By Joshua Hart
It’s a new day in 2021 for Circle City Wiffle Ball. With Covid-19 in its rearview due to each responsible league member guaranteeing full vaccination by opening day, league commissioner Brendan Dudas is eagerly anticipating what could be the most exciting summer yet of having people over to his parents’ house well into his 20’s.
Speaking of which, I have no idea why Keith and Debra Dudas have not aggressively pursued financial compensation for housing this league’s operations more. For one, just sell the house and property! As adults headed towards retirement with no financial dependents living with them (plus a booming sellers market), why not cash out now? Yeah, you might destroy CCW and The Dirtyard forever, but it would definitely be worth it from a money standpoint. And if that’s a no-go, let’s talk about parking. How have they not considered a $50 parking pass or something for all league players as payment to ruin their yard each summer? Approximately 50 players x 50 is $2,500. That’s a nice vacation right there! Come on Keith and Deb. Be better. A sports institution is only fully legitimate once it starts preying on its participants’ financial well-beings.
Okay, I got sidetracked there a little. From about four minutes of research and reading a few Tweets, it appears that CCW is out of its toddler phase as a league so no sweeping rule changes or reduction/expansion of league franchises. If a team was added, there’s no way they will be competitive so who cares. Furthermore, if anything is new and exciting about CCW, it most definitely isn’t the new crop of players coming in either. Without even looking at rosters or names, I can tell you most new additions play in multiple fantasy football leagues, think Buffalo Wild Wings is a good restaurant, are 15 or so pounds overweight, and drink far too heavily for their own good under the disguise of being fun and sociable. I think part of that joke was used in an older season preview so please do not check on that. Thanks.
I do think Dudas wants me to promote the league’s blossoming Tik-Tok account in this article which is actually making some noise on the popular app. Connecting with younger generations has been a goal for CCW the past few years and Tik-Tok seems to be the perfect recipe for that. There’s no possible risk in adults creating a digital platform targeted at 10-14 year-olds so this move has my full support.
With that in mind, I will run down each team in the league individually. I want to remind everyone that I am more uninformed than ever and am writing this at 5 p.m on a rainy Thursday in April. My goal, per usual, is to hurt at least one person’s feelings who can’t take a joke.
Noodlers - I believe these guys won the title last year, but I will not be crediting them for that formally. The story of this team is Caleb Jonkman, a sensational player from Canada who took the league by storm last year after manager Cody House brought him into the league in a completely fair and reasonable mid-year transaction. Pardon the incoming rant, but I can not stand that it seems like Jonkman is a good person. People generally like him and it infuriates me. You do not get to waltz into CCW, be great at wiffle ball AND earn the admiration of your peers. It’s one or the other pal! My mission in 2021 is to figure out this man’s dark secrets and expose him. At the very least, I’d like to start with getting the IRS to audit his tax returns and then go from there. This league is too wholesome anyways.
The Noodlers have other players named James, Kyle, and Dalton on their roster. They will get last names when they do something interesting.
Yakkers - The “Ohio” of CCW teams, these guys are back and as mediocre as ever. Led by league staple Rudy Lyon, a man significantly more threatening with a camping chair in his hands than during an at-bat, the Yakkers will once again dominate the league in attendance and effort, but not wins or playoff success.
In reality, the star power of this team comes from Ryan Voges, another northern transplant who has an infatuation with wearing sleeveless t-shirts in all of his social media pictures. No, I’m serious. Look at this man’s online footprint. I get that he can probably do 35lbs on bicep curls for reps, but take it easy dude. Critiques aside, he might be sort of halfway decent at wiffle.
A key addition to note is Sawyer Mitchell, a guy who most definitely did not peak over 5 years ago. He will bring...competitiveness(?) to a team that could use it I guess. Reports suggest Mitchell’s motive to play for the Yakkers is based on seeking vengeance against Jonkman. One can only hope this leads to a physical altercation of some kind (Tik-Tok content??).
There are approximately 40 other players on this team I don’t care to mention. The fact that the Yakkers even got a fourth paragraph on this preview repulses me. No more.
8 Balls - You can’t be serious. There are two more Speek players now? Everyone has had problems with Mike Speek Sr. and Jr. over the years and now there’s expansion? Yikes. And only to add insult to injury (quite literally), one of them is named Keegan! Who, ironically enough, will instantly take the mantle as the greatest Keegan to ever play in CCW the moment he enters his first game.
If you want team information and predictions, go elsewhere. I think they are usually good at pitching and like to win games 3-1 (yawn). The fatal flaw I suppose is the potential of Sr. finally succumbing to his age and the organization struggling to keep it together from there. However, as long as he limits weekend visits to Vegas and stretches for 30 minutes before each game, that does not seem on tap for 2021.
Zach McFarland is on the roster.
Short Shorts - Boasting a 2021 lineup about as fresh and interesting as a Golden Corral buffet, the Shorts struggle to interest me on any level. Sure, Dudas is a strong player, but 2017 was a long time ago and the dominant performances seem to be a thing of the past. I do not know if that’s actually true, but it seems kind of true so we’re going to roll with it.
The greater tragedy with this bunch is the loss of veteran Keegan Caughey, who recently experienced the most devastating accident on wheels since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 when he crashed a motorized scooter near his apartment complex in Indianapolis. Stripping him of an effective right shoulder and his dignity, Caughey is likely to spend the season on the sidelines as a media consultant for CCW.
The new member to note is Kevin Keefe, nephew and roommate of the aforementioned Dudas. Knowing the mental toughness of middle schoolers, Keefe is assured to keep his poise and focus consistent throughout the season no matter the score, weather, or general circumstances.
The Shorts also boast Taylor DeHart, a player likely to struggle with communication and consistent attendance throughout the season. Hopefully, team manager (I think) Dylan Jones can try to piece this all together, but he has a tall task trying to make a stagnant collection of parts work. As an aside, I would like to note I ripped a pair of dress pants at Jones’ wedding this past spring while dancing to “Low” by Flo Rida and T-Pain. That is all.
6:51 p.m update (4/29) - Apparently they have a player coming from St. Louis by the
name of Spencer Bogad who might breathe life into this group. This also takes away from my entire take on this group being stagnant, but whatever. I’m not going back and deleting anything.
Hackers - I took one look at this roster and instantly questioned every moment of my life that brought me to this moment. Their names bring me immense sadness and I just want to go home and have dinner right now. Time is a flat circle.
Moonshots - Boy, it is amazing what a good night sleep will do for a man. Let’s talk about the wonderful Moonshots, shall we? New day, new me.
With a collection of players that likely consider Florida to be the best vacation spot in the world, the Moonshots are back and ready to be as semi-competitive as ever. The group resembles some of the previously mentioned players in that they peeked several years ago. Faces like Austin Church, Blake Voris, and Tyler Gregory no longer represent CCW on a national level anymore. Decisions to focus on wedding planning, career-oriented goals, and family life seem to be a bigger priority for each of them which is particularly nauseating in my mind.
Reid Werner still throws 145 mph and forces batters to pretend it doesn’t hurt when he pegs them.
Notable Hollywood actor Will Smith and Cam Smithey will be joining the organization to round out the roster. One of them will be good and one of them will be bad. I think Smithey is another one of the nut-cases commuting from St. Louis. And I think Smith may not actually be a rookie as I type this out. Oh well.
Pork Pistols - A team that seemed way cooler two years ago, the Pistols return to CCW despite being way better at slow-pitch softball. Led by ace Christian Leffler, a man two handles of Fireball away from his first AA meeting, the group generally delivers more entertainment than victories.
The group also features Nick Bundy, grandson of infamous American serial killer Ted Bundy, as well as cool guy, terrible player Michael Plourde. The manager and team dad is Thomas Hopkins, who comes off as extremely mature and reasonable when compared to some of the other dingleberries associated with the Pork Pistols franchise.
This team will never matter from a standings perspective, but man is it nice to have an even number of league teams so they’ll be around for a while.
Outlaws - Well, well, well. In one of the most ironic moments in human history, the very team that I mocked for being filled with single dudes and being completely irrelevant, has selected (unannounced to me) yours truly in an offseason compensation draft. As I scroll up and read some of the mildly horrible things I’ve written about my future competition, I realize that I should take a moment to apologize for absolutely nothing.
Here’s the plan. Remind everyone early and often that I haven’t played in years to lower expectations, have a really positive and friendly attitude to negate anger when I strike out all the time, and strategically miss games when the top pitchers in the league are on the mound. If I hit one home run, I will declare myself league MVP.
As far as my new teammates, I don’t know them. Team manager maybe: Mitchell Buis reaches out to me via text sometimes while I’m at work and seems like a really friendly guy. I’ve only forgotten to reply twice so far in the relationship.
My other teammates will include noted trainwreck Aidan Palmer, someone named Kyan(?), and Aaron Rogers, who is the league’s comic relief figure if CCW was a bad Adam Sandler movie.
MVP: Caleb Jonkman
Cy Young: Mike Speek Jr.
Silver/Sleeveless Slugger: Ryan Voges
Rookie of the Year: Whichever one out of Smith/Smithey/Bogad is actually a rookie. If multiple are rookies, I predict a tie.
Defensive Player of the Year: Per tradition, someone who tries way too hard (probably a Hacker or Yakker)
Championship: I literally have no idea. Seems like it’s going to come down to attendance from out of town players (some league, huh?). Let’s go Short Shorts over Noodlers.
Most Likely To’s
Forget to show up to half of the games: Aidan Palmer
Be pleasant to have a chat with: Michael Plourde
Interrupt a game with demands about his camera angles: Keegan Caughey
Blame a non-injury for poor performance: Rudy Lyon
Say “just having fun out here, not about wins and losses:” Entire Outlaws team
Lose their battle with the heat despite having a gallon of water and a large towel: (tie) Cody House and Zach McFarland
Cry in a game: Kevin Dudas
Post a regular season HR to Twitter as a serious highlight: Ryan Voges and Will Smithey
Complain about fiscal policy: Spencer Schneider
Twist an ankle: Austin Church
Talk about the time he got a hit off of Speek Jr.: Josh Hart
Throw his arm out: Christian Leffler
Complain about the rules: Thomas Hopkins
Stop playing to make a TikTok: Brendan Dudas
Demand a trade: Kyle Gagliardi
Run through the Dirtyard wall: James Haworth