The KVKL 2016 season isn’t here yet, but it’s so close that I’m already getting a little sun burned just thinking about it.
As we stock our coolers for Sunday, with visions of of triumph, glory, and more than a few light beers dancing in our heads, the excitement is palpable.
The question I ask myself… Could this be the year of the squid?
Others ask, if it is, in fact, the year of the goat, the lyon, or wild man?
Will Chamers(iz) hit nothing but net at the buzzer, or will the shot be late (fees) when it matters most?
What powerful team falls to the ranks of mediocrity, or will a once great team, rise again like the phoenix?
Perhaps it is more likely that mediocrity itself will inch closer to the elite teams of the league, creating more parity than ever before.
Each new season brings hundreds of questions. The exciting thing is that each one will be answered by the seasons end.
As a fan of the league, however, there are three story lines that loom larger than the rest heading into the 2016 KVKL season.
#1: Will Happy Shirt Three-peat?
I first phrased this question as, can Happy Shirt three-peat, but I quickly changed it because, well, of course they can. They have already shown that they can repeat, so why shouldn’t we assume they can repeat again? And, let’s not forget the fashion in which they won those last two seasons. They did not drop a single game.
So, yes, of course they can three-peat. The question is, will they?
Maybe the safe money here is to say yes, for all the reasons above. Of course, there are arguments to the contrary as well.
Along the way to two undefeated seasons, there have been a multitude of, to put it plainly, just fucking unbelievable (and infuriating) comebacks by these guys. Here are a few games of note.
July 27, 2014
Happy Shirt beats KTC 16-12 after KTC suffers an implosion of epic proportions. I don’t have the score sheet in front of me, but if I recall correctly Happy Shirt was down 7 or 8 runs at some point in the game. They also got scored on 12 times!
August 3rd, 2014
Happy shirt comes back in the 9th to tie the game before going on to beat Love Garden 3-2 in the 11th inning. No comment.
July 26, 2015
Happy shirt needs three runs in the bottom of 9th against one of the best defenses the KVKL has ever seen, in the game of the week no less. They score three and go on to win 11-10 over Channel 6 in 12 innings and one of the best game of the weeks of all time.
The point is this. Yes, Happy Shirt is awesome. They have the clutch factor several magnitudes above any other team. They deserved to win all of those games. On the flip side, the gods can bleed, and if they can bleed, then maybe they can lose a game of kickball as well.
Who knows what will happen. If I was a betting man, then I’m going to put my money down on the field this year, but I’m sure as hell not feeling good about it.
All I know for sure is it will be fun to watch and see what happens.
#2: Is Channel Six actually the dark horse team to beat?
Last year, Channel 6 was disqualified from the post season tournament.
This was a huge deal because Channel 6 was the third seed in the entire tournament, and coming directly off of almost dethroning King Happy Shirt, no less.
To put it into perspective, that is a one seed getting disqualified from the NCAA tournament after the first round because they had one too many players on the bench.
It wasn’t just disqualifying anyone. It was disqualifying a contender.
This isn’t to say the board made the wrong move, because at the end of the day, they did violate a rule advantaging themselves. At the same time, dang!, that just really sucked for the fans who wanted to see the best tournament games possible.
I mean that potential Happy Shirt rematch would have been so great! Alas, we may never see it…
…Unless we do this year.
I don’t write this to rehash old wounds, but because, as a fan of the KVKL, I’m legitimately excited and curious to see what Channel 6 does this year after how last year ended.
We knew they were good going into 2015, but nobody knew how good they were before their breakout season. Now here we are again, left with more questions than answers.
How will they respond? Have they missed their best shot of winning a championship, or will they come back fired up and better than ever?
Who knows, but I’m excited to find out. (For what it’s worth, put me in the camp of believers. They real scary. You have been warned.)
#3: What will be the impacts of league expansion?
Now this is the big question!
Let’s start with the new teams.
I think it makes sense to break them into two groups:
- Teams lead by captains, who have formerly played in the KVKL (Red Legs and Johnny’s)
- Teams who are brand spanking new (Repetition Coffee and Leafy Greens).
I think the expectations for the two types are enormously different. My prediction is that the first group will win somewhere in the ball park of 4-6 games in their first season, depending on how quickly their new players develop and what pool they land in.
On the other hand, I’m guessing the second group will win somewhere in the ball park of 0-2 games. This isn’t meant to discourage the new teams because I’m sure they will still have an incredible time as part of this amazing community. (Welcome, y’all!) It’s just to say that without previous experience with the ridiculous competency of the average KVKL team, I just can’t imagine anyone not being a little overwhelmed in the first few weeks of the season.
I think 2 wins for either of these teams would exceed expectations and be a great result to build on for next year.
As for the Red Legs and Johnny’s, I am a bit cautious about the high expectations already levied on these teams by Seth and the folks on the podcast.
I think it would be a great accomplishment if either of these teams make it into the 3 pool. I will give Red Legs the better odds of pulling it off; nonetheless, I could just as easily see either team stumbling a bit more than most people seem to expect – especially in the first couple weeks of the season.
I’ll watch with interest how they navigate the first week against teams most favor them to beat. Regardless of whether or not these teams fall early, I think it’s a safe bet that come tournament time you won’t be happy to draw either one in the first round.
Regardless of whether or not any of these teams can muster up the strength to make noise in their first season, they have already made an enormous impact on the league by virtue of pushing the league up to 36 teams alone.
In order to accommodate them, the board opted for five division games followed by five pool play games, a huge difference from the previous structure.
Most people I have talked to about this seem to love this change, and I tend to agree… but I think it will make for some unexpected wackiness.
Imagine this. Team B surprises the best team in their division, only to find themselves in the one pool (oops), where they proceed to get blown out in five straight games. Conversely, team A, who suffered the upset (maybe with key players out of town), wind up in the two or three pool, where they yawn their way to a 5-0 record.
I certainly am of the opinion that more competitive games means more fun for more people. However, less games in division also means more variance, and, therefore, it is less likely that teams will fall into the appropriate pool for their ability.
Overall, I believe the new structure will benefit most teams. But it will be interesting to see how competitive pool end up. My guess, they may be a bit more lopsided (and wacky) than under the previous structure.
No matter what happens, it gonna be good.