Joel Deroche from Fastplastic shows us how to K a Big Leaguer!
Here’s an update from CPT Cory Newmann, deployed Midwest Manager of Big League Wiffle Ball:
So there I was, knee deep in training at my mobilization station at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, just a few short days away from deploying to Southern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We had recently been issued our equipment, to include body armor, steel toed boots, various forms of eye protection, and a multitude of other gear–enough to fill three Army duffle bags and a large rucksack. Now that we had our equipment, the good idea fairy had landed. All sorts of phenomenally intelligent ideas for new training were being put out. Things like…Hey! Since we have our 2 mile road march (in full battle rattle) tomorrow morning at 0600, let’s ‘practice’ road marching! With humidity so thick it felt like we were walking through tapioca pudding, we ‘practiced’ road marching. By the end of practice, motivation was failing.
After training was done for the day, I had an opportunity to hop a seat aboard the bus into town. The troops needed a pick me up, something to bring the morale back around. In the Army we call it esprit de corps. I hurried to the local drug store, and picked up two Wiffle Ball sets. I seriously appreciated that the total was under $10, because in the transition from civilian to military life, I was between paychecks.
My roommate and I headed out to the field behind our barracks and started a game. In minutes, a crowd formed and Soldiers started to take interest. First to jump in was 1LT Greg Stetzer, quickly tagged with the moniker “The ripper.” I was pitching to Stetzer, and apparently my knuckleball wasn’t moving enough, because he was destroying each one- bouncing them off the roof of the barracks. My roommate, Chief Warrant Officer John Bourdeaux stepped up to the mound and started working his slider to good effect. My knuckleball may have been labeled as ‘weaksauce,’ but I have yet to break out my riser.
Several other Soldiers stepped up to the strike zone and displayed their skill with the yellow bat. SGT Aaron Hunnel joined in, and started throwing a ridiculous curveball. The company First Sergeant even came out and hit a few, smiling and talking about how it reminded him of playing stickball as a kid.
Chief Bourdeaux said it took him back to his childhood as well, recalling the days of playing home run derby with Wiffle Ball on the tennis courts. More and more people came by the field as we were playing, and Chief Bourdeaux said “that is the beauty of Wiffle Ball, absolutely anyone can play.”
We played for about two hours, wrapped up in competition and memories of our youth. People are already asking me about setting up teams and tournaments. We will continue to build our skills here stateside, in preparation for playing in that big, sandlot overseas. Intelligence reports indicate there are Soldiers playing in Baghdad; I already can see the brackets….North versus South…
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Baring his tattoo sleeves and all dressed up in his tuxedo tee, Mark Spellman (aka Sparky) sat down with Charissa Cowart to talk about the style of wiffle ball. Spellman, GSWL co-founder, says wiffle ball has typically had a reputation for being nerdy and a sport for kids. Well, he set that record straight with his “too cool for you” attitude and talked about the new clothing lines debuting to help boost the fashion sense of wiffle ball. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself! He even managed to crack a few jokes… just a few.
Since being ranked #2 in the Mid-Season power rankings put out by the Animal last summer, DOOM has gone on to capture 13 Championships, including 5 straight to start 2009 while grossing $3,650 in prize money. Combine that with last year’s winnings and DOOM has cleared over $13,000 with plenty of wiffs yet to be played.
Notable Streaks- DOOM has made 19 of the last 23 medium pitch Finals while putting up a 16-3 record losing only to the Rookies, Erik’s Yum Yums and Discover Yohoho’s Wood- consisting of Piazza, King and Kevin McHugh. The more talented McHugh brother. Perhaps most impressive is the streak D-Mall and Trotta are on playing as a 2-man. Since a 1-run loss to Legion of DOOM- consisting of Troy and Erik on Apil 19th, Dallas and Trotta have won 10 Consequative tournaments setting a ridiculous standard for others to aim for.
Despite DOOM’s dominance there are many teams worth mentioning that have the potential to dethrown the Champs at anytime. A short list in no particular order:
1. Blue Razrs- Young and talented. They play a spirited brand of WIFFLE ball and are one of the most difficult teams to get by in the playoffs. Their pitcher Kevin is quickly becoming one of the best in the game as he is learning to command the zone with 7 different pitches. His bat along with Dave’s and the rest of the Razrs make them a formidable foe for a long time to come.
2. Absolute Gunners- this team has been around for 6 years now and getting better with each tournament. In the absence of star pitcher Adam Junker, utiltiy player Matt McHugh had to take the reins and figure out how to win big games when it mattered most. A skill he is still fine tuning but with the steady offense provided by long time friend Chris Merrifield and recently acquired Gerry DWPH, the Absoulte Gunners seem on the cusp of winning every tournament they play in.
3. Yohoho and a Bottle of Rum- These guys win the gritty gutty award every year and are one of the scariest teams to go up against. Russ the crafty veteran has fined tuned his skills by playing some 1-man and kicking ass doing so. When you add Kyle Piazza to the team- one of the most dangerous lefty hitters in the sport and “round” out the squad with Josh formerly of the Bottom Line, this team is almost unbeatable.
4. Demboyz- This is another young up and coming team who hasn’t completely broken through yet, but who is consistently pitching their way to Final Fours. Once the bats come alive this will be a team nobody wants to play. Despite being a bunch of 16 year olds, these Boyz are the real deal and one of the most committed teams in the sport, showing up each and every weekend traveling from NY to VT. Their greatest challenge may be maintaining the wheels which get them around. Rumor has it they drove over a bucket of balls leaving the parking lot in Medway this past Saturday possibly causing damage to the undercarriage. Careful boyz or Dad may revoke transportation rights.
5. Krusty’s Kids- This Organization is led by Jack Caton, one of the most dedicated activist for the sport of WIFFLE. Jack and his team have been around long enough to see some former players retire, literally. In an effort to evolve Jack recruited some local talent by signing Nick Amato, Scott Martell and Dan Wizner. These players added instant credibilty and now in 2009, Jack has trespassed directly into DOOM’s farm system and stole Troy and Erik to compete against us in BLWB. Thus far, the move has yet to pay off as they have come up short going 0-3 against the Evil Empire, but 2/3 games did go to extra innings. KK’s are for real and so long as they keep their heads and emotions in check, this team will win more than just 1 tournament in 2009.
Now obviously I could go on and on because there are so many good teams to talk about but for now I’ll jst break it down by listing a few great teams based on the formats they tend ot play in the most- so if you find yourself at any of these events, and DOOM isn’t there these are the other teams not listed you have to watch out for:
NEWA- Chief, Leg Arm, Dirtbags, C9′s
WROCK- Brew Crew, Aggro Crag, Beer Factor
WUP- Cereal Killers, Rookies, Niff, Lawn Boys
HRL- Plastic Jiahad, Ego Squad, The Steve’s Team
Wifflestock- The Show, Outlawz, Tripod, Waayback
WUP Phili- Lou’s Diamonds
by Mack Dreyfuss
When Big League Wiffle Ball’s Midwest Managers Cpt. Cory Newmann and Sgt. Ben Biddick were deployed to Iraq, they brought the yellow bat with them.
They continue Nick Benas’ legacy of bringing wiffle to the Middle East. While Benas served in Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2004, he attempted to teach Iraqis the game. “The concept of a bat and ball was foreign to them. They preferred soccer. But after a little practice, they started to get the hang of it.”
The Midwest Managers serve in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and are bringing wiffle to their fellow troops stationed at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad.
Cpt. Cory Newmann and Sgt. Ben Biddick linked up with Big League Wiffle Ball creators Nick Benas and Jared Verrillo in 2008. They organized their first tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, before receiving word that they would be deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Since we were going to be gone for a year, we figured we’d bring Big League Wiffle Ball with us. We love this,” Biddick says. “Nick and Jared were all for it.”
May 19, 2009 was the inaugural Mideast game of Big League Wiffle Ball. Braving heat that exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, twelve troops constructed a field complete with a BLWB official strike zone, water bottles, machine guns, and blast walls. Their First Sergeant walked by, shaking his head and grinning as the first pitches were thrown. Curious soldiers stopped by to see what was going on.
Spc. Michelle Weissinger took an instant shine to the game. By the end of the contest, Weissinger had crushed a two run homer and struck out seven batters. Her opponents and teammates dubbed her “The Natural.” With no prior wiffle experience, she rapidly developed a wicked curve ball that had her opponents wiffing.
“You know what they say,” said Sgt. Frank (the Tank) as he stepped into the batter’s box, drenched in sweat, “If you can’t stand the heat…”
Weissinger commented on the game: “It was intense at first, but I started to get the feel of the ball, the bat, and triangular field. I definitely enjoyed it. They were talking a lot of [trash] out there, so it felt amazing to strike out seven of them. You’ll see me at the next game, no question.”
Her friends talked about using the blast walls to make a “Wall of K’s” for her. The blast walls are in place to prevent against potential mortar and rocket attacks.
“We had a good day today. We sparked some interest, developed some skills, and had some quality competition in our games. This is a great way to enjoy some downtime, get some light exercise, and build some unit cohesion. We’re hoping the word will spread.” Biddick says. “Based on the feedback I’m getting from the troops, it looks like it will.”
Sgt. Charles Austin is also in the unit. He donned his military uniform and presented the colors during the National Anthem (sung by the Wisconsin Children’s Choir) at the first Big League Wiffle Ball Tournament in the Midwest. A lifelong baseball and softball player, his team was voted Most Improved at the Madison, Wisconsin tournament. “Next game I’m in,” he says.
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Rob Piervinanzi (aka Wiffman), a 7-year veteran of wiffle ball, dropped by the Big League Wiffle Ball Show’s Skype studios to chat with Charissa Cowart about what else… Wiffle Ball! Wiffman is the Director of the NY Region for Golden Stick Wiffleball League and talked about the big Jamboree that’s just around the corner plus the future of wiffle ball, with or without the famous Wiffman.
Watch the video to find out what his favorite thing is about wiffle ball, how he got the name Wiffman and how HE describes Nick Benas and Jared Verrillo.
Big League Wiffle Ball has launched a weekly show highlighting people and players in the wiffleball community. The first episode was huge with Lou Levesque, President of Golden Stick Wiffleball League live on Skype with Charissa Cowart, Official Anchor of Big League Wiffle Ball.
Watch the video to find out what word Lou uses to describe Nick Benas and Jared Verrillo Co-Commissioners of BLWB.
Lou took time out of his busy schedule to talk about how wiffleball has gone from a “backyard game” to a serious sport. He even discussed the New York league he is launching very soon.
Keep an eye on Lou and Golden Stick Wiffleball because these guys are going somewhere! As they say at GSWL it’s “A Backyard Game Taken Way Too Far.”
Did nobody see the post where Nick said to email your thoughts on the tourney directly to him? This same philosophy is what has made GSWL the successful “players league” it is, and Nick is inviting you to do the same thing. Airing your grievances to the “wiffle public” especially on a competitor’s site just pisses people off and kills any respect you may have or may hope to acquire. And, what’s with all the ghost posting? I agree with what you’re saying, but I’m with PH, sack the hell up and post your name and maybe you’ll get some respect and your comments will be heeded. Also, what has happened to people appreciating the fact that we even have a venue to play at the high level that we do. Everyone has gotten so spoiled, and the thing that really gets me is the fact that the people who complain the most are from teams that haven’t been around that long. Note that you hear nothing from DOOM, Krusty’s, Lou’s, PH, Gunners etc. These are all the teams that have been there since this whole thing was just a twinkle in Mike Alessie’s or Jeff Hammond’s (or whoever you think the pioneers of the sport are) eye, or are actually ‘gulp’ classy. We need to get back to just playing the game, and if you think you can do it better than try to put the GSWL’s, NEWA’s, BLWB’s, Wifflerock’s, HRL’s and SVWLs’ out of business. Good luck in that flooded market. If not just stay in your f’ing backyard make your own rules and pay each other in Monopoly money. Or invite DOOM and they can take your Monopoly money.
Offering an unbiased opinion with both pros and cons I thought there were in the tournament (and this goes for both Saturday & Sunday)First the Cons 1- Sunday’s weather. And obviously BLWB has no control over this. Just an abysmal, cold, rainy, windy day yesterday. We got spoiled last season when I think the only tournament it rained at all year was the Nutmeg Games, and that was a brief thunderstorm that eventually passed. 2- The 3 inning divisional games. But with the amount of fields available (8) and 29 teams, they were in a pinch and handled it the best they could. The tourney ended at 7:30 Saturday so at that point it was really their only option. Solutions to avoid a similar situation: Start the tournament & divisional games an hour earlier if necessary(9 a.m., check in by 8), but more importantly, if you know you’re going to have a decent turnout, make sure you have sufficient amount of fields so you can assign 2 fields per division to keep the games moving. If you won’t have enough fields, put a cap on the # of teams entering the tourney. 3- Even bigger than the 3 inning divisional games, was the 3 & 4 inning playoff games. Unfortunately, again because of time restraints, and not being able to go back on their word of “every team makes the playoffs” There ended up being 13 first round playoff games but only 8 fields to play them on Saturday. As a player, I disliked the shortness of the playoff games as much as anyone else…when you start facing the best of the best pitchers it takes a couple innings to see what they throw & get a feel for them, by the time you got a feel for them Saturday, the game was over. But, going with 3 & 4 innings was the only real option they had considering the circumstes. Solutions: wait until the morning of the tournament to decide whether or not everyone will make the playoffs when you can be sure there are enough fields for all of the 1st round games to be played. 4- The wait between divisional games and the bracket playoff games. Unfortunately I was very much involved in this wait…but in order to seed the bracket fairly, based on divisional record & run differential, the amount of time everyone waited was the amount of time it took to compile all of the numbers and seed all of the teams. Can’t tell you how much longer it takes to see 29 teams, in a 32 team bracket, than it does to seed a 16 team or less playoff bracket. Newa & Wifflerock seed playoff brackets with this many teams and more all the time, yes, but they do it much more randomly. BLWB is entirely based off of record & run differential to assign seeding, which everyone will agree, is the only way to do it where no one can complain about bias or an unfair draw. Just like Rasheed says “ball don’t lie” the math don’t lie either. It also took extra long on Saturday b/c the 5 team division took forever to finish. 1 game can drastically change seedings, so all of the seeds couldn’t be given until that division ended. For example- yesterday’s DOOM vs Krusty’s Kidz divisional game that everyone was waiting to end, affected how the 2 thru 11 seeds were given out. Solution: Have less teams make the playoffs, other than that there is none really. Some teams had to wait a long time Saturday, some did Sunday, some didn’t get much of a break to go get lunch. If DOOM hadn’t gotten a 1st round bye, they would’ve been thrown right into a playoff game upon finishing their division, since it was their last divsional game we were waiting on to seed the teams. Waiting between the divisionals & bracket play is always gonna be a part of any tournament, teams making sure scores are all reported or kept properly is another thing that helps keep this moving along faster. 5- The prize for day 1 that was unknown to us, not sure about others, until we were at the tournament. Actually my teammates (Gerry & Chris) didn’t even know this was the prize until just after we had been eliminated…which is maybe a good thing. I’m not knocking the prize at all, because a Golden Stick Franchise, and its cost/worth is a lot of $. How much I don’t really know, and I’m sure a ton of players/teams would love to have that prize…however I can tell you that our team is not one of them. We think Golden Stick is a great league, run very well, really no doubt the best league there is out there. It’s the cream of the crop in fast pitch…but…we’re not a fast pitch team. And we’re in a medium pitch tournament…playing for a fast pitch franchise? When I told my teammates this, Gerry’s reaction was this: He stopped walking, stared at me, and said “seriously?” me “yea that’s what i was told” him “wow. i’m glad we didn’t win now, because i’m not even joking, if we had won this tournament and then you told me that…i would have stabbed somebody. i’m not joking.” Now, had we been aware of this prize going into the tourney that would’ve been one thing…but we had no idea, didn’t see that advertised anywhere on the website, therefore assumed it was like every other blwb tourney we had played in where prize $ was paid out. How much $ isn’t really a big deal to us, and considering we were knocked out in the quarterfinals, it was irrelevant, but it’s still the principal of it. Solution: let teams know what they’re playing for in advance, if that’s altered by the # of teams that show up, then tell them before the games start. Maybe it was announced and we just never saw it, if that’s the case, we’re idiots. Wouldn’t be the first time, nor will it be the last time we’re idiots. Just standing up for how my teammates felt when they found this information out. Pros: 1- The level of competition. Really a lot of top level teams there on both days. Great to see that. 2- The sportsmanship/lack of controversy. No one may realize this, but there was never a radar gun available to be used all weekend if it had been needed. This was my fault, I had let BLWB use mine the last 2 seasons and forgot to bring it w/ me this past weekend. I can say we never once had a problem w/ speed, and no one had a problem w/ ours. We didn’t hear of any speed issues elsewhere either…which means either there was no issue, or teams we able to work the problems out themselves. Considering how awful of an issue this was a few years ago, it shows how far the wiffle community has come in terms of sportsmanship, respect for the rules, and respect for eachother. 3- That the quality of tournaments being run by BLWB is only going to get better as the season progresses, because just like us players came into Saturday very rusty & out of practice, Nick & Jared were also rusty & out of practice. Just like a hitter or pitcher works out the kinks and shakes off the rust, BLWB will go back to the drawing board and take the necessary steps to work out kinks and continuously better their product. 4- The fact that wiffle season is here. BLWB has gradually built up a bigger following every season with a set of rules that incorporate all aspects of the game. I think if they simply focus on filling in some available dates with tournaments (b/c wiffleup hasn’t announced anything, and newa has a smaller schedule than in years past) then they will continue to grow and teams will show. Whether we’re being filmed for something on youtube, a show, or being a part of something in the guiness book of records I think is irrelevant to anyone who truly loves to play. All we really care about doing is playing the game. I think I speak not only for our team, but for the rest that consistently drive hours away just for the high that playing the game gives them.
A Backyard Venue Meets Competitive Tournament.
You're ready for the Bigs!
(at least 2 weeks prior to tournament date)
$125 on-site registration (cash only)
Play at least 3 games