News

HOT STOVE: Summer Lovin'

Written by - Posted 2015-07-30 11:31 in News

The 2015 Summer Season will feature a new Commissioner and possibly new fields. The season kicks off Sunday, August 16th.

The deadline for teams to sign up is Tuesday, August 4th.

7/30/2015 – See the Current Teams and Players

  • A HUGE Few Days of Moves…Hard to Track them all, mostly because a lot of announcements have not been followed by actual contracts/registrations being filed with the league office. But, here is what we “suspect”, even if it’s not all done.
  • Currently at 8 Teams, with only 1 team, Backdoor Sliders, from a past season still considering a return. Most teams are taking the Summer off.
  • JackHammers namesake Jack Shannon has recruited Jeff Nitto, Tony Ragano, Ty Fletcher, and Matt Gagnon. Apparently no hitters were available.
  • Circle Jerks are big movers this offseason, picking up Jim Shannon and league liability Felix Fernandez.
  • DC Twits fresh off not making the playoffs following a World Series win, have added free agent Spencer Howard.
  • Wolfpack is bringing back Colin Gannon, not sure if this is the upgrade they need, but it’s what they have.

7/28/2015 – See the Current Teams and Players

  • 6 Teams have Signed Up So Far, All Returning Squads: Bald Beavers, DC Twits, Dupont Circle Jerks, Garbage Plates, Janitors and Master Batters
  • Shannons To Return, Just Not Barnburners – Jack and Jim Shannon made it clear in their Hall of Fame speeches they will be back to the PWL, just not as the Blandsford Barnburners. These two, plus the other two Barnburners, we can’t remember their names, will all be top Free Agent pickups for any team.
  • Ohio Bedfellows – Lots of talk, teams formed, teams broken, on the annual Ohio trip. Most of the All Stars on those Ohio rosters haven’t signed with a team yet, leading us to wonder what’s coming in the last week.
  • Canvassers? – The only franchise to play all 20 seasons is in trouble. With retirements from Kris Garcia, manager Pete Hackeman, and semi-retirement from Matt Dreyfus, it’s looking bleak for the franchise. Franchise owner and retiring Commissioner Chris Gallaway would like to see the team continue, but there are doubts he has the energy to rebuild again from the free agent market, especially without a manager.

Ask Me Anything: Complete and Unedited

Written by - Posted 2015-07-25 19:43 in News

Commissioner Gallaway took your questions, here is the complete, unedited, Ask Me Anything.

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

PWL RETURNS TO LONDON

Written by - Posted 2015-07-12 21:07 in News

PWL will send two all star teams to the largest slow pitch wiffleball tournament in the world Saturday, July 18th. The last time the PWL sent two teams was 2012.

The Nationals will be managed by Tony Cani and feature some of the league’s legendary retired players along with two active players.

The Senators will be managed by Commissioner-Elect Hudson and feature a current crop of players.


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.

Final Sunday: Join Us To Celebrate the PWL

Written by - Posted 2015-07-08 23:18 in News

This Sunday, July 12, the PWL will officially complete the Spring Season with our final Sunday activities.

If you haven’t registered for the Summer Season, do that today!

To mark the 20th season, and Commissioner Gallaway’s retirement, the first 30 fans through the gates (who have RSVP’d) will receive a dryfit PWL 20 shirt. The shirt features the logos of the teams that played in Season 20, as well as list of all past World Series Champions.

We are also adding extra events this year to make the event more fun for non-All Stars (aren’t we all All Stars though) and Home Run Derby participants. There will be prizes for winning each of the three events.

12:00 PM – Lunch is Served

  • Featuring cheesecake lollipops and wiffleball cake pops
  • Food and soft drinks provided

12:00 PM to 12:45 PM – 3 EVENTS

  • Home Run Derby – each team has designated a representative who will compete in the derby. Two awards will be given, one for the most HR’s, and one for the longest HR.
  • Fastest Around the Bases Competition – anyone can participate in a trip around the bases to see who is the fastest.
  • Fastest Pitch Competition – anyone can participate to see who can throw the fastest pitch, that hits the K board.
  • THERE WILL BE A HARD CUTOFF AT 12:45 FOR THESE COMPETITIONS, SO GET IN LINE TO RECORD YOUR SCORES WHEN YOU ARRIVE.

12:45 PM to 1:00 PM – Awards Presentations

  • League Leader Recognitions
  • Season End Award Presentations
  • Blandsford Barnburners Trophy Presentation

1:00 PM – All Star Game

  • Pete Hackeman and Adriano DeSorrento Manage 16 League All Stars

All events will be at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington.

  • Kenmore Middle School
  • 200 S Carlin Springs Rd
  • Arlington, Virginia 22204

Players, fans, and guests are all welcome to attend, but please RSVP.

NWLA PREVIEW: HRL STEALS THINGS

Written by - Posted 2015-07-08 00:47 in News

Following the All Star draft conference call Tuesday night I was doing some social media monitoring to see how it went. (All signs point to a success.)

While doing that I noticed a tweet from HRL that they were going to periscope their NWLA practice session. So, out of curiosity, I clicked the link and watched the practice for a few minutes. It seemed like your standard practice session, all looked good.

On one pan of the camera, being held by Vlade I think, I noticed a blue backstop behind the batter. It could have been bad lighting, it could have been something I Imagined in my head, but I’d say I was 90% sure it was one of the two blue backstops I had shipped out there for the Regional.

I’m not one to quibble over a backstop that costs .1% (yes point 1 percent) of what the tournament costs to operate each year. In fact, I would have gladly left or donated the backstop to them if they had asked.

However, from my hard working staff I had sent to Minnesota (I was busy getting arrested by the Park Police in DC that Sunday) I had received a report that one of the two backstops didn’t get shipped back because it was “broken”.

Now, the staff were too generous to HRL, (magnificent hosts, couldn’t have asked for anything more) to blatantly call them liars, or thieves, about the backstop. But, the staff was pretty sure the backstop was in fine working order, and they were claiming it was broken and were just going to take it to the trash in order to keep it for themselves. “Broken” was figuratively and literally in air quotes.

Now, in a crazy scheme to make money, I’m sure the company that makes the backstop makes thousands of these. And it’s possible it wasn’t the “broken” blue backstop I had sent out there. It could have been a backstop HRL purchased, legally, on their own. I don’t want to make accusations based on circumstantial evidence…but I’m going to.

You see, it wasn’t the first time HRL has stolen from the NWLA. There were two other notable examples I’ll explore now as evidence.

2013 NWLA Flag

As everyone knows, we have flags for each of the leagues at the tournament, and we also have a few (security concerns won’t allow me to disclose how many) NWLA Tournament logo flags we fly.

For the 2014 season, HRL made a promotional video as one of their required news stories. It featured video from a practice session. Watching the video (I generally watch all the videos and read all the stories, but I skip all the podcasts) I noticed hanging on their fence was an NWLA flag.

It seemed odd, since I hadn’t given them one, that they’d have one. I posted a social media comment about it, and obviously HRL demurred.

Shortly thereafter though, a twitter account sprang up for NWLAFlag. It’s profile biography “I was born in Washington DC, but grew up in Columbus, OH and now live in the Twin Cities. Wifflers love me. I’m high… in the air.”

Obviously, HRL had stolen a flag. For sure one in 2013, and possibly another in 2014. Which, again, not something I’d quibble about. I would have gladly given them an $85 flag if that’s what it took to make them happy. In fact, I have given them, multiple $85 flags to date, some I don’t even know about.

For HRL though, I think it’s the theft part they like. In some weird Thomas Crown-esque moment of quickly lowering the flagpole before anyone notices, and walking off with the flag. (The Russian security guard only works 8 PM to 8 AM each night of the tournament.) It’s probably classified in the DSM-5.

Backstop, flag…these are small potatoes. Victimless crimes, unless you count me as a victim. I do not. Don’t worry about me, I’ve got plenty of flags and backstops.

These aren’t even my favorite two HRL theft stories. My favorite is the one that makes them the most mad. It’s the time they got caught stealing, and had to pay the price for it.

Third Base Against WSEM

Imagine the scene if you will. You are three wins away from winning the 2014 NWLA Championship. You can almost taste the shitty beer you bought falling out of the cup into your mouth. You’re the #2 seed, and you’re in your second tournament, and ready to win.

You’re playing the #6 seed, WSEM, having already dispatched the 2013 champion, TBW, in the previous game. If you win, you face the very overrated SWBL, and you’re basically being handed the Championship.

It’s the bottom of the third inning, you’ve got a man on second, Tyler Flakne, two outs, and you’re trailing 2-1. Austin Bischoff, pitching for WSEM, having just given up a hit, and struggling with command, seems human for the first time all tournament. Travis, they call him “two bat”, Heyda is at the plate. He gets four balls on him. Flakne can smell the get it over pitch coming from Bischoff, who’s K’d 6 to only 4 walks in the game, and knows Two Bat is going to rip the single that scores him to tie the game.

On the pitch…Flakne leads off, takes 2-3 steps toward third base, anticipating the contact from a swing, and wanting to be ready to score.

WAIT! It’s a ball, Two Bat takes the pitch, maybe Bischoff is human. But…with no swing, and no force moving him to the next base, Flakne is just standing off base, in the middle of no mans land, with his pants down. The ball didn’t make contact with the bat, and he wasn’t forced to third base by a walk with first base open.

He was trying to steal third…but he is CALLED OUT by the umpire for leaving base.

Later HRL would claim he was off base to tie his shoe, or to adjust himself. But, the video doesn’t lie, he wasn’t walking around, or adjusting anything. He left base on the pitch, to try to get an advantage. He cheated a little, we all do it, he just got caught in a critical situation.

The right call was made, and it’s a momentum changer in the game. HRL never recovers. They are mentally shot. OCWA eliminates them the next game. WSEM…well…they took advantage of that weak SWBL team, and beat TBW, who HRL had already beaten, to win the Championship. I had to present the trophy to Alex Shore of all people.

HRL snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Partly to blame from their habit of stealing.

It wasn’t the times they got away with stealing that had the most affect on their NWLA history, it was the one time they got caught.

Enjoy the flag fellas, and the backstop. Everyone else, watch your belongings.

NWLA PREVIEW: Shore vs. Tomkins

Written by - Posted 2015-07-06 15:34 in News

Our first NWLA tournament article each year is generally our roster announcement. With this being Commissioner Gallaway’s last year, and some real soul searching going on about the final spots, our roster isn’t going to be finalized until Sunday night, July 12th. (Matt Gagnon, we just can’t quit you…but we probably will.)

As a result, we had to come up with something else to kick off our NWLA articles with.

We decided to outline one of the greatest NWLA battles of all time, Alex Shore of WSEM vs Justin Tomkins of OCWA.

With most trash talk around the NWLA tournament, we know (or assume) it’s all good natured fun. We HOPE that’s not the case with the back and forth here. And, we’d be sadly disappointed if these two guys didn’t either beat the shit out of each other, or make mad passionate love, when they see each other in Columbus this year.

Follow the war on twitter, watch the videos of their games, if you don’t know what we’re talking about. Actually, don’t waste time on that at all…just pick a side, using the info we provide below.

Everyone has their pros and cons…let’s dig in on this epic battle.

Shore Tomkins
Number 33 3
Bats L R
Throws R R
Height Taller Shorter
Weight 2.5 Evan Bischoffs .90 John Suhre
Future Earning Potential Murky Murky
Boys Kissed 3 1 (Excluding Ryan Bush)
OPS .968 1.025
HR 4 11
Championships 1 – 2014 1 – 2012
Rape Stare Pedophile Level More like inappropriate touching but no rape stare
League They allow steals Is it really a league?
Colors Green Orange…Orange you glad it ain’t green?
Face Black See Above See Above
Met Chris Gallaway No Serves on Host Committee With Him
Losses to the PWL Eliminated from tournament, 9th place Sent to Losers Bracket, but Ended up 4th
Most Known For Rape Stare Ryan Bush

So, there you have it. Basically everything you need to know to pick a side in this battle royale.

Obviously, we’d love for this to be settled once and for all on a wiffleball field. But since both players are the 4th of 5th best players on their teams, and not really factors in whether their teams win or lose, not sure that’s a fair way to settle this.

Maybe we vote? Maybe they have a hot dog eating contest in the food tent Friday night at 7:30 PM? You tell us.

PWL Dominates St Louis, Except Colin

Written by - Posted 2015-07-06 13:27 in News

Commissioner Gallaway and seven PWL all stars missed the final week of the regular season destined for even greater glory at the NWLA Regional tournament in St. Louis, MO.

PWL was a top 8 finisher at the 2014 NWLA Tournament in Ohio, so was guaranteed a return trip, but was required to play at regionals.

A few roster changes were made from the previous tournament, including adding the entire Barnburner squad. That brought mixed results as Ty Fletcher bought himself a National roster spot, while pitching hopeful Colin Gannon remained hopeful.

Despite Gannon’s inability to hit the board resulting in an opening game loss, PWL dominated the next three games, going 3-1 in the Regional.

The team lead the country in hitting after the regional round.

Commissioner Gallaway didn’t arrive until late the night before, coming from the previous day’s regional, so the team was on it’s own for social activities Saturday night. Fortunately Stephen Crawford was able to babysit the Barnburners on trips to the arch and casino.

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.