The Wait Is Finally Over; or, No, Really, It’s Almost Over

Well, we’re about 11 hours away until the season is officially over. Kind of a bummer, huh? And for the first time since the 2008 and ’09 seasons, we have back-to-back Finals appearances with the same teams. Happy Shirt won on both occasions, against the now-disbanded First Blood. Now, though, it’s Red Lyon, a team that looked vulnerable throughout the season, but effectively dismantled the biggest threats on its side of the bracket—including what must have been an awfully gratifying victory over Wildman Attack Force for its third consecutive Elite Eight loss. That First Blood team, by the way, included Red Lyon’s CF Jarrod.

I don’t exactly know where I’m going with this article. There’s certainly plenty to write about—like the repeat title game, and Los Matadores vs. Free State Growlers in the Sandbag Bowl, and Channel 6 getting absolutely boned by politics—I just don’t have a clear direction in which to take it. I suppose it comes down to it being a lot of the same stories this post-season as before.

Happy Shirt cruised to the title game. Wildman choked in the quarterfinals. Channel 6 couldn’t field its team and paid dearly. Chalmersiz, the biggest surprise of the season, really, couldn’t beat Happy Shirt. Kansas Tree Care couldn’t close out. Bad News Bagels didn’t quite fit in. Love Garden Squids missed Chris Ford. And Hurtz Donut D-Holes faced Happy Shirt.

Pizza Party!! (please name the team Mario Party next season) lost to the D-Holes. Red Lyon turned it on for the post-season. The Rockets couldn’t advance past the quarterfinals. Dad Boot lost to KTC. People seemed to just stop playing for Los Matadores. Free State did everything it could to deliberately lose. Thunderkickz faced either the 1- or 2-seed. And the Goats couldn’t get past the first weekend.

Merchants of Death couldn’t get on base when it needed to. Where’s My Pitches? faced one of the best teams in the league. Dan put too much of the Woost’s weight on his shoulders. The Rats had a first-round upset. The Ghosts couldn’t string some wins together. The Corksuckers still couldn’t win its first game. Sacred Sword wasn’t the best or worst team in the league. And Taco Tuesday surprised people but still couldn’t advance.

Nick Lerner’s Homies’ inexperienced players hurt its chance of winning. Jazzhaus didn’t use its players effectively. Asteroid Head continued being good and then not-so-good. Liberty Hall continued its decline. Screamers just didn’t have what it takes. D’z Nuts couldn’t win a tournament game. And the Ladybird Harpies had to play Happy Shirt. Again.

So, yeah. Some things don’t change. I’ll write something better later. Good luck, Happy Shirt & Red Lyon!

The Playoffs, pt. 2; or, A Brief Preview

For the record, I correctly predicted 20 of 32 teams’ tournament seed. That’s pretty good, I think.


o1. Happy Shirt vs. 32. Ladybird Harpies
This is, what, like the fifth time these two teams have played in the playoffs? That’s about as insightful as I can get.

16. Goats vs. 17. Merchants of Death
This is another game of the tournament. The winner still loses.

o8. Hurtz Donut D-Holes vs. 25. Nick Lerner’s Homies
The D-Holes turned out to be pretty good this season. It had a rough stretch in the 2s. losing all three games, but, hey, it has a chance to replay Pizza Party!! in the second game. The Homies will undoubtedly face Taco Tuesday in the second game, and will most likely be the end of its season.

o9. Pizza Party!! vs. 24. Taco Tuesday
Taco Tuesday had what I’d consider, in terms of its history, a pretty successful year, even if it was only 3-7. Pizza Party!! had an even better year, one of its best, going 7-3 and nearly sweeping the 3s with big wins over Red Lyon and the Rockets.

o4. Mario Chalmersiz vs. 29. Screamers
An incredibly interesting matchup potentially awaits Chalmersiz in its second game, possibly facing Los Matadores. The Screamers got a tough draw—regardless of who wins on the opposite side, Los Matadores or the improved Rats, it doesn’t stand much of a chance in its second game. Sorry, Screamers.

13. Los Matadores vs. 20. Rats
This is probably the lowest-seeded potential upset, and that’s only if Los Matadores continues missing players. Should the Rats lose, it could make a deep run in the opposite bracket if it, too, can field its players.

o5. Kansas Tree Care vs. 28. Liberty Hall
Kansas Tree Care is built for the playoffs, and I don’t see any reason why it won’t get its rematch with Mario Chalmersiz next week. Das Boot might disagree, though. Liberty Hall doesn’t really have much say in the matter. Sorry, Everett and co.



12. Das Boot vs. 21. Ghosts
The Ghosts played Das Boot well early in the season, only losing 9-6, but struggled throughout the year—and lost its last three. Das Boot closed out with a big win over Party! and certainly could surprise KTC in the second round—it’ll take a lot of work, though.

o2. Wildman Attack Force vs. 31. D’s Nuts
This is, what, like the third time these two teams have faced each other in the playoffs? That’s about as . . .

15. Thunderkixkxk vs. 18. Where’s My Pitches
This could be a good game. Where’s My Pitches has looked better all year, went 2-1 in the 5-pool, and just beat the Wu-oost. Thunderkickz, meanwhile, avoided a sweep by taking out the Goats in extra innings. The winner plays a game no one wants to play.

o7. Love Garden Squids vs. 26. Jazzhaus
One of the better games of the first weekend will be played on YSC #4 when the Squids here face Red Lyon. That’s not to say the Jazzhaus doesn’t have a chance, but let’s be real here. Maybe Love Garden will finally find its identity.

10. Red Lyon vs. 23. Sacred Sword
Two years ago this would have been a great game. But, hey, things change. Sacred Sword looks to avoid making perhaps its first ever opposite bracket appearance, and Red Lyon begins to defend its Runners-Up title.

o3. Channel 6 vs. 30. Brewballers
No good can come of this.

14. Free State Growlers vs. 19. Wu-oost
Jacki and co. get a chance at redeeming that surprise week 7 loss. Not only that, but both teams have a chance at rocking the field by facing Channel 6—a team that may (or may not) be missing some players. Holcolm Gold could be an interesting place.

o6. Bad News Bagels vs. 27. Asteroid Head
The Bagels would love another Final Four appearance—who wouldn’t?—and Asteroid Head would probably be content with a second weekend. Neither will be easy, but the Bagels are in a good position to reach the semi-finals again. Asteroid Head, on the other hand, is not in a good position, either way, because it will face either a good Corksuckers team, or an even better Rockets squad.

11. Rockets vs. 22. Corksuckers
The Corksuckers got boned with a couple early losses that forced it down to the 7s—where it rightfully swept—but now it’s up against teams it probably should have been playing all along. We all know about that win over the Bagels. That was a low-scoring affair, though, and the Rockets love putting up big numbers. Upset alert? probably. Likely? I don’t think so.

The Playoffs; or, A Brief Etymology Lesson


Few words bring greater joy to some than that one little mashup—one that embodies all natures of competitiveness and, essentially, human spirit. And what a stupid word it is, really. Playoff. Like Horatio. What a stupid name. A couple words and syllables mashed together into something we can immediately identify—and then use to go on errant, early-morning and long-winded locutions about. Speaking of Shakespeare and long-winded locutions . . .


As a noun, it was first used in England in the late 19th century to describe a tiebreaker/rematch game. Kind of as we know it, today, only singular. It wasn’t used to describe a series of games until the 1930s here in the good ol’ U.S.A. Now then (my favorite oxymoron, speaking of language), the 19th century was an awesome time for language—it was a time during which people loved experimenting with and combining words to form other complex, less useful words, particularly Latin-esque words. My favorite, for example: absquatulate, meaning to leave quickly or die.

What does that have to do with the word playoff, then? and most importantly Shakespeare? Well, the word playoff comes from Shakespeare himself, and, even more relevant to our league—it was used colloquially in terms of drinking. The expression to play it off or to play off, used in Henry IV, meant “to finish what you started,” specifically to drain or finish an alcoholic drink.

So, there you have it. Shakespeare basically invented the playoffs and we’re all champions every weekend—on and off the field.

End of the Regular Season Wrap-Up; or, Just Another Sunday in the Park

Now that KVKL has concluded its, Jesus, its 13th season?, it’s about time to look back on this glorious Year of the Sheep. And to do so for this entry, I decided to enlist the help of the league by asking one (relatively) simple question:

What do you think is/was the biggest surprise of the season?

Loaded question? Maybe. Good question? I don’t know. For a league that stays fairly consistent (I think I wrote about this, actually), this year had a handful of curveballs—from surprise successes to left-field failures to personnel changes, it’s been a helluva year. I received some four word answers, some insightful commentary, some fuck this I’m olds, and some brutally honest statements—a little bit of everything.

So. What’s the league think?


Some of the league was impressed with how teams have improved.





“Free State and Merchants of Death moving up the ranks and other teams like Los Matadores and Goats declining. Or the emergence of Channel 6 as a powerhouse.” – Ryan Gaines, Merchants of Death

“Channel 6, everything they did. So close to knocking off Happy Shirt. That, and that some 64-year-old lunatic who thinks he’s still 30 is trotting out onto the ball diamonds every single weekend.” – Rick McNeely, Jazzhaus

Others were perplexed by teams’ substandard performances.

“Surprising to me is the low winning records of a lot of our former powerhouse mid-level teams like Corksuckers, Liberty Hall, Wu-oost, Sacred Sword, Jazzhaus, etc. I think a lot of these teams are better than they look on paper. It’s just a matter of your whole team showing up every week, which we all know those troubles. These teams could make the tournament very interesting!” – Diana Garcia, Ghosts



“Mine personally is Love Garden. I figured they would have been a lot better. Still scary but not playing as a team and with no identify or direction.” Tyler, Happy Shirt

Some people just wanted to talk about beer.





Some were amazed at how fast the season went.



Some comments were, well, a little backhanded.



“To be honest I’m not crazy surprised by anything, but maybe Free State being better, or Sacred Sword being as bad as they have been, or all of the really close games” – Scott Stewart, Goats

Some focused on a rather specific game.

“For games, I think it’s easily Corksuckers beating Bagels.” – Geoff Wright, Rockets

“Bagels losing to Corksuckers. [. . .] A 7-seed beating a 1-seed will never happen again.” – James Wiggins, Thunderkicks

Some were just underwhelmed with their own performances





Some were entirely too true.







Some weren’t particularly surprised at all.

“Not that it’s really a surprise but probably Happy Shirt’s continued dominance.” – Adam Alldritt, Wu-oost





“Well I’ve thought about it for a bit, and it’s pretty tough because I don’t think there were a whole lot of huge surprises this year but I’ll say two things: There were no 0-10 teams for the first time in at least two years, and since you won’t say it, Merchants going on that run you’ve guys have had. (6-0?)” – Adam Patterson, Taco Tuesday

And a lot of people were surprised by the Mario Chalmersiz, specifically. Some of whom were quite succinct.

“Chalmersiz 3-0 in the 2 Pool” – Jake F., Love Garden

“Has to be how well Chalmersiz has performed. Although I wasn’t at the Game of the Week, beating KTC has to be the biggest upset of the season, IMO.” James Findley, Rockets

And some were named Geoff Wright.

“I think the Chalmersiz re-emerging as an elite team has been pretty significant. They were never bad, but had just an average year last season, going 6-4, with a couple of those losses not being particularly close. Obviously they stepped up in the tourney, upsetting the defending champs, and then baaarely losing to Red Lyon in a 10-inning quarterfinals game, so they finished strong. Still, it seemed their best days were behind them.

 “This year they go 9-1, with some very strong wins in there, and may have their best team yet. The new players from last year are now key pieces, and new acquisition Colin adds a lot on both offense and defense. I was pretty vocal in saying that whichever team lost the Happy Shirt/KTC game would annihilate pool 2, but Chalmersiz proved me, and many others wrong. They’re legit contenders. Would they have the same record had they beat the Bagels and landed in pool 1? Maybe not, but . . . maybe.” – Geoff Wright, Rockets

And one of ‘em even plays for them.



Somebody was pretty analytical about all this kickball nonsense, too.

Not surprising, it’s been another kickass summer in KVKL. It seems notable that 7 of the 8 teams in the top 2 rank pools are the same as last year, with only Mario Chalmersiz moving up. There is a general sense that the league keeps getting better and deeper from a competition and skills perspective. However, what surprises me is that I don’t think any of the 8 teams in the top 2 rank pools are as good as they were last year, with the exception of Chalmersiz. This should make for another year of tournament upsets. The 3 pool is stronger overall than last season, but we had a ridiculously strong 4 pool last year, including Chalmersiz and Los Matadores, who produced some of the crazier upsets. Should be a fun tourney.” – Chris Ford, Happy Shirt

And a couple people had some incredibly poignant things to say.

“As someone who just joined the board, the most surprising thing has been how much work goes on behind the scene and how most people don’t even know what all we do. [. . .] Another thing that surprises me is the familiar faces that are disappearing from the league. That isn’t as much fun to talk about but it’s true.”– Ben Wright, Bad News Bagels

And someone absolutely nailed it.



Bracketblahlogy; or, This is My 36th Post

Just a super-quick post here. Based on yesterday’s results, here’s how I see the bracket panning out. Just throwin’ it out there.



So. What do you think? Anyone too high? too low?

Week 10 Preview; or, Love is in the Air

Well, this is it: The last week of games before we can all finally get serious about kickball. No more playing around. It’s about to get super serial.


Happy Shirt is the lock for the overall 1-seed, having beaten Channel 6 in 13 innings and coasting past Wildman Attack Force last week, 7-1. It faces Bad News Bagels this week, a team that’s already dropped both games in Rank Pool play. The winner of Channel 6 vs. Wildman (Holcolm Blue, 6:30 p.) will earn the no. 2, with the loser taking the 3. If the Bagels can (somehow) win against Happy Shirt, it will probably get the 4. There has been precedent set that even the bottom team from the 1s is not guaranteed the overall 4-seed in the bracket: Remember in 2011 when Thunderkickz (then-Slowride) upended Chalmersiz to get into the 1s, lost out, and dropped to the overall 7-seed in the tournament.

What’s more likely, though, is that Kansas Tree Care (the should-be fourth 1-seed) or Mario Chalmersiz will get the 4-spot, depending on the winner of this week’s Game of the Week. Chalmersiz are on a mission this season, vying its first Final Four bid since 2012. I think I wrote that last week. I probably wrote a lot of this last week. But, you know, now we’re a little closer to understanding the field. With both the Hurtz Donut D-Holes and Love Garden Squids struggling—and facing each other this weekend—one of them will at least halt its two-week losing streak and earn its first win since 29 July. My guess is KTC and Chalmersiz will get the 4- and 5-seeds, followed by the Bagels, then the winner of the Squids/D-Holes game. And then it gets interesting. . . .



Pizza Party!! came smashing through Rank Pool 3 with big wins over Red Lyon and the Rockets, and it very well could finish strong with a backsliding Das Boot. Granted, Das Boot has missed its most consistent player, Das Phil, in those two outings, but he alone can’t stave off the in-stride Party! If Party! wins this weekend, I suspect it’ll surpass the bottom of the 2s (probably Hurtz) in the tournament ranking, and probably move up to the 8-seed overall. Meanwhile, Red Lyon faces the Rockets at Holcolm Gold, 5 p.

Rank Pool 4 is a mess. It’s not really, but seeing the Free State Growlers on top at 2-0 with wins over the Goats and ThunderkiXXX, and the potential to sweep is a surprise. In fact, two of the hottest teams right now are ones I apparently put on blast here in Sundays in the Park: the Growlers and Party. I picked both to finish last in their pools, and look at ‘em now—Party is on a six-game win streak (hasn’t lost since 21 June, Hurtz) and the Growlers are on a four-game win streak (haven’t lost since 5 July, Happy Shirt). Los Matadores could have a tough time, too, with the loss of its CF Cody. Austin and Fatima are back, though, which is good news. The real question mark belongs next to Thunderkickssss—as in What the hell is going on here? It needs a win against the Goats to up its tournament resumé, but it hasn’t won in three weeks now. If it loses, the Merchants of Death (if it sweeps) could move further up in the bracket. Speaking of which. . . .

The Merchants of Death have won five in a row since starting 0-4 (third longest active win streak, too). During that streak, it’s allowed 9 runs. The Wu-oost finishes its schedule against Where’s My Pitches?, a team that’s drastically improved since last season, but probably won’t be able to handle the Wu-oost’s overall talent. Conversely, the Ghosts, which have shown upside potential, just haven’t quite gotten its shit together. Probably because Matt Cosgrove doesn’t play enough. It showed promise against good teams like Los Matadores, Das Boot, and the Bagels, it even beat a pretty good Corksuckers team, but it’s struggled to hang and finish.



I’m not sure what’s more surprising about Rank Pool 6. The fact I brushed off the Rats because of its off-season losses, or that Sacred Sword hasn’t already clinched it. I guess all those times I said Taco Tuesday ain’t what it used to be can now be applied to Sacred Sword. It was a Final Four team in 2010, Elite Eight in ’11, and are now 5 games below .500. Ouch. Jazzhaus has also surprised me—and not in the good way like you want. As has been discussed before, it has the pieces to be an all right team, it just doesn’t use its players in the right positions. Pretty sure we all saw that in its Game of the Week a couple Sundays ago. And now it faces the Rats, a team that’s already beaten Taco Tuesday and Sacred Sword.

As for the 7s, one team clearly doesn’t belong in it: the Corksuckers. It beat the Brewballers by 12 and Nick Lerner’s “Homies” by 9, and has an even bigger win over the Bagels in week 4. Its early losses caused it to drop big, but now it’s playing about as well as it has. Having a full roster helps, turns out. No matter how you look at it, the Corksuckers would probably beat all four teams in the 6s (yes, it did lose by 1 to Taco Tuesday in week 2, but I don’t see that happening again), and probably a couple in the 5s. But, hey, can’t argue with the tiebreakers. The Liberty Hall Late Fees got its second win of the season (Brewballers), its first since 5 July, and now faces the aforementioned Corksuckers. I don’t see it handling Clint & co. well.

And then we have the 8s. Seeing AsteroidHead and the Screamers this low is a surprise. When I first joined KVKL, back in ’10, the Screamers were a perennial powerhouse, always just shy of a Final Four, and AsteroidHead had plenty of potential, it just tended to hang around the late ‘teens with the occasional big win. And now they’re all growed up—ditching tie dye for neck ties, and on-field spats for matching wedding tats. (Probably, I don’t know.) Then we have the perennial punching bags of the league, the Ladybird Harpies and D’s Nuts. AsteroidHead foiled the Harpies’ upset bid, and the Screamers pulled away with a win for Taylor and Jason’s last game before gettin’ hitched.



Rats > Jazzhaus
Nick Lerner’s “Homies” > Brewballers
Screamers > Ladybird Harpies
Taco Tuesday > Sacred Sword
Corksuckers > Liberty Hall Late Fees
Wu-oost > Where’s My Pitches?
AsteroidHead > D’s Nutz
Los Matadores > Free State Growlers
Love Garden Squids > Hurtz Donut D-Holes
Red Lyon > Rockets
Happy Shirt > Bad News Bagels
Thunderkickz > Goats
Channel 6 > Wildman Attack Force
Pizza Party!! > Das Boot
Kansas Tree Care > Mario Chalmersiz

That was pretty straightforward. I’ll try and do something more entertaining later this week. Less buffalo drawings. More instructional videos. Thomas’ Promises.

Week 9 Preview; or, Just Another Day

It’s about that time of the year when shit starts to get real. Like, really real.

It’s hot out. People are moving in and out and in. Drivers get worse. Long-time Lawrencians start to bail. College basketball is nearing its triumphant return. The Royals are vying for a World Series. I can finally write that without laughing. The kickball season is nearing its end.

Yes. It’s time for some Real Talk.

Das Boot plays Red Lyon for the first time in recent memory. Red Lyon has lost three of its last four games, and Das Boot is coming off a high-scoring, back and forth loss to the Rockets. Das Boot’s captain Phil ought to be back for this game, and CF Josh will probably be looking for another home run.

Happy Shirt plays Wildman Attack Force for the fourth year in a row—a team it hasn’t lost to since 2012. Happy Shirt is also coming back from an exhausting 12-inning win over Kansas Tree Care, followed by Tyler’s “Flu Game”—a 13-inning win over Channel 6.

Also at Lyons, Kansas Tree Care takes on the Love Garden Squids. KTC scored six runs before taking an out last week against the Hurtz Donut D-Holes (ultimately coasting to an 11-4 win), while the Squids return from its own 13-inning loss to the Chalmersiz. KTC was kind of boned having to face Happy Shirt in its division, but not everyone can be a 1-seed—though the way it’s played all season, Hannah & co. certainly deserve it.



The Free State Growlers have been playing some of its best kickball of late—ever since I apparently threw a lot of shade or whatever—and are facing the Goats for the third straight year (the previous two games went the Goats’ way). This could be a tough game for the now-with-less-Lauren Goats, but don’t expect them to go down fainting.

Across town, Channel 6 plays the Bad News Bagels, two teams in Rank Pool 1 for the first time, and two teams down one in the pool. Channel 6’s defense is solid, unless it’s playing Happy Shirt, and the Bagels’ schedule won’t get any easier for a couple more weeks until the playoffs start. Well, neither will Channel 6’s, but that’s what you get for being good.

Pizza Party surprised Red Lyon with a big win, and the Rockets scored 20 against Das Boot (and allowed 14). Holcolm Red at 6:30 p.m. is a rough place to play, and for two high-scoring teams this could be another run-fest. The Rockets played a different defense from what I’ve seen in the past—it struggled early on, but adjusted and acclimated inning-by-inning against Das Boot. Big game for these two.

Speaking of big games: Chalmersiz faces the Hurtz Donut D-Holes for the fourth time in four years, winning in 2012 (in the 2s), losing early in 2013, and winning in the second round in that year’s tournament. Hurtz was slightly shorthanded last Sunday against KTC. That should change this week. Chalmersiz, on the other hand, looks to have improved significantly after last year’s step back. Since 2012, Chalmersiz has gone 9-1, 8-2, 6-4, and is already at 7-1, only losing to the Bad News Bagels this season so far. Could this be their year to return to the Final Four since its heartbreaking, extra-inning loss against Happy Shirt in ’12? and who from Hurtz is gonna step up and take 27 pitches from Capt. Candlepants? and will Justin rip his goddamn pants again? These questions and more will be answered right before  . . .

Los Matadores and Thunderkickz face off in this year’s Beard Off game. Either Capt. Paul Santos or new-to-the-team Austin Wagoner will lose his beard after this game, so one way or another, someone’s gonna look weird at Game of the Week. After last Sunday’s surprise drubbing (for both teams), each looks to defend their beard with all they’ve got. If Los Matadores can field its full team (it played five girls in its loss to the Goats), and ThundertriX can kick to its potential, this could be a one- or two-run game. Austin has a better beard, but he should probably enjoy it while it lasts.

And then we have Game of the Week: Asteroid Head vs. the Ladybird Harpies. Asteroid Head’s last GotW was opening day, 2014, in which it lost to the Rats, 11-2. The Harpies’ last was in 2013, in which it also lost, 19-7, to the Merchants of Death. Asteroid Head is looking to sweep the 8s, and the Harpies just want its first win after losing its best chance last week to D’s Nutz (10 innings).

And now for some pics:

Red Lyon > Das Boot
Happy Shirt > Wildman Attack Force
Kansas Tree Care > Love Garden Squids
Free State Growlers > Goats
Screamers > D’s Nuts
Corksuckers > Nick Lerner’s Homies
Liberty Hall Late Fees > Brewballers
Taco Tuesday > Jazzhaus
Channel 6 > Bad News Bagels
Pizza Party > Rockets
Chalmersiz > Hurtz Donut D-Holes
Los Matadores > Thunderkickz
Sacred Sword > Rats
Wu-oost > Ghosts
AsteroidHead > Ladybird Harpies

There. That’s about as normal as it’s gonna get. Who wants a margarita?


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