Heyyyyyyyy Natty Peeps, so we are a week out of Nationals and I think it’s time for a recap. This will not only recap how the Legends played, but also give shout outs to people that made an impact on me throughout the tournament along the way, it’s a long read so be ready.
So, let’s start with Friday afternoon, we arrived a hour or so before our practice time so we hit up the legendary Subway to get our first “taste” of Morenci so to speak. We saw the newspapers located above the trash and we read about the greats like Jeremy Ratajczyk, Jimmy Cole, and then like the whole OCWA and Tampa team. I find it ironic that 6 of the 10 players highlighted were on teams that finished in the bottom 8, but hey whose counting.
On the way up I said to Matt Dykstra if we see one garage sale in this town we are stopping, and guess what. It was Garage Sale weekend, hell to the yea. We hit a couple here and there until we hit the mother load. This place had everything; bikes, video games, antiques, clothing, and a box with frog stuffed animals. I laughed and said hey guys let’s see if any of these look like Kermit. At the very bottom, low and behold was none other than Kermit himself. Immediately we asked the price as the lady said 50 cents, we threw her a dollar and said keep the change. We were ready, it was time to shock the wiffle nation.
We arrived to the park to see Michael Sessions getting the final touches to the fields. I don’t think this guy gets enough credit to what he did for this tournament and I want to thank him again for everything. After talking with Mike we got some practice in and headed back to the hotel for some swim time till the Friday Night Festivities.
Friday night started out with the Home Run Derby and All-Star game. Jared Jonkman represented us proud getting the highest round total with 21 homers in 2 minutes, but ultimately lost to the 2 time defending champ, Tyler the Tiger Flakes. After the event I got to finally meet my buddy ole pal Jimmy Cole as we swapped Jersey’s and I proudly wore the Purple Cobra’s jersey for the event. I won’t get to much into Jimmy yet, he will come later. That’s what she said. We were led by the fearless Justin Tomkins. Justin, Justin, Justin. I have learned so much about you the past couple months. We started off enemies, I came into the wiffle scene with zero cares about the respect or chain of command you “Wiffle Historians” love to talk about. I argued some rules, signed a contract with Carl for publicity, won a Championship in OCWA as the soul coach, sent you random House of Cards quotes, and of course, well I won’t bring up the last one again. Through it all time passed and we shared our love for always putting toilet paper down on the top of the toilet of a public bathroom, going out for some great gourmet shrimp tacos, and love for the greatest game in PC history: SimGolf. Even if you have a bum finger and your shitty team finished 11th place it was great to give you a left-handed hand shake and was honored to be on your All-Star Staff. Anyway, long story short, we got our ass handed to us in the All-Star Game so it was back to the hotel.
First matchup was the Region Rivalry, Griffleball. Erik Detmar pitched a great game for us and showed me he was a solid #3 pitcher for us moving forward throughout the tournament. With that being said I have huge respect for the GBL guys and I hate playing them because it means one of us has to lose. After they beat us in 2016, we took home the W this year in a 5-0 game. It was great to have Tyler Walk around not only to talk a little strategy, but we always had a cig for each other when either of us were out. I have a ton of respect for Jeremy and it blows my mind that he can get people to play in his league when he destroys everyone year after year after year after year after year. Like I said, being from Griffith this league will always be my 2nd favorite league, always.
Next, we took on the BWACS murderers. We joked around with this team quite a bit and took a 6-0 win against another region team. Matt Dykstra pitched the shut-out and it gave us the #1 seed after the first two games. The only problem was SWBL sat in our way. For the second year in a row we had the Cardinals in our pool play division. We were #1 seed going in, and they were #2. Last year I pitched Brett against these scrubs and he shut them out in an 2-0 massacre. I wanted the whole family to beat the skippy’s so I sent Erik out to finish them this year. It almost worked, but my hero Gus had to hit a power tapper out to right field and they won 2-0. I don’t care what everyone says about Bogad, because we all have heard it. He doesn’t want it enough, his dog isn’t really a dog, Sam underuses him from the mound. This guy pitched a surprising gem against us. Not only that any time we hit the ball Chris Roeder was there ready to scoop it up and toss it to the circle, it’s a deadly punch. Sam Skippy is a big part of why this tournament is going on and even though he single handily excluded my player Jordan Mosel from the tournament, because he said quote “I didn’t have my roster in time” I still like him and hope he lets me run a team in SWBL next year. 😉 Call me Sam, I won’t go 71 in a 25 I promise.
So that was pool play, we went 2-1 with a +9 differential and a 4 seed. Everyone was feeling good and we couldn’t wait till our first matchup against a scrub team. Then came PWL and the bad boy Shannon’s themselves. So here we go right off the bat against a majestic species that is Jack Shannon. It was like watching a orchestra when they were frolicking through the field and running around the bases. The only thing better was Brett Detmar who once again got the win. The dude matched Jack pitch for pitch and we escaped with a 1 run win. By the way Jack I hear you live in Chicago, so when you aren’t working out come to Leroy next year. We can’t fly you in via private jet, but we could build you a statue or something.
Next up was a rematch against Chris Hess. This was a different Hessfield team, one without BK or Aussie, a team I had pre-ranked to finish 15th. Chris came up to me with a straight face and goes, “15th, really man”. I gained a ton of respect for not only Chris that night, but the rest of HFWB. Chris and Caleb duked it out for 9 innings before finally we ran out of gas and lost it in the 10th inning. It was a huge blow to us not only for the amount of innings we pitched, but heading to the loser’s bracket made for a very long road ahead. I am thrilled Hess had a deep run this year, he deserved it after everything he has dealt with this year. Also Chris, congrats on the girl!!!! We headed to BW3 after the tough loss, I was planning on one blue moon and was going to hit the hay. Next thing I know I got a double shot of tequila from Bogad and its game on, thanks to Jack for driving us back to the hotel.
Games started at 8 in the morning and we had a 25-minute drive, so what time does my team stroll out of bed, 7:20. We are up against the AWAA bright and early. After the first pitch, our whole team woke up and the chatter started. The ump blew a huge call in our favor early giving us a 1-0 lead that I thought was all we would need. Brett was dealing like usual and I was letting them know. Then Jimmy took him deep. It was a great hit and with Lavalley pitching I didn’t think we had a chance to make that up. We went to the bottom of the 6th. Matt Dykstra took a huge walk and I pinch ran him for Erik. A couple batters later and we have 1 out with runners on first and second. Jack hits a dribbler to the Lavalley as he has to come off the mound. As he looked to third to hold Erik, he threw to the circle and Erik pulled a Jet and went for home sliding in with what I saw was the ball bouncing over him and him being safe. With the ball rolling away Caleb rounded third and headed home in what was the most insane play I have ever seen to end the game. I hate how it happened to Jimmy, Kris, Nate, and Lavalley and I will always agree the first run was B.S. but it showed me this team was never going to quit and they would do whatever it could to get a win.
We finished top 8 again, it wasn’t a fluke. Next up was Ridley Park, the team projected to finish last by nearly everyone. The only problem was no one knew about Loftus. This kid was insane and no hit us with 17k’s. We did everything to get in his head, and nothing bothered him. At one point it was a 3-1 count and a pitch hit the bottom of the zone and the ump called it noodle. The whole team was bitching, he looked over laughed and said shut up I don’t care. He threw two more strikes and k’d the batter. We lost 1-0 and played against I would argue 4 of the top 10 pitchers in the tournament this year in each double elimination game. The end result; 7th place finish.
We got to see some big things happen this year, Trent and Auston took out the defending champs on way to a top 8 finish. It was great to talk to them guys, and even greater they finally made a deep run. Skippy made it to the Championship again, before losing to the now 3 time Champion WSEM Dads. It was a great tournament, with great guys. A big shout out to Chris Neumann who took i don't know how many pictures this weekend. Those shots are the ones that we will remember forever. Can't wait to see you back next year with Boyles and Mequon. It was nice to not be the rookies this year, we built on relationships from the previous year while also starting some new ones with teams we didn’t see the year before. Wait how could I forgot the waves. The team that was going to pull a Leroy this year, and went to the Dangerfield. No chance they get a #2 seed in my march madness bracket next year.
Before this recap gets to long I want to thank one more person in particular, and that’s Carl Coffee. I don’t think anyone appreciates what he does for the sport and this tournament. I have said it from the start and I will always say it, he is the glue of the NWLA scene. If it wasn’t for Carl, Leroy wouldn’t be at this tournament. The dude walked millions of steps in flip flops last weekend to make sure everything was running smoothly. He introduced me to everyone in the NWLA scene and built up the Leroy brand in the national scene, in a way I could never could have. I thank you for that, and I thank everyone on the board for the hard work putting this tournament together. Till next year, see ya!!!