Loggers Continue Wifftober Dominance with Big Win
While the first and the last pitches of Wifftober VII may have come from the hands of rookies, the game in between was covered with the greasy fingerprints of LowBall legends. It was a game ripe with controversy and intrigue, tense battles and epic performances. It was game with details hidden between the lines of the box score (if one existed). It was a game truly worthy of the sacred Wifftober badge. It was Wifftober VII.
As is customary in all Wifftobers, the Supreme Commissioner hid out in his secret cave, surrounded by lucky troll dolls and burning incense, until finally staggering out to declare the teams. It was decreed that the visiting Lagers be represented by Bad Science, Bobby Wasabi, El Guapo, The Plastic Surgeon, The Show, Tremendous, The Unshod One and West Coast versus the home Loggers represented by Black Cloud, Chin Music, The Drifter, J-Mac, Lonichiro, Ox, Rory Mon and Whanny.
The Top Six - Burnham Field
The LowBus puffed into Burnham running only an hour late and out stumbled 342 or so wifflers, looking as if the Bus may have run them over a few times on the way. With little to no ceremony, Wifftober VII began and I, celebrated and sometimes maligned wiffle journalist Hugh S. Wifflerton, fought my way through the throngs of rabid wiffle fans to the press box. By the time I could gaze upon the wiffle spectacle, the Lagers were already threatening to break it open. The young rookie from the Far East, Whanny, nervously paced about the pitcher’s mound, looking a bit dazed from the scale of the situation, and/or the bus.
With one down and a ghostly man on first, a ground ball was shot up the middle. Whanny snatched it up and appeared to be going for the out at home until suddenly slinging the ball behind his head, looking more like Steve Nash, before he got wicked old, than a wiffler. Black Cloud caught the ball for the sure out and made a hail mary throw to home that just nicked the strike zone for the second half of the double play. The fans went absolutely ape shit, it was ludicrous, I was stunned that such skill was to happen in the bat shattering chill.
The Loggers would get their first run on the second most controversial play of the game. With bases juiced, a long fly was hit to left field and just prior to the catch the offensive bench called tag. Of course, no throw was made to home and the Lagers celebrated. Tremendous argued vehemently that the batter must call tag. Sadly for the arguer, the rules that he had originally written plainly showed it to be a legal play. Tremendous was seen stomping about mumbling, “well that’s a dumb rule and another thing, I hate that stupid one and done rule.” As far as we know, this is the only time the tag rule has ever successfully been used in LowBall history. At this point, the Loggers strategically asked Tremendous if he could call home to get a fire going, amazingly he did not spontaneously combust with anger.
Some other stuff happened, including West Coast getting marginally shelled, El Guapo eating a fan’s nachos while shifted into foul territory, the Unshod One wearing the sticky icky icky gloves catching anything in sight and J-Mac looking utterly unhittable for 2 innings. By the time the LowBus puffed out of Burnham, the score was 5-3 Loggers on top.
The Middle Six - GapBridge
The first 6 had taken so long that I had drained my flask of Dr. McGuillicuddy’s and had been poaching floaters from the player at bat. Luckily some crafty wiffler came up with the best idea that has ever occurred on a wiffle field anywhere, ever, anywhere and scored a 5 pail of oat soda on the way up to GapBridge. The wifflers arrived with said keg in tow to find the field looking as good as 3-0 count with based loaded.
The Loggers would send former Wiffler of the Year, Lonichiro, to the mound first. He walked the first batter and then proceeded to make history of the next three, literally. Ever since the addition of the one and done rule, debates have raged across the land as to if three straight batters could be broke off in a row. Well, that debate is over, Lonichiro set down three straight with three straight strikes. I believe, but can’t be sure as I was doing a keg stand at the time, that Tremendous turned eight shades of red all the while muttering, “that damn rule, always hated that rule.”
Lonichiro’s day went from historic to epicly historic in the bottom half of the inning. With all bags occupied, Lonichiro strolled to the plate looking rather proud of himself in his own fuzzy pants. He took a look at the first pitch from the UnShod One and decided he liked it, sending it well into the tall grass. By the end of the inning the Loggers had extended their lead to 10-3.
El Guapo, the most dominant pitcher of the last two seasons, took the mound in the 8th hoping to stop the profuse bleeding. Lonichiro had other plans and promptly knocked a solo shot out of Gap, adding to the best individual performance in Wifftober history. Guap would let no more runs in and finally Lonichiro was off the mound, having shut out the Lagers for the first three innings at the Gap.
The Black Cloud had pitched a total of 3 innings since last year’s Wifftober and it showed early. The Lagers had their chance to claw back into the game as Cloud loaded the bases and then let two in. With no outs and bases loaded, the cagey veteran locked in and struck two in a row out, bringing El Guapo to the plate. The crowd stopped doing keg stands and some even took notice as two of the most intense wifflers stared each other down in a pivotal moment.
Even the miniature horse from Wifftober II appeared out of nowhere to cheer, though it may have just been there to steal pulls off the keg while the wifflers were distracted. Chew dripped from Guap’s lips as the pitches started to fly. A few just missed, a few were fought off and suddenly things were full up. I believe the official pitch count for the at bat was somewhere in the neighborhood of 62 before Guap finally sent one into fair play, a soft liner to the left. It would have scored two and kept the rally alive had the Black Cloud not snatched it, and the Lagers’ hopes, out of thin air.
The Plastic Surgeon, a game time pitching decision, showed exactly why he is a living legend by nearly equaling Lonichiro’s performance. He threw a nine pitch, three strike out gem to keep things in check. I was arguing furiously with the miniature horse as to whether Lonichiro’s performance or the Surgeon’s was more impressive. I had to give up, partly because you can never win an argument with a drunk miniature horse, but mostly because the Lagers had mounted another rally and had the bases loaded on the mellow rookie, Rory Mon.
Bad Science swung so hard that he hit the ball twice, sending it into the upper grass of Gap. He turned to the bench with both hands raised, appearing a bit surprised but mostly feeling the Wifftober stoke coursing through his veins. Somehow, Rory Mon managed his way out of the inning without getting slapped with a mercy, showing poise that has him slated to be a fixture in LowBall for a long time.
The Loggers would add to their lead as Mr. Wifftober, Chin Music, slammed a three run shot off the Show and another inning would be halted on a maximum run count. El Guapo rallied his troops, yelling “we are not done here!”, until someone informed him that they were indeed done. The second six went so fast that there was still beer left. We piled on the LowBus for the short trip to the Friendly Confines, the Loggers out in front 15-8.
The Bottom Six - The Friendly Confines
The paparazzi were staked out at the corner as the caravan of wifflers paraded by to the Confines. J-Mac tried to throw them off the scent by honking the horn and waving nonchalantly. It did not work. Things were still in sight for the Lagers as rookie Loggers pitcher, The Drifter, took the mound at the Confines. The defense of the Loggers would just not be compromised and the Lagers landed two more goose eggs.
The Show was back on the mound for the Lagers in the back half of the 15th with the bases jacked. Up hobbled The Ox, he had been bed ridden all week with a flesh eating virus he had acquired while doing charitable small to medium sized cat rescue in Benghazi. His shirt was just dripping with green puss and he could barely walk, which did seem odd as it really was just an arm injury. His skipper pulled him aside and said, “you hit the fuck out of that thing and send it right over yourself (indicating the spot on the famous wall painting).” Ox gritted his teeth and hit the petroleum right out of the ball sending it over his likeness and into the stands. By the conclusion, things were looking about as friendly for the Lagers as a WoW welcoming a wiffler home after 18 innings of
Ox was on the mound and the Lagers were desperately trying to get some runs on the board. There was one away and a man on first when the ball was slapped up the middle. Ox scooped it up and shoveled it over to J-Mac who had come from right field for the cover. J-Mac gathered himself and threw home completing the double play. The Lagers roared up that J-Mac had taken too long and that the second out shouldn’t be counted. Despite their protests, they started to take the field nonetheless. But then, Benedichiro declared, in a rather slurred way, that the whole thing was a farce because J-Mac was not standing on the 2” x 4” second base. While both teams stood in awe and stupor, Black Cloud went into a rage the likes of which have not been seen since Wiff II. Unfortunately there is one thing you cannot overturn in LowBall and that is when one of your own players makes a call in support of the other team. I have written much about how this turned things in the Beerman argument of Wifftober III. In my humble, and of course I, celebrated wiffle journalist Hugh S. Wifflerton, am most humble, opinion, there are two key things that this call went against. First, a great play should always get the benefit of the call. Second, if you would not make the call in a tie game, you shouldn’t make it in a blow-out. Luckily karma prevailed and the next two outs were easily had, leaving the previous reading completely pointless, filled with too many commas and perhaps overly opinionated. Apologies that you will not get your 5 minutes back.
The Loggers added one to their lead and the Black Cloud retook the mound with a 21-8 lead. He put on his best Confines pitching performance to date, striking the first two out. The third batter cut into a slider sending it into the weeds off right field. It looked like a harmless foul when out of nowhere Rory Mon waltzed in, making one of the most spectacular catches of the game. The Cloud nearly toppled the mellow one as the paparazzi pounced for an interview.
El Guapo made short work of the Loggers in the bottom of the 17th and the Lagers returned to the plate for their last 3 outs and final attempt to climb the mountain in front of them. The Loggers chose the controversial closer by committee and were exposed as the bases quickly loaded and then 2 runs squeezed past. Finally the Drifter took the mound and got things under control, recording the final two outs of the game. The Loggers were the Wifftober VII champions and proceeded to celebrate well into the evening.
The Wifflerton Analysis
LowBall analysts love to state that the team having the most fun ends up slurping from the Chalice. I think this year it was the team with more runs that won the right to guzzle into the wee hours. Enjoyment of the day seemed to be a dead heat between the sides. While many aspects can be pointed to for the difference in run totals, in the end, the difference really came down to those innings at the Gap and how the two teams reacted to having the bases loaded. The Loggers' veterans Lonichiro and Chin Music drove them in while the Lagers did not. It could easily have gone the other way and that is why you cannot simply glance at the box score (if one existed) to understand the game, you must have my long winded, overwritten prose.
Wifftober has an interesting history that goes beyond simply being a championship game. As I stated in my Wifftober history article, there have been two occasions in the past when the date transcended a simple game and became a pivot point for the league as a whole to recover from down times. While it may be debatable how down of a year 2013 was, it cannot be argued that this was the lowest number of games ever played. I, like others, was eagerly awaiting Wifftober VII to see if momentum could be gained to make Season 8 a true success.
While the outcome of the game was largely dictated by big veteran performances, the strength of the league is on the backs of the strong group of rookies. I, for one, feel enthused once again and am very much looking forward to the 8th edition of LowBall and all the fables sure to emerge. Until next season, I am Hugh S. Wifflerton and this is LowBall.
Some notes from the desk of LowBall statistician Gordon Wiffnoski.
- Wifftober VII featured 16 wifflers and 7 rookies, both records in attendance.
- Half of the players from the victorious Lincoln Loggers were not from Lincoln.
- The Loggers have won 3 straight Wifftobers and now lead the Lagers by 1 win, 4 to 3.
- The Plastic Surgeon’s epic Wifftober winning streak (WII, VIII, WIV, WV, WVI) has come to an end at 5 straight sips from the chalice.
- Chin Music now owns the longest Wifftober winning streak in LowBall ( WIV, WV, WVI, WVII) and has the best winning percentage at 0.800.
- Both J-Mac and Lonichiro ended a three year thirst (WIV, WV, WVI). Now no non-rookie has gone more than 2 years without a taste from the Chalice.
- J-Mac sets a new record for number of appearances in recap photos with 7