Tourney won’t last without commitment

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anyone who attended the Chilton County Baseball Tournament on Monday and Tuesday knows the event has lost something in the past couple of years.

OK, the tournament has lost a lot.

As recently as 2008, the tournament lasted a whole week, included all six county teams, was watched by large crowds, and perhaps most importantly, and was fiercely competitive.

This year’s event was played over two days, involved only half of the county’s squads, and its title game was played in front of a crowd similar in size to the Maplesville softball game going on nearby.

This isn’t a criticism of tournament host Maplesville. It was simply bad luck that the tournament was rained out earlier in the year. And with the playoffs beginning Friday, coaches were either trying to save their pitchers—or simply not participating at all.

Maplesville couldn’t force anyone to play in the tournament, and neither could Jemison, the tournament champion.

Jemison’s accomplishment shouldn’t be diminished by the fact this wasn’t a true county tournament. The Panthers lined up and defeated the two teams willing to play them. Sadly, when it was over, there were no leaping chest bumps or even a trophy presentation.

So, mostly, this county tournament will be remembered as a turning point. From here, county coaches should decide to either work together to make the tournament relevant again or they should simply let it go.

Neither course of action would be right or wrong. The tournament can be a rewarding experience for the players and fans. But the first priority for each coach must be getting his team into the playoffs and giving his players the best chance to be successful there. The decision to make is whether participating in the county tournament is consistent with that goal of playoff success.

One thing is for sure, though: there won’t be many more county baseball tournaments like the one we saw this year.