Here are six wiffle things following Week 2 of ORWBL action.
1. The Panthers and Billy Goats smashed the ball this weekend.
Is this one something I liked or disliked? I'll leave that to the reader. No matter my opinion, these two teams swung* the bat hard this weekend. Both teams swept lovable New Carlisle teams (which I hate to see) by absolutely pouring on the runs.
The Panthers had to beat the wind along with the Goon Squad last week meaning their offensive numbers were unusually average heading into Week 2. Unfortunately for EA, that meant they were ready to mash in more favorable conditions. And mash they did.
I love EA, but the Panthers shit on them this weekend. The Panthers shit on a lot of teams (including mine, quite a few times) but this week was particularly... shitty. The Panthers outscored EA 43-10 in three games this weekend. EA will come into form as they shake off the rust, but for this week the Panthers really piled it on them.
I am an avid fan of Seth Campbell's game (he's been on my MVP ballot each of the last two years). There is a reason he's won two gold gloves, but I don't think there's been enough talk about his work at the plate. For the past two years I think he's been Granger's best player.
I guess Zarazee wants to challenge that narrative.
Brett made sure to let me know that Alex hit 10 homers and batted in a total of 15 runners against EA (texting me, #Zarazee4MVP). For the season, he's hitting .545. I haven't personally played him, but from watching and hearsay, I viewed him as more of a tournament player in the past. In his second year playing ORWBL full-time, I should've known he'd break out. Wiffletalk.com still endorses a Seth Campbell vote, but if Zarazee keeps his play up that tide may turn.
Also, shoutout my boy Tiki who is 4th in the league in batting average according to ORWBL.com! .667 is impressive, but what's even more impressive is qualifying for league leader with 3 total ABs. Good looks.
On the other side of St. Joseph county, Twin Branch put away an always-feisty Wildcards team thanks to scoring 66 runs in their three games. While their Week 1 games against Hudson Lake were fairly low-scoring, playing at the Palace with the wind blowing out results in some of the most offensive-minded wiffleball there is. In fact, the 66 runs Twin Branch scored Sunday is more than 12/14 teams have scored in the first two weeks combined.
The 'Goats offensive show was a team affair. I'll save the recap (just go to Twin Branch's twitter... they all popped off) and skip to my thoughts. Doran seems to really be developing as an all-around hitter. He built off his stellar opening day this week and is now batting .674 while leading the league in hits. The near .700 average will eventually come back to earth, but if he can keep it in the high .500s Doran could flirt with being the first dual Cy Young/MVP winner since "The Doctor" Tony Koch in 2011.
The biggest thing for the 'Goats in week 2 was the rest of the boys getting involved. Oletti struggled in week 1 but bounced back here and is still in fine position to make an MVP-run the rest of the way. It's a long season. The AL is deep, with every team potentially featuring award-winning candidates. His stock will largely depend on how well the team does.
Along with Lucas and Doran, Frankie and Keigan had big weeks, too. The four combined for 39 home runs. Even with the wind blowing out at The Palace, that's an impressive feat. I liked the 'Goats preseason for a reason. Dude's can rake.
*swung after watching ten pitches go by, that is.
2. Kings take two from the commissioner's team.
Mainstream wiffle media will try to tell you the Kings taking two from the commissioner's team is some monumental upset, but I'm not really sure why that's the case. Sure, they were swept by the Cyclones on opening day but still. The 'Goats swept the commish's team at their place last year. I don't know whether this Kings team is as good as that 'Goats team, but they're certainly formidable? This is wiffle after all. (insert KG "anything is possible" GIF).
The big story from the Kings side is JP. The second year baseball-standout was absent in County Line's week one lineup and after this week it's obvious they missed his bat on opening day. JP poked out 8 homeruns as the DH. He'd shown signs of this during times last season with the Kings but also in tournaments as a member of Fab 5. We'll see how much he's in the lineup going forward, but it's clear they take a leap offensively when he's present.
After a shaky week defensively, County Line locked things down in week 2. Putting Abegg on the mound allowed the lengthy Forrester to join the outfield, giving Kings a supersized defensive line-up. The Kings were stellar in Week 2, eating up ground balls left and right.
An under-reported part of the King's win was the guy JP DH'd for: Kadin Abegg. Abegg pitched all three games for the Kings, picking up both wins in the process. The reigning Peacefest winner stifled the Magic lineup, including fast-pitch hero Caleb Jonkman. Abegg has flown under the radar as the #2 guy the last two seasons (to Mikey on the Sharks in '18 and Doran on the Goats in '19) but seems to be making the most out of being the go-to starter on the Kings.
DISCLAIMER: Super biased Newts ass-kissing incoming.
I have been to Migley as a spectator, as an ORWBL opponent, and as a Hometown Cup Finals participant. I've played a night series, an All-Star game, and a playoff game there. But there's nothing like that god damn field for a Newts home opener.
Sunday was the best I have seen Migley look and feel. I don't know if it was the Opening Day logos, the numerous cosmetic additions, the soundtrack, the perfect weather, or a culmination of all of those things. Whatever it was, it was working.
There is no field like Migley Field.
Migley got new fencing and ivy this off-season to go along with new banners and signs plastered across the grounds. The music is always unique, but this year for Opening Day skip brought in the big guns: Chicago Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes introducing home team via recording. As the first game was about to start, Pat's voice echoed across the yard:
"New Carlisle Newts wiffleball is on the air from Migley Field in New Carlisle, Indiana."
As someone who listened to Cubs games on the radio growing up, that gave me chills. Incredible stuff. It's awesome to see other teams and fields step their game up, but make no mistake: Migley is, as it always has been, cream of the crop.
4. June as our opening month.
Coronavirus precautions may have done the league a favor scheduling-wise. While opening day was technically May 31st, starting things off in June just feels so much better than doing so in the first week of May.
Let's compare conditions (in New Carlisle) if we would've stuck with the original schedule:
Week 1 (5/3): Sunny. H 70. L 63. 9 mph winds
Week 2 (5/17): Rainy. H 64. L 59. 16 mph winds
To the revised schedule:
Week 1 (5/31): Sunny. H 64. L 63. 9 mph winds
Week 2 (6/7): Sunny. H 82. L 75. 7 mph winds
Even dumping one rainy day in May for a sunny day in July is worth it in my opinion. It gives guys a chance to play some pickup before the season starts, lets us take advantage of more sunny summer days, and I would predict we're going to see higher offensive numbers across the board as a result.
May wiffleball just sucks. I get wanting to start as soon as possible. Everybody wants to play. But those May series are pretty miserable. It rains alot, seldom touches 75 degrees, and just doesn't have that "summer wiffleball" feel.
For me, starting in June just makes so much more sense if we can pull it off. June and July are the two major wiffle months, so fitting as much league play in those months is a win for everyone. There's way less chance for rain, and the ball flies out so much easier in the heat.
The best month for wiffle has to be July. It's warm, dry, and typically much less windy. In year's past July has been reserved strictly for ORWBL playoffs and the two majors. That's great for the tourneys, but for the league it means less teams get to play wiffleball during the prime conditions. This year, July's weather will be enjoyed by everyone for three weeks of the regular season. Who can argue with that?
5. Shit pitching.
Throw the ball over the plate. Lob it in. This is a "pitch to hit" league. I get if you don't want to groove a guy right down the pipe every pitch, but you have to at least give them something to swing at. I talk a lot of shit about people taking too many pitches, but a lot of that resides on the pitcher not throwing strikes.
I'm not the best pitcher around by any means, but I have thrown a lot of innings in my wiffle life. As a general rule, I try to give guys a good pitch to hit for every two or three "bad" pitches. That doesn't mean I am throwing the ball three feet in front of the plate on my "bad" pitches, it just means maybe I try to jam them inside or curve it a little out of their reach to make them chase. I'm also not trying to throw batting practice on my "good" pitches, but it's gotta be up over the plate giving them a chance to get their arms extended on it.
I don't want to see the league have to move towards a strike board. That would fundamentally change our style of play. But we've got to get back to the "hit to pitch" league we used to be. If guys are throwing heat or tossing it in the dirt on every single pitch, you're not an ass for asking them to clean it up a bit. You've just got to be home for dinner by 5.
6. Big Ben's big week.
Ben McDonald, have a day.
After helping lead Hudson Lake to a big week one victory over Twin Branch, Ben "McNasty" McDonald carried that over into their Week 2 matchup with Mishawaka. Hudson Lake walks out of their tough road trip to start the season 4-2, 2nd in the American League.
Ben was a hot topic in the preseason after TMZ leaked a video of the All-Star in which he appeared to have gained nearly thirty pounds of pure muscle. Rumors of potential PED's have circulated, but as of this posting no tests have been conducted. (Must be that keto diet, right Ben?)
Potential allegations aside, whatever the sweet-swinging outfielder is doing is working. McDonald batted an efficient 16-20 on the day, taking full advantage of a short-handed MeatSpins squad. Despite a a narrow field, Ben placed base hits early and often for the Heat en route to them taking two of three.
For the season, "McNasty" is batting .622 to go along with his 11 home runs and 16 runs batted in. It seemed like Ben took a real leap the last few seasons in establishing himself as one of the league's premier players. This year, with Hudson Lake recording stats, we have the numbers to prove it.
Thanks to his hot start, the Black Cat's MVP odds have sky rocketed in his favor. McDonald currently shares the best odds to win the award at +600 (along with Billy Goat slugger Lucas Oletti). The Heat will need Ben to be keep up his hot start in next week's home opener. Hudson Lake takes on reigning AL MVP Mark Richards and his 1st place Cyclones.