News

Player of the Week: Week 1 (Su13)

Written by - Posted 2013-08-09 12:14 in POTW

Adriano DeSorrento of the Nasty Boys won Player of the Week for Week 1.

DeSorrento had been nominated four previous times, but had never won. He is coming off a victory in the Spring Home Run Derby and his first appearance on the PWL All Star Travel Team that represented the league in London, Ohio this past July.

He won both the public vote and the managers’ vote.

Week 2 Preview (Su13): Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Written by - Posted 2013-08-09 00:23 in News

Week 2 is almost here. Don’t forget to vote for Player of the Week the deadline is NOON. Web Gems will be posted later today, the deadline to vote for those is NOON on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday are supposed to be kinda crappy, but we don’t expect “significant” rainfall. With any luck all this stuff clears out and we have a great, low wind, Sunday. The current forecast calls for mostly sunny with a high of 85. Only a 10% chance of rain, and possibly single digit winds. Possibly.

The morning games feature a Besley Bashers vs Suns Out Guns Out contest. Suns Out actually helped recruit Besley to the league, but they didn’t meet last season. So, this one should have a little extra on the line as Suns Out makes their march to return to post-season, and Besley still tries to figure things out. In the afternoon the Nasty Boys have two tough games that could be playoff previews against the Gumballers and 7th Linning Stretch. We’ll also get to see how far Wheelchair can go on Chris Keeven’s pitching as they face the Gas House Gorillas.

The Gorillas games will be on the watch list for an additional reason this season. Matt Dreyfus is currently 11 hits away from tying the league’s all time career hits record. He started strong Week 1 with five hits. Stephen Zigmund holds the all time record with 270. There are four active players in the hunt to break Zigmund’s record, but only Dreyfus (259) and Nicholas DiCrosta (257) have realistic chances this season. DiCrosta is expected to miss much of the Summer for “personal issues” the team wouldn’t discuss, putting Dreyfus in the catbird seat. Kris Garcia is fourth all time with 240, and Alex Filides is fifth with 237.

Wrap-ups from the PWL All Star teams that traveled to Ohio are expected to be posted over the next couple of weeks. Commissioner Gallaway has posted two articles giving a behind the scenes peak at the setup for the NWLA Tournament which was largely driven by the PWL.

Behind the Curtain: NWLA Part 2

Written by - Posted 2013-08-09 00:08 in News

In Part 1, we covered the major setup operations leading up to early Friday afternoon. When we left our heroes, we had fields and tents setup, with a couple of porta-johns in place. But, there were no chairs for the tables in the food tent.

Friday

After 7 hours of field setup, the four scorekeepers, Executive Producer Fifer and Commissioner Gallaway were due for a shower and a quick nap. We think everyone at least got a shower, but the naps didn’t happen.

Wall and Filides stayed at the fields to wait for additional equipment deliveries, while everyone else did a caravan of suburban drop offs at the Hampton Inn. Two of the three suburbans were for the two PWL teams, one for the London Nationals and one for the NWLA Nationals, who were arriving Friday afternoon via a US Airways flight. The third suburban was for the scorekeeping crew.

In addition to dropping off a suburban and grabbing a quick change of clothes at the Hampton Inn, Gallaway also had to swing by the Motel 6, to once again solve some problems on the group reservations. These problems ended up being solved by Gallaway leaving his credit card with the front desk manager with authorization to use it to “solve any problems” and then heading back to the fields.

While Gallaway was gone, some past due deliveries that were supposed to be in place before noon finally arrived. The two light towers, which were being repaired all morning, were finally delivered. In addition, the big weekend surprise, the jumbotron arrived, and the 10,000 pound unit was driven into place between the field and the food tent. These two sights were good to see as Gallaway and Fifer pulled into the parking lot, but where in the hell were the damn chairs?

Fifer immediately set to work organizing the jumbotron operation, and running the 100 foot cables to provide sound and video to the 9×12 foot screen and the speaker system. The operations center was setup at the red field, because all of the real time in game scoreboard screens were going to be used only on the red field. For the home run contest, the all star game, and the final three games of the tournament leading up to the championship. It all made perfect sense to run all the cables and setup the system at the red field.

Teams started to slowly arrive for their scheduled practice times. Gallaway put some finishing touches on the fields. Finishing up the painting of the pitchers circles and the half way marks. He also applied the NWLA stickers to the strike boards. Webster and Edwards returned from their short break and Wall and Filides were sent to the Motel 6. Though, had we all known Soccer First had shower facilities at that time, they might have just opted to stay there instead. Fifer had his command center setup…and it looked like Schiros was going to come through, as they started testing the in-game scoreboard operation. For some reason, at this point, the jumbotron guy decided to start blaring the worst possible music on the planet at a loud volume. But hey, he’s driving a jumbotron, he can get away with stuff like that.

Gallaway and Brian Meyers borrowed the jumbotron guy’s pickup to move the light towers into place for the night game. However, at that point, it became clear that the red field was not where we wanted to do the home run derby and all star game. The wind was still blowing in pretty strong. We made the decision to move to the green field, #2 for the festivities.

Of course, while this decision made sense…and ended up being good for the games…it came about two hours too late for jumbotron, speakers and command center operation. There wasn’t time to relocate all of that setup, nor did it make sense. This meant that the people operating the jumbotron and audio for these events would be flying blind, not able to see the field with the action. The walkie-talkies were powered up as a backup, so that we could radio from the green field over to the red field who was up to bat. Not only were we going to be using a brand new system we’d never tried before, we’d be doing it over walkie talkie communication and trying to do it in real time in the dark.

By 6 PM, the lights were setup, the jumbotron was running, the fields were full of teams practicing, and we started prepping for the welcome dinner and team draw. At this point, it became clear that despite filling an entire 14 foot uhual and a suburban with supplies, and using a very detailed packing checklist, that Gallaway had left the four microphones for the field PA systems in Washington, DC. This meant that all the walk-up music Fifer had prepared from all the teams, as well as the now batting announcements wouldn’t be happening. Webster and Edwards were dispatched to drive to every possible store to find replacement PA systems, microphones, or anything that would work. After striking out at Best Buy, WalMart, and who knows where else, they finally struck gold at HH Greg with some janky karaoke mics that would do the trick. Crisis averted, the music would go on.

The finishing touches were prepared for registration. The “team buckets” were put together with the rulebooks, maps, managers guides, and scorecards. The participant shirts were moved to the food tent, and finally…at long last…the chairs arrived. We’d be able to sit and eat afterall.

The welcome dinner and pool play draw went smoothly. The karaoke mic worked, and we got rolling. Because we’d setup all the jumbotron PA equipment for the red field, we had to stretch it as far as we could to work for the green field. This meant that for the home run derby and the awards presentation, the mic would only reach to about 40 feet from the 3rd base foul line and no farther. As a result, we had to have Carl Coffee and Sam Skibbe do their color commentary from that location. That worked out fine, but it was a little awkward for the awards presentations which would have been a little nicer visual at home plate rather than behind the dugout, but we made it work. Next year, we’ll pick the field for the derby BEFORE we setup all the equipment.

Fifer did real time, on the fly, updates of the home run derby slides, updating outs and home runs based on Skibbe and Coffee’s calls. Sitting all the way over at the red field in the dark (the lights were on the green field remember) he had to do it by listening, since he couldn’t see anything. The counts were actually updated and correct ALMOST all the time, despite the challenges. The biggest thing wrong on the jumbotron during the home run derby was the fact that two leagues changed their representative and didn’t tell anyone.

The real test would now come during the all star game. We were busting out the real time scoreboard for the first time. The scorekeepers would be sitting in GREEN field scorers tent, keeping the scorebook. The audio for the walkup music, as well as the now batting announcements were being run from the RED scorers tent where all the mics were. Fifer was also in RED scorers tent working the controls for the jumbotron. It became an all hands on deck operation, as literally jobs that could be done by two people, were now being done by five people over walkie-talkie.

We had two people in the green tent watching the game. One was keeping score, the other was using the walkie to tell the red tent, who was up to bat, and how many runs, hits, and errors were scored each inning. We had three people in the red tent. One was working the laptop with the walk-up music. One had the microphone to make the now batting announcements. The last was Fifer, sitting at the laptop, working the jumbotron.

So…as soon as at bat was over, the person sitting with the scorekeeper would walkie talkie “Ryan Bush is up to bat”. Then everyone in the red tent would spring into action. Fifer would change the batter picture to Bush, the announcer would say “now batting, Ryan Bush” and the person sitting at the other laptop would play the walkup music. It was a recipie for disaster, but it actually worked out pretty well for the fact that half those people were sitting in the dark and we’d planned for everyone to be in the same place rather than on walkie talkie.

It was Gallaway’s idea that the all star game would be “practice” for everyone on the scorekeeping team to learn the systems. So every inning people were going to rotate jobs. You’d score an inning, then you’re do announcements for an inning, then you’d play music for an inning. That way everyone was prepped for the long day Saturday and Sunday when they’d be doing EVERYTHING themselves, instead of in a team of four. We probably should have scrapped the rotation given all the logistical challenges, but we did it, and it got a little sloppy at times, but everyone got a chance to take their turn. In the middle of all of this, the fifth scorekeeper, two time NWLA Character of the Year, Tony Ragano arrived from the airport. He jumped in and took his turn.

For the most part, the scoreboard worked well. A glitch on the server side caused the runs per inning and score to be off for a couple of innings in the middle. We had to wipe the slate clean, and restart the inning by inning score a couple of times, but we figure it out and got it working. From a back end side…it was a mess, but we ended up feeling like it was a big success overall. And, despite the challenges, we left Friday night better prepared to tackle the tournament. The staff did a quick debrief meeting, then got dropped off at the Motel 6 for a little sleep.

Saturday

Saturday’s wake up call came earlier than Friday’s. Staff reported to Soccer First at 7 AM. We did a quick briefing meeting and the four scorekeepers, Filides, Wall, Ragano and Edwards, started putting together their packets for each of their tents. That included two laptops, one for scoring, one for music, a PA system, brand new karaoke mics, game balls, extra lineup cards, pens, batteries, cameras, microphones and a tripod.

Webster was assigned to go to London to cover scorekeeping and video duties for the London Nationals for the day. In the first of many epic London disasters, he left the camera, laptops, and London supplies at Soccer First instead of taking them with him to his hotel that he was leaving directly for London from. So, the team went to London in the suburban and Webster commandeered the Uhaul to pickup supplies at Soccer First, then head to London after. He arrived with bats, balls, and the video camera about 15 minutes before their first game. Not included in what was packed in the uhaul was a tripod, so there are a bunch of hand held shaky cam videos from London this year for the PWL. In addition, he couldn’t score and hold the camera at the same time, so we had to score the London games from a shaky camera video after it was all over. Gallaway still has a headache from watching these.

Meanwhile, back in Dublin, we got rolling. As with anything, it took a bit for everyone to get in the groove, but with a pretty decent success rate, we met the deliverables we envisioned for the games. We had live scorekeeping on the computers, we had walk-up music, and we had now batting announcements. We had wifi connected on all the laptops, so once games were over, those stat files were moved to a server where Fifer grabbed them and got them posted on the website. The updated website also powered the rotating screen of stats and data that displayed on the jumbotron. It was a little slow at first as games started to come in, but in the end, we were very happy with the results, and hope everyone in attendance was too.

Because of the live stats updates and games on the website and jumbotron, seeding took less than a minute. Even before we announced teams and matchups, teams know where they were and who they were playing because everything had been updated as we went along. We waited for a final game, the PWL and HRL game to get over, but even before the final out everyone knew where they stood.

The real logistical issue with Saturday of course, was the rain. There wasn’t much we could do about it, other than react as quickly as we could and recover as well as possible. The first break was obviously very short lived, and was just a quick hard downpour. The second pass was a little more problematic, as the lightning storm caused a delay, even though the rain was soft enough at points to have kept playing.

The umpiring crew, who we’re not mentioning much in this behind the scenes article, were great through this also. They were a little more on the public side of things, rather than behind the scenes, but still deserve a shout out here. We had a 10 person crew for the weekend. Paul Drake, who is the Umpire-in-Chief of the Ohio Amateur Softball Association, arranged the crews for the second time this year. In 2012 we used a six man crew, but with longer days, having an extra crew to rotate in was necessary. The umpires were great, from the walk through Friday night where we went over rules and field setup to the fact that they used the all star game as a practice warm-up just like the scorekeeping staff did. Every umpire took turns working in that game to get used to how the play would go. Drake also worked closely with Gallaway once the second rain delay happened to make sure we could resume play as quickly and safely as possible. Once the lineup cards are exchange, until the final out, the umpires are in charge of the game; not the rules committee, not a tournament director, not a team manager, only the umpires. They worked closely with us to monitor the weather situation and get games back on track.

We ended up moving the last round of games to Sunday morning instead of Saturday night, so that we didn’t have to suspend any games for darkness. Though, looking back, we would have likely had plenty of time to get those late games in. It was better to not risk it, at least, probably for everyone except Griffleball.

The staff did another debrief, prepped for Sunday mornings games, and headed to the Motel 6. Gallaway was going directly to London to try to catch the end of the London Nationals run in the tournament. They had been a #2 seed, but the rain delay management had not been so good over there, and they didn’t even restart the single elimination tournament until late at night, playing most of the tournament games under the lights…really shitty and poorly placed lights. Unable to convince any of the scorekeepers or Fifer to join him, everyone else chilled at the hotel and Gallaway arrived just in time to see the final inning of the game in which the PWL team was eliminated in the round of 16.

The second DC Outback dinner took place late Saturday after the crews returned from London with both the staff and both the NWLA and the London team. Every single item on the appetizer menu was ordered, and two of the ahi tuna. Fifer and Filides chose sleep over steak, probably a good decision given another 7 AM staff meeting Sunday morning.

Sunday

The pre-game setup and scorer’s tent operation went a little smoother Sunday morning. After a full day Saturday everyone was a little more ready. Ragano flew home Sunday, so Webster, now freed from the hell that was London, took his place as the fourth scorekeeper for the day. The weather was also better, and the schedule flew by.

We had some extra help Sunday too, as many of the folks who had gone to London Saturday were back Sunday. John Converse from NWLA even took over announcing duties throughout the day on a couple of fields before he started his long trek back to Massachusetts.

By noon, we were down to two fields. A smaller labor ready crew, just four people this time, started dismantling the fields as they were done being used. Take down is always much faster than setup, and this was no exception. Filides supervised tear down, while the rest of the scorekeeping crew worked together as a team for the final three games, which were the only ones going on and were all on the red field. For these games, in addition to the music and announcements, we did the live real time scoreboard again like we did for the all star game.

We also setup all four of the cameras at different angles to capture the action. Only the home plate cameras have been posted online, but we’ll work to edit the four camera feeds together to cut those last few games from better angles.

By the time the championship trophy was presented to TBW, everything else had already been torn down and loaded up into the U-haul. It took less than an hour to get all the final red field equipment loaded and ready for the drive back to DC. One of the Soccer First employees expressed shock, saying we were the only tournament that ever left without leaving a huge mess to clean up.

Of course, we weren’t done with the challenges. As we got ready to roll out in the U-haul we noticed it had a flat tire. So, we had to wait for the repair guy to fix the tire before we could get on the road to DC for a late night arrival. Filides and Fifer returned their suburbans and flew home. Wall and Gallaway once again manned the suburban leading the convoy with Edwards and Webster pounding red bulls in the Uhaul. Their adventure wasn’t over though, about 45 minutes outside of DC the U-haul got pulled over. How they missed the suburban which was in the lead, and going a lot faster, we have no idea. The guys got off with just a warning.

The suburban and Uhaul arrived back at Gallaway’s house, where the whole adventure started about 2 AM Monday morning. The unpacking and equipment return could wait until daylight.

A Final Word From Chris Gallaway

Certainly a lot of work went into hosting this tournament. And everyone who was a part of putting it on deserves a great thanks for their role in making it a success. From the individual people mentioned in this article so often, to all the labor ready guys we had, our jumbotron guy, the local photographer, the umpire crews, and the incredibly helpful staff of Soccer First, none of it would have been possible without everyone doing their part.

The feeback from the participants was that the tournament was a home run, and everyone covered in these two articles, and probably a few folks I forgot to mention are the reason why.

See you all in 2014!

Behind the Curtain: NWLA Part 1

Written by - Posted 2013-08-08 21:46 in News

Most of the required on site articles from NWLA Tournament teams are going to focus on their experience getting to, and participating in the tournament. We’ll do that for the post-tournament PWL article, but for the two on-site stories we wanted to give you a peak behind the curtain with the staff and team putting together the show you all got to experience.

Thursday

Three scorekeepers and Commissioner, and team manager, Chris Gallaway, are rolling out in a U-haul and Chevy Suburban from DC Thursday morning for the seven hour drive to Columbus, er, Dublin. It’s an early morning for Kevin Wall who makes a 45 minute drive into DC, fighting rush hour traffic to make it to Gallaway’s house by 8:30. Gallaway already has the rental suburban, and they pack the suburban to the brim with boxes of equipment and shirts that have arrived in the last week. Gallaway has already made three trips to take supplies out to the PWL storage unit, but many items, from all-star uniforms, to extra trash cans arrive the last week, as well as all the electronic equipment, 12 laptops, a printer, 5 HD cameras, four PA system, etc.

Wall and Gallaway take off for the U-haul dealer, about a 30 minute trek from northwest DC to southwest Alexandria, Virginia. The U-haul place doesn’t technically open until 10 AM, but Wall turns the key and steps on the gas at 9:45 to follow the suburban to the PWL storage unit in old town Alexandria about 15 minutes away.

Waiting at the storage unit are Michael Edwards and Adam Webster. These two returning veterans were the 2012 NWLA scorekeepers and announcers, so they’re a little more prepared for the weekend, or so they think. The foursome loads 95% of the contents of the PWL storage unit into the uhaul, leaving behind a few throw down bases, a box of 600 PWL logo balls, and a lawn mower. Almost every other piece of PWL equipment will be repurposed for the NWLA tournament.

Gallaway and Wall lead the way to Ohio in the suburban. Wall’s driving so Gallaway can make phone calls to vendors reconfirming their delivery times for Friday to make sure everything is ready to go on time. The t-mobile hotspot, which doubled as free wifi at the fields for the tournament is spotty in the mountains of West Virginia, but Gallaway manages to post the PWL’s final required pre-tournament article on the drive. An adaptation of Casey at the Bat featuring the PWL all star Kevin Higman. Webster and Edwards split the driving duty on the Uhaul, which Webster was stuck with for the entire 2012 tournament.

The crew arrive at the Motel 6, and a mini-revolt ensues. The hotel is super crappy. And, despite the fact that they’ll be spending little more than a few sleeping hours there each night, the scorekeepers are not pleased. Even more unhappy is Gallaway, who is unable to check in after the seven plus hour drive. The front desk attendant has been on the job less than three weeks and has never checked in a group reservation before. He is not capable of doing it. After close to an hour, and the attendant threatening to quit his job and walk out the door three times, Gallaway finally reaches someone at the group sales office who is willing to walk the rookie desk man through it. However, he refuses to take the phone to talk to group sales. So, they place Gallaway on hold, and call him on the main line. For the next 25 minutes, Gallaway sits on hold, while the woman who has put him on hold talks to the front desk agent, literally three feet away, on how to check in this reservation. At long last, room keys for the two rooms for scorekeepers are handed over. Gallaway leaves the crew makes a quick drive down to the Hampton Inn, the traditional hotel for the past seven years for the PWL teams, and checks into his king bed mini-suite, without a touch of guilt.

Alex Filides is the fourth, of five, scorekeepers for this year’s tournament. He’s a long time PWL player, but spends his summer months from late June to early September in Minnesota. This year he’s even pulling double duty…playing in the PWL in the Spring and Summer seasons, and for the couple of months he’s in Minnesota he’s playing on an HRL team. Filides is the “head groundskeeper” for the PWL, and is responsible for field setup and tear down each week. With the expansion to four fields, as well as the need for an additional scorekeeper, Filides is a no-brainer because he can pull double duty and fill in for Gallaway on field logistics and setup. He flies in from the twin cities, is supposed to pick up the second rental suburban, of three, for the weekend, but there is a problem with the reservation. Filides is known for his “problems”, this is just one of many on the list. He takes a cab to the Motel 6 and checks into his room easily, to find relatively minor amounts of blood on his sheets. Also, he lost his debit card on the way, it’s a good thing Gallaway is picking up all the tabs on this trip.

After a quick shower and a few minutes to chill, the team heads out to Soccer First for a quick tour before the kickoff dinner at Outback Steakhouse, another PWL tradition dating back to their first trip in 2007. Soccer First is PACKED on Thursday night. The parking lot is overfull, the fields are completely full. The group checks out the tents, which were dropped off two days early by the tent rental company, despite the contract specifying Friday morning. Everything looks good with the tents, but the 120 chairs ordered are nowhere to be found. Perhaps everyone can just stand around to eat? Speaking of eating…it’s off to Outback, and then off to bed, it’s a 7 AM wake-up call Friday and long day of building fields.

But wait…Gallaway and Filides make a late night return trip to the Columbus airport to pickup the second rental suburban. Gallaway walks out in under 5 minutes with the second set of keys, and finally the first night of the NWLA, at least for the staff, comes to a close.

Friday

Gallaway pulls into Soccer First about 7 AM, almost an hour before the rest of the team is schedule to arrive. Shortly after a UPS truck arrives with an early AM delivery from Michigan. It’s the strike boards and pitcher’s plates made by Brian Meyers of the KWL for use at the tournament. With the boards safely in hand, the rest of the setup crew start to arrive. In addition to Filides and Wall in the second surburban, and Edwards and Webster in the U-haul, we’ve got six workers from the Columbus Labor Ready office to help us get everything organized and built. They’re used to construction jobs and hard labor, while building wiffleball fields isn’t a cake walk, it’s definitely a different experience for these guys.

The first task is unloading the Uhaul and the suburban. The large group makes quick work of it, and piles everything into the center of the soccer field so that we can get everything organized and split up. After the unloading and the sorting, we start building the northern green field, Field #2. Everyone watches as we build the first field, since this task will have to be repeated three more times by the crews.

The two foul poles and home plate are measured out and marked with stakes and string. The foul poles on all fields are set at 85’ from home plate. That makes the distance between the two foul poles 120.21 feet. Once these three points have been found, it’s time to start drilling (with a power drill and ground auger bit) the holes in the ground for the sockets for the outfield fence. The foul pole (really a “fair” pole) holes are drilled and the sockets are hammered into place. The telescoping foul poles are extended and slid through the end sleeves of the green fence and put into place. Everyone on the team now spreads out the distance between the two foul poles and holds up the fence, pushing it back to get an idea of what the distances look like, and where the additional poles are going to go. To keep the fence from sagging, two crews are going to drill holes, one from each foul pole, and then they’ll meet in the middle. This will ensure that the fence will be as tight as possible, and that the poles will be relatively the same distance as they progress from the poles to center field. 16 holes are drilled, and filled with 16 sockets to hold up the fence, which is 150 feet long and has a fence pole every ten feet to hold it up. Once they’re done and the poles are all in the sockets the fence looks good. But…they stretched the fence so tight that the foul poles are bending inward…robbing a little bit of fair territory. Rope tied to a ground stake is tied to the poles to pull them straight. Most of the crew moves on to Field #3 to start working on the blue fence.

Gallaway stays at Field 2 with one other team member to measure the location of the bases, the foul ball arc, and to paint the foul lines, which are really fair lines. The half way marks and pitchers plate and circle are saved for last, but the rest of the marking is done as the crew follows each other from field to field. After the fence construction and major marking are done, the crews break into small groups to start bringing the remaining pieces in. Each of the three bases have a ground anchor which like the fence sockets is drilled into the ground, and then hammered into place. There are actually two anchor holes for the pitchers plate to keep it secure that also get drilled. The mats for the pitchers are new this year, (the ones last year were too small the pitchers were landing off the mats and digging a hole), and holes have to be cut for the anchors to pass through. The new strike boards are assembled, and put into position, along with the batters box mats. Another team is working to put up the backstops. The backstops are not used by the PWL, they’re an NWLA-only piece of equipment, and they take a little extra time to figure out. The benches get setup for the teams playing, and the smaller tents at each field get moved into place. The fields are done by about noon and the two porta-johns arrive. Soccer First doesn’t want them on the field, so they deliver them both off the fields in not very convenient places.

At this point, Craig Fifer, the Executive Producer for the tournament has arrived at Soccer First in the third rental suburban needed for the weekend. He took an early morning flight from DC after pulling most of an all-nighter working on the walk-up music and slides for the home run derby. Fifer is anxious to get all of the laptops setup with the walk-up songs…and even more anxious to resolve two big pending issues that are supposed to be a surprise for the Friday night activities. Fifer and Gallaway have secretly been working with the programmer who built the back end of the stats system in SQL and PHP for the NWLA website, and the PWL website to produce two unique features for the tournament. The first will be a rotating slide slow that displays on the jumbotron throughout the tournament. It will rotate between game results, current seeding, and tournament leaders in four batting and pitching categories. The developer, Matt Schiros, has been working on the rotating slide show for about a week, and it’s mostly put to bed Wednesday before the tournament, when we get last minute tech specs from the jumbotron folks that require all of the sizing and layout to be changed. Since the rotating slides aren’t needed until Saturday morning, the real worry on Fifer’s mind right now is the real time game scoreboard system. Fifer and Gallaway looked at lots of different options over the weeks leading up to the tournament, and decided that none of the off the shelf products made sense. So, they tossed it to Schiros to pull a few all nighters to build a custom system in time for the Friday night all star game. The first draft of the system is supposed to be ready Friday afternoon, just hours before the all star game is supposed to start. The scoreboard will replicate a major league scoreboard as much as possible. It will show lineups with numbers and fielding positions, and display a photo of the batter who is due up. It will also show a standard line score, which is about the most that any of the scoreboard apps we could buy would do. None of them would do the lineups and photos. It’s going to be a game time decision if it’s ready to roll or not.

A local pizza place brings pies for a quick bite to eat before some final touches are put into place. While the labor ready crew get ready for some heavier lifting, the scorekeeping crew is figuring out the maze of extension cords necessary to get power to all four scorekeeper tents, as well as to the main food tent for the welcome dinner. They’re also setting up, plugging in, and powering on all the laptops, PA systems, and cameras inside the Soccer First building in the room we’ll be using for storage, as well as for the umpires and scorekeepers hospitality room.

The labor ready crew moves three sets of bleachers to the outfield of the red field for prime viewing for the home run derby and all star game, which, at this point, is still planned to take place on the red field, despite the wind blowing in on that field. After the bleachers are moved, Soccer First changes their mind and agrees the porta-john can go in the center of the field…to the relief of everyone. They even loan us their small tractor and trailer to help move it.

The final task of the initial setup is to get the flagpoles into place. After drilling 64 ground sockets for the fences, you’d think and additional 13 for the league flags, plus the NWLA tournament flag, would be easy. You’d be wrong. The field area at Soccer First was well maintained. Not only great grass, but it was regularly watered, and the soil surface below the grass was well maintained. The area along the walkway where the avenue of flags were placed was not so much. Pretty much the hard, rocky, dirt you’d expect anywhere. The crew burned out a couple of drills, we used 6 total drills on the day, but finally we got the flagpoles in place, and the flags hung. Three were hung upside down, but, hey, they were still hung.

The labor ready crew was sent home around 2 PM, and the scorekeeping crew alternated taking a couple hours rest at the Motel 6 in preparation for a long night ahead when leagues started arriving. The pre-tournament from a setup perspective was officially over, but a whole different set of challenges lay ahead.

And…it’s now six hours until dinner, and there are still no chairs.

Player of the Week: Week 1 Nominees (Su13)

Written by - Posted 2013-08-06 21:32 in POTW

Well week 1 is in the books! We had some tough weather conditions for a few of the games, but overall a pretty good opening weekend. Not too many chances for the hitters to shine here — THREE perfect games, but one was a combined perfect game by Aaron Graham (4.5 innings, 2 k’s), Zach Carter (1.5 innings, 1 k) — BUT they did not get the POTW nod. We do however have 3 people on here with 0 POTW wins — can they finally get one?

Matt Gagnon (6 nominations, 1 win)
While Matt only had 4 plate apperances in two games this week (and grounded out all 4 times), he carried the Moose Knuckles with his arm instead. Against the Besley Bashers, Matt pitched a perfecto (8 K’s). And on the day total, gave up just 2 hits in 12 innings pitched for an OBA of .143. He also managed to throw 11 K’s combined on the day.

Jeffrey Nitto (3 nominations, 3 wins!)
Our second perfect game of the day comes from Nitto of the Gumballers vs the Sex Panthers. Nitto only allowed 1 hit in both of his games, but against the Sex Panthers, not only threw a no hitter, but struck out 13 (17 K’s total on the day). Nitto also was able to help himself out with a 2 run blast against the Sex Panthers.

Daniel Bessette (4 nominations, 0 wins)
The Janitors might have found a gem here. Daniel had a great day at the plate — batting .500, and OPS of 1.600 with 2 homeruns and 3 RBIs. Bessette essentially carried the Janitors through their two games (both losses). They also might have found a pitcher here too, giving up 1 run to Gas House over 3 innings.

Jack Rems (2 nominations, 0 wins)
Speaking of Gas House Gorillas — highly sought after free agent Jack Rems had a fun day at the plate. For his two games, he his .667, OPS of 1.467, with 2 RBIs. Jack was on base almost every time he came up for the rest of Gas House batters (going 7/9 against the Janitors).

Adriano DeSorrento (4 nominations, 0 wins)
If there is someone who has been “quietly” banging away in the PWL the past couple seasons, it’s Adriano. This weekend, he hit .500, an OPS of 1.833 — with 3 homeruns and 5 RBIs. Adriano has become a go to clutch and power hitter — look out for him this year pitchers.

VOTING CLOSES AT NOON FRIDAY

The public vote counts for 50% of the overall total, and the league managers vote counts for the remaining 50%.


POTW: Week 1 (Su13)
Matt Gagnon
7%
Jeffrey Nitto
10%
Daniel Bessette
4%
Jack Rems
19%
Adriano DeSorrento
60%
total_votes: 81

About POTW: Each week five nominess will be announced for Player of the Week. The league, fans, and press will vote for the winner. Winners receive a very limited edition wiffleball keychain. For a history of the award, check out Player of the Week History.

Week 1 (Su13): Candle In The Wind

Written by - Posted 2013-08-05 09:32 in News

The summer season got off to a Spring like windy start as a cool front moved into the metro area. Despite the wind it was an absolutely perfect day for wiffleball and we started strong getting in all 16 games.

The wind blowing in on two fields, combined with long grass didn’t hurt the pitchers, and three perfect games were tossed. Master Batters Aaron Graham and Zach Carter teamed up for a perfect game against the Garbage Plates, only Carter signed the ball, but he felt like this was ok since he notched the win. Jeffrey Nitto was perfect in his official debut as manager for the Gumballers over the Sex Panthers. Moose Knuckle Matt Gagnon was perfect over the Besley Bashers, who were without their Rookie of the Year Alex Cohn. Rumors are that Cohn broke his leg playing frisbee and is out for the season.

Opening Day also saw the debut of the new strike boards. A board upgrade was long overdue and feedback as mostly been positive on the new board. The boards are made out of rigid HDPE polyethylene and were created by Brian Meyers, the Commissioner of the Kalamazoo Wiffle League in Michigan. A custom welded stand holds the boards firmly in place, and some commercial grade velcro is keeping the radars on.

Additionally this season an extra strike board is available so a bullpen has been setup between the Green field and the porta-johns (you’re welcome for that placement) for pitchers to warm up.

Week 1 Preview (Su13): The Bitch Is Back

Written by - Posted 2013-08-02 09:18 in News

It feels like it’s been an eternity with no wiffleball, but after a short seven week break, wiffleball is back on the banks of the Potomac River.

30% chance of rain Sunday, but we expect to be able to push through. Make sure you’re following us on twitter for live status updates or call the Game Information Line at 855-8-WIFFLE about an hour before your game.

With the Barnburners out, and Wheelchair squeaky, this could be anyone’s season…except for Scared Hitless (or the Gassies or whatever they’re calling themselves now) and the Moose Knuckles.

1 Week Until First Pitch

Written by - Posted 2013-07-28 11:05 in News

One week from today we’ll be kicking off the Summer Season at Gravelly Point. Our 17th season will feature 16 teams and for the first time ever, no rookie teams.

Just a reminder that sometimes parking is tough at Gravelly, so make sure you arrive early to get time to get parked and warm up. This is usually more of a problem in the Spring than Summer, but you’ve been warned.

During Week 1 everyone will need to sign the waiver, pickup your league tshirt, and get your official website headshot photo taken. Don’t leave until you do all those things.

Managers Finalize Summer Season

Written by - Posted 2013-07-26 01:10 in News

The managers of the 16 teams signed up for summer conducted the pre-season Manager’s Call Thursday night to finalize divisions, adopt the schedule, and consider rules proposals.

For the first time in league history there are no new teams, only returning teams this season. With the summer drop to 16 teams down from 20 some divisional realignment was necessary. Former Central Division (which doesn’t exist anymore) teams were moved to new homes. Dupont Circle Jerks moved to the Southern Division. Janitors ended up in the Northern and the Sex Panthers joined the Eastern.

The managers also considered an overhaul of the structure and organization of the PWL rules proposed by Commissioner Gallaway. The complete proposal was passed with two exceptions. The proposal to raise the strike board from 10 inches to 12 inches failed 5-7, and the limit of warm-up pitches was amended to be 6, up from the 4 proposed, but down from the 8 in the MLB rules, and the final rule passed 11-2.

The new rules in the package included: removed need for an appeal for a runner leaving base without the batter making contact, more guest player flexibility to replace injured players during a game, changed the multiple team tie-breaker from double elimination to single elimination and renamed the first round of the playoffs to be the Wild Card Series, and the second round will remain Division Championship Series.

The real discussion point around the rules wasn’t the mostly technical restructure, but a proposal by Will McNally of Suns Out Guns Out to put a maximum speed limit cap on pitches hitting the board to trigger a reset. The cap would have prevented pitchers from throwing a really fast pitch after three consecutive missed board pitches just to reset the count. The McNally proposal said that any pitch that hit the board, but was over 32 MPH would NOT reset the 4 pitch count. It would NOT count against it, but it wouldn’t reset it either.

This proposal had been hotly debated on the managers list prior to the call, and this continued on the call. There were two proposed amendments to McNally’s language, the first from Nick West of 7th Linning Stretch would have allowed the umpires and the managers of the two teams to overrule the radar in the “no pitch” scenario. It failed 2-10. Matt Gagnon of Moose Knuckles then proposed amending McNally’s rule to set the high cap at 37 and over instead of 33 and over. The amendment failed 4-9. After final discussion, the original proposed limit failed 5-7.

A similar spinoff proposal then came from Tony Morin of the Canvassers which would allow umpires to use their judgment if a pitcher was intentionally violating the speed limit on the reset pitches, it failed 4-8.

The managers adjourned after an hour and 15 minutes, including a short break when the internet, and thus the phone lines, at league headquarters went out during the schedule spot pick with Master Batters on the clock.

Proposed Rules Restructure and New Rules

Written by - Posted 2013-07-24 12:55 in News

Commissioner Gallaway has submitted a proposed rules restructure to the Managers for their consideration on Thursday’s manager’s call. The restructure has been in the works for several months and an original draft was distributed to the manager’s last season.

The restructure organizes our rules in the same structure as the MLB rules, for which our rules are an exception. It also proposes existing exceptions for things that we do by custom, but which never made it to the written rules document.

As part of that proposal, there are also seven new rules changes being proposed by the Commissioner, and there are 19 clarifications of things we already do which aren’t in the rules.

PWL Proposed Rules Amendments

In the proposed amendments and restructure of the PWL rules, there are several proposed CHANGES to how we operate. There are also several rules that clarify the CUSTOMS that we have been doing the entire time, but that never got written down into the rules previous.

Anything in the proposal that is NOT listed on these two sections, are simply the exact same language we’ve had in the rules, but have been moved to a different order and re-numbered. (Numbers are LINE NUMBERS.)

CHANGES

These are proposed CHANGES to the rules or practices of the PWL. These would be NEW things that we have not currently done at all.

82. Proposing to raise the strike board from 10 inches off the ground to 12 inches off the ground.
160. Changes the appeal process on batters leaving base on no contact to be called by the umpire, and not necessary for an appeal or a warning.
236. Pitchers between innings or new pitchers get 4 warm up pitches.
305. In the event of injury, a guest player can play, even if they were NOT declared before the game.
311. Changes the name of the first round of the DCS to “Wild Card Series” and second round will be “Division Championship Series”.
341. Changes the multiple team tiebreaker for postseason from a double elimination tournament to a single elimination tournament.
357. In the event of an injury, a second guest player can be used.

CUSTOMS

These are things we already do by custom in the PWL and how we’ve been operating. They are not new, they are not changes, but they were not written as an actual rule, so we are now clarifying them.

21. Catcher’s Box – Our catcher’s stand as far back as 25’, MLB rules don’t allow that.
35. We use a smaller pitchers plate than the MLB.
37. Our benches are closer and not enclosed.
44. We don’t require uniforms like the MLB.
93. We use ghost runners and courtesy runners, the rules just never said we could.
108. MLB doesn’t allow “fraternization”…we do.
112. Players have to be present to be in lineup.
126. We’ve allowed the other team to give a forfeiting team up to 15 minutes, instead of the rules 5 minutes.
149. We don’t make teams appeal to the umpire anytime a missing batter’s spot comes up, we do it automatically.
156. We do not use the DH, but it was never specifically banned.
168. Catching a ball and then falling over the fence is still a Home Run
194. Clarifies that once a runner advances to the maximum base they can after a peg the ball is immediately dead.
244. Allows umpires to position themselves wherever makes sense.
266. Ghost runners/courtesy runners don’t get stats, the player who batted did.
277. Starting pitcher has to go 3.5 to get a W.
282. Our minimum requirements for stats we’ve always used were not in the rules.
323. Clarifies we use run differential on a tiebreaker.
335. Clarifies we use run differential on a tiebreaker.
382. Defining out of play areas for the umpires based on our current practice.

On Thursday night the managers will finalize the divisions, schedule, and rules for the Summer season.