This is completely random and for all intents and purposes completely moot at this point, but I thought I would share this with anyone who cares to listen or feels the same way I do. For weeks now we’ve all been discussing the scheduling, particularly the GOTW matchups that have been completely lackluster thus far this season. Need proof? The aggregate score for winners versus losers is 109-32 respectively. Another way of saying it is that the average margin of victory through 7 games was 11 runs; with a four-run game in week 1 being the most competitive GOTW all season long.
For some this makes no difference because the GOTW is much more of a social event than it is a sporting event. And more power to you if you feel that way. At least some of you are getting what you want. For others, I’ve heard a lot of grumbling and I’ve been jokingly told how you’ve been more rested than ever on Monday mornings this summer because you don’t even stick around for the GOTW because you’d rather just go home and go to bed. Makes sense to me.
The majority of you kickballers out there continually shared with me that you thought it would be crazy if we (The Barracudas) didn’t get a GOTW in the final three weeks of the season. While I agreed then and continue to agree with you now the scheduling has been completed and much to our surprise, no GOTW for the defending champs.
And with that I’d like to share this with you. It is something I wrote nearly a month ago and never published because I thought it would be inappropriate to pressure anyone to making a decision based on my input. But as George Benson masterfully sang in a glorious scat style vocal jazz ballad back in 1984, “hindsight is 20/20”.
Let me start by stating that while I would love to play in a GOTW this season (who wouldn’t?), I understand that we are trying to move toward giving everyone the opportunity to play under the lights. That being said I think that most kickballers enjoy watching games that are close games, whether they are uber-competitive or games where both teams essentially run the equivalent of a marathon after nine innings of play because defensive play isn’t necessarily the strong suit of either team. The problem with the latter of the two is that our league is continually getting better and better and it’s hard to schedule a game that guarantees entertaining mishaps and numerous bloopers.
As for me personally, I really enjoy the high scoring less competitive games because they create entertaining moments such as pickles (also known as run-downs), lots of base running, the ball being flung all across the yard, etc. Seriously, if nothing else it is highly entertaining. I’m just not sure these games are made for a Hobbs Park GOTW. They are much better enjoyed from close proximity where you can laugh and carry on with the participants.
That being said, I also enjoy playing in and watching the competitive games even more because it often comes down to a series of plays, or more often than not, a series of mistakes that determine the outcome of the game. Anyway you want to slice it, I prefer games to mean something through the final few innings.
Have you ever played in a game, win or lose, where you suddenly felt the tension build because you knew that you were only several outs away from pulling off the upset, or been on the flip side where you knew you only have so many outs left to make a comeback or you go down in flames? I know I have, and to me that’s what makes sports fun. I bet many of you will agree that tough losses linger far longer than big wins do.
My argument in this piece affects my team this season, so maybe I should hold my tongue here, but that just isn’t really my style. The issue I want to address is that of the defending league champion. I think that the team that hoists the cup from the previous season should be entitled to a GOTW the following season. And to be clear, yes I’m saying that the Barracudas should get a GOTW this season.
Last year we were a brand new team. We were given the opportunity to play in a GOTW – the very first one of the season against the Goats – and boy was that a lot like a blind man trying to fly a 747 passenger plane without training. I’m not saying I didn’t have a blast and enjoy every second of it, but I distinctly remember the umpires asking us if we were ready to start the game (at 9:00 PM) and our third female was just pulling into the parking lot because she had no idea how awesomely serious this league is. Great captaining you are thinking, I know. I couldn’t agree with you more. But hey, we won that game and went on to win the last game of the season at Hobbs later that summer – the Championship.
Whether my team is granted the opportunity to play a GOTW week this season or not, I’d like to throw my two cents out there. Here is my take on a fair way to accomplish this task: If you give the winner of the championship game a GOTW the following season, the best way to make it a competitive, meaningful game is to make it the first week of pool play; week 8 this year (in our current scheduling system of seven weeks of division play and then three weeks of pool play). The reason for this is because it will be the first game the defending champions play against what should be similar competition. Whether they start undefeated or drop to a lower pool, no matter what they should be matched up evenly. And to be honest, most people will probably be rooting against you, especially if you are undefeated up to that point in the season.
Second, the three teams in the pool with the defending champion will have a one in three shot at playing in a GOTW, and if one or two of those teams have already played in a GOTW for that season the decision becomes even easier. I suppose that may seem unfair, but the same can be said for all the teams pooled up with teams who have already played a GOTW during weeks 1-7. I also think the team the defending champions face should literally be drawn out of a hat, not a set up game.
This is a league that has grown more and more competitive since its inception. I think that granting the defending champion a GOTW creates incentive for other teams to improve and move towards playing quality kickball and getting better as time goes on. I’m not implying that a GOTW for the defending champion is necessarily the right thing to do; I’m simply suggesting that it is fair.
Well, here I am today wishing I had posted this piece sooner. So it goes, I suppose. If nothing else, hopefully future kickballers and defending champions will have their day and be granted the glory of playing in a KVKL GOTW.
A few more stats to worth noting: Pita Pit has lost a total of three games in the past five season, three. In that same time period they have played in one GOTW. That seems a bit suspect to me. There are 20 teams who get to play in a GOTW every season, excluding the other twelve teams every season. In 100 GOTW’s Pita Pit has played in one GOTW? That is mind-boggling and downright wrong in my opinion. They have been the dominant team in this league for a long time. As the saying goes, “Hate the player, not the game”. In a so-called friendly beer drinking league this is a travesty and feels as though “we” have adopted a strategy of hating the good players and spitting in the game’s face.
As a league we haven’t ever come out and said that we strive to put the most competitive games on the grandest stage in the league, but the nature of athletics suggests this is the most desired result. There is a reason they don’t schedule the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Cleveland Browns for Monday Night Football every season. The whole idea is to showcase the best of your product, or at least the most anticipated, where there is some sort of rivalry is at stake.
Like I’ve said for the past few weeks, I’m just going to put my captain hat back on and play kickball and leave decision-making to those who’ve have been elected, I mean appointed, to make the decisions. In the end I’ll just keep praying to the Jell-O shot gods because they alone have answered my prayers. The scheduling on the other hand has literally and figuratively blown goats.