Early in the 2007 Section 3AA tournament, Pipestone Area’s softball team suffered a 7-5 loss against Minnewaska Area.
It was just the third loss of the season for the Arrows, who went undefeated in the Southwest Conference, and it was only the second time they allowed as many as five runs. Entering the game, they had outscored their opponents 186-27.
But the untimely loss didn’t end the Arrows’ season; instead, it sent them to the consolation bracket of the double-elimination tournament. Three days later, they cruised to an 11-0, five-inning victory against BOLD. The next day, they earned a 5-4 victory against Jackson County Central and a 2-1 victory against Benson/Hancock, earning them another matchup against Minnewaska Area – this time, in the section finals.
Pipestone Area earned a 2-1 victory, handing the Lakers their first loss of the tournament and forcing a deciding game. A few hours later, the Arrows emerged with an 8-2 victory, the Section 3AA title and a trip to the Class AA tournament.
The Arrows capped their remarkable run with three consecutive wins, including a 1-0 victory in 17 innings against St. Anthony Village in the state title game.
It was the second state championship in the history of Pipestone Area athletics. And it likely never will be duplicated by any team in Minnesota.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota State High School League board of directors implemented a long list of rule changes intended to save money for schools, families and fans. One of the changes involves postseason tournament formats for both baseball and softball: All early-round subsection and section play will be single-elimination; double-elimination will be used when only four teams remain.
"We never would have made it that year under those circumstances," Pipestone Area coach Troy Bouman said. "There was a bad-weather day; the weather was horrible that day. The wind was blowing, and it was a big equalizer.
"We want the best team out of our section to go represent us at the state tournament, and the way it is now, with single-elimination to the final four, I don’t think you’re going to get that."
Bouman’s response echoed that of other area high school baseball and softball coaches, many of whom expressed frustration, disappointment and anger. I interviewed 15 coaches about the recent MSHSL rule changes, and none agreed with the board’s decision to switch to a single-elimination format.
The following coaches participated in the poll:
Sam Baumgartner, Worthington, softball
Tarry Boelter, Murray County Central, baseball
Troy Bouman, Pipestone Area, softball
Derek Jenniges, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove, baseball
Les Knutson, Southwestern United, softball
Shawn Naas, Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin, baseball
Kevin Nowotny, Adrian, baseball
Tim Owen, Southwestern United, baseball
Brad Schlomann, Windom, baseball
Steve Semmens, Luverne, softball
Derek Stevenson, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove, softball
Paul Vesey, Windom, softball
James Wajer, Murray County Central, softball
Mike Wenninger, Luverne, baseball
Rick Zollner, Pipestone Area, baseball
Nine area coaches were unavailable for comment.
Almost every coach interviewed on the subject cited the ability of a pitcher to single-handedly dominate a game – especially in baseball – as a reason to have a double-elimination format.
"You play baseball 20-25 games in a season to develop pitching," Wenninger said. "And I have nothing against softball, but softball teams can throw the same pitcher 200 innings in a season; in baseball, you can’t do that – you have to have a team to win extra games. So I don’t understand why we get into a single-elimination round, and all of a sudden, you face a hot pitcher, like we did up (at the state tournament), and you’re done; there’s no chance to play again. Why play 20 games in a season? Why do you work to get a high seed? I understand if you get a high seed you get to play a weaker team, supposedly, but what if that weaker team has a bad record but they have a stud pitcher? It doesn’t make sense to me."
Wenninger guided Luverne to an undefeated record during the regular season and the Southwest Conference title. The Cardinals earned a 2-1 victory in eight innings against New Ulm in the Section 3AA championship game and entered the state tournament with a 25-0 record. But they ran into a hot pitcher in the first round, DeLaSalle’s Brian Gosz, a lanky left-hander who handed the Cardinals their first shutout loss since May 2006.
"If we could do this differently, I would love it to be where at least it’s panned out another day, if you want to do single-elimination in the first round, like they’re planning, and then go double-elimination," Wenninger said, referring to the state tournament. "It would be nice to cycle through a little more. Really, when you get to the state tournament, you work this hard to get here, and let’s say you lose your first game, man, it’s tough. Play for fifth and sixth place or seventh and eighth? Yes, you have to have a lot of pride in it, but you can’t be kissing your sister all the time."
Luverne’s 2-0 loss ended its quest for a perfect season, and the single-elimination format of the state tournament didn’t allow the Cardinals to take advantage of their superior pitching depth. A rotation featuring Zach Olson (6-0, 0.62 ERA), Phil Paquette (8-0, 1.04 ERA) and Brent Dinger likely would favor Luverne in a best-of-3 series.
"You take your whole season into account," Baumgartner said. "The three weeks of practices before you get into games, your first game, your regular season, and to only have one playoff game, it’s not a true indication of the strength of a true team. You get one hot pitcher, especially in baseball, even on maybe a .500 team but they have a really good pitcher and they can come out and dominate and shut down a No. 1 team. I mean, look at Luverne. They were undefeated all season long; they could have run into a team that had a hot pitcher one day and lost a 1-0 game and never got close to sniffing the state tournament. I think that would have been unfortunate because clearly they were a deep team with all the tools, the pitching, the hitting, the offense, the defense; they deserved to get where they were.
"I just think (double-elimination) is the way to go, and I really just kind of question the logic behind making that switch."
But unlike Major League Baseball, college baseball, American Legion baseball, VFW baseball, amateur baseball, 35-and-older baseball, Little League baseball and other levels of the sport, which all feature, at minimum, double-elimination formats, there is always the possibility of a team going one-and-done in high school baseball.
"I think, in baseball, any team can have one pitcher that can win you a game, and you could get a bottom-seeded team with a decent pitcher or a younger team or a struggling team with one pitcher, and they could be very successful," Jenniges said. "That matchup could be very difficult for a top-seeded team."
Said Schlomann: "I think the biggest argument you’re going to hear is that (baseball) is just different than every other sport because of that one pitcher. Look at the 2 and the 7 (seeds) in (Section 3AA) down here this year: Blue Earth wasn’t that good, but they had that Anderson kid. It’s those kinds of things that are going to happen."
Blue Earth Area went 4-13 during the regular season, but behind the efforts of junior pitcher Garrett Anderson, the Buccaneers nearly upset second-seeded Fairmont. The Cardinals won 7-6.
Coaches can’t do anything about the switch. But Owen suggested another change that should be considered, now that there is a single-elimination format, to perhaps squash coaches’ concerns about a pitcher single-handedly dominating during the postseason.
"I don’t think there are any coaches who would necessarily do it – it could happen, you never know – but I just like the idea of, if you’re going to go to single-elimination, they should go where you play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," he said. "Because then, again, you’re back to having that pitching-depth idea. Right now, if you played Monday, Thursday, Saturday, you could throw the same guy, theoretically, and the odds are good he wouldn’t be as good by Saturday, but if he’s your go-to pitcher, you could throw one guy and ride him all the way through it. That makes me cringe. I don’t believe we have too many coaches in our section that would do that, but, then again, when the whole system changes, you might change the way you’re looking at it."
For now, such a change in playoff scheduling doesn’t appear likely.
Boelter said he would rather see a few regular-season games get axed, rather than playoff games.
"I totally disagree with it; I think it’s a real shame," he said. "I understand, financially, why they have to make some changes, but maybe we can cut a couple games off the schedule during the season. But the tournament is set up so well that the best team in the section comes out of it. It’s a true champion. This way, with one good pitcher, you get a couple of rain days and you can pitch the same guy through the whole tournament, and that’s really not fair. At the state tournament, you need depth and pitching or you’re not going to do anything. I think our section champions the last two years have gone on to win state, so it just shows that, because we have double-elimination, the team coming out is really strong."
Boelter, whose Murray County Central team competes in Section 3A, recently witnessed the benefits of a double-elimination tournament in his own section.
In 2008, Wabasso suffered a third-round loss to Adrian but battled back through the consolation bracket and defeated the Dragons twice in the finals to advance to the state tournament, which they eventually won.
Despite what transpired in 2008, Nowotny scoffed at the MSHSL’s decision to eliminate a double-elimination tournament.
"Let’s take Adrian for example this year," he said. "We had three nice pitchers, worked our asses off all year long, went into the section tournament with an 18-2 record, then let’s say in the first game the wind is blowing 40 mph and all of a sudden it’s an even game, because we’re superior, but with the wind blowing in you get beat 2-1. But they don’t think of that. I don’t know how you’re going to change it."
This season, the Rabbits failed to make it to the state tournament, but they played six postseason games after nearly losing to Southwestern United in the first round.
"We probably should have knocked Wabasso out in that first game, and they ended up being one of the final three," Owen said. "And there’s no way we were better than Wabasso, but we could have won that game and they would have been done. And I don’t want that to happen. On the other side of things, if we’re ever at that level again, where we’re that good, I don’t want to have one game decide that that’s the end of our season when you’ve played all year to get yourself in that position. Baseball is a funny game, with momentum; it’s an up-and-down thing. If kids aren’t feeling confident at the plate, all of a sudden you get down a run and you press and not always does the best team end up winning. It’s more so in baseball, I think, than in any other sport. The opportunity for an 8 to beat a 1 in baseball, especially in Class A, I think, where every team probably has at least one pitcher, is greater, where that one guy can carry you."
In 2008, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s softball team suffered a 7-2 loss against Murray County Central in the second round. Because of the double-elimination format, the Falcons were not eliminated; instead, they fought back through the consolation bracket, beat MCC in a rematch, and earned a 6-5 victory against Wabasso to force a deciding game. The Rabbits then earned a 7-2 victory and eventually finished third at the state tournament.
"I’m in favor of double-elimination; it gives your team a chance to make up for a bad game," Stevenson said. "Everything is running smoothly the way it is. I guess I don’t understand why we’d go away from it, something that works."
Many would argue that the examples involving both Wabasso teams in 2008 ensured that the best team from the section went to the state tournament.
"I think a double-elimination is the best format because you’re going to get the true best team," Naas said. "If you use single-elimination, you can ride one pitcher all the way through. In double-elimination, with the amount of games and stuff you have to play, there’s less of a chance of that happening; you’re going to need at least two pitchers, if not three, to make it through a section tournament. If you have one dominant pitcher, you can probably, with the three, four days between games, if you stay in the winner’s bracket, you can ride out. And I don’t know if that’s a true team champion. So I think double-elimination is the best way to do it."
Naas, whose Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin team competes in Section 3A, has experience dealing with both single- and double-elimination formats.
"We used to be in 2A, and that was always single-elimination in the first round and then they went to double-elimination after that first round," he said. "So we’ve been in both, but since we’ve been in 3A for quite a few years now, it’s been a true double-elimination; I really like it. The thing that has always intrigued me about it, from every other sport, from basketball to football to whatever, it’s pretty much state-wide – everything is the same, and it’s always been up to the sections to pick what they wanted to do."
The rule change regarding the playoff format is uniform across the state. Sections no longer have the option of deciding for themselves.
"It’s strange that the high school league would come down and make a ruling on that instead of allowing the section or the superintendents or the athletic directors to determine that, if it’s the economy or whatever," Naas said.
Coaches also were surprised and frustrated that the MSHSL made the ruling despite in-season coaches’ polls that showed overwhelming support for a double-elimination format.
"The Coaches’ Association sent out a poll, and every coach voted for double-elimination — it didn’t matter anyway," Bouman said. "It was like 86 or 90-some percent wanted double-elimination."
Said Zollner: "I like the way we did it; that’s been the tradition with baseball is you have a double-elimination tournament and you try to find the best team. It’s not like basketball or football, and in baseball, one pitcher can win you a game and he can win you a tournament, but he can’t win you a double-elimination tournament. So what if most of the other sections didn’t like it? So what? They didn’t have to do it. And I’m very frustrated with the State High School League and the lack of letting sections determine how they want to do stuff; instead, they mandate everything like they’re doing in other sports. We used to have that flexibility, and now they’re taking that away from us. They want our input, but they never listen to it."
Said Baumgartner: "I really just kind of question the logic behind making that switch. Nothing I’ve heard or read about has made sense, and there’s nothing that explains the logic behind it. I just don’t understand the logic, I really don’t. It just doesn’t seem to make sense. The poll results are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping double-elimination. I don’t understand why they want to change things."
Said Semmens: "In the Southwest Conference, I know the coaches have fought for double-elimination for a long time, and we finally got it, and they turned around and changed it."
Said Owen: I’m frustrated with the unwillingness to listen to what the coaches wanted. They keep asking for our opinions on different things, and then they come back and it’s instantly shot down. They did not listen to the coaches at all. The coaches were surveyed a couple times during the year, and we were pretty adamant with the double-elimination, and that got shot down. I fear the same thing coming in basketball, with the shot clock. I really think the shot clock is going to go in.
"They’ve come back with other things and said, ‘You know, your section can decide how you want to handle it.’ I don’t know why they didn’t leave it up to each individual section. They want uniformity – that’s their big thing now; they want every section to do it exactly the same. But if Section 3, which we’re in, wants to make sure the best team goes by having a double-elimination tournament, then why shouldn’t Section 3 have that? If you look, every section has done it differently for the last few years. I know there are sections that play to the final four and then have double-elimination, or there are sections that play the first game single-elimination and the rest is double-elimination, or there are others that play the championship two out of three. I’m at a loss. It’s more uniform. But I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t do it the way we’ve been doing it. Because to me, as a coach, I would think you would want your section represented by the best team, and I believe a double-elimination format, nine times out of 10, should guarantee the best team goes. That Pipestone (softball) example is the perfect one. They were obviously the best team in the state. They had one bad game. If the state tournament was double-elimination, I’m not so sure Luverne wouldn’t have won it."
Proponents of the change might argue that baseball and softball are not much different than volleyball and basketball – two sports in which teams play just as many games during the regular season but still use single-elimination formats in the playoffs.
The area baseball and softball coaches disagree.
"In softball, there are 21 outs in a seven-inning game," Vesey said. "So, in the course of that, (mistakes) are magnified so much more than a mistake somebody makes in basketball, where you have 40-minute games, where you have time to make up for it. You do have the occasional luck thing in basketball, where somebody swats a shot in, but, again, there are so many possessions, where in softball, somebody has a bloop hit and it could mean the difference between a win and a loss."
Proponents of a single-elimination format also might argue that section champions often don’t need a double-elimination format to get to the state tournament — that a "true champion" wouldn’t lose in the playoffs. If the Pipestone Area softball team’s run to the 2007 Class AA championship is the perfect example in an argument for a double-elimination format, Pipestone Area’s baseball team can exemplify the opposite.
"We’re probably the poster kids for having single-elimination because, in three of the four years, we didn’t lose a game in sections," said Zollner, who guided the Arrows to state tournament appearances in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. "Back in 2004, Jackson beat us early and we came back through and beat them in the first game of the championship and then they beat us in the second one. But in the next three years, we went 5-0. And last year, with New Ulm, It wouldn’t have affected us, where they beat us the first game and we beat them in the second. I have a feeling we’re one of the ones they’re saying, ‘Look, double-elimination – it didn’t matter anyway; the team that won the first time ended up winning the second time.’"
Some coaches questioned how much money the move actually will save teams, parents and fans.
"Like this year, Fairmont traveled all the way to Pipestone, so if they would have came over (for a single-elimination tournament), they would have played one game and went home," Bouman said. "Why not come and play two? They spend more time on the road than they would have playing, so I really don’t think they’re saving a whole lot of travel costs."
The MSHSL also voted to eliminate neutral sites for section tournament games before the championship round. But unlike the move to single-elimination, the board left the decision up to individual sections to decide if neutral sites will or won’t reduce travel costs for teams and accommodate larger crowds.
None of the coaches polled thought the neutral-site format would be changed in their sections, but they were split on whether the elimination of neutral sites would cut costs for teams, parents and fans.
"I don’t think that’s going to affect us much because Marshall is kind of centrally located, so it’s going to save them money, as far as travel expenses," Bouman said. "Teams would travel there than travel all the way to a home site. But some teams might take advantage of that and say, ‘Hey, we’re not supposed to play at a neutral site,’ so teams might have to travel farther."
Said Nowotny: "I always thought that home sites were OK for the first round, and then they did away with it in the second round, but I thought it should have went two rounds and neutral sites after that, just because of better ballparks and better facilities for fans. If they’re going to go back to that, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing, with the home team hosting, especially if they earned it during the regular season by winning 18 games or whatever and got seeded (No.) 1 — it won’t hurt them to host one or two rounds. That sounds OK if the section is going to be in charge of it."
"I’ve lost section games at home and I’ve lost section games on the road; I’ve been the home team in the winner’s bracket and lost, and then I’ve went on the road in the winner’s bracket and I’ve won," Schlomann said, laughing. "They’ll probably keep neutral sites – they have to. Because you’re talking about an hour-and-a-half drive, or go to Milroy and everyone drives 45 minutes. The guy that was madder out here was our radio guy. You know the Super Saturday they have in basketball down in Worthington? There are a ton of people who just love that; people come from all over just to watch games all day long."
Neutral sites allow radio announcers an opportunity to call four games in one day. It also allows Worthington Daily Globe sports reporters, who follow nearly 20 area teams, to cover multiple teams and games in one day.
"It should be at neutral sites, and maybe it should be moved around from one year to another – we’d certainly like to be involved in that," Baumgartner said. "… I think it’s a great atmosphere, as well, having all those teams come into one location. As a fan, you get to see many games; you’re right there; you can see all the different teams. As a coach, you can maybe scout a team you may be playing in the next round. I think it’s a great atmosphere all-around, so I’m definitely in favor of the neutral-site location idea.
"I think one of the reasons they’re doing this is because of the way the economy is now. But if it’s a neutral-site location, all those teams and games are right there."
Said Boelter: "It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if you’re trying to cut travel (costs)."
While he wasn’t too worried about the possible elimination of neutral sites, Owen said he is more concerned with the money that will be lost because of the playoff games that will be cut.
"I’m not so sure that there’s such a thing as homefield advantage in high school baseball, so that part doesn’t concern me," he said. "Attendance is another concern I have. The Section 3A baseball tournament makes money, and now, by getting rid of the double-elimination, they’re going to lose some games and they’re going to lose some gate. And at some point they’re going to come back and say, ‘Now we need to do this because we lost some money.’ There are a lot of things about this whole thing that I just don’t follow the logic of how they came up with it."
The biggest impact, according to the coaches, won’t be the financial aspect. Instead, many said the changes will negatively affect the players.
"We tried to get double-elimination for years in our section, and it finally gets to the right time in the season, when the weather is nice, and the kids don’t get enough chances to play enough games as it is," Bouman said. "And, as coaches, we want what’s best for the kids, and I don’t think that was the case at all."
Said Nowotny: "You’re taking away some tournament games from some high school athletes who will never get a chance to play those games ever again."
Vesey said the move more negatively will affect the middle-of-the-road teams.
"I just think it’s really unfortunate because, when you think about the cost savings, you’re talking about the middle teams that are losing games," he said. "Because bad teams are going to travel that first day and they are going to lose two games in double-elimination and they’re going to lose that first game in single-elimination, so they still have the one travel day. The good teams are still going to win their games; it’s the middle teams that are going to lose out on games. And I just think that’s unfortunate. And what’s the reality? You’re saving maybe one trip.
"The only thing I can think of is travel costs and saving on umpires. But like I said, you’re only saving it for those middle-of-the-road teams, the teams that are going to be eliminated in the third game, fourth game."
Said Naas: "Most of the time, with an 8 and a 1, or a 7 and a 2, usually the upper-seed wins. But the 4 and 5, usually that’s very close, and that’s the one where the single-elimination I really, really don’t think is fair."
Baumgartner cited his 2008 team as an example.
"We got smoked by Pipestone in the first round," he said. "We actually played a play-in game against Lincoln HI and won that, but in the double-elimination format, we got smoked by Pipestone in the first game and we came back a few minutes later and played Marshall and beat them. We went on to the Super Saturday event in Marshall and played a really great, close game against BOLD High School, and I think we lost 4-3 but had a chance in the last inning to win it. Again, I just don’t understand the logic of why you do that. We would have been losing to Pipestone 10-0 in the first round and it would have left a bad taste in our mouth, but the way it turned out, we got a little momentum going and the girls were definitely looking forward coming into this season, knowing we ended on a good postseason run."
Bouman cited Worthington’s playoff performance this season as an example.
"How many times does a 7 or 8 beat a 1 or 2? But look at Worthington; they were a 7 seed and lost to New Ulm, came back and beat Luverne, who was a 5 seed, and moved on, which is saying that a 7 or 8 seed can maybe beat a 4 or 5 seed" he said. "They never would have got those extra two games. But just by the way they’re seeded out, they’re never going to get an opportunity. So how do you know if they’re not one of the better teams?"
The other big move the MSHSL made was to implement a travel limit that will take effect next fall. Teams no longer will be allowed to make out-of-state round trips of more than 600 miles. Teams will be allowed to travel to the states bordering Minnesota.
The move mostly will affect teams that fundraise to take trips to Florida on spring break, for example, to compete against other teams in scrimmages. MSHSL executive director Dave Stead cited the economy as a big reason why the board made the decision, along with a desire to "level the playing field" between teams that can afford such trips and those that cannot.
No area teams make such trips, but only four of the coaches surveyed said teams that do travel south to participate in scrimmages and exhibition tournaments do not have an advantage over teams that stay in Minnesota.
Here are some reactions:
Schlomann: "My brother takes his softball team down to Florida – he’s the head coach up in St. Francis – but they fundraise their own dollars for that. That’s why I don’t understand why they took that away. They took that away because not everyone else can afford to do it. Well, they fundraise their own dollars; the school doesn’t pay a dollar for that stuff. They get going a little earlier, but by playoff time it’s all the same stuff. I mean, we got going earlier this year: We played in the Metrodome. Two weeks later, you forget you did that because everyone else has caught up to you."
Bouman: "They go down and play 12 games/scrimmages before the season even starts. They get to play outside on the fields; they can work out a lot of quirks in games that don’t mean anything and get things figured out before the season even starts."
Owen: "To be honest with you, I don’t know why we punish schools or people who want to give their kids that opportunity. Yeah, they’re going to play baseball, but at the same time, a trip like that is a lot more than baseball; travel is a life-learning experience that hopefully gets the kids interested in doing it and they want to go out and explore the world when they leave their little community or do whatever. We sent our seniors to New York last year. Does that mean they shouldn’t get to do that? …To be honest, I don’t want to take 20 kids to Florida in the spring, but those that want to do it shouldn’t get punished if they want to raise the money. It doesn’t cost the school one penny. And most of the kids are going during spring break, so they’re not missing school.
"I don’t think it’s that big of an advantage that I would get worried about it."
Jenniges: "Sure, they may be gaining one week of being outside, but they probably also put in a lot of time fundraising for that and scheduling for it. If they can find kids and parents willing to put in that kind of time and money, I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s not like they’re taking a two-week trip to Florida to practice in February. If they’re staying within the start dates of the season – sure, they may be gaining more outside exposure and playing outside while everyone else is playing in the gym, but when they get into the season, it’s going to be a level playing field anyway."
Vesey: "I understand the rationale behind that: Some teams were taking advantage of that rule and going down to Florida and scheduling 10, 12 games and calling them scrimmages – I think that was the intent of that. Where they got 600 miles, I don’t know. I suppose that keeps you in cold weather. It doesn’t have any impact on us."
Nowotny: "I don’t understand how that can have anything to do with the State High School League, if teams go out and bust their butts to fundraise. By the time you get to May 10, the chance to go to Florida for six scrimmages, I don’t think it has anything to do with it."
Boelter: "Financially, we just can’t. Our business people support the teams really well, but for a small town, we don’t want to stretch it that far where we do so much fundraising. The big schools, good for them that they can do that. It’s too bad that got kyboshed. I think so (teams that travel have an advantage over teams that don’t). Maybe it depends if you come right out of that trip into your season, certainly I think it will help you at least to start out with. But let’s say you’re down there and you come back and we have two weeks of snow; sometimes that momentum that you built and everything gets put back."
Stevenson: "Because they’re playing games, they have the advantage. Getting some experience, getting players in game situations, I guess is an advantage over us."
Zollner: "I bet if we did it here, it would be a fun family thing. I bet 80 percent of people who have kids playing, the whole family would go with. It was something I certainly had looked at and thought about. I can see the High School League’s point of view on that, but I don’t see it as a big problem. If the athletic directors don’t want their teams to go, then they should just tell them no, instead of having the High School League make the decision for them."
Naas: "I don’t see how the High School League can step in. Here you have a community and the kids go out and fundraise. Why don’t they have the opportunity to do that? I don’t understand how the High School League can step in and say, ‘Uh, no, you can’t go fundraise.’ I don’t understand that. We don’t go anywhere, but, I mean, I don’t see how a High School League can step in and say, ‘The economy isn’t right for this.’ You know, it’s like, ‘Apparently, the economy isn’t that bad in this community, that we can raise this much money and let them go.’ I don’t get that. I don’t understand how you can do that. Yeah, the economy is bad, but if kids get money and people donate money, I don’t understand why they can’t go. If you can raise the money, I don’t care what the economy is like."
Baumgartner: "We never have created the opportunity to go. I think those teams that are able to go out and fundraise and organize and line up those types of things, I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to get out there and explore, see some other things, see some other teams. It’s a great cultural experience for them to be on that trip. Who knows? It may gain some kids some kind of exposure to a college or a D-I coach or a scout somewhere. I think it provides that much more opportunities for kids to be exposed to a larger arena. Any time we do that for our kids, we’re giving them a benefit. If they get some games in, I think it’s just good exposure, but I don’t think it’s a competitive advantage. And when you say ‘level the playing field,’ now they’re bringing that into the context and the jargon of these rules and decisions. Then what are they going to do? They’re opening up a whole Pandora’s Box. What are they going to do? Make everybody hit off batting machines, so the pitches come in at the same speed for each team? And everybody uses the exact same bats and gloves? Does that level the playing field now? It really doesn’t make any sense to me. It sounds like, to me, that quite a high percentage of coaches that are involved do not agree with what the Minnesota State High School League is doing.”"