Two Eastern Division teams will face off Sunday to determine who will be the kings of not only their Division, but of the wiffleball world. The Canvassers and Gumballers are intimately familiar with each other in a way that not even Alex Filides feels comfortable talking about. It’s hard to say they’ve been rivals, or at least it was before this season, despite sharing turf in the East for three dances. Rest assured though, after three meetings already this season, and three more on the schedule, next Spring’s regular season games will certainly have a little more flair.
The Canvassers come in as the top seed in the series, placing #3 overall in the postseason. They claimed that seed in a division tiebreaker game against the Gumballers, forcing them to the #6 seed, despite finishing the regular season completely tied head to head and with run differential in those head to head games. The franchise is no stranger to the playoffs, appearing in more World Series than any other with seven trips. They’ve won five of those, tied with the Barnburners for the most all time. These Canvassers, however, aren’t the same folks who last claimed the Commissioner’s Trophy in the Summer 2009 season. Not a single member of a previous championship team remains. Kris Garcia is the lone member of the squad who’s played this late in October, having won a World Series with Catalista Revolucion in Summer 2008. While the team has improved in the offense department over previous seasons, led by Rookie of the Year hopeful Spencer Howard, they still remain about middle of the pack at the plate. What really changed this season is their pitching. Somehow, someway, Tony Morin just “found it” on the mound, and has been unhittable. The team ERA dropped from 2.03 last Spring to 0.42 this season. It’s not hard to win ballgames when you give up less than half a run a game. Morin, having a Cy Young caliber season, has often been one of those guys with potential, but something has just clicked this season, and he’s dealing. The team changed their logo after the last World Series victory to incorporate a shield with stars for each of their titles. We’ll find out Sunday if a logo update is going to be necessary.
In just three seasons the Gumballers have quickly positioned themselves to be a force in the league. They won a tough Eastern Division title their first two seasons, before losing a one game playoff to the Canvassers this season to settle for second place. They were the #2 seed their first season, the #4 seed last season, and this year had to settle for a #6 seed needing the wild card to advance. They had to play five games, of which they won three, on tiebreaker and Wild Card Sunday to make it to their second DCS, including two walk off wins. There they easily upset the #1 seeded DC Twits to clinch their first World Series appearance, with ace Jeff Nitto holding the Twits to just 4 hits over two complete game shutouts. Nitto took over managerial duties this season, in addition to being the best hitter, best pitcher, and we assume if we cared about this kind of thing, best fielder on the team. Actually, we take that back, Don McClintock is a critical piece of their defensive alignment in the field and adds timely hitting to help push the Gumballers to victory. The addition of Rookie of the Year nomine Stacy Critchfield (boy Stacy, not girl Stacy) has proven a wise investment. While still developing as a hitter, he’s a solid backup in the bullpen if Nitto gets in trouble or can’t make an appearance, which seems to happen often. The dead weight they cut in the offseason also seems to have paid off as this is a tight, lineup that is hard to get through. If they’re 100%, they’re going to be tough to beat.
In regular season games, these teams are 5-2, with the Gumballers winning the first five meetings, and the Canvassers the last two for an overall run differential nine in the Gumballers favor. This includes three meetings this season, a one run win for the Gumballers Week 1, a one run win for the Canvassers Week 5, which then forced a one game tiebreaker, which the Canvassers took 4-0.
Expect these pitchers duels to last a little while, and turn on aggressive base running plays.
Gumballers at Canvassers
Canvassers at Gumballers
Gumballers at Canvassers
Umpires will be Jerry Shapiro and Ben Gottlieb. Tony Ragano will have public address responsibilities and Alex Filides will be the official scorekeeper.