If the smell of Parliaments, stale beer, and day-old fried food didn’t already give it away, I’m here to report that the PWL has returned to the friendly confines of the Springfield Moose Lodge. A few contenders have emerged from the pack through two weeks of play, while several teams have yet to awaken from their winter-long slumber. Let’s break down where each team stands through a third of the season.
Weather is warming up, grown men are tweeting oiled men in spandex at each other , must be wiffle season! This offseason has felt extra long due to the fall being a tournament but we are back. Allow us to offer some unsolicited but very valid musings on what we see for the PWL in 2017.
- Commissioner Hudson is retiring, moving his family (he has a kid now, congratulate him you jerks) to Richmond. This means we will have the first contested Commissioner election in PWL history pitting Alex “Haven’t I seen that guy walking through Arlington” Filides and Stephen “Unhittable when the radars are broken” Crawford. Vote!
- The Barnburners are back! We think one of the Shannons, not sure if the good one, is still in the Midwest but they’re all signed up. More on individual teams later.
- Thanks to a Capitals-esque opening day the PWL has already qualified for NWLA this year. Nevermind the meltdown on Sunday, what you need to know is that you need to play in 5 PWL games to qualify this year. They changed it.
- For the first time NWLA is not in rural Ohio; somehow that was too convenient for the mullet toting NWLA-ers so we have to go to Michigan. Thanks! Gallaway isn’t going, most likely because if you launch a Subway cup over your head it doesn’t satisfyingly smash and make everyone uncomfortable.
- Will this be the year of celebrity guests? Lots of long time players either aren’t signing up but staying on the peripheral of PWL news. Gagnon, Keeven, Higman, Burns, McNally, we’re looking at you.
- We’ve got a new team, a new old team, and the DC Twits trotting out the same lineup for the 87th consecutive season. In no particular order let’s get into it –
Blandsford Barnburners – We’re in trouble but somehow these are the good guys. Bringing back the original crew right as the Twits are due for their usual 4 year slump they are the team to beat. If they win expect to see Adriano shaking on a street corner mumbling to himself all summer.
DC Twits – We’re long out of original angles for the Twits. As shown in the tournament Crawford can take over, if Lockbaum’s one hit a game is a homer and Greg does everything else they can beat you. Or they can score 4 runs in a season. Yay Twits.
Master Batters – Another stalwart, love seeing these guys and the enthusiasm they bring. How the roster gets filled out is TBD but Grivnow will be there with his bike and hockey gear so all is right in the world. Welcome back fellas, the league needs more folks like you.
Janitors – Can’t talk about league fixtures without mentioning Iron Man Kerby leading his Janitors squad back for another go around. They were deceptively feisty in 2016, leaving a lot of teams very uncomfortable before usually falling in a one run contest. They need another piece to compete in a postseason series but count on them for some upsets.
Dupont Circle Jerks – Last we saw them they flamed out horribly in the tournament, before that they were raising the trophy. John Hamlett is a reliable leader but questions about the surrounding cast abound. How much frustration can he take before those always very visible quads go rogue and start beating people up? Only time will tell.
Strike Force – The new old team, this is Adriano’s latest attempt at dethroning the Barnburner empire. Got a new guy, no idea if he’s more Nick West or Sean Hendershot, but this team has the best 1-2 pitching punch with Jeff Nitto in the fold. This team symbolizes pretty much everything that has gone awry with the PWL in the past couple of years so we’ll see how it all comes together.
Oldtown Barrel Bruisers – New team! Leaked some video of practice session which is a bit pompous but we appreciate the enthusiasm. Hopefully they can give the old timers a run for their money. Their early season schedule will be key as they adjust to the nuances of the PWL game. Glad to have you guys, now prove you belong.
Signups are still open and several teams could use some free agent depth. If you know some folks who want to come out now is the time to get them in gear. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and keep checking the Facebook page for updates. Look forward to seeing everyone at the Moose!
It is with a bittersweet feeling that I announce my retirement from the PWL, effective immediately after the Spring 2017 season.
Like all of you, I was shocked and panicked when I read the news of Chris Gallaway’s retirement. Who could ever fill those shoes? No one person loves wiffleball (and is willing to give money to it) the way he does. After forming a transitional committee of mostly eating amazing food, I took the task of becoming the second PWL Commissioner. Before I started though, I was given one last gift from Gallaway in the form of an angry Park Ranger — Gravelly was now “closed.”
What was to be an easy transition quickly turned into a fiasco of finding ANYWHERE that would let us play wiffleball consistently (and legally). After moving locations a few times, we finally found a deal with Moose. We gained a prime piece of real estate with the ability to do just about anything to it, but we lost the instant accessibility to DC and the roar of jets overhead. Piecing together what I could, I recruited more people to help me with the league. Without the help of people like Stephen Crawford, Michael Burns, Alex Filides, John Hamlett, and of course, Chris Gallaway — this league would have failed on day 1 of the transition. And that is why I am confident the league will continue without me. We are a league that loves to play wiffleball. Yes we are getting older, moving, going through life-changing events, but wiffleball will forever be what binds us together. The league might have to evolve, rebuild, or completely change — but the PWL will continue — and I hope the third commissioner is able to do that better than I could.
I will miss the camaraderie that came with those Sunday mornings on the field. You truly don’t understand how lucky you are to be able to freely discuss wiffleball until you come back to the office Monday and realize no one is interested in your strikeout pitch rotation. I will miss that.
The search for the next commissioner begins now. Please send me a note if you are interested in more information or helping out.
Never forget we beat the Barnburners in the World Series.
If you haven’t seen — sign ups for Spring 2017 are open and so far we have 4 teams coming back and 1 new contender. We expect at least 8 — managers are already being harassed by me to sign up. They LOVE that. So first things first — if you haven’t signed up yet, do so. The price will go up as we get closer. So do it now.
It has been too long since we have seen the Blandsford Barnburners suit up together. This Spring they return focused on only winning the championship, destroying everyone in their path. The ORIGINAL crew is coming back too, as Jake Tomko returns to the mound. Is he still good?
The Master Batters are currently returning — who will sign up? I have no idea. Who will actually show up? I have no idea. Either way, I look forward to seeing the team they assemble. Can Zach Carter come back already?
Last Spring, the Dupont Circle Jerks took home the championship — 3 of their players are now gone. Gagnon a FA, Jim Shannon back with Barnburners, and Alex now “retired.” Who will manager John Hamlett bring to defend the title this year?
New team alert — Oldtown Barrel Bruisers are already doing spring training in prep for opening day. From what we can tell, they are somehow related to a Crossfit studio. Do we consider them a threat?
“Fresh” off their Fall 2016 tournament win, the DC Twits organization has issued a new challenge to the league. Per star pitcher Stephen Crawford — “If you go deep off of me, I will give you $5. Shannon (the good one) can play for double, but then it is $4 per K.”
You are reading that right – you can make your money back this year by hitting home runs off the DC Twits. So again — you should sign up now.
Other notes of interest —
- The Wolfpack have collapsed.
- Besley? Janitors? Where are you?
- Notable free agents out there: Matt Gagnon, Adriano DeSorrento, Matt Curtin, Jeff Nitto
- Super teams have died. Gone are Wolfpack, Jackhammers, I Want My Corners,
- Remember you have to play to qualify for NWLA!
Spring 2017 Teams
Dupont Circle Jerks
Oldtown Barrel Bruisers
Registration is open, the PWL is back for 2017. Here is what you need to know –
- We return to the Loyal Order of the Moose for 2017
- Season opener April 30th
- We’ll play three games most weeks for a total of 14 regular season games (Schedule dependent on number of teams, could change)
- Price will open at $40 and go up as we get closer to the opening date
Get signed up and stay tuned for further updates…
Start to get your team in mind, we will be back in the Spring — season to start mid to late March!
No weekend tournament, a full season. 14 games guaranteed (could change based on number of teams) at Moose. Happy New Year!
The Chris Gallaway era is over.
Chris successfully piloted the NWLA Tournament from its birth until the point we’re at now (likely its death). In his wake lies one of the biggest unanswered questions of his tenure: Who was the biggest underachiever and overachiever in the Gallaway era? Lucky for you, I’m here to answer that. The math supporting my findings is riddled with questionable logic and outward biases, but that won’t stop me from making sweeping generalizations.
Like my pervious articles, I constructed another #sportsmath model to predict where a team would finish in the NWLA Tournament based on a number of variables. Those variables are:
• BB Drawn %
• SO Batting %
• Batting Average
• BB % Pitching
• SO % Pitching
• Batting Avg Against
• AB / HR
• # of “Good” pitchers
• # of “Good” Hitters
• Avoid Elite in 1st round DE
The first 7 variables should be fairly self-explanatory to everyone. The last 3 required a little some judgement calls on my part. “# of GOOD Pitchers” is simply the number of “good” pitchers on a team’s roster. A “good” pitcher is defined as: a pitcher with a greater than 1-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and an ERA under 3.00. A “good hitter” is a little simpler – it’s defined as a batter with at least a .280 batting average. Note that these are calculated on a career basis to control for year-to-year differences between schedules. “Avoid Elite in 1st Round DE” is a variable to capture if a team had to play an “elite” team in the 1st round of the double elimination tournaments. An elite team is a team that has averaged a 5th place finish or better in its NWLA Tournament appearances. Whether or not a team draws an elite team in the first round obviously has a major impact on where that team will finish. There are 6 teams that I have deemed “elite”:
• OCWA Freaky Franchise
• TBW Lightning
• WSEM Dads
• SWBL Cardinals
• HFWB Hitmen
Yes, you’re correct. I arbitrarily defined a lot of these variables. “Why is someone with a 1:1 K/BB ratio and 3.01 ERA not considered a ‘good’ pitcher?” Because I said so. The world has cutoff points (that 3.49 GPA ain’t gonna get you Latin honors, son), and so do I.
I used this model to “predict” the outcomes of the past tournaments. The model is fed the data for each team in each year’s tournament, and it spits out what place it thinks that team would have finished in each year’s tournament. So for a team to “overachieve”, that means that it placed higher than the inputs would have suggested it would place. Likewise, an “underachiever” is a team that placed lower than the model predicted.
I suppose I should make one methodological note. I first ran a model for the pool play portion of the tournament. Based on those results, I then ran a model on the double elimination tournament. So the model is biased towards teams who perform well (i.e., throw good pitchers) in the pool play. Teams who save their arms for the double elimination tournament are generally undervalued by the model because their pool play pitching weighs down their pitching numbers.
So after throwing all my junk into the magical black box known as Microsoft Excel, what did I get? See below:
So who is the most overachieving (or luckiest) team of all-time? Well, it’s none other than the 2014 version of the PWL Nationals In fact, the PWL owns the top 2 overachieving performances of all-time (well, we’re tied for 2nd with 6 other teams). Let’s be very clear what this means. You’ll notice that outside of TBW, none of the “overachievers” ever really make a push to win it all. It’s a lot easier to outperform expectations when no one expects anything out of you. When they perform well (PWL included), it’s generally because they avoided a “stopper” (Bush, Farkas, etc) in the 1st round. The overachieving teams are also more likely to rely on 1 pitcher. So since they generally save him for the DE tournament, their overall team pitching statistics suffer since he doesn’t throw in the majority of the games, causing an underestimated value in their pitching in the model. I suppose there’s a way to correct for that, but I don’t want to try to find out how.
The biggest underachiever/unluckiest team of all time? WSEM in 2013. I mean, who can blame them, though? They had to face the good Shannon in their elimination game. Again, it should be noted that because WSEM has the deepest stable of arms, their pitching stats throughout pool play are outstanding. So the model expects a lot out of them going into the double elimination tournament. The other team with big disappointing finishes? GBL. This is in line with what I’ve long believed: they should be a regular challenger for a top 4 spot. What has hurt them? In 3 out of 5 years, they had to play an elite team in the 1st round of DE. I’m not sure what the model sees in MNWA. They draw walks at a very good clip, which is the most statistically significant variable for performance in pool play, so I suppose that’s what is driving up their win expectations. Of course, anyone with eyes doesn’t think they underachieve.
It can justifiably be claimed that for a given year, all this model does is measure luck, and I’d probably not disagree too much on that. Getting lucky on who and when you play certain teams generally separates the 8th place team from the 12th place team. But the idea is that evens itself out over the years, and if a team consistently outperforms expectations, that may be evidence that they generally have figured out a strategy to win that compensates for their lack of statistical prowess. Can it have something to do with the managerial talents? Let’s look at the average performance by each team for every year they participated.
The extremes on this are teams which have only played 1 or 2 years. Due to their smaller sample, the “luck” has not yet evened out, so they’re going to stand out. But for the most part, teams generally finish right around ( +/- 2 spots) where the model predicts. The takeaway? Was Gallaway actually a good manager? Of the teams who have played multiple years, PWL is the one who most outperforms its expectations. No, that can’t possibly be it. I’ve said for years that Chris was in over his head as a manager. I can’t be wrong.
As my parting gift to Gallaway, I’d like to tell him that his tenure as manager of the PWL was not as apocalyptically bad as I’ve made it out to be. Don’t get it twisted, it wasn’t great. Your best year ended in a 7th place finish. I mean, you’re kind of the Dusty Baker of wiffleball. But I want you to know that I don’t totally blame you anymore. You can sleep easy now; I know it kept you up at night.
Dong City vs Master Batters – FIELD 1
Squad 51 vs Jungle Jims – FIELD 2
Marquette vs Janitors – FIELD 1
Dupont Circle Jerks vs DC Twits – FIELD 2
Janitors vs Dong City – FIELD 1
Master Batters vs Marquette – FIELD 2
DC Twits vs Squad 51 – FIELD 1
Jungle Jims vs Dupont Circle Jerks – FIELD 2
Squad 51 vs Dupont Circle Jerks – FIELD 1
DC Twits vs Jungle Jims – FIELD 2
Dong City vs Marquette – FIELD 1
Janitors vs Master Batters – FIELD 2
We have 8 teams competing in the first ever PWL Tournament. What this means is we will do it all on Saturday instead of a two day tournament. I made this decision due to time and field constraints, inclement weather forecast, and just getting everyone to Moose two days in a row. What that means is that on Saturday, we will start at 9:00a SHARP. If for any reason cannot fit the final games of the tournament in, we have Moose reserved for Sunday also as a backup.
Upon arriving, check in at the tent and grab a lineup card to submit to the scorekeepers at your designated field. Field one is on the right, field two on the left. We will be self-umpiring again, so review the rules as needed on the site: http://potomacwiffleball.org/rules — I’ll be there all day for questions also.
For pool play, there will be a 6 inning limit no matter what. That means that games can end in a tie, with run differential accounting for standings (tie-breaker goes to runs allowed). The two pool winners will be the automatic #1 and #2 seeds for a single elimination tournament to start immediately after pool play ends. No inning limit in the tournament — please score runs.
I ask that all teams are ready at least 15 minutes before their scheduled game, with their lineup ready to give to the scorekeeper. This will help keep things on track. If a game ends early, we will get started as soon as possible. Be helpful.
Get with your managers if you have any questions or email email@example.com
- Moose Lodge Address: 7701 Beulah Street Alexandria, VA 22315
- Pizza will be served at noon
- Beer and water coolers at the tent (don’t drink and drive)
- Bathrooms are around back downstairs
- Park in front of Moose as close to street as possible aka furthest from the fields (Moose have an event later in the day)
- Arrive AT LEAST 15 mins before your schedule game, earlier the better
-DO NOT SHOW UP LATE/FORFEIT, NO ONE LIKES THAT
Sign ups have finally arrived.
April 30, 2017: OPENING DAY
$45 per player (4 players minimum per team)
DEADLINE TO REGISTER A TEAM IS APRIL 25 – REGISTER NOW BEFORE PRICE GOES UP!
Loyal Order of Moose
7701 Beulah St
Alexandria VA 22315