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Around the League: Week 1 Recap (Summer 2015)

Written by - Posted 2015-08-17 13:52 in Blog

The Hudson Era kicked off smoothly at Ossian Hill Park no thanks to the two scorers who called out last minute, thanks a lot guys. Seven of the eight games were shutouts, unofficially the highest percentage in PWL history. Early reports have the pitchers praising the “fair” conditions and the stats would seem to agree. Let’s break down what else we saw at the new digs.

- The new team, old faces Jackhammers put on an offensive clinic though anyone that has ever watched wiffleball knows not to expect two homers out of Matt Gagnon every week.

- Connor Dierman threw the first perfect game at Ossian, shutting down the Garbage Plates but not before giving up 14 hits to the Wolfpack in an opening 8-0 loss. Parity anyone?

- DC Twits are 2-0 despite totaling 7 hits, 0 HRs and batting .259 against the possibly hapless Master Batters and Janitors. So nothing has changed in Twits-world.

- Circle Jerks got a whole week and two games on the mound without a Felix Fernandez meltdown so they’re playing with house money at this point. Jim Shannon provided the entire offensive boost he was signed for and none of the pitching prowess as he was ejected on his first batter. Nice.

- Tough day for the Master Batters, Garbage Plates and Higman-less Janitors. All veteran teams but in a smaller league one of them will have to beat up on the other two and pull a few upsets to secure a playoff berth.

What do we see after Week 1? Jackhammers and Wolfpack are the clear top 2 while Chicken and Wiffle, Circle Jerks and Twits will duke it out for the wild card spots. It’s only Week 1 and a lot can change, nobody really knows what tricks Ossian might still be hiding.

NWLA Recap: Our Brothers Are Better Than Your Brothers

Written by - Posted 2015-07-21 22:19 in Blog

About the Author: Jack Shannon is possibly the greatest wiffleball player in the history of the world. Just ask him.

Late Sunday, following the conclusion of the 4th NWLA Tournament, new comers Hess Field Wiffleball pointed out something that, in our opinion, is a universal truth of wiffleball. Ceteris paribus, brothers will always be better than any randomly selected pair of non-brother players. Why? Very simple. Brothers always have someone to play against. Speaking as a Shannon, I will represent to you that if I add up all my PWL games and all my NWLA games and then multiply that number by 20, it still won’t be more than the number of 1-on-1 games I played against my brother. 1-on-1 wiffleball breeds wiffle excellence. It’s pitcher versus batter. Any weakness in either side of your game will be promptly exposed. Throw in the ever-present sibling rivalry (and the need to impress your father who is currently wearing short shorts and white wide-footed New Balances while grilling steak, slugging MGD’s, blasting Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and shouting “you’re hitting like Joe Crede!” at you while you’re at the plate) and you’ve got a primordial soup brewing that is waiting to evolve and take over the nearest wiffleball league.

I didn’t look at every roster, so I’m just going to assume there are 3 brother pairs in the NWLA tournament this year. The Harleys, the Skibbes, and the Shannons. Each pair brings something unique to the table. The Harleys are both elite pitchers, the Skibbes both elite hitters, and the Shannons are elite at bitching at one another (I assume the Harleys and Skibbes don’t heckle each other when the other one gives up a hit). WSEM had the Bischoffs, but with only one remaining on the roster this year, they do not make the cut. We hear Hess Field has a dominant brother pair (by looking at their league stats, I’d say those rumblings are true), and we look forward to them coming next year and further proving this law of wiffleball.

So without further ado, I present my inaugural Bro-wer Rankings.

  1. Harleys — Both are absolutely elite on the mound and will wreck havoc on your batting average. Luckily you won’t get many at-bats against them, though, because they don’t walk anyone either. They can also hit real well, which isn’t fair. We’ve been eliminated by TBW in back-to-back years now. Last year, Jack Shannon had them on the ropes only to see his arm fall off in the last inning. This year, Jim Shannon got the start, pitched one inning, and then pulled himself (coward, right?) due to arm soreness. We lost. Chris Harley hit a ball that hasn’t landed yet. The Harleys would go on to face Skibbe, but without Chris available to start, fell to everyone’s favorite smiles.
  1. Skibbes — The most unassuming power hitters in the world. When I first saw Skibbe’s chompers on the jumbotron as being the NWLA leader in HRs, I thought to myself, “He must’ve been playing Huntington and the wind must’ve been blowing out.” Wrong. These guys mash the ball. In the regional tournament in St Louis, I told Gallaway I wanted to start versus Skibbe. Not going to lie, it was so the Shannons could finally get a win over one of the other brother pairs. But to my dismay, the Skibbes sat out. PWL won the game, but it provided me no satisfaction. The Skibbes do share something in common with the Shannons, though. One of them can pitch real well and the other, while not bad, is not necessarily scaring an opposing lineup. This limits both teams in the DE tourney. Although the PWL is, admittedly, much more handicapped. Additional thought: hard to say who is nicer between the Harleys and the Skibbes; the Skibbes introduced us to fried ravioli, so I’m leaning towards them.
  1. Shannons — Jack is a very good pitcher. Jim is an average pitcher will no stamina. Jack is a good hitter. Jim is an average hitter. We’re neither better pitchers than the Harleys nor betters hitters than the Skibbes. But I think we’re either a solid second or a “you-can-make-the-case-for-second” in both categories. Jack only got to throw one game this tournament. Is that Gallaway’s fault? No. I should’ve walked out to the mound in game 1 of the DE and just taken the ball. Maybe we’d then have been able to avoid the regionals next year. But Chris is the head man and I believe in accountability, so let’s just give him the blame on that one. Jim and Jack went back-to-back twice in the tournament, embodying the sibling rivalry mentioned above. Surely we can’t let the other look better than us.

Let’s get a statistical recap (sorry Skibbe, apparently your family crest was burned at Ellis Island)

Hits 21 25 19
Walks 15 31 11
BA .276 .373 .292
OBP .396 .571 .395
Doubles 3 3 0
Home Runs 2 10 5
RBI 12 37 18
IP 22.67 21.00 11.33
BF 78 92 46
H 5 15 6
BB 6 13 6
OBA .069 .190 .150
K 57 34 21
K / 6 15.09 9.71 11.12
R 0 14 2
ERA 0 4 1.06
W 2 3 1
L 1 1 2
K:BB 9.5 2.62 3.5

20 PWL MOMENTS

Written by - Posted 2015-07-11 10:53 in Blog

For the twenty days leading up to the first pitch of the PWL’s historic 20th season, we’re going to look back at a top moment in the league’s history each day.

In theory they will get bigger and better as we get closer in the countdown. Obviously that’s based on the personal opinion of two time national Commissioner of the year Chris Gallaway, who was once described as god’s gift to wiffleball. (That might be the #1, right?)

20. Arsenic Closes the Fields

The Spring 2008 season was underway at Ft. Reno Park, the highest point in DC and our home for four seasons, when it came to a screeching halt. We lost a couple of weeks of play time while the soil was retested. It turns out, a faulty arsenic reading taken from outer space (where Jesus lives) had caused the readings, and the shut down of the park. Once the actual soil was tested, it was deemed safe to reopen, despite the high lead contents of some of the areas.

19. Double Down On Masterbatters

The only two franchises to share a name in PWL history also share a name with a team in about every baseball related rec league in the country, the Masterbatters. The original Masterbatters played seasons 2 to 4 in the early days of the PWL. A fun loving group that lost more games than they won, they recruited teams, held house parties and invited the league, made cardboard signs for their fans, and one glorious season introduced Joe Gortenburg to Gravelly Point. Six seasons later a new franchise, completely unrelated to the first, joined. Much like their namesakes, they had more fun than success. With military appreciation unis, and Zach Carter pitching, they’re certainly not all about the W’s. Not only did the new edition outlast the old, they’re now on their 11th season. That’s good enough for third most in league history only trailing the Canvassers (20) and Scared Hitless (15). Before we upgraded the stats, the database couldn’t have two teams with the same name, so we changed the original team to be “Masterbatters” all one word. And the current team is “Master Batters” two words. The database has long been updated, and we’re not sure how they were originally intended, but we’re not changing it now.

Wait…Masterbatters…I just got that. Get it? Ha!

18. Doctor Dreyfus Sets Hit Record

The Summer 2013 season saw the Canvassers win their record 6th World Championship, but their arch rivals made the news during the season. Matt Dreyfus set the career hits record for the PWL, taking the title from Stephen Zigmund, one of the two players featured on the PWL website design. The record, 270 at the time, has since been passed by two others, Felix Fernandez and Kris Garcia, but Dreyfus still holds the top spot. After the hit, which was a home run for good measure, play stopped and a video message from Zigmund was played. The Spring 2015 season could see another precious record of Zigmund’s fall, the all time home run crown.

17. Gallaway’s Three Minutes

In late 2012 the Washington Examiner did a quick story for their “3 Minute Interview” section with Commissioner Gallaway about the league. Despite the reporter, a girl, questioning whether wiffleball was a manly sport, press is always a good thing. Players from the league, though not the league itself, were also previously featured in a front page photo in the Examiner practicing on the mall in August 2006.

16. Tests Prove Wind Affects Wiffleball

Just before the Spring 2010 playoffs, national ‘Character of the Year” Tony Ragano was convinced of a problem with radars. His arm always through the exact same speed, because of his muscle memory, and yet sometimes the board would read different speeds. It had to be the boards, obviously, as it’s not possible anything else might affect the speed of a ball, like wind, rotation of the earth, the tides, etc. In the alley behind the PWL HQ we did some tests, turns out Tony was convinced.

15. London Calling for PWL

In 2007 the PWL sent our first team to the largest underhand wiffleball tournament in the world. It’s held on a farm surrounded by corn stalks outside of London, Ohio. The first tournament ended in a rainout, and subsequent tournaments have involved massive organizational issues, incorrect brackets, and games played in zero visibility. It’s not our kind of wiffleball, but we’re hooked, and have sent at least one team, and for several seasons two teams ever since. We drove back overnight in a mini-van that first time after playing wiffleball for 12 hours. But, common sense prevailed later, and luxury buses and airplanes replaced the minivan. We’ve made it as far as a top 6 finish, but have never won the 80+ team tournament.

14. Scared Hitless Changes the Wiffleball World

The Spring 2010 season saw the influence of the PWL start to spread across the wiffleball world. It all started, as most things do, with a pissing contest. After confusion on the NWLA website in team rankings between our Scared Hitless and the similarly named Scared Hitless of the Kalamazoo Wiffle League in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a war of words and open letters was exchanged between the teams, and ultimately between the leagues. The matter could only be settled, as all things are best done, on the wiffleball field. The two teams met in conjunction with the London Tournament that year to settle their differences. That meeting spawned a second meeting of the leagues in 2011, and ultimately led to the creation of the NWLA Tournament. Without Hitless vs Hitless, none of it happens.

13. Six Innings Gets Personal

32 players and 2 inanimate objects have been featured in Six Innings profiles. Despite every member of the Barnburners having a profile, they’re worth a trip down memory lane to learn a little more about some of the players in the league. We asked everyone for an embarrassing photo of themselves, and most people brought their A-game. But, obviously, just like wiffleball skill, the ability to answer questions is something that some people are better at than others.

12. Kicked Out of GW

What’s creepy about two 30 year old guys sneaking into a college athletic center, busting out a camera, and filming co-eds playing intramural sports? Absolutely NOTHING! Obviously, when Commissioner Gallaway and New Media Director Tony Cani did this, they were asked to leave. But not before connecting the disparate parts of the DC wiffleball community together for a short time.

11. Just a Girl Hitting a Home Run

Only a handful, five we think without looking up the stats, of female players have hit an out of the park home run in the PWL. The first was Liz Smith, in our initial season. The history section of the page has her details at the bottom. But the most interesting was the second one, hit by Mindie Reule. After her feat she danced around, a lot. We need to find the original source video to upload a better version, believe it or not, that’s what the game videos looked like in the Spring of 2007. She was excited.

10. Night the Lights Went Out at Gravelly

For the 2008-2009 seasons the PWL got kicked out of Gravelly Point. Not just us, but all organized sports activity unless you wanted to play from 6 AM to 9 AM. Yeah, not a typo. Our home for the first five seasons, the policy changed, which we fought with a letter writing campaign, moved us to Ft. Reno. While we have fond memories of Ft. Reno, the highest point in DC (double meaning on high) we were happy to return to Gravelly in 2010. Yeah, it was a lot less windy at Reno in case you were wondering.

9. Zigmund and Thaman Retire

Every league needs a Babe Ruth and a Cy Young. For the PWL those players are Stephen Zigmund and Joe Thaman, the greatest hitter and pitcher in league history. Not only are their images embedded in the league website, their names are etched in the record books.

Zigmund played his first game in Week 2 of the initial 2005 season. He hit four home runs, besting the Commish who had three. He’d go on to hit 83 more, a record that might finally fall this season. He played his final game on 4/26/2009, Week 2 of the Spring Season. He homered in that game to drive in the GWRBI, but added one more RBI in his final plate appearance, ending his career on a sacrifice fly.

Thaman debuted 4/11/2010 during the first week of the Spring Season. He didn’t earn the start, that went to Chris Keeven, but came on in relief, striking out the first four of his record 614 batters. While no slouch at the plate, the big lefty set records on the mound almost unimaginable. While his strikeout record might fall in Season 21 or 22, his 14 perfect games are unlikely to ever be matched. He played his final game 10/2/2013, under the lights at the Maryland SoccerPlex, taking the loss in the Division Championship Series, striking out eight.

8. Government Shut Down, TWICE

A government shutdown helped facilitate the impeachment of a President, but it barely slowed the PWL down. Twice postseason games were relocated due to federal government shutdowns which closed Gravelly Point. In Summer 2013 both the DCS and World Series were moved to alternate locations. The lighted fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex allowed for the return of night wiffleball for the two DCS. In Spring 2014 the two DCS were also played under the lights on a weeknight, but Congress got the parks back open before the World Series. There was a threat of a shutdown in Spring 2011 also, but it turned out rain and Easter actually slowed the league for three weeks but the government kept operating.

7. Strike Board Added

It’s almost impossible to imagine the PWL without the strike board and radar. However, for the first nine seasons it didn’t exist. There have been three era’s of the PWL, the first six seasons required pitchers to rotate, like batters. That meant no wins for pitchers, no pitcher dominance. Even the worst guy on your team had to pitch unless you subbed him out. Then, for three seasons we stopped that, but still didn’t have a strike board. It was still an era of hitters. You could wait and wait for your pitch, one time Alex Filides took 60+ pitches in an at bat that lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds. That changed some minds. A gentleman would call a strike on himself, but there were few gentleman in the PWL. For the Spring 2010 season it all changed. A new era began, the strike board, and radar, having been long tried, debated, and ultimately voted on became a fixture in the PWL. Those original boards were made of pegboard and warped in the rain. We’ve come a long way.

6. Twits End Barnburner Run

The Blandsford Barburners lost their first game as a franchise, they forfeited because they were late getting to the park. Since that start they have played six seasons, only joining us in the Spring, and have five World Championships, second only to the Canvassers. They always manage to win the World Series. They’ll have ups and down in the regular season, but in 15 postseason series, they’ve only lost one. Their most recent one, to the DC Twits. The three game series was a seesaw affair, with the Twits taking game one 4-2, then the Barnburners coming back 7-4. But in the final game, the Twits just beat them. Three home runs for the Twits, and not a single bomb from the team that invented bombs. Down to their final two outs, and trailing Superman’s Wheelchair in Game 3 of the Spring 2012 World Series 6 to 2, Commissioner Gallaway had placed Wheelchair’s plaque on the trophy. But the Barnburners came back, scoring five runs without recording a single out to win their 4th title. The plaque came off. As bad as things looked then, a betting man would have found it more likely for them to win that game than to lose to the DC Twits in Game 3. In the first 17 seasons of the league, just 6 teams won every World Series. The DC Twits became the 7th team, and were soon followed by the 8th in the Wolfpack the next season. The plaque for the Twits World Series was delayed. Not because the Barnburners one had to be removed, it was never put on, but because it had a typo, DC Twists. Who would have ever though a reprint would be needed.

5. Starting Nine at Nationals Park

The Spring 2011 Champions Dinner was a little different. For starters it was before the World Series, so we didn’t know who the Champions were who were hosting. The opportunity though, was worth doing something a little early. The Nationals invited the PWL to be the “starting nine” on the field before the game. The Starting Nine was a group of nine folks, usually kids, who ran onto the field and took each position before the Nats took the field. Each position player shook your hand, then you ran off the field. Usually kids. Not ones to be shy of playing a kids sport, or taking over a kids activity, the PWL was honored to go on field. The weekly POTW winners were given first dibs on the spots, and we filled in for some no shows. We also had a suite at the game and even the non on-field celebrities joined us for the game and the awards.

4. PWL Makes National Marks

For years the PWL was isolated in the world of national wiffleball diplomacy. We didn’t have people who wanted to write for the national blogs or participate in the message boards, and we were largely ignored. That all changed in late 2009. Tony Ragano became the first PWL member to win a “Wiffy” award, being named the National Character of the Year in both 2009 and 2010. PWL was a co-winner of the national event of the year from 2010 to 2014 for the various Ohio events. The national integration became complete when Commissioner Gallaway was then twice named Commissioner of the Year in 2012 and 2013, and was robbed in 2014. In addition to these individual awards, our many of our teams have obviously been ranked in the weekly rankings. Generally we have 4-5 in the top 50 every week. The #1 team in the nation though is a special honor, and following the Spring 2011 season the Barnburners finally broke through after weeks at #2. Just to cheapen the honor though, another PWL team, the Moose Knuckles, made it to the #1 rankings for a much shorter time in May 2014.

3. 4th Website Launched, Reaches #1 Ranking

A wiffleball league is nothing without a website. Without the ability to get stats, game videos, and information, half the appeal of the league is lost. We created a POTW weekly vote because we worried that no one was visiting the website. Once we got stat tracking on visits, and video views, boy were we wrong. People were DEFINITELY spending time on the website. Our first version was actually generated using Microsoft Excel. Yes, it was as crappy as you would expect, but it had stats and standings. As crappy as it was, we were ranked the 13th best website in the nation.

For one year, we had bridge site between the old excel file, and the revamped blog based site. This covered the 2006 seasons.

In the Spring of 2007, Tony Cani helped us launch a new site, our 3.0 version. It was largely a blog format. We were able to more easily post content, but it didn’t feel like a league site, it felt like a blog. The stats pages were still static, and took a while to update, but we were making progress. It was during this version of the website that we completely rebuilt the back end of the stats program. Starting in 2012 a SQL programmer and PHP code writer named Matt Schiros built the PWL back end from scratch. Taking the data we got from our weekly scoring software, and turning it into dynamically served pages and profiles. We also had a lot of work to do to get the OLD stats into good shape. We had game by game stats for batting, but we had to go back and re-export all the pitching and fielding stats, which we only stored at the season level. It took a ton of time, but once the back end was working, and the stats were flowing, we knew we had to get it to look better. We had to start with the foundation…the DATA drove everything, but now it needed to look pretty. We did a design contest on 99designs, and there were two really great finalists. The version we have now, and a green, grass looking version that would have been great too. In the end, this one looked a little more like the website of a wiffleball league in the nations capitol.

In Spring 2013 we launched the current version, which took the powerful back end databases with a nice looking front end. We were shocked when shortly after the launch, in June of that year, our website was ranked nationally as the #4 website in the country. Yeah, totally wrong. The issue was rectified a few months later, when we were finally ranked #1. Since then, the WSEM site, which doesn’t even have its own domain, has been ranked #1 and we’re #2. We know better though. While we’ve always been light on non-game content, podcasts, and news stories, our bread and butter is our data. Game by game stats, complete game videos, and everything updated in real time from the fields as soon as each game is over. If there is a crowning achievement of this league, it’s a custom built website that every league would die to have.

2. Washington Post Feature

In 2019 the Washington Post did a feature series called “Our Lives Through Sport”. It gave football reporters, like Les Carpenter at the time, something to do when football season wasn’t happening. The third feature in the series was about the Potomac Wiffleball League. In addition to a long feature story that ran in the post, they sent a photographer, recorded a video version of the story, did an online Q and A, and even promoted it in their radio ads…“if you don’t get it, you don’t get it”. In short, it was an epic moment for the PWL.

The feature needed an angle, and Les wasn’t sure if he wanted to use the Blandsford Barnburners, a new team of 18 year olds from Manassas, or Tony Ragano, an “older” player. He chose Ragano, putting him on his path to winning National Wiffleball Character of the Year, twice. Obviously the Barnburners disappeared into obscurity. We even convinced Les to take some AB’s one week, he visited us three times, hopefully not violating his journalistic ethics by becoming part of the story he was covering.

1. Ball Shot

Even 26 years after Americas Funniest Home Videos debuted on television, we just can’t get enough of people getting hit in the balls. Certainly it’s happened many times in the PWL, possibly hundreds. It’s happened both before and after we recorded games. It will continue to happen as long as this game is played. But, timing is everything. Maybe it was the sound umpire Hal Ward made when hit. Maybe it’s that he was down for so long. Maybe, just maybe, it was a slow news day.

Whatever the reason, for a magical few days during the Spring 2014 Season, PWL was a global sensation, and Jim Shannon’s name was mentioned on SportsCenter. It was the “ball shot heard round the world”. And it all ended with Keith Olbermann calling us the World’s Worst in Sports. FIFA was #3…we were #1. FIFA.

Why not…let’s watch it again. Was it the most amazing or critical moment in the history of the league. Probably not. Was it the most notable…arguably yes.

Who's On First?: Season Recap

Written by - Posted 2015-07-06 12:28 in Blog

Congratulations to the 6 time World Champion Blandsford Barnburners, they were the best team wire to wire this season and deserved the trophy. Before everyone starts ditching old alliances to form new super teams in Ohio let’s see how our preseason calls stacked up.

The Promise – “Every day it just gets harder to live the dream you’re believing in…”

Garbage Plates
Pitch Perfect
Backdoor Sliders
Besley Bashers
Dupont Circle Jerks
Master Batters

Let’s give credit to the Dupont Circle Jerks, the only cellar dweller to successfully retool and make strides. They were in playoff contention with just hours to go in the regular season and we look forward to seeing if they get over the hump this summer. Everyone else in this group well you are who we thought you were. Not really a good thing.

Dancing in the Dark – “There’s something happening somewhere baby I just know that there is…”

Bald Beavers
Chicken and Wiffle
One Hit Wonders

The One Hit Wonders managed to win three games despite have a -59 run differential so there is that? Otherwise they and the Bald Beavers were pretty terrible. Chicken and Wiffle had a sniff at the playoffs but fell just short, they are another team that should contend for the dance this summer especially if some of the old guard retires.

Glory Days – “Sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory…”

Canvassers
Gumballers
Moose Knuckles
Janitors

Now we get to the playoff contenders and sure enough, everyone in this group made it but fell short of the World Series. The Canvassers showed flashes of a scary offense but struggled to put their full squad on the field and word has Gallaway’s pet franchise calling it quits. Moose Knuckles showed heart in taking the Barnburners to three games but their lack of offense did them in. The Janitors got one third of a season from Higman and a full season of Fernandez, they should try switching that if they want to really contend. Gumballers did Gumballer things in winning a lot before losing early, will this be the offseason they shake things up?

Born to Run – “Highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive…”

Wolfpack
Blandsford Barnburners
DC Twits

Twits, we hate you, you are like the girl we bragged about hooking up with all summer then you show up twenty pounds heavier at Christmas and all your friends make fun for porking a fatty. We were spot on about the other two as the Barnburners defeated the Wolfpack in the World Series, proving once again you can get away with most anything if you have half of the inaugural Hall of Fame inductees at the top of the order. The question is where do we go from here? The Barnburners claim to be done as a franchise but available as free agents, but will they actually care about the games? The Wolfpack were one win away from potentially launching a dynasty but now face a serious identity crisis and looming retirements. Last year the league’s balance of power shifted in Ohio, it isn’t farfetched to expect more of the same for the summer season.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the end of year festivities and come say goodbye to Gallaway. If you ever wondered how players in the league know each other it’s through events like this. So if you are interested in joining a new team, getting some exercise or just meeting some people, come out and get your last wiffle fix until August. We’ll play some pickup wiffle, have new skills competitions, everyone can enter the home run derby and the food is free. Stay tuned to Facebook for further details, we’ll see you there.

The Fernandez Forecast: World Series Predictions (Sp15)

Written by - Posted 2015-06-28 19:12 in Blog

About the Author: Felix Fernandez is the guy most of the league hates for no reason, and some of the league hates for very good reasons. He’s aggressive in the game, eats, sleeps and breathes wiffleball, and left the winning run in two postseason series stranded on third base.

The Barnburners defeated the Wolfpack 1-0 during the regular season, as both teams struggled offensively in the contest. Each of the teams are very strong at the plate, but with totally different approaches to hitting.

It’s not much of a secret that the Wolfpack play small ball, while the Barnburners mash balls over the fence. The question is, can the Wolfpack be consistent enough against Colin Gannon, the best pitcher during the regular season, to string enough hits together in one inning? This writer doesn’t think so, but stranger things have happened.

Wolfpack, Will McNally will probably remind me who’s playing in the championship, despite my pessimistic point of view. Also, how much will playing on a larger and faster field affect the two teams?

The pitching matchup will feature 2 of the league’s best pitchers during the regular season in Colin Gannon (Barnburners) and Adriano DeSorrento (Wolfpack). The keys to this matchup are Adriano keeping the ball down and mixing it up once in a while, where Gannon needs to rely more on location and changing speeds. The advantage of pitching depth goes to the Barnburners, as they have 4 solid guys that can throw.

Although, not the best base running team in the league, the Barnburners are recklessly dangerous. They will challenge weaker fielders to peg them, although Fletcher and Gannon are more “one base at a time guys”. For the Wolfpack, it’s mostly station to station base running, however at times, they will use smart aggressive base running to stretch a single into a double or score from second on a base hit.

In the field, Jim Shannon looked very solid in his last game, as the improved turf conditions, seems to have made a difference. Nick West is fast and quick, but sometimes will go through inconsistent periods of fielding the ball. One of the keys to the game will be to test the throwing and pegging skills of West. It will be the Will McNally vs. Ty Fletcher showdown at the catcher’s spot, even though the position is typically very unexciting, but expect there to be quite a bit of trash talking between these two. Gannon and DeSorrento, might not have significant range, but should be able to hold their own in the field.

Barnburners will win the series in a sweep. However, if the Wolfpack come in ready, motivated and focused (and sober), hit the ball the way they’re capable of doing and Adriano can figure out the Barnburners’ weakness at the plate, then the Wolfpack could very well upset the 5 time champions.

Who's On First?: World Series Preview

Written by - Posted 2015-06-26 13:21 in Blog

Spring season is down to two, the same number of times the Moose Knuckles tried to forfeit the DCS. Despite higher powers intervening both times they still lost. Let’s look back a bit then preview Monday’s finale.

In case you didn’t know there has been a party bus leaving from Courthouse to shuttle any and all who wishes to come watch the playoffs, beer and food provided. Yes, it’s that easy, that free and that awesome. Monday, 6:45pm, Courthouse Metro, listen for Nick West howling and follow the sound.

Gumballers @ Wolfpack

  • No wind at the Maryland Sportsplex favored the defending champs and Adriano didn’t disappoint, not allowing a runner to reach second in Game 1.
  • While only getting one across the Wolfpack seemed entirely more comfortable in a close, small ball game. This doesn’t show up in the stat sheet but was palpable to everyone there.
  • Game 2 the ‘Pack pounced in the top of the first but left two on and the Gumballers grateful to get out only down a run.
  • Stacy Critchfield smashed a line drive homer in the bottom of the 5th to give the Gumballers life but unfortunately at that point he was also pitching.
  • After some gamesmanship induced whining by the Gumballers, champs put up two more in the sixth and the Gumballers went quietly into the offseason. Okay not quietly has Don McClintock yapped enough snatch the league’s Most Hated crown away from Gagnon, alienating both friend and foe.

Moose Knuckles @ Barnburners

  • Five time champs scored in each of the first two innings and it seemed they would coast into the World Series, taking Game 1 comfortably.
  • Mother Nature had other ideas however and halted a scoreless Game 2 with a downpour. At this time the Moose Knuckles tried to forfeit but their messenger was apparently as slow as their base running and play was resumed before a formal announcement could be made.
  • Then, Jon “The Butcher” Gagnon used the change in weather to smash one into the stands for a dramatic walk off. The wiffle world was dragged out of their sleep, alert for a possible upset.
  • After some heated deliberation Gannon came back on the mound for Game 3 and promptly let the first two Moose Knuckles on base. They wouldn’t score however because you know, they’re the Moose Knuckles.
  • Barnburners weren’t threatened from there as the bats heated up and some aggressive base running paid off, coasting as we expected they would into the finale.

Wolfpack @ Barnburners

  • Other than wanting your team to win, you’ve got to admit this is the matchup the PWL wanted to see since the Wolfpack was formed and took home the Summer title in a Barnburner-less season.
  • No team on the planet takes advantage of wind blowing out than the Barnburners as the whole lineup is equipped to mash. Wind will be HUGE in this series.
  • On a related note, no team is better equipped to do whatever it takes to win than the Wolfpack. They’ve got top level pitching, defense, base running and know how to win close games. If the Barnburners can lose to a depleted Moose Knuckles team, they can certainly lose here.
  • Should the series go three it means Gannon will be openly questioned by his teammates, the lot of who haven’t been in truly meaningful close game since losing the World Series to the Twits. They know their legacy is on the line.
  • Wolfpack can become the first back to back champs in the modern era and would head into the offseason as the favorite for a three peat.

Prediction – Barnburners in 3. Their power at the plate is the trump card and given the way they steamrolled through the season they have to be the favorite. Expect to see hard fought, well executed wiffle as both teams know what is on the line in Gallaway’s PWL swan song. If the wind is dead like it was for the first DCS or blowing in, this series is a toss up. Blowing out gives a bigger edge to Barnburners but either way there won’t be a series anywhere in which both teams leave everything they’ve got on the field like this one. You should take a free ride on the party bus, drink some free beer, eat some free food and watch wiffle at its very best.

Who's On First?: Division Championship Series Playoff Preview

Written by - Posted 2015-06-19 22:26 in Blog

While the highlight of the playoffs very well might turn out to be the outgoing Commissioner referring to a meathead Park Police officer as the signature piece of male anatomy, we’ve still got three series left of wiffle to play. At least the Barnburners weren’t there to touch themselves over his vascularity.

DCS 1: Gumballers @ Wolfpack –

  • Teams met on the blustery final day of the regular season where the Wolfpack squeezed by in extras
  • Adriano didn’t make it out of the first that day, an advantage for a pitcher who has more usable pitches in his arsenal than any other in the league. The Gumballers haven’t seen those pitches since a shutout loss last August.
  • But if the wind is blowing as it has been this season, Nitto is the pitcher your team wants on the mound. With the field TBD this could be critical.
  • Both teams will have star hitters that were missing from their regular season matchup with Nick West and Don McClintock expected to report. We know the Wolfpack welcome West in but would the Gumballers take no McClintock and a smaller lineup if it meant not facing West? They at least have to think about it while the Wolfpack don’t even consider if the offer was reversed.

Verdict – Wolfpack in 3. You could argue for both sides as Nitto is having an MVP caliber season while the Wolfpack have struggled at times to score runs. Give the slight advantage in a close series to the team with three lefty hitters, the better backup pitcher and championship experience. Just don’t stake your life on it.

DC 2: Moose Knuckles @ Barnburners

  • Teams met in Week 2 of the regular season with the Barnburners taking it 5-1
  • Moose Knuckles showed some heart in thumping the Canvassers in the only game they actually had to play but it’s hilarious to bet on Matt Gagnon hitting two home runs a game. Beyond hilarious in fact.
  • Colin Gannon has been arguably the best pitcher this year, adding a not really needed but always nice to have dimension to the Barnburners.

Verdict – Barnburners in 2. There really isn’t much else to write, we give the Moose Knuckles full credit for their first round win but the run stops here. They are simply outmatched the plate, on the mound and in the field.

Who's On First?: Wild Card Series Playoff Preview

Written by - Posted 2015-06-12 10:04 in Blog

Janitors @ Gumballers –

  • Teams met once in the regular the season with the Gumballers winning 2-0 without ace Jeff Nitto. The Janitors did get 7 hits so we assume there was some bad luck / terrible base running involved.
  • Speaking of Nitto, he’s the pitcher best equipped to thrive in what has been a very hitter friendly season. His low release point allows him to throw 35, get 27mph reads and keep the ball low on days when pop flies are soaring out of the park.
  • Janitors should have Kevin Higman back but who knows how the lineups will be deployed, Kirby has made some questionable calls in the past. Benching Higman for anyone else on this team qualifies as a questionable call.
  • Rumor has the Gumballers rolling out a three man lineup and unfortunately for everyone else it includes Nitto and Don McLintock. He’s always a tough out, just ask anyone who has played them in a close game.

For the Janitors to win – Nitto needs to get tossed early while Fernandez pitches complete games as Higman regains his MVP form at the plate and in the field. They scatter the Gumballers hits, make them work for runs and win low scoring games.

For the Gumballers to win – Nitto deals as he has been all season and frustrates the Janitors lineup. Limit any damage to Higman and hit on par with their season numbers. Get in Fernandez’s head (don’t stay there, it appears to be a weird place) and be patient.

Verdict – Gumballers in two. In a shootout, the Gumballers three man lineup can produce runs. In low scoring games, they have the far superior pitcher. If the series grinds to a third close game the Janitors are far more likely to make a bad play. It’s just tough to see where the Janitors have a true advantage over three games. Then again, it is the playoffs and it is the Gumballers.

Canvassers @ Moose Knuckles –

  • Teams met once with the Canvassers taking it 5-3, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th. Expect more close games.
  • Moose Knuckles absolutely need Gagnon to be at his best against his former fling of a team. His ERA is there but his supporting offense has been even worse than in past years.
  • Canvassers have the best offensive stats south of the Barnburners but their pitching has been inconsistent. Come playoffs, this matters a lot more. But are the Knuckles equipped to take advantage?

For the Moose Knuckles to win – Pretty simple. Gagnon holds them to 3 or fewer, stays in the game and they scrape together 3-4 runs. Flowers needs to show up and the Canvassers bottom of the order hits more they like have for years.

For the Canvassers – Put up 5 in a game and you’ve got think this is theirs. Knuckles have scored 5 runs twice this year and aren’t bringing in one of the Shannons as a ringer this time around.

Verdict – This a terrible matchup for the Moose Knuckles to have to win a series, they’d be far better suited playing either the Janitors or Gumballers. If Flowers shows, this goes the distance with the Canvassers taking it in a close one. We wouldn’t be shocked to see the Moose Knuckles take a do or die game but think the Canvassers bats will be the difference.

Who's On First?: Week 7 Wrap-up

Written by - Posted 2015-06-11 17:54 in Blog

The 2015 Spring season is in the books and as advertised, things got interesting on the final day. Not necessarily in a good for wiffle ball as a sport way but interesting. Big thanks for Commisioner elect Hudson keeping things moving and even umpiring a game.

  • The Moose Knuckles kicked off Seeding Sunday in the most Moose Knuckle way possible. Needing pretty much just to show up they forfeited their only game to the Backdoor Sliders, the same Backdoor Sliders that lost 5-2 to powerhouse Besley Bashers later. Great work guys.
  • Not to be outdone their division rival Janitors gave up 19, yes 19, runs to a Canvassers squad missing Garcia and Dreyfus. Hackeman hit 4, yes 4, yes THAT Hackeman, home runs and brought his ERA down to 12.00 in capturing his first win of the season.
  • Rather than clinch their division outright, the Canvassers promptly lost to the Bald Beavers of then -29 run differential and 2 win fame. My head hurts.
  • Because that isn’t enough about halfway through the day the DC Twits, Chicken and Wiffle and Dupont Circle Jerks were looking at potential play in games for the playoffs. All they needed was Trashy to come through…
  • And he almost did. The Janitors held off the Garbage Plates 2-1 to secure their division and avoid a gaggle of really fun tiebreakers that could have had a team looking at 7-8 potential games next Sunday. Too bad really because who knows what might have happened.
  • In more normal news the Wolfpack rode Chris Keeven coming in on only the second batter to throw 7 strong innings against the Gumballers. A razor sharp Nitto was mowing wolves down before succumbing to the wind, allowing the Wolfpack to get two across and grab the coveted first round bye. Pretty easy to see a rematch on tap for Sunday afternoon.
  • The Gumballers did however secure the 3 seed thanks to the Canvassers having the stability of a Kardashian, run ruling the Garbage Plates in their second game to grab the division on the smallest run differential margin possible.
  • Besley Bashers ended the game on a three game win streak and for what feels like the 19th straight season emphatically point out they lost 6 one run games. Right on the cusp again fellas, staying the course will definitely get you to the promised land.
  • Shout out to the Dupont Circle Jerks for tweaking their roster and actually making strides this season. There are 5 veteran teams below you in the standings that could use some of your wisdom

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Sunday, June 21st and come say goodbye to Gallaway. There are a couple new events on tap in addition to usual free food and end of the year activities. Details coming soon.

Who's On First?: Week 6 Wrap-up

Written by - Posted 2015-06-01 15:37 in Blog

Interesting week in the books and an even more interesting one coming. Hopefully Commish-elect Hudson keeps the league running better than his offense in Week 7.

  • Moose Knuckles showed some life as Flowers clearly read the papers and responded with a big day against the division rival Janitors to put them on the brink of the postseason.
  • The much anticipated Barnburners/Wolfpack matchup turned into a one run snooze fest that leaves neither team particularly satisfied. Wolfpack have a tough final stretch to get a bye but control their destiny.
  • Gumballers have rattled off six straight, led by Nitto’s MVP worthy performance on the mound and at the plate. More on them below.
  • Besley Bashers won a game! According to the website they did so with two players but we knew something had to be up for them to post a W.
  • Garbage Plates notched their third win and have four teams below them in the standings, likely the high water mark for the franchise thus far. Definitely a direct result of free agent Trashy signing with the team.

Now let’s get into the playoff scenarios –

  • Barnburners are the 1 seed, congrats on an undefeated season and Gallaway mysteriously moving you to Blue as the homerun century mark came into play. Between that and Gallaway officiating your only big game of the season we now know he is retiring to run Sepp Blatter’s office.
  • Wolfpack take both games they’re the 2 seed. Lose one or both and it gets complicated for others but they are at worst a 3 seed.
  • Janitors need to win one and they’re in but rumor has Kevin Higman out so maybe Trashy has one more week of magic in him. They are the playoff linchpin and if they lose two….
  • Then the Dupont Circle Jerks could make the playoffs! They would of course have to sweep the season series with the Wolfpack but hey, they’re halfway there. This where you make an awful Bon Jovi joke.
  • Gumballers take two and it likely comes down to run differential with the Canvassers as they split the season series. They have to get past the Wolfpack first but if they do but both teams are both +37 so that could be fun to watch. Both play bad teams in their second game but the Gumballers play the Garbage Plates on Blue.
  • Moose Knuckles win their only game and they’re division champs, likely the #4 seed. Lose to the Backdoor Sliders and it creates a mess we don’t want to decipher. We’re going to assume they win.