Here are six wiffle things following ORWBL's 2020 opening day.
1. Levi Miller's fielding prowess.
It can't be overstated how important having a lock-down left fielder is to a slow pitch wiffleball team's success is. Far and away, it is the most important position in our style of wiffle (unless you have someone who can just shamelessly shit pitch for an entire series... in that case go fuck yourself).
The Leps thought they may have found that guy after adding Levi Miller in the off-season. On opening day, he confirmed that.
Lynn Street is a lot better this year. For the first time it felt like they were a real, complete team. Levi's play in left was a big part of that. Levi was spectacular in the field. The father-of-one robbed countless homerun balls (including two of my own, you ass), turned a clever double play (intentionally dropping a shallow fly ball with runners on first and second), and tracked down a number of deep foul balls. There are a number of reasons the Leps are one of my favorite teams this season, but Levi's emergence as a gold-glove caliber fielder is near the top.
Levi Miller: 2020 NL Gold Glove winner... book it.
2. Intentional walks in slow pitch wiffleball.
There are no balls in slow pitch wiffleball. Therefor, you cannot walk a batter in slow pitch wiffleball. Therefor, you cannot intentionally walk a batter in slow pitch wiffleball. Its lob pitch. Pitch-to-hit. Throw the dude a pitch and live with the result. This ain't MLW Wiffle.
But if it was, we'd have sweet videos and a reliable content like they do. Seriously, if you've never checked them out they're an absolute must-watch... especially given the lack of live sports currently. Link below.
3. Shup as an MVP candidate.
Tyler Shupert is really, really good at wiffleball. Shup tore the Kings up en route to leading the Cyclones to the most surprising result of week one: Flat Rock sweeping County Line.
I was, obviously, really high on the Kings heading into opening day. I expected them to take 2, if not 3 games from a Cyclones team which lost in the first Wild Card last season. Granted, they added some pieces, but so had the Kings. A Kings sweep was my expectation. Shupert had other ideas.
The 2019 All-Star game MVP slashed the Kings all afternoon. With the wind swirling horizontally across their new park, Shup belted out three homers and seven hits while holding down the fort in center. By the time this gets posted, no doubt #Shup4MVP will be trending. I'm there for it.
(I also like to bring up how we acquired Shup from the Sluggers at the trade deadline last season. What did the Sluggers get in return? A half a case of natty light. Safe to say we won the trade.)
4. The league has never had this much parity.
I honestly don't think there is a bad team in ORWBL this season. For all of the talk about how serious you guys want this league to be, at least it's showing in the the skill level. Getting rid of the Sinners means there is really no easy sweep this year. For the first time in forever, I wouldn't be shocked if any team took a game from anyone else.
Even the last few years' "bad" teams are much improved. I talked about the Leps above, but I cannot emphasize how much better they are this year. The Goon Squad, too, seemed to be a lot better. Brew Crew standout Josh Trim led the team hits, while the defense held the Panthers to just 19 runs (albeit, in unfavorable hitting conditions). Sure, the Wildcards got swept by the commissioner's team. But they kept it pretty tight overall and their track record shows they're no cake walk. Every series is going be to close this year. I'm not sure you can even call outcomes upsets anymore.
From top to bottom, the league hasn't had this much parity in awhile. In an elongated series, I do think there is some separation between the teams. But in a 3 game Sunday afternoon series, it's anybody's ballgame. That's awesome.
5. ORWBL fields are better than ever.
I wish most of them were wider (the majority of the fields in this league would be 10x more enjoyable if we would switch to 2 outfielders), but the fields this season are exceptional. The Cyclones' Barnyard is rightfully the talk of the league right now, but up and down the board fields are great this year. Migley is the standard. Rocko's has the best "backyard baseball" vibe. Snead field is great and a massive upgrade over Panther Park. EA brought the Grassy Knoll back. The Hideout and Helmet Head Field are both nice, albeit cookie-cutter. But nice nonetheless.
We haven't even seen the new Comissioner's Park yet. Or where the Heat are playing. Or the Kings. I can't hate on the teams that play on baseball fences, but those that put the extra effort into building a unique field are really what make ORWBL the league it is.
6. We are playing wiffleball again.
Wiffleball is back. No matter how much of a headache this god damn league causes me, I love it. Wiffleball is back. LFG.
Seeing the lineups get tweeted out, taking cuts before the series, hitting that first homer of the season, throwing it around after an out, it all just feels too good. Especially given what is going on in the world around us, being able to escape into wiffle for a few hours every week is both a luxury and a privilege that not many people have.
Wiffleball is back.