The 2016 KVKL season is just a couple of days away, so let’s throw some predicitions out there.
Wilt Chamberlain Division:
In order of predicted finish
1)Happy Shirt (5-0)
The back-to-back champs haven’t lost a Division play game in who knows how long, and there is no reason to break the trend this year. However, the bold prediction here is they will not hoist the trophy at the end of the year, falling just short of a three-peat.
2) Red Legs (4-1)
Without having seen an actual roster, this is a leap of faith based on names that have been associated with James’ new team, but I get the feeling he didn’t leave his old squad to put together a middle-of-the-pack outfit. A final four appearance seems to be the ceiling for this new entry.
3) Das Boot (3-2)
Das Boot played in and won a lot of close games last year, but relying on razor thin margins week after week is a tough way to get to the top of a division, much less a one headed by the reigning champs. Their Week 5 GOTW matchup against Where’s My Pitches will determine the #3 seed in the Wilt Chamberlain division.
4) Where’s My Pitches (2-3)
On the other hand, Where’s My Pitches had wide margins of victory and defeat last year, handing out a 22-11 drubbing to The Rats one week and then turning around a couple of games later and losing to Widman 30-8. They seem like a team primed to make a run at the Princess Di Plate.
5) AsteroidHEAD (1-4)
AsteroidHEAD got to pad their record last year by sweeping through the bottom grouping in Rank Play, but their early loss in the tournament proved that three game winning streak to be a mirage. They should be able to handle Jazzhaus, but otherwise it’s hard to find another win on their schedule. Getting out of the first round on the Less Awesome side would make 2016 a success.
6) Jazzhaus (0-5)
This team has been backsliding for a few years now, and without an infusion of young talent it’s tough to predict much in division play. Captain Rick and Co. should have a good time in Rank Play though.
Deron “Championship” Belt Division:
1) Red Lyon (4-1)
Red Lyon doesn’t give a shit about division play, and they’ve clearly had no problem turning it on in the postseason these past two years, so who is to argue with their strategy? Sounds like there’s been a bit of turnover with the loss of Troy, but Chris, Nick Lerner, and the rest of these former soccer players shouldn’t have much trouble in the Deron Belt division.
2) Bad News Bagels (3-2)
The Bagels had a weird year in 2015, winning six of their first seven to sneak into the #1 Division of Rank Play, but from Week 8 on they only won one more game (a less than inspiring 11-8 win against AsteroidHEAD) before bowing out meekly to the Rockets in round two of the tourney. 2016 should bring more wins, but this is not a confident pick at #2 in this crowded division. They do get a chance to avenge their perplexing loss to the Corksuckers last year.
3) Free State Growlers (3-2)
The Growlers have been on a steady rise for the past few years, and all indications are they return nearly everyone from their team last season. Consistency and familiarity go a long way in KVKL and Free State has it in spades. Add in a few talented legs and a second place finish in the division isn’t out of the question, which would certainly be a high water mark for the former bottom feeders. Free State faces their two toughest opponents, Bagels and Lyon, in Weeks 4-5, so a hot 3-0 start could propel them to new heights.
4) Corksuckers (3-2)
Corksuckers always seem to be right on the cusp of breaking into the top half of the league, but for one reason or another it just hasn’t happened. They could conceivably finish anywhere from 2nd-5th in this division. The win over the Bagels they had in 2015 shows they have the ability to beat anyone, and if they catch Red Lyon on the right night, look out.
5) Sacred Sword (2-3)
Sword has been trending downward for years now, bottoming out at 3-7 last year. Perhaps they got some fresh talent in the offseason, but without knowledge of that, it’s hard to pick them to do a ton in division.
6) Repetition Coffee (0-5)
A new team, perhaps they can snag a win over Sword, but otherwise their going to have to wait until Rank play to taste victory in KVKL.
Amelia Earhart Division:
1)Mario Chalmersiz (5-0)
Chalmersiz had a great 2015, finishing the regular season 9-1 and bowing out to Happy Shirt in the final four, certainly no shame in that. Assuming everyone is back, they should only have one quasi-close game in division play, Week 2 GOTW against Muddy Waters (shout out to the board for picking some seemingly important games for GOTW). Chalmersiz goal should be the overall #2 seed in the tournament to avoid playing Happy Shirt until the finals. That seems within reach.
2)Muddy Waters (4-1)
Party/After Party/Hotel Lobby/Pizza Party finally sold out and signed up with a sponsor, much to the chagrin of R. Kelly enthusiasts across LFK, but I digress. They had a good, but not great, season in 2015 and unless there was a drastic change in the offseason, it seems like their on track for a similar campaign of beating up on bad/mediocre teams, but not quite hanging with the elite.
3) The Goats (3-2)
The Goats are a veteran team that wins the games their supposed to win and loses the games their supposed to lose, and in this division that sets them up perfectly for a 3-2 record and few tough Rank Play games before the tournament. Depending on their draw, they could be one of the favorites for the Princess Di Plate.
4) Ladybird Harpies (2-3)
Ladybird in another team that has slowly but surely been building a solid core of kickballers, and this will be the year they make jump into the top 20-25. They have some good young leg talent and savvy veterans to teach those youngsters the ropes, and I expect them to be 2-2 heading into a huge matchup with The Goats in Week 5.
5) Leeway Franks (1-4)
Leeway Franks sprung one of the more surprising upsets of the 2015 tournament, defeating Merchants in the first round of the Less Awesome Bracket, and then followed that up with a strong performance in a losing effort against Los Mats, so they should have some positive momentum heading into 2016. If things break right they could finish as high as third in this division.
6) Nick Lerner’s Homies (0-5)
Two winnable games on their schedule against Ladybird and Leeway, but the Homies can’t seem to get out of their own way at times, so they’ll need to wait until rank play to finally secure a victory.
Danny Manning Division:
1) Wildman (5-0)
Perhaps the easiest path of them all, Widman has the potential to blowout each and every team in the Danny Manning Division, but for this veteran squad the regular season has never presented much of a challenge. Recent postseason’s on the other hand…
2) Rockets (4-1)
Sounds like the Rockets have had a bit of turnover as well, but they are another veteran unit that will get by on guts and guile until their new players learn the ins-and-outs of KVKL. They missed their big chance last year after getting essentially gifted a berth in the final four with only Red Lyon standing between them and a championship appearance.
3) Los Matadores (3-2)
The Reigning Princess Di Plate winners are supposedly in the middle of a pretty major rebuild, but they have a few core guy and gals who won’t let the ship totally sink. It’s always a mystery if a team actually wants to defend their Less Awesome championship, but for Los Mats it seems like a distinct possibility.
4) Ghosts (2-3)
Ghosts are another team that has been putting together the pieces of a solid, veteran KVKL unit for some time now, and they had a very strong showing in the Less Awesome bracket after playing a little above their talent level in Rank Play #5 last year. That experience of hanging tough against consistently better players made them all improve, and they’ll certainly have a chance to bring that into 2016. It’s been a few years now since the Princess Di trophy lived on the corner of 7th and Mass, perhaps it’s time to bring it home.
5)Liberty Hall Late Fees (1-4)
The Fees are another team that has been declining for some time now, only beating Grandstand and The Brewballers last year. Haven’t heard much on the personnel front from these folks, so it looks like another tough year lies ahead.
6) Leafy Greens (0-5)
Based on what I’ve heard, it sounds like the Greens will be vying for the most fun award, because a win in their first season of KVKL doesn’t sound likely. But hey, they could certainly surprise and pull out a W here or there.
John Brown Division:
1) Kansas Tree Care (4-1)
KTC and Happy Shirt gave us the game of the year in 2015 with their epic 7-6, 12 inning marathon at Hobbs, and after that everyone was convinced they were headed for a finals rematch, and then Chalmersiz happened. KTC lost two times in three weeks to Chalmers and ended what was once a promising season on a sour note. Redemption looms if KTC can get the one seed and matchup against both of their nemesis in Rank play, but first they have to get past a pretty tough division.
2) Love Garden Squids (3-2)
Love Garden had a strong 2015, finishing 7-3 before running into post season juggernaut Red Lyon on a tough draw in the tournament. They have a talented team and are a perennial tough out, but they never quite seem up to the task against the big boys in KVKL.
3) Johnny’s Tavern (3-2)
I’m very uneasy about putting a new team above such veteran squads as Pawsh Wash and Merchants, but from the sounds of it these guys and gals are good athletes who can make up for inexperience with big boots and plenty of speed. The schedule makers did them a favor with a week one matchup against Screamers, which should help them get acquainted before they have to take on some better teams in weeks 2-5.
4) Merchants (3-2)
Merchants looked like they had a clear shot to the championship of the Less Awesome bracket after they got trounced by The Goats in the opening round of the tournament last year, but their fatal flaw of an impotent offense was exposed in a big way when they only scored two runs in a loss to Taco Tuesday. They always play solid D, so if they can get the scoring issues fixed they can be competitive in this division.
5) Pawsh Wash (2-3)
Picking this team 5th feels like a crime, and they have the ability to finish anywhere from 2nd-5th, but their best win last year was against The Goats in ten innings, so it’s not like they’ve beaten an elite team in recent memory. They did best Merchants last year by one run, so that rematch in Week 4 should be fun to watch. Whoever finishes 5th place in this division should have cake walk through Rank Play.
6) Screamers (0-5)
Tough draw here for the Screamers, who could have made a run at a 4th-5th seed in another division, but will be outclassed here in John Brown.
Clyde “Pluto” Tombaugh Division:
1) Channel 6 (5-0)
Channel Six got boned last year, there’s no other way to put it. Not that I think the decision was wrong, it just sucked to watch one of the best teams in the league lose on a technicality. With that being said, I have a feeling Mike Anderson’s squad is going to come back with a vengeance, like New England Patriots post-Spygate-undefeated-season type vengeance, and it’s going to be fun to watch. For that reason, Channel 6 is my preseason pick to win it all.
2) Hurtz Donut (4-1)
The clear-cut second best team in the division, these guys have been spinning their wheels as the 7th-12th best team in the league for a few years now, and unless they had a big offseason acquisition or two, that’s where they’ll stay.
3) Woost (3-2)
As Dan goes, so goes Woost. It’s the biggest cliché in the league, but it’s also 100% true. Rumors that they have picked up a few veterans are floating around, and if they get another impact boot or two they could certainly surprise, but for now 3-2 sounds right.
4) Rats (2-3)
Rats vs. Woost in Week 2 will go a long way in deciding who will be the #3 team in the Pluto division, and while the Rats have a handful of very good players, they don’t have anyone who’s a bona fide star, and that will ultimately be their downfall in the matchup. They are another team who is a heavy favorite for the Princess Di plate if they get an unfavorable first round matchup in the tournament and head towards the Less Awesome Bracket.
5) Grandstand (1-5)
Grandstand has been building up their core team for a few years now, and while they won’t win a ton of games this year, they will certainly be quite a bit more competitive. They could have a .500 record Rank Play.
6) Brewballers (0-6)
Brewballers have been slipping lately, only winning one game last year. Their matchup with Grandstand will be their best shot until Rank Play.