by Chris Ford
Pita Pit v Yellow Sub
Last week’s Jazzhaus v Red Lyon featured the first time a 2 seed has knocked off a 1 seed in pool play. This week features perhaps the most intriguing of the remaining 1-2 games that will likely decide what’s been called the “Hot Head Pool.” I pity the bouncers that have to ref this game. Both of these teams are intense and team psyche will play a big role from the opening pitch. PP is king and I wouldn’t bet against them in this game, but YS is one of the most underrated teams in preseason seeding, and I think Geoff is right to rank them amongst the leaders.
If PP goes on a roll early and gets a mental edge, it could be a long game for YS. Mainly because I don’t think YS has the big offensive weapons to go on scoring runs against PP. YS is known for blowing out lesser opponents, and they have a mechanical offensive strategy that is reminiscent of Sacred Sword (though SS now has a better balance of power). But they’re not going to be able to exert their will against Pita Pit (what team really can?) and they will have to keep the game close and be patient while scoring 1-2 runs when they can get them. The prospects of a YS upset start with their defense, which probably needs to limit PP to 7 runs or less. YS has a strong defense, with agile towers on the corners of their infield. But it is their outfield that will be tested, which is were PP likes to apply pressure and does so better than any team. PREDICTION: PP 11 YS 7
Screamers v Rangelife
A 2-3 game in an intriguing pool that is ripe with wildcard teams, 3 of which could eventually find themselves in the top 10. I don’t know a lot about these teams, having seen very little of S over the past few seasons and I’m uncertain about the returning personnel of a fiery Rangelife team that played a shoot out in the elite eight of last year’s tournament with Love Garden (full disclosure, my team). The S continue to get respect in seeding and predictions, but have thus far failed to deliver. They obviously have the talent to garner such respect, and this is their chance to legitimize their #2 seed, especially against a R team that I suspect is underrated as a 3 seed. Got to go with what I know: R 9 S 6
RIVALRY OF THE WEEK
Murda Tang v Love Garden
With the addition of a couple more Eastsiders, Murda Tang has a core of what was one of the KVKL greats. Though both teams have changed a lot over the years, this is a reunion game of sorts for those of us who played on the Milton’s/Eastsiders/Murda, Inc and Love Garden/Billy Construction teams. Our teams played for the championship back-to-back years in 06 and 07 in what started to feel like the Battle of Hobbs. Murda Inc won the first in extra innings on a booming, base clearing, 2 RKI sacrifice fly by Matt Escobar. This may have been the first game KVKL played at Hobbs, too? We met again at Hobbs in the first GOTW the following season and a storm forced us to call off a great game after eight innings with the score tied. We battled it out once again in the championship game under the lights and Kris Graves had an MVP performance at 3B to give LG the title. Our games were intensely competitive, but we had a comradery and mutual respect that hasn’t been matched by upper echelon teams since. It’s only fitting that this game is being played at Hobbs.
West Coast v Blue Collar
West Coast may have played last season in 5-seed Miller Lite stupor (yes, you Derrick), but they’ve got skills and I expect them to compete amongst the 3 seeds this year. Sorry Geoff, WC 14 BC 6.
PEANUTS AND CRACKERJACKS
Two upsets already, here are 3 more games that could be closer than first glance:
Replay v Eastsiders
The new look Eastsiders are athletic but inexperienced at the game. Can those Rowdies knock off the 2nd seeded team with one hand tied behind their backs? That hand either protecting a freshly opened PBR or representing playing without their best player and distinguished gentleman, Mr. Bickel.
Red Lyon v Eldridge
RL is now on top of a strong pool, but can’t overlook an Eldridge team that is dangerous when it can put together a complete game.
Das Boot v Mad Greek
Das Boot, a 5-5 team last year, had a spectacular run in the tournament, taking PP to the 9th inning and earning a number one seed in doing so. Mad Greek is looking to return to their elite 8 run two seasons ago, and they are a team of gym rats that love playing kickball. Can their recent dodgeball championship carry them into an early season upset?