I’m several hours away from watching competitive WIFFLE Ball in Las Vegas and I had my first Elvis Sighting!
Ahhhh Vegas, the Mecca of gambling, washed-up performers, whores and… Wiffleball? Yeah that’s right I said Wiffleball. I think the last thing that would ever come most people’s minds when someone mentions Sin City is the great sport of Wiffleball. That is until this year when the Wiffle ambassador, GSWL’s Lou Levesque started thinking about where his mark on the national Wffle world would start to be made. When you think about it, is there a more logical venue for the great players in the sport to come together for a weekend of Wiffle debauchery?… probably not. After all, the age group that greatly dominates the game is known as the “Spike TV” generation. This is the generation that made the World Series of Poker national television fodder. Levesque knew that there was no other place but Vegas to make it all happen.
Ricky Comuniello, also known as the Man Behind the Camera, stepped out from behind the camera and in front of the camera in the Big League Wiffle Ball Lounge. He talked with Charissa Cowart about what makes a good wiffle ball video, and the characters behind the game. Watch the video to find out what kind of music Rickman uses the most in his videos.
We had a great time this past Sunday in NYC at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant, talking to Kerel Cooper of www.ontheblack.com.
Check out his Met’s blog if you have a chance.
He took some time to interview us over some wings and brews. Make sure you turn up the volume… it was really loud at the restaurant, so it’s a little hard to hear. Fun interview though, and a great restaurant, in spite of the fact that I’m a huge Red Sox fan.
It was only 3 short years ago that the Diamonds made their debut on the WIFFLE scene in Haverhill, MA. Having dominated our pick-up game for several seasons, we were thrilled to discover an actual WIFFLE tournament with prize money. Now we wouldn’t have to force our friends to play every weekend. We could get some recognition and even a little cash. Easy money.
But there was a slight problem. We overestimated our ability a little bit. We also grossly underestimated the quality of play one might expect at a tournament. We had no idea that there were so many WIFFLE freaks out there spending countless hours mastering the movements of a ball that sometimes seems to defy the ordinary laws of physics. Our first ever playoff game was against WAYBACK, a solid team. It lasted all of 6 minutes and we were off to the car wondering how the hell we could lose 10-0 so fast. We also wondered how they made the ball do what they made it do.
Well, fast forward a few years and we can now make the ball do a few things, and we can even hit it when it is doing some funny things. In fact, with wins over most of the top teams out there at one time or another, a couple of tournament wins and several finals, we could probably even be considered a good team at this point. Not a great one, but a good one. I think that’s fair.
Some of our best moments have come while playing with Andy Grady of the Whitey Whackers. When he needed a team for the Goldenstick prospect division, we jumped right in. Now, we knew that the level of play there was pretty good, and we heard the stories about this guy who can throw 90 MPH and this other guy who hit 3 HRs in one game with the bat in his mouth. We knew those guys could play, but we figured we could jump right in and compete in this elite fast-pitch league. After all we play many of those guys on Saturdays, and we have had more success than failure recently in medium pitch tournaments.
Well, it would seem that we were a bit unrealistic once again. Much like that first tournament 3 years ago, our first Goldenstick experience did not work out well at all. We didn’t hit much. We didn’t pitch at all. We dropped fly balls. We booted grounders. We forgot the rules. By any reasonable standard, it was a horrific disaster. But you know what? I left that place with a big grin on my face.
It was really fun to step in there against a guy who was throwing so hard that it actually hurt to get hit by the ball. It was fun to learn the new and complicated rules. It was fun to play against incredible athletes with no restrictions on their play. I left that field 100 times more impressed with many players than I was before. I have a new respect for what they can do. Sure, there were a few too many bare chests and you could actually taste the combination of testosterone and ego in the air, but man was it fun.
We went 0-4-1 on the day. It has been a very long time since we played 5 games without winning one. Were we a bit humiliated at times? Absolutely. Were we disappointed that we didn‘t perform better? Sure. Are we discouraged? Absolutely not. If we weren’t willing to take a beating and then sign back up to take another beating in another town we never would have made it this far. Everyone can get excited about winning a tournament and a trophy and some cash. But every weekend there is one winner and dozens of losers. Most of the teams that play every week don’t win that many tournaments. What keeps teams like them (and us) coming back? I think that what we really love is a challenge to attack. Climbing the mountain from the bottom is fun and rewarding. It gives you a true appreciation of each step that you take as a team and as an individual.
And that is the beauty of WIFFLE ball. It is accessible to everyone. If you have the willingness to learn, work hard and take the occasional beating, there is not much to stop you from succeeding. I could bust my ass for 10 years and I couldn’t play middle linebacker for the Patriots. It just isn’t in my DNA. But I can, and have, experienced some great WIFFLE success, even on 2 horrible knees. We can all experience the sense of accomplishment that comes from working our way from pathetic to respectable to successful.
I write this because every week I see a few new teams at the tournaments. Most of them get hammered. Most of them don’t come back. Maybe they think that there is no way they can get as good as the teams that have been doing this for years. We were tempted to think that too, and now as I look back I am very happy that we didn’t take that route. The inexperienced teams should set modest goals and keep working, and I am positive that they will see improvement every week. Nobody ever got a feeling of accomplishment by virtue of backing down from a challenge. It may be cliche, but it is true that things worth having are things worth working for.
Believe me when I tell you that if my team can work itself up the ranks, so can yours. And in my opinion, it is a very worthwhile pursuit. Handling disappointment, working toward a goal, winning with class, losing with class and confronting and overcoming obstacles are just a few of the things one can learn from this game, and I for one am going to keep learning.
As for Goldenstick… Those guys are better at that game than I am right now, but maybe I was getting too comfortable with the game anyway. I am excited to start at the bottom again and work my way up. I am willing to take a few welts and I know my teammates are willing to swallow a few losses, because I know that we will have our eyes wide open just like we did the first time. We will see what they do and how they do it. And hopefully, I will be writing 3 years from now about the first time we played, how terrible we were, and how far we have come since then. Whether we become Goldenstick champions or not, I am certain that the journey will be satisfying and worthwhile. I hope that some of the teams that have had a rough first experience with BLWB will feel the same way. Coming out to BLWB Manchester this weekend with only a $10 entry fee is a great way to keep climbing the ladder.
For me, Goldenstick could never replace the Saturday tournaments. I love the medium-pitch tournaments that create a more relaxed atmosphere and allow more diverse teams to be competitive. But I feel like I am going to learn to love the fast pitch game as well, which features great players with nothing holding them back from competing to the best of their abilities. In my view, there is plenty of room for both in the WIFFLE world. After all, the weekend has 2 days, doesn’t it?
How does that song go?
Nobody said it was easy……..
I’m going back to the start.
Sounds like fun to me.
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