Team Previews: John Brown division

John Brown Division
Record: Overall (Div.) (Rank)

Author’s note. I attempted to be as stylistically consistent as possible, but I can tell you now there are occasional deviations, notably in referring to players’ positions and direct quotes in paragraph form. Yes, I can change it, and I undoubtedly will. For now, though, it seems most prudent to just hit Publish, because, you know—the season starts in five days.

– Thomas


Basil Ride, or: Slow Ride
2013 Record: 4-6 (3-4) (1-2)
Captain: Justin Smith

Basil Ride, formerly known as Slow Ride, is another of those mystery teams. This season promises to be the year of the newcomers, as team after team is reloading with younger, fresher faces. While returning nine players from last season, the new Basil Ride introduces six new ones—though not all entirely new to the league. Hotel Lobby’s former pitcher Alison McAfee joins the squad to accompany the returning Erin “Eribear” A. and Alexis C. With its core group returning, including former P James W., CF Frank R., and fourth-year captain Justin S., some quality wins are possible, but hanging with the more experienced Happy Shirt, Chalmersiz and Rockets will be the difference between a winning record to start. The schedule didn’t particularly give Basil Ride a forgiving start against Channel 6 and the Rockets early on, but it has an opportunity in Game of the Week against Where’s My Pitches? (formerly West Coast Saloon) to impress. If it can escape with a winning record of the first seven games I’d be surprised, but if they can keep some of them close it would assuredly be a moral victory.

First Seven Predictions: 2-5

Channel 6 Toe Pokes
2013 Record: 7-3 (4-3) (3-0)
Captain: JP Wofford

Yet another team that lost some players, the Channel 6 Toe Pokes “hope to improve on what [it] did last year,” co-captain Mike Anderson says. And that was a pretty good year for the team, with a surprising 7-3 record and even more surprising win against heavy-favorites Das Boot early in the season. If it can pull off another upset like that, it might be time to seriously stop considering wins like that “upsets.” Another team that lost some/gained some, its only worry to start the season is inexperience—even though it has plenty of experience and athleticism returning. And playing against teams like Happy Shirt and Chalmersiz will definitely give the team’s new players one helluvan introduction to the league. The first three games (vs. Basil Ride, Murda, Inc., and Chalmersiz) could be a good indicator of what this team is capable of further in the season, and that Game of the Week against Happy Shirt will give everyone a chance to see how well it performs under pressure.

First Seven Games Prediction: 4-3

Happy Shirt, or: Pita Pit, still
2013 Record: 10-0 (7-0) (3-0)
Captain: Andy Dalton

When Chris Ford put this team together, he had one thing in mind: winning a championship. After being within his grasp several times over the past five years, he looks to finally achieve it this season after entirely changing the face of his beloved Love Garden Squids. After losing in the Elite Eight last season, he has spent the entire offseason training and recruiting an entire roster of unknown players and adopting the name Happy Shirt, undoubtedly an homage to the team to which he lost in the tournament.

Ahem. That aside, the Happy Shirt roster remains the same with all the usual suspects returning—the Peaches, Tyler, Steve, Michael, Bri, the whole gang—and after championship appearances in an unprecedented five of the past six seasons (including back-to-back wins in 2008 and ’09) it’s probably a safe bet to see them all there again this season. Never discount this team—I can’t imagine anyone ever has—especially with the addition of Chris Ford.

First Seven Games Prediction: 7-0

Mario Chalmersiz, or: Most Fuckable Team in Kaw Valley
2013 Record: 8-2 (5-2) (3-0)
Captain: Brian “Bronco” Costello

The most fuckable team in the league may be a little less fuckable until we’re introduced to its new potentially fuckable players. And that just seems to be theme of the season—not the fuckability, but the “new-facedness.” More and more teams are losing more and more players to more and more teams, and not even the Chalmersiz are exempt. With an all-star cast of females, including Betsy H., Rachna P., and Brittany F., the team prides itself on defense and lookin’ good—and with kickball, it’s not always how well you play, but how good you look. As competitive as Mario Chalmers himself, this squad has some new players coming in who, like every other team, need vetting, although according to the pants-wearer of the team, Justin Soobaru, these new guys and gals are baseball players, so it’s just a matter of teaching them how to kick.

With the return of the underrated 3B Adrian T., as well as its core group, Chalmersiz’ new players could be the downside to the season. However, a fortuitous schedule in Chalmersiz’ favor put its most challenging games toward the end of the first seven games, giving the new players plenty of time to learn. It’s just a matter of whether the veterans can pull a Chalmers against the Rockets, Murda, Inc. and Happy Shirt, and avoid pulling a Selby.

First Seven Games Prediction: 5-2

Murda, Inc., or: Any other Wu-Tang reference you can think of
2013 Record: 5-5 (4-3) (1-2)
Captain: Dan Mauga

Murda, Inc. has always been somewhat of a mystery season by season. Captain Dan Mauga (also known as Probably the Nicest Guy in the World and the Last Guy in the World You’d Want to [expletive deleted] With) has kept the majority of this team together for several years with limited additions and transfers. It always has the offensive weapons to amass runs, but its defense is questionable against teams that have their own high-caliber offensive weapons. For example, last year Happy Shirt put up 25 runs; Red Lyon, 17; Hotel Lobby, 14; and Channel 6, 10—all of which were losses by at least 5 runs.

This year the team needs to focus on improving defensively. How it does that is tough to say when it’s in a division that doesn’t allow for much in the way of experimenting. The Rockets will definitely challenge Murda, Inc. in game one, as will Channel 6 the next weekend. If the team can tighten up on the defensive end, we could see a few surprises this season.

First Seven Games Prediction: 3-4

2013 Record: 6-4 (3-4) (3-0)
Captain: Geoff Wright

The Rockets’ long-time captain Geoff Wright made this one easy:

Rockets are hoping to pick up where we ended last year. A crushing one-run loss to the Rats week 7 was the difference between being a 3-seed (we possessed the tiebreaker for a 3-way tie had we won) and being the 6-seed. Very disappointing, but we started playing great kickball towards the end of the season. We’ll have pretty much the same team, though we’ve added a couple ladies. Most of our kickers are pretty versatile, so we’re capable of some pretty nice rallies on offense. Defensively, Sarah Riley is our centerpiece at pitcher, and we have a lockdown outfield. I think we’ll give any team we play a run for their money, but John Brown looks pretty strong, so it’s tough to predict where we’ll be for pool play. Thanks to permission from Los Matadores, our shirts will be red this year, and the rocket should be a tad more family-friendly.

That side, P Sarah R. suffered crushing injury that will prevent her from playing for most of, if not all, of the season. Because of this, the defensive assignment has allegedly changed, implementing outfield Andy F. as pitcher. This team has the pieces and experience to be in the top ten, and possibly make a Final Four run. If it hangs with Happy Shirt and Chalmersiz—and gets a surprising win out of either or both—then whatever Pool Rank it ends up in should be nervous.

First Seven Games Prediction: 6-1

He heard a rocket.

He heard a rocket.

Taco Tuesday, or: Balls Deep, or Just When We Got Used to Calling You Balls Deep You Do This
2013 Record: 2-8 (0-7) (2-1)
Captain: Adam Patterson

As is the case every season, several good players from several bottom ten teams are recruited by several top ten teams. And as is usually the case, most of those players are from the newly-named Taco Tuesday (or, Balls Deep, because as soon as you stop complaining about people never saying the correct name—ahem, Mad Greek—you go and change it). Perpetually the team to poach from, this year is no exception for Taco Tuesday. Some things never change. Except for team names.

Three seasons ago, Simon S. and Cathe D. were led from Taco Tuesday (then MG) to Sacred Sword. A trade was reached when Richard D. and Breezie D. left the Free State Growlers to join TT. This season, Los Matadores is the culprit, taking TT’s Derek D. (3B) and Josh R. (CF). As much of a struggle as it is to retain players, save for long-time players Adam P., Brandon V. and Chelsey S., this season appears to be for rebuilding—the problem is that it’s difficult to rebuild without a foundation.

First Seven Games Prediction: 0-7

Where’s My Pitches?, or: West Coast Saloon
2013 Record: 3-7 (0-7) (3-0)
Captain: Vaughn Arrison

Dropping the name West Coast Saloon may be the best offseason move for the newly named Where’s My Pitches? After a dismal 0-7 start, it frequently struggled to field a full team and was forced to play shorthanded. It managed to win out in Pool Rank 8, but that seems more like a Pyrrhic victory than anything. So perhaps a fresh start is what this team needs. A consistent roster is paramount for this team’s success this season, naturally, although it must also have players who can perform on both offensive and defensive ends. It never scored more than 12 runs last season (in a 28-12 loss against Hotel Lobby) and averaged only 7 per game in the regular season. Winning a couple games to start could be the difference in what team shows up. The problem is Where’s My Pitches? debuts against Chalmersiz, followed by Happy Shirt.

First Seven Games Predictions: 1-6