the blueprint for what you see before you, he can do just about anything he wants.
- Chops has volunteered to help with the site redesign this year, time permitting. New Guy of the A's also volunteered as a backup and can help as well down the road. Many thanks, fellas! Assuming all goes well the new site should be live before Opening Day.
- A big shout out to TwoBat as he is helping with scheduling. My understanding is that we have a first draft. We will be plugging in teams and tweaking it as needed. If teams have any special requests, please forward them to me as soon as possible. But we also can't guarantee anything. The schedule should be ready and available on the website within a week or two.
- The league needs help again with funds for running the website. Rather than asking for individual donations we hope each team can donate a share. We will be talking with the team captains about this to flush out more details.
- On a related note, I mentioned that we will need help with news and photos and videos during the season. I obviously want as much content for the site as I can get, so if you want to write an article or shoot some game action on your own, send me the info or a link and I'll definitely get it on our site. I want to keep the tradition with what Truck started here and keep doing what makes our site the best out there.
- Details of Spring Training should be arriving very soon.
- We will be retiring the Round Table and creating a Captains' Table. Think of it as expanding the Round Table to having every team's input. We will use this to make it easier to communicate news and info and to discuss issues with teams in an easier format that is also more focused than using the general MB. And it is yet another tool for teams to provide feedback and communicate back to us on league matters.
- A brief mention was made of the league's newest team, the Orioles. No, not the Cousin Dave version, but J.R. Westberg and his team were on-hand at the meeting. I remember a few customary boos for the n00bs, but I feel in hindsight we did not give them our normal, customary welcome. Be sure to welcome to the newest n00bs!
- Ten will be meeting with the city this week. If you have any city-specific issues or concerns, please pass those along to us ASAP.
- On a related note, we will need help mowing this year. The details around this are forthcoming, but just be aware we're gonna need help to keep the fields freshly mowed. (Note: we are also exploring anything else the city can do for us as well.)
- Team registration forms were sent out last week. If you are a team captain and do not receive a form by mid-week let us know. Please get your team forms in as soon as you can to avoid issues later.
The city has contacted us about the registration process, as they have a different person in charge this year. I assume registrations will begin soon; K-Mart will follow up from here.
After hearing feedback from the playoffs last year, we've decided to tweak the system a little bit. The tweaks are built around an idea that originally came from Steve1 and was discussed for a bit on the Round Table at the time. Based on feedback we're hoping this will only make last year's system even better for everyone. In short, Wifflepalooza will still happen, but the later 'rounds' are different. Here's the just of it:
- Everyone still gets a playoff berth.
- The top 4 seeds (the division winners) get byes.
- The remaining 16 teams play a double-elimination tournament like last year. 4 teams will emerge from this (see below).
- The 4 division winners are then matched up against these 4 tourney survivors, and the remaining matchups are composed of 3-game series.
Here's a sample bracket for the tournament portion (note this is a draft and subject to change):
credit to Truck for this mockup
As you can see it's a blend of last year with a series-based system in the later rounds.
As far as the timing of these events, the initial plan is for the play-in tournament to happen on the weekend after the regular season ends. The 3-game series would then be played over the next 3 weeks. So please add these dates to your calendar:
- Play-in tournament: Saturday, August 28th
- Spillover date is Sunday, August 29th if for some reason we can't play Saturday, please reserve the whole weekend on your calendar if possible. Also, games are not scheduled right now for Sunday, but there is also a possibility that we start the Quarterfinals then as well. Those talks are underway and I'll let you know.
- Quarterfinals (best of 3): Thursday, September 2nd
- Semifinals (best of 3): Thursday, September 9th
- Finals (best of 3): Thursday, September 16th
These are the important dates to reserve where possible. As noted we may have a slight change moving things up a week, but we are discussing that with team captains. Also Thursday games will be flexible and can be rescheduled during the week.
Note this is the rough outline and is subject to change. But barring a major roadblock in reserving space, the dates should be along those lines. I will keep you updated of any changes, and will post all of the details when they are 100% completed.
Scheduling (regular season)
Scheduling was discussed a little as related to the playoffs. We are staying at an 18 week regular season, that was not changing coming in to this meeting. But a few options were discussed at the meeting to find out what people's preferences were between the scenarios below:
- Schedule the same as last year, 18 weeks of play, 1 week off, that means the last games are played the same week as the Saturday tournament above.
- Start a week early. The season would end the week before the tournament.
- Schedule the same as last year, but schedule games on the holidays of Memorial Day and 4th of July (in other words, no week off). This would again allow us to end a week before the tournament.
After some discussion almost everyone was in agreement that option 1 was fine, as long as people know ahead of time, having to play twice in a week is not an issue. That is what we will do. Week 1 will start on Monday, April 19th, 2010. The last game will be scheduled for Thursday, August 26th.
The final schedule will be flushed out in the next week or two. We may need some more feedback from team captains on a couple smaller things before that but expect to see it in that timeframe.
Hall of Fame
After six years I felt it was only right that we finally establish the HRL: Twin Cities Hall of Fame! There is a lot of history in this league, we've had a lot of people come and go, but after the events of the past two years, I felt we just had to do this now to recognize two of the biggest contributors this league will ever see.
First up is Joe Lawrence. Pig Tooth left us after 5 glorious years as Vice Commissioner. He was Truck's right-hand man, taking care of Hopkins and helping put in place a lot of the setup and traditions of the HRL. Not to mention he was the original Fun-Star.
And obviously being inducted with Joe is our very own Pat "Truck" Moriarty. Again, a no-brainer. Truck moved here from the East coast and started what we are all apart of right now. Everything we have and experience in this league is due to him. His work as commissioner set in motion what you see today. I have little work to do in comparison. I just have to keep the wheels turning, really. His work alone has now been split into 4 people. If that's not a testament to the blood, sweat and tears he put into this for us, I don't know what is.
Last night was not a full blown induction ceremony, and neither is this. But the official HOF 'site' will be launched in the near future, as well as details of how people will be inducted in the future. Plus I hope anyone who wants to will share a story or a small note of congratulations on the HOF site when it's launched.
The final item of the night was the Main Event, the Division Draw! Ping pong balls were again the mode of choice, and after a nervous draw for some teams, I present your 2010 HRL Divisions!
If that's hard-to-read, don't worry, the teams have already been setup on the site, as well as rosters (for the most part).
As you can see I covered a lot of topics. Being my first Winter Meeting I wanted people to know things are going to be just fine and know that even though things have seemed quiet so far with little communication, I've been working with the other 3 fellas to try to keep on top of everything.
There are topics I didn't get to that I know we will address. Obviously pitch speed is high on the list as always. Rest assured it's a topic I'm sensitive to and will try to facilitate it going forward. Other than that the playoffs were just a tweak to address some concerns from last year. We can reassess again next year if needed.
Being my first 'address' to the league I hope it went OK, that's all I was shooting for at a minimum coming in. If you have a beer in hand I assume you'll listen to whatever I have to say. I didn't realize how 'noisy' it was going to be last night with the background sounds and echoing of noise at Preston's. So I appreciate the patience of those there. Next year I'll make sure we get a setup so I can still be heard over normal side conservations; they are normally fine but we have a big group now. So you don't feel hushed the whole time. Also we'll be sure to get league news and announcements out to you before the meeting and stick to the normal issues and discussions in the meeting itself, keeping the meeting shorter. That was my plan this year but time flew and the meeting was already here.
But again, I hope everyone had a good time and that you're starting to get as pumped as I am for this upcoming season. 2010, here we come!