7/8 7/12 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/27 7/27 7/27 7/27 7/27 8/2 8/3 8/3 8/9 8/9 8/16 8/23
FS 3|3 FS 0|0 HB 0|2 BW 0|4 EL 1|1 ON 0|0 IS 0|13 EL 1|1 IS 0|0 WW 0|0 ON 3|0 KF 6|3 KF 0|1|0 FS 0 BW 1|2 EL 1|2 R★ 2 BW 0 The
WW 0|0 WA 1|1 KF 1|3 KF 1|10 HB 0|0 WA 3|3 WO 11|8 WA 0|2 WA 3|3 ON 3|3 WW 1|1 WO 0|0 EL 4|0|1 BW 2 WA 0|1 BW 0|0 G★ 0 EL 2 Thrill

Week 6

 < Week 5 Week 7 > 

Knockout Park The Club
6/2 6/3 6/3
DK 0|0 CC 0|0 KF 2|4
MP 5|10 JM 6|11 JM 4|9

* Due to the recent identification of illegal substitutions and resulant forfeits the information and numbers in this post are inaccurate, however the spirit remains intact.

Twenty-two games played between these Mattseals and Commandos; zero wins. This Sunday they meet head-to-head and break at least one of the teams into the "wins" column. Both teams have faced tough opening schedules; the Commandos have played the Squirrels (10-2) four times, the DeLoppes (10-0) twice, the Aces (10-2) twice, Belgian (5-3) twice, and their rival Donkeys (5-7) twice: a combined record of 40-17. The Mattseals have matched up against the Donkeys, DeLoppes, Aces, Punchouts (4-2), and Belgian, combining for a 34-13 opposition record. The Mattseals' record also bears tough extra inning losses to the DeLoppes and Aces, as well as losing in walk-off fashion to the Donkeys and Punchouts. While these teams may have tough schedules in common, if you look at their team numbers they have taken two drastically different paths on the Winless River.

Let us call the first of these "fording". This is what the Mattseals have been doing. It is steady, confident and measured, but slow and one slip sees all your work washed away. Why is this Oregonian analogy fitting the 'Seals? In ten games they have scored three runs; in numerals that looks like this 10 games, 3 runs. Only .3 runs per game. The Mattseals have pitched fairly well, especially for rookies. Cosby, Paquin, and Hewlett (not a rookie, still a "young vet") all have ERAs below 2.60, WHIPs of 1.45 or below, and KPI over 1.25. That kind of rotation throwing 76% of your innings should spell wins; the fact they took on a "stretch of death" to open many of their Wiffle careers should not dismay them, precisely because of the defensive numbers they were able to put up during that stretch.

Defensively, behind the pitchers, they have played solidly. The commissioner famously stated "your whole team's winning a Handie," and they have given up 27 runs: 2.7 per game, which is not insurmountable. For comparison: The Donkeys have allowed 3.25 runs per game, and the Ducks 2.0 runs per game. Split the difference of those teams winning percentages, and the 'Seals are lined up to be playing .500 ball. This team showed promise at the plate in the preseason; bottom line, in order to best the Commandos on Sunday, they just need to find a way to come up with timely hits and push runs across the plate to help out their pitching and defense.

The Commandos path on the river can only be described as rafting. What earns that simile? 97 runs allowed in 12 games played. That is 8.08 runs against per game. Now, the Commandos have not been as offensively strapped as the 'Seals; in fact, despite their sub-.123 team batting average, they are performing over three-times better at scoring runs. Alas, that only comes 1.33 per game (16 R, 12 GP), which is a far cry from the 8.08 allowed. Any time you watch that many runners cross the plate it is a wild, unstoppable ride. The Commandos have a few good pieces, but the big struggle for them is inconsistency in their lineup and a steep learning curve for rookie players.

What will it take for the Commandos to be the team to break into the win column? First, get out of the river. It is really hard to play Wiffle in a river. Second, the Commandos need good outings from their two proven pitchers: Egan and Linebrink. Linebrink has struck out 9-plus batters thrice this year, and has an ERA of 4.23 in those games. In his other two starts he has struck out a total two batters, and has an ERA of 33.33 to show for it. Since settling in after his first two starts, Egan has walked no more than three batters in a game, for a total of only five in that span. He is also averaging 7.2 K per game. If either pitcher can throw one of their better games, then the Commandos have a good shot at getting a win. Offensively, they just need to keep doing what they do: moneyball. Get on base.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:   Franzen (JM), Hatt (MP), Linebrink (CC), Shore (DK), Castle (BW)*,
  2 Games: Crozier (WA)*

* Team not active this week. Will carry over to next games.

Week 5

 < Week 4 Week 6 > 

The Wiffle Iron The Wiffle Iron Frenchtown Field
5/25 5/27 5/27 5/28 5/28 5/28
CC 1|3 JM 0|0 TD 1|1 KF 3|3 WD 0|0 TD 0|3
BW 6|13 BW 2|6 BW 0|4 WD 0|9 KF 3|0 WD 1|0

Six teams are on the schedule for Week 5 and the Belgian Wiffles will take part in seventy-five percent of those series, playing catch-up. Two of the Belgian series were originally on the docket for Week 4, but were pushed back to Week 5: Campus Commandos (0-10) and (#23) Thunder Ducks (3-1). Ducks vs. Belgian was originally the Week 4 Marquee, feeding off their less than friendly meeting in the championship of second satellite tournament. Call it as it is: this will be an exciting series on Sunday at the Wiffle Iron in Taylor. The Jason Mattseals (0-8) will also visit Belgian at the Wiffle Iron on Sunday, still looking for their first wins of the season in what will be the only divisional series played in Week 5. This inter-division heavy week's games open on Friday night with the Commandos coming down to Taylor for their lone series with Belgian this season.

Away from the Iron, the (#47) Manchester Punchouts (4-2) will take their first road trip of the year: heading to Frenchtown Field to play the first of two rivalry series against the (#12) Wiffling DeLoppes (6-0). This is a collision of two outstanding teams. Manchester has the edge in pitching, the DeLoppes play the most solid defense in the league, hitting is a push, and both teams bring good speed. What will it take to win? For the DeLoppes: this series will be won or lost on whether or not they can hit Manchester's sharp pitching. For the Punchouts: this series will be won or lost on whether they can hit the ball out of the park or otherwise keep it away from the DeLoppes defenders (how's that for scientific analysis!).

Original Week 4 Marquee treatment
As alluded to in the opening paragraph, this group of Memorial Weekend games will have a huge impact on the inter-divisional season series. Now, there is no bonus for the winning division, but what more is there to want than pride and bragging rights in a kids' game being played in backyards and parks? Currently, Garcia leads 9-7; a hollow lead, since wins eight and nine come on Belgian forfeits for batting an illegal lineup. Belgian and Ringler will have a shot at their revenge in Week 5, though, with four games against Garcia teams: Commandos on Friday and Ducks on Sunday. Belgian brought good bats and pitched well in their retroactive losses, and most people who make random guesses expect them to take both games on Friday night, which would tie the inter-division series at nine wins a piece. With a split in the DeLoppes/Punchouts series on Saturday a very real possibility, the chance the already tense Ducks/Belgian series on Sunday is played for the the lead in the inter-divisional series adds all that much more intrigue!

One game from Frenchtown Field on Saturday and one game from the Belgian/Ducks series are is tentatively scheduled to be filmed. Will the footage capture a division turning of the tide in the league? Or will it see the two continue the back-and-forth tug of war stalemate? Regardless of the results, which are such a tiny part of playing this game, this weekend will see great teams and exciting match-ups on the field. That is what this league is about: exciting play, having fun and taking this game way too far with the over-the-top hyping up of this backyard game.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:  Comstock (WD)*, Hewlett (JM), Hatt (MP), Linebrink (CC), Nagorski (TD), Shore (DK)*,
  2 Games: Crozier (WA)*

* Team not active this week. Will carry over to next games.

Week 4

 < Week 3 Week 5 > 

Knockout Park The Wiffle Iron
5/20 5/20 5/20 5/20
FS 1|0 JM 0|0 BW 4|9 CC
MP 0|5 MP 4|3 KF 0|2 BW

Probable Starters:
Game 1:   Chris Paquin   vs.   Evan Bortmas 
Game 2:   Jason Hewlett   vs.   Sam Hatt 

Do yourself a favor, ignore the season records for these two teams. The Mattseals are much better than theirs suggests, and the Punchouts' is still a small sample size against one other great team. In fact, the only common ground to evaluate these teams comes from two sources: 1) They split two games in the first satellite tournament, and 2) both have played two one-run games against Whiteford this season. The Mattseals lost two 1-0 games, while the Punchouts added another 1-0 loss, but also tacked on a 3-2 win. That right there is proof enough why you need to discount records, and just pay attention to the pitch-by-pitch play for this series.

To find the reason for that number-dash-number we are not talking about with the Mattseals you need look no further than two offensive stats: team AVG - .146, and team OBP - .213. If you want to add a third for good bad measure, team SLG% - .154. With that kind of production it is hard to support even great pitching. However, to their credit, the 'Seals have played the DeLoppes (defensive kingpins) and the Wicked Aces (pitching phenoms). You do not put up outstanding numbers against those teams; wins against them are not exactly the pretty type. To further prove that point, the Mattseals have a team ERA of 1.57 (1.40 better than the 5-7 Donkeys, at 2.97, and only 0.25 behind the 3-1 Thunder Ducks) and a team WHIP of 1.23, fourth best in the league.

I wish stats for Manchester had been posted before midnight Tuesday, so I could say more about them. All there is to say without the numbers is essentially what was posted last week: good pitching, good power, good contact. Sam Hatt did hit a home run off the impressive Aces' staff, so the power is definitely showing up in league play.

It is early in the season, but this Ringler Division series is one that will play a big roll later in the season for seeding. Despite current records, both of these teams are expected to win sixteen-plus games and make a run for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. These games can be a statement series for either team; one that could set the tone over the next few weeks. A sweep of this series for either team provides confidence and an upper hand in the tough Ringler Division. Two more losses will be a tougher pill to swallow for the Mattseals, however, as they urgently want to claw their way into the win column. A split is not an unexpected result, but it all comes down to both teams doing what they are capable of doing: pitching, hitting, and just playing smart. The Squirrels will be in attendance, so it is guaranteed that everyone will be kept loose and laughing throughout. With any luck that amorous variable thrown into the equation brings out the best in everyone during the series.

Else-and-Same-Where in WSEM: The Belgian Wiffles are opening up the Wiffle Iron on Sunday with King Friday and the Commandos. Originally, the (#20) Ducks (3-1) were supposed to reprise the satellite tournament #2 championship, but that is apparently no longer happening. Belgian is riding high on their tournament championship, but they are in for a new style of competition when league play starts (read: "sober"). Friday will be the home team in their series with Belgian, while the Commandos will be the visitors to properly open Belgian's home field, even though opening up Belgian's home field. Who knows how much of a challenge these two this series will be, but Friday has gotten better with each game they have played: base runners against the Squirrels, runs against the Ducks, wins against Belgian?

Back in Manchester, the (#18) Squirrels (9-1) will put their early season reputation on the line against the Punchouts in a two-game series. These teams have played four times: twice in September, and twice in satellite tournament #1. The Punchouts are 3-0-1 in those games, though the first two were both 1-0, and the second of which was won in extra innings after Carl Coffee slipped rounding third on what would have been a game-winning run. All day long the games in Manchester will be close, and for added amusement the 'Seals and Squirrels will play a friendly after the league games conclude, and a couple pick-up games are also likely to spring up.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  One Game:  Comstock (WD), Hewlett (JM), Mushinski (KF), Nagorski (TD)*, Linebrink (CC)*, Shore (DK)*, Corbett (FS)
  Two Games:  Zigila (MP), Crozier (WA)*

* Team not scheduled this week. Will carry over to Week 5.

Week 3

 < Week 2 Week 4 > 

The Drey Frenchtown Field Manchester's Field
5/12 5/12 5/12 5/12 5/12
CC 0|0 DK 0|3 CC 3|3 DK 3|3 WA 1|2
FS 11|4 FS 1|5 WD 0|0 WD 0|0 MP 0|3

Probable Starters:
Game 1:   Austin Bischoff   vs.   Evan Bortmas 
Game 2:   Justin Hughes   vs.   Sam Hatt 

This one has been anticipated for a long time; ever since both squads began to show interest in playing with WSEM the idea of this match-up has excited. These two teams share a lot in common: they are considered rookies in WSEM, but have been playing Wiffleball for years in their respective leagues: Manchester Wiffleball Association and Whiteford Wiffleball Association; both rosters are young (okay, Manchester is a few years older than Whiteford, but they are still young when it comes to energy and agility); and both lineups bring a ton of talent to the field. Whiteford has jumped out to a 9-1 start on the year already, and jumped up to the #12 rank in the NWLA with their previous 4-0 record. This series will be Manchester's debut in WSEM league play, but they won the first April satellite tournament in impressive fashion.

Photo Credit: Joe Seto
The first thing that jumps out about both teams is the biggest tool in the game: pitching. Whiteford and Manchester both have deeper talent on the mound than is demanded by our pitching rotation. The Aces have already thrown three perfect games in 2012, and they have come from three different arms. Evan Bischoff and Justin Hughes threw theirs on Opening Weekend to start the season with a bang. Hughes has not seen the mound again since, however, Evan has seen action in two games since and has carried a 0.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and has 19 K to 7 BB (three of which came in his jittery first start of the season against the Donkeys). Austin Bischoff, who you expect to be the perfect game dealer, added his this past Sunday against the Mattseals in an extra long seven inning spectacular. In 23.1 IP Austin has given up only one run and one hit this year - a solo HR hit by Joe Seto Saturday at Poolside Park - while racking up 63 K to only 7 BB. Joel Crozier may not have thrown a perfect game (yet?), but he has a 0.54 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 41 K in 18.2 IP.

photo credit: Joe Seto
Manchester may not have any stats on the book yet, but their pitching in April was enough to leave an impression. Evan Bortmas and Sam Hatt, who we saw pitch that day, have more movement from more directions than you will see from any other pitchers in this league. When you think of risers in WSEM, the go-to guy is Chris Lewis; Hatt, however, features a 'screwball riser' that dances even more than Lewis' already bewitching number. The pitch that stood out the most from Bortmas was most often identified as a slurve, but I think a better name is simply "hammer": it starts out cocked up, then snaps down sharply. Depending on the placement it can have you swinging over it, looking silly, or watching it smack off the board, looking silly. These guys may not be full throttle with the velocity like Pearson or Bischoff, but they can still bring it at a pretty good clip. The Punchouts have also let it be known that we may not have seen their number-one pitcher as of yet. Needless to say, the pitching wordplay in the team names is a very apt fit for both.

Neither team is one-dimensional, either. The Punchouts displayed good power and contact throughout their four-man lineup in April. Logan Zigila earned many nicknames (the Silver Surfer, Godzilla, Beast, Wolverine, etc.)for the long-ball show he put on. Craig Spring also showed great extra-base power to the pull-field, and the speed to expand that even further. Spring is the same sort of player as DeLano: if the ball is on the ground, he is good as safe; but if you creep in, he can rip it over your head and run all day.

The Aces' offense is anything but a slouch, as well. Through their ten games played Whiteford is batting .335 as a team, which leads the league. They are also second in the league in SLG% with a .470. Of six players who have played in at least four games five are hitting over .300, and four of them are hitting over .350.

This highly anticipated series is going to be played under the lights to open Manchester's field Saturday night. There could not be a better stage for what is bound to be an excellently played pair of games between teams expected to play for the Ringler Division crown and ultimately a good shot at the WSEM Championship. On one hand, I expect a lot of strikeouts as pitchers dial it up to have their team seen as the best of the "rookies"; on that same hand, I count lots of extra innings as a real possibility. On the other hand, I would not be surprised to see a series of hits strung together at any moment by either team to take control of a game. Luckily I have a third hand, because having been on fields with these guys, mostly I guarantee we are going to get plenty of good-natured chirping and "nice play" congratulations back and forth between the dugouts.

Elsewhere in WSEM:
  - The Commandos and Donkeys will make the same road trip a couple hours apart: stopping off first in Romulus for Opening Drey to face the (#31) Squirrels, then heading down to Frenchtown to take on the (#23) DeLoppes. It will be the only series of the year for both the Squirrels and DeLoppes with the Donkeys; these are also the only inter-division series on the schedule in Week 3. The Squirrels and Commandos will finish off their season series, while the DeLoppes and Commandos are coming together for their first meeting of 2012.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  One Game:  Comstock (WD), Hewlett (JM)*, Mushinski (KF)*, Nagorski (TD)*, Crozier (WA), Egan (CC)
  Two Games:  N/A

* Team not scheduled this week. Will carry over to Week 4.