You're correct USSSA did not have residency restrictions which is why I mentioned ASA in my prior post. But the time you refer to was also when other competing associations were healthier as well. A simple read of Mighty Mike's website details some of the epic battles and efforts that took place to capture the Grand Slam of Softball. It also talks about some of the legendary teams that came so close but were unable to win all associations.
1) I am by no means trying to be a party pooper but I would argue alcohol make league night more dangerous than anything that can be attributed to USSSA, its part of the reason why I don't play league anymore. You have drunk league night all stars swing fire sticks with no idea where it is going. Additionally, a majority of the leagues are ASA run.
Twin Creeks does use USSSA rules, there have been multiple discussions of efforts to bring USSSA tournaments back to Twin Creeks including D or E worlds, along with possibly hosting a Conference event. There are multiple problems with it though. When Dave updated the lights it was in no way done to accommodate softball. The ball becomes invisible from contact and is not seen again until roughly 30-40 feet in the outfield, much worse for pitchers and infielders. Also, Dave books almost all weekends for youth sports first and then the limited remainders are available for softball. ((Ironically I imagine a significant number of these youth tournaments are probably USSSA organized)
2) As DW mentioned I believe the local/regional ball (c,d,e)is on the uptick. As I mentioned earlier, I think the efforts of Stro at the national level and Melvin (with the assistance of other California directors) have gone to great efforts to properly classify players and strictly enforce this. I know when I had to fold the Conference team last year for work reasons, Stro personally called me to discuss every player on my roster that had been released and what I thought their true classification level was. The reason for this is that we had taken a mix of local D players we believed had the talent and just needed a shot and combined them with some A and B players that we knew. I think at the end of the day only one of the D players retained that classification as he was truly a off the bench role player that was a friend and willing to go on the ride whether he got game time or not just because he liked the personalities on the team. Lastly, on the local regional ball, I think the move to having multiple worlds (West, East and the other one) makes it possible for more to get exposed to competing at a championship level stakes tournament. I have heard rumors they might begin having multiple C world tournaments but I must admit I am on the fence with this one. I look at C as the current gateway classification to upper ball. I think it needs to continue to grow a little more but also think it should only retain one world (perhaps instead of having multiple let the one C world tournament rotate locations across the country).
3) I find this to be an interesting point of view. I would agree that there is a massive amount of money that is being put into a select group, however it is the sponsors that are choosing to put the money into that pot, not USSSA. I would also argue that the ability to compensate independent contractors like DW to cover these tournaments via the live stream, Softball Center, and this message board actually further helps promote the visibility of the game and give participants in lower classifications motivation to move up. How many tournaments can you say were available for viewing of almost every game during the era in which you played. Now between the promotion of social media and the live stream more and more are able to watch and aspire.
One thing I would have to caution is to not look at youth sports to guarantee what should happen participation of adults. I know it is crazy the growth in youth travel ball even since I played. But at the time I played I can say the majority of the players on my teams and those we played against were possessed in our desire to play the game. I have callouses on my hand that have been there since I was twelve from swinging bats. My dad told me the only way I could play travel ball was if I proved to him that I was willing to commit. I took ground balls and batting practice by the shopping cart full of baseballs and would burn through at least three rawlings heart of the hide gloves a year with Charlie Rose patching them back up for me. I went to watch one of my younger cousins play a 14 and under tournament at Creeks a couple weekends ago and can say I honestly saw maybe five kids in the whole complex that had that mindset. I would argue that a high percentage of these "serious" young players are there because mommy or daddy wants them to be, not because they have that fire. Which if they play softball they will be the ones that sandbag the lower levels someday.