Guest post by Jim Shannon
Tarmac Views, Roulette Tables, Dead Dogs, and Wiffleball: the 2017 NWLA Tournament
The 2017 NWLA Tournament was not kind to the PWL. It was, in a word, disastrous. This article will give you a timeline of the disaster. It was a series of unfortunate events that starts with a cancelled flight culminates with a dead dog. (PWL notes that none of this was the fault of the tournament committee, Mr. Coffee, or Mr. Sessions).
Friday, July 14 at approximately 4:00 PM: PWL arrives at Reagan airport, ready to take on the wiffleball world. Before finishing their first airport beers, PWL’s new manager, Stephen Crawford (who filled in admirably for Chris Gallaway), is informed via a phone notification that PWL’s initial flight was cancelled. PWL ignores this initially, thinking it must be a mistake, and continues to drink. Ignorance is bliss.
Friday, July 14 at approximately 5:15 PM: Crawford is told by American Airlines that, no, the flight really is cancelled, and that PWL has been rebooked on a flight for Detroit, which lands earlier than PWL had anticipated landing in the first place. Even better, PWL thinks. All is well in PWL land.
Friday, July 14 at approximately 5:30 PM: Crawford is told that the Detroit flight is cancelled now, too. American Airlines was clearly on its A game. Not knowing what to do and assuming a few phone calls to Chris Gallaway will solve any issues, Jim Shannon, Colin Gannon, and Dan Lockbaum suggest going to the Crystal City Sports Pub for a few pitchers of beer while everything gets sorted out (airport tabs really start to add up). After all, alcohol has made the problems of many people disappear, so why not PWL’s, they thought. So while 3/5 of the team was sliming down pitchers of Miller Lite, Crawford was on the phone with Gallaway and American Airlines trying to get PWL to the tournament. Shannon, Gannon, and Lockbaum, meanwhile, are busy discussing which entrees are best to order and how the TV set up is perfect for college football. Gannon decides to put his best foot forward with Crawford and begins pressuring Gallaway to rent a private jet. Gallaway is apprehensive. Crawford returns and suggests driving to Ohio, at the behest of Gallaway. It was briefly discussed and vehemently shot down. Back to the phones for Crawford.
Friday, July 14 at approximately 7:15 PM: Crawford comes through! 4 tickets on a Delta flight bound for Detroit at 7:40 pm. PWL sucks down their beers, pays their tab, rushes to the airport, and gets to the gate just in time, only to find that the flight has been delayed for 2+ hours to 9:40 pm. PWL was then forced to cozy up at the airport bar. While there, PWL engaged in some small talk with a couple of cute JMU coeds who VERY quickly lost interest in PWL upon the guys mentioning why they were flying to Detroit. Whatever, their loss. Jack Shannon’s flight, meanwhile, goes off without a hitch, so PWL was facing the possibility of only having Jack available for pool play. Jack would probably prefer that.
Friday, July 14 at approximately 9:55 PM: PWL leaves Reagan Airport bound for Detroit. Turns out, PWL is staying at the airport Westin, complete with tarmac views! PWL is obviously very excited, and there was a palpable buzz surrounding the team.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 12:00 AM: PWL arrives in Detroit, briefly takes in the tarmac views, inhales some of that fresh Detroit air, and decides that a trip to the MGM is in order. Jim, Crawford, Lockbaum, and Crawford pile in to an Uber and head downtown. Jack, meanwhile, has arrived in Toledo.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 1:30 AM: PWL is firmly entrenched at a blackjack table. In the midst of losing all of their money, the team members were trying to explain to the dealer why they were in Detroit and why Gallaway does the things that he does. PWL quickly learned that the whole situation sounds a lot like the movie Foxcatcher when actually explaining it to an outsider.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 2:30 AM: Crawford and Lockbaum have been chewed up and spit out by the blackjack table. Jim and Colin remain. After taking heavy losses on 4 straight hands, Jim wins one last hand, breaks even, and taps out. Colin remains, convinced that if he would just play every hand “by the book” that he would make some good money. His steadfast devotion to the “book” would be Gannon’s undoing, as he watched several hundred dollars of chips whittle away to nothing in a matter of minutes. Poof.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 3:00 AM: Not all is lost, however. Crawford, on the advice of Lockbaum, puts $50 on the number 21 at the roulette table. It hits. $1,700 for Crawford. Everything is coming up PWL now! That is, until they realize that they have a 6:15 am wake up call.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 4:15 am: PWL arrives back at the Westin. Wake up call in 2 hours.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 6:15 am: Wake up time! Jim, Crawford, Lockbaum, and Gannon are picked up outside the Westin by a man who clearly did not understand the english language, the relevance of which you’ll see below.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 7:30 am: The driver is visibly frustrated with the directions and the fact that he had to drive 4 grown men to a wiffleball tournament in Morenci. Plus, there was no interstate to take; he was basically taking farm roads all the way there. That did not stop him from driving 80 mph, however. Nor did it stop him from ignoring routine traffic signs, either. Things REALLY got interesting when PWL began to pass non-routine traffic signs, such as signs that said “road closed.” The driver nonetheless drove (read: sped) past multiple road closed signs until he drove directly into a construction area filled with backhoes, bulldozers, the whole 9 yards. The redneck construction workers were quick to reprimand the driver. He just smiled, waved, and turned around. PWL was too drowsy to care, except for Crawford. He looked shaken.
Saturday, July 14 at approximately 8:00 am: PWL arrives at the tournament in one piece. Not having Gallaway as the manager anymore, PWL overlooked the fact that they needed to bring their own equipment. Jim quickly grabbed two badly worn bats from under Carl Coffee’s tent and a couple of balls that mysteriously (well, not mysteriously) had the PWL logo on them. PWL attempted to warm up, but they were too tired. “Fuck it, we’ll do it live”, they thought. It should be noted that Gallaway did provide uniforms: (i) a neon yellow jersey and (ii) a neon green jersey. The entire roster, sans Crawford, refused to wear them.
Saturday, July 14 at approximately 9:00 am: PWL plays the Waves or whatever the hell their name was. PWL wins. Crawford throws a good game and hits a two-run homer with the terrible bat Jim found. Crawford needed that after the beating he took in the PWL regular season. The highlight though, was when a kid on the Waves hit a two-run donger and proceeded to do a flip and land on home plate. The Shannons were impressed. Their music choice, though, was unimpressive. It was bubble gum trap music. You know, the kind of music that you just know was made for 19 year old suburban white kids. They did play a little Gucci Mane though, so PWL let it slide. As an aside, no one seemed to like the Waves, especially WSEM. PWL was torn as to which side to take, so like good Washingtoniand, PWL sat on the fence, telling both sides how much the other team sucked.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 11:00 am: PWL plays MWNA or whatever the Minnesota team that isn’t HRL’s acronym is. Minnesota beats PWL pretty convincingly, despite the fact that Farkas was coaching first base for PWL. Minnesota is much-improved, or maybe the PWL is much worse; either way, the big take away from this game is that Farkas gave PWL a fresh bat to use, which the entire PWL roster would use for the entire tournament. Not that it would matter.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 1:00 pm: PWL plays WSEM. Neither team particularly cares for each other, as WSEM pointed out in their article but this game was rather tame. The teams were rather amicable, in fact. PWL suspects that WSEM was so friendly because they wanted to avoid the wrath of the @Realbarnburners gif machine. Can’t blame them, tbh. Of note in this game, apparently there was some lineup dispute within WSEM in previous games because Farkas wasn’t batting. Well, he batted in this game and he homered. Farkas, if you’re unhappy with your current situation, PWL can give you ALL the at bats you want.
Saturday, July 14 at approximately 3:00 pm: PWL plays Leroy in the first double elimination tournament game. PWL has never played Leroy before, and Leroy said some mean (and totally true) things about PWL in their preview article. The game doesn’t really matter; Jack walked in 3 runs, they gave up 2. Game over. PWL did enjoy Leroy’s company, though. Leroy is from suburban Chicago, and the Shannons are Southsiders (well, they used to be), so there was some common ground to be explored there. It’s just too bad Leroy was busy sexually harassing the Shannons for that common ground to be explored. Jack Shannon became known as Rocky to them, and their catcalls clearly affected Jack’s focus on the hill. Jack would prefer Rambo, but he was clearly flattered nonetheless. Anyway, Jack’s pitching was just not up to snuff. PWL goes as Jack goes.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 7:00 pm: PWL plays their second game of the double elimination against BWBL. PWL loses. PWL is eliminated. Colin pitches pretty well, but PWL can’t string any hits together. Was it the Friday travel that did PWL in? The 4:00 am casino trip? The 2 hours of sleep? The lack of equipment? Probably none of the above. Buy you know what, if getting a good night’s sleep and avoiding alcohol and gambling is necessary to win this tournament, then PWL may not even want to win. Please also note that in PWL’s final game, Leroy had migrated over to PWL’s field to continue their sexual harassment of the Shannons. So actually, it may have been Leroy that did PWL in. The Shannons are very easily distracted, after all, as Leroy learned earlier. The Shannons, for what it’s worth, didn’t seem to mind.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 9:00 pm: PWL is eliminated, but they have dinner with Gallaway to look forward to. Life isn’t so bad. Well, when PWL arrives at its purported hotel, Crawford learns that because PWL did not check in to the hotel rooms on Friday night (because they stayed in Detroit instead of Toled) that the hotel rooms had all been cancelled. Back to the phones for Crawford. Meanwhile, the rest of PWL sucks down a few Busch Lights and cleans themselves up for dinner with Gallaway. At the same time, Griffleball contacts PWL and asks whether PWL actually wanted to play in the Dangerfield. PWL thought Griffleball would never ask. “Of course we don’t!” PWL said enthusiastically. Both teams gleefully avoided the Dangerfield.
Saturday, July 15 at approximately 9:30 pm: Gallaway takes PWL out to dinner. It was your typical Gallaway dinner, expect that PWL had nowhere to go afterwards. Gallaway, amused by the whole situation, does not offer to help, but instead has “a driver” pick him up and goes God knows where after paying the bill. Jack Shannon decides go back to the hotel that PWL was supposed to be staying at. Jack got into Toledo on time on Friday, so he got a room. The other two were cancelled. Jim Shannon quickly claims the other bed, and the Shannons leave the rest of PWL to figure out where they’re staying. Now, Toledo had 4 weddings last weekend, which is important to note because apparently those 4 weddings took up every hotel room in the city. PWL was therefore forced to stay at a Red Roof Inn on the “other side of the tracks” (even though every part of Toledo seems like the “other side of the tracks”) with a broken air conditioning unit. Lockbaum and Gannon fall asleep immediately in the two beds. Crawford’s wife was also desperately trying to get a hold of him at this point as well, but Crawford’s phone had died. When he finally got his phone plugged in and charged, Crawford’s wife informed him that his dog had died. Dagger. It was a great dog by all accounts. With that news, Crawford was then tasked with deciding which bed to share with which half naked man in a 90 degree room. He chose Lockbaum for unspecified reasons. Not Crawford’s best weekend. It gets worse before it gets better.
Sunday, July 16 at approximately 4:00 pm: PWL has lunch at a local Toledo watering hole and buys tickets for the Mud Hens game. As it turns out, the 4 tickets are for the first row behind home plate, for $12 each, with Danny Salazar on the hill. The Shannons get stir crazy, so after watching the Mud Hens tie two kids together and force them to fight for Subway sandwiches, they decided to walk around the ballpark. They made their way to left field in the 5th inning, and just as they got there, a home run was hit directly at Jim Shannon. Jim blew the catch. A fitting end. With that, PWL headed to the airport.
Sunday, July 16 at approximately 5:30 pm: PWL is trying to print their boarding passes to fly home. Uh oh, they won’t print. As American Airlines explains to Crawford, who is about to have an aneurysm, because PWL’s original flight on Friday was cancelled, PWL’s whole round trip got cancelled. At this point, PWL had to make sure nothing sharp was within reaching distance of Crawford. Just before Crawford was about to explode however, PWL’s boarding passes printed and they were home free.
Sunday, July 16 at approximately 11:30 pm: PWL is home, not without one last scare of having to sprint from one gate to another at O’Hare after their plane from Toledo circled the tarmac for about 30 minutes. And with that, PWL flushed that turd of a weekend down the drain.
But for as bad as PWL’s travel and lodging situations were, at least no one on PWL got a DUI driving down Main Street. See you next year! (assuming we make it).