Dirtyard Classic: Sunday, August 14
Tailgate: 12 PM EST
First Pitch (Game 1): 2 PM EST
Stream: ISC Sports Network https://www.iscsportsnetwork.com/circle-city-wiffle-ball
We're just two days from a mega heavyweight showdown at the Dirtyard: 8 Balls vs Moonshots. The 8 Balls, making their 5th title appearance, are looking to become the first CCW franchise to win 3 Dirtyard Classics. The Moonshots are trying to #RunItBack and be the first team to win back to back titles. Will Smithey and Taylor Carpenter, locked in a tight (?) MVP race, are each trying to prove to us that they're 2022's most valuable player. Austin Alles is attempting to make history and become the first rookie to win Silver Slugger.
Oh! And for the first time in league history, we'll have a live game streamed on television. So, ALLLLL of this juicy drama will unfold LIVE in front of the eyes of millions (rough estimate) of viewers at home.
There's a LOT on the line here, people! Let's use the treasure trove of advanced analytics and data that we have available to analyze and predict a winner!
Hitting: The Shots are right at league average in most of the offensive categories, right where the top team should be in a newly “balanced” league. Enter Austin Alles, who decided balance is just not something he’s interested in this year. Thanks to his surprise production, the 8 Balls are miles ahead of the Moonshots (and the rest of the league). I think Smithey will neutralize some of this offense’s effectiveness, but it’s still the best lineup in the league.
Advantage: 8 Balls (1-0)
Pitching: The 8 Balls have the advantage when it comes to depth, but the Moonshots have the best arm in the league in Will Smithey. Oh, by the way, Smithey “felt like crap” last Sunday and still spun two shutouts to get his squad to this point.
Advantage: Moonshots (1-1)
Fielding: Both squads feature top-tier fielders in Church and Carpenter. The problem for the 8 Balls is that Carpenter is also the starting pitcher for games 1 and 3. Aside from those two, the next best fielder is Moonshots’ Tyler Gregory. With Speek inactive and Carpenter’s limited defensive innings, the 8 Balls just don’t match up.
Advantage: Moonshots (2-1)
Experience: The 8 Balls have Speek, and his experience goes a LOOOONG way, but the Moonshots entire roster (minus Witty) was in this series last year. They have the reigning MVP (CCW & NWLA) plus 3 CCW OGs in Church, Voris and Gregory.
Advantage: Moonshots (3-1)
Drunkenness: Will Smithey simply does not drink during Wiffle. The pressure here is on Taylor Carpenter, who gets better as the Diesels go down. However, I worry that the pressure of this series might cause him to drink less. Does he have a teammate who will be willing to slap him and tell him to walk over to the cooler in between ABs?
Advantage: Moonshots (4-1)
Looks: Ironically enough, if these two teams were playing in a good looks tourney, this would also be the championship matchup. Headlined by Carpenter, Voris, Speek, Gregory and Church, there are like 18 guys in this series that have a legit chance at cracking Ashley Hopkins’ 2023 Top 10 hottest CCW players. Gregory’s dad-bod is only improving, Alles, Witty and Voges are emerging as breakout candidates, Smithey and Ball bring a ruggedness that can’t be taught. It’s truly amazing. The cameras are in for a treat.
Advantage: tie/the women watching from home (4-1-1)
Work/Life/Wiffle Balance: I’m pretty sure Smithey works about 8 remote hours per week and spends the other 32 hours cutting Wiffle balls, honing his pitch command and wiggling his mouse so that his boss thinks he’s still there. Who knows what Carpenter is doing at this point - Librarian? DJ? Yoga instructor? Whatever the case, he may spend more time at the Dirtyard than anyone in the league. Church’s dad— erm, boss just gave him unlimited vacation days. Speek’s Amerifence schedule is actually built AROUND Wiffle, not the other way around. Alles is likely a bodybuilder whose main career goal is to single-handedly keep Wiffle in business from all the replacement balls we have to buy after he hits them. Tyler Gregory watched the NWLA Championship live stream while HIS CHILD WAS POPPING OUT!! Every single player in this series was born to Wiffle. They’re dawgs and there’s a reason they kicked the rest of our asses all year long.
Advantage: Tie (4-1-2)
Jerseys: The 8 Balls will roll out not one, but TWO b-e-a-utiful, hard-to-go-wrong-with black and red jerseys.
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-2-2)
Rooting Interest: Hm… the 8 Balls lost a LOT of their hatability with the addition of Carpenter, and this section revolves entirely around him. With the Moonshots almost all having a title, I think it would be cool to see Taylor finally get his.
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-3-2)
Calves: Austin Alles
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-4-2)
Knowledge of the League Rules: Whichever team has Mike Speek loses this one. We love you Mike, but GET THIS MAN A RULE BOOK!!!
Advantage: Moonshots (5-4-2)
If The Game Were to Break Out Into A Brawl: See “Calves”. I’m fairly certain that Alles would simply pick people up and snap them over his tree trunk legs. Then whoever’s left standing would get RKO’d by Voges.
Advantage: 8 Balls (5-5-2)
After all that advanced analytical analysis, we’re TIED!? Unbelievable and in no way scripted. It looks like you’ll have to make your way to the Dirtyard on Sunday at 2 PM to see how this one shakes out!
Jokes aside, both teams are loaded with awesome players and this series has the potential to be one of the best our league has seen. Whether in person or via stream, DON’T MISS IT!
Player: Will Smithey
'22 Pitching: 52 IP, 7-1, 0.91 ERA, 118 K, 163 FIP
'22 Hitting: .450 AVG, 1.702 OPS, 17 HR, 24 RBI, 51 RC
Achievements: '21 CCW MVP, '21 CCW Champion, '22 NWLA Tournament Champion, National Wiffle All-Hitting & Pitching
Come Sunday, it will have been almost exactly one month since the NWLA title run. Now that you've got a CCW and NWLA title, how do they feel the same? What's different about them?
They feel the same in the sense that each were so rewarding. A lot of work went into both of them, especially from a pitching perspective. Being able to control games with the arm has so much impact on the game. It feels amazing knowing what you worked on came to fruition.
A CCW MVP and Champion, you've achieved more than most players have to this point in their careers. With a lot of Wiffle left in you, which CCW accomplishments are you still chasing?
I want the Cy Young award. That's the part of my game that I've worked on the most and I would love to see it pay off. I'd love to be known as the best all-around player in CCW history when I'm done. There are some amazing players on both sides of the ball, but proving to be great at hitting and pitching has shown to be difficult. That's where I want my legacy to end - being the #1 guy anyone would choose to build a team around.
How do you get locked in before a big game or series?
I make sure to get my arm loose. Hitting just takes a few swings and seeing the ball move. Pitching though is all about getting everything loose, moving fast and seeing my pitch movement. Knowing my ball can move a lot of ways means I just lock in to one pitch to start the day and go from there.
Which 8 Balls player is the X-factor this series? What do they do well?
Taylor has to be their X-factor. He's their best pitcher and hitter. We have to get to him early on both sides, get him chasing a few pitches and putting runs on the board early. As a team, they all hit the ball so well, especially slow pitch. That's one of the more impressive things about their team.
Finish the sentence: In order to win the title, the Moonshots have to...
hit the board. Plain and simple. They will put up runs no matter what, but being on the board limits them to a couple runs when lob pitches are automatic home runs.
Player: Taylor Carpenter
Team: 8 Balls
'22 Pitching: 48 IP, 7-2, 2.88 ERA, 74 K, 104 FIP
'22 Hitting: .430 AVG, 1.599 OPS, 24 HR, 51 RBI, 60 RC
Achievements: '18 CCW DPOY, '18 ASG MVP, '18 All-NWLA Rookie, '18 All-NWLA Fielder, '22 NWLAT Champion
Come Sunday, it will have been almost exactly one month since the NWLA Tournament title run. In what ways has your participation in that tournament helped you as a player?
The [NWLA] tournament has made me a much better fast pitch hitter. I know that having the pitch-to-hit rule in our league is big for me, but I'm just as comfortable trying to square up a fast pitch against some of the best arms if that's what's needed.
You're widely considered as the most talented/skilled player in the league, but have yet to win an MVP. Is that a goal of yours? Do you feel like you've played your best Wiffle ball yet?
MVP is a goal of mine, but not something I'm too concerned about during the season. I thought as long as I was playing well enough to help our team win throughout the year, that I'd be in good shape to put together a solid [MVP] resume.
Some predicted that Mike Speek would have a massive impact on you this year as a player. How has he helped you grow?
Senior has been great for my game. He's always calm out there and that's something that I've struggled with in the past. He's helped me the most on the mound. being able to throw different pitches and staying consistent are things that we have worked on. He's constantly giving advice on how to be better and having that voice really has pushed me.
Which Moonshots player is the X-Factor? What do they do that's special?
No doubt - it's Will [Smithey]. Dawg. He's really one of the best players in the country. He can win games by himself out there at times. We will have to do everything to try to keep him in check on Sunday.
Finish the sentence: In order to win the title, the 8 Balls have to...
Pitch extremely well. I think our bats are the best out there, but both [Ryan] Voges and I have to be our best selves on the mound to give our bats a chance to play. Go Balls!
By Brendan Dudas
The bottom 3 teams (Shorts, Pistols, Yakkers) will play a round robin tournament on Wednesday, August 3rd. The winner of the round robin tournament will advance to Sunday’s (August 7th) tournament where the top 3 teams (8 Balls, Hounds, Shots) await. The tournament will operate as a double elimination tournament up until the championship round. The 2 finalists will advance to the Dirtyard Classic on Sunday, August 14th. A best of 3 series will determine the 2022 CCW Champion.
Team Pre(and Re)views
8 Balls (11-5)
The 8 Balls lead CCW in team ERA and team OPS - a rare combo that hasn’t happened since the Short Shorts (Sand Gnats) in 2016. Mike Speek’s Lasso-esque motivation skills, Taylor Carpenter’s development and the winning lottery ticket that is Austin Alles have all come together to form the perfect storm. You have to be pretty nitpicky to find any weaknesses with the 8 Balls, but every team has their flaws. One, their defense is questionable when Carpenter is on the mound. The absence of Speek only hurts that. Two, Carpenter probably ranks 4th (behind Smithey, Werner and Sprinkle) when it comes to the league’s true shutdown aces.
X-Factor: Mike Speek - Senior isn’t even playoff eligible, but anybody that’s been to the Dirtyard this year knows that the 8 Balls are an entirely different team with him present than when he’s not. A championship run will require his focus, motivation and Moonshine Cherries.
The Hounds began 2022 on fire, winning 6 of their first 7 games. However, the offense was struggling and their wins were coming in close, low scoring games. This is not a team that will succeed by trying to outslug opponents, and an 0-4 (-32) record against the 8 Balls definitely spells trouble. However, with a 1-2 punch of Sprinkle and Du. Dowden, the Hounds will find themselves in a spot to win every game.
X-Factor: Dustin Dowden - Dustin has been the best number 2 pitcher in CCW this year, but his slugging has dropped almost 120 points compared to 2021. In order for the Hounds to have playoff success, they’ll need Dowden to provide some much-needed pop behind Dylan Jones.
Will Smithey has done Will Smithey things again in 2022. The league’s defending MVP is tough to beat, but the Shots’ near-.500 record shows that they struggle without the ball in his hands. Behind Smithey, Blake Voris has shown an awesome return to form at the plate and Myc Witty has broken out in a huge way. The defending champs have the MVP, elite defense and veterans all over. If Smithey can win his matchups and they can steal a win during a non-Smithey start, they’ll have a great chance to upgrade their title to “Back To Back Champs”.
X-Factor: Myc Witty - Witty has been lights out in his last 2 starts (10 IP, 2 W, 2 ER, 16 K). As mentioned above, the Shots are going to lean on Smithey to win the “Game 1s”, but if Witty continues this run, they’ll have the best playoff pitching duo in the league.
Short Shorts (7-8)
There’s no better representation of this Shorts team than last Sunday’s games: a 2-1 victory over Smithey & the Shots, followed by a 15-0 beatdown delivered by Werner and the Pistols. If everything goes the Shorts’ way, it seems that their ceiling is up there with some of the better teams in the league (4 of 7 wins came against 8 Balls and Moon Shots). However, when Dudas, H. Palmer and A. Palmer are missing the board, their ceiling crumbles and they become the league’s bottom feeder.
X-Factor: The K-board - This 3-man staff doesn’t allow much contact on fast pitch strikes. However, they struggle with making contact with the board. The x-factor for the Shorts is simply their ability to throw strikes.
Pork Pistols (6-9)
Still one of my dark horse picks to make a run to the Dirtyard Classic, the Pistols can’t be counted out. Reid Werner hasn’t historically boasted the consistency on par with Will Smithey, but his stuff is miles ahead of the next best CCW pitcher. Offensively, this lineup is incredibly balanced (3 hitters have exactly 10 HR and 17 RBI) and will make you pay for missing the board and serving up lob pitches. Historically, this group has spent the regular season “feeling things out”, only to up the intensity for playoffs.
X-Factor: Dalton Lewis - In order to win Wednesday’s round robin (and compete on Sunday), DLewy has to keep the score close during his outings. This serves two purposes: keeps the run differential close in the event of a 3-way tie on Wednesday and allows the Pistols’ offense a chance to go win a game.
The Yakkers stumbled to an 0-7 start and turned in CCW’s worst team ERA and OPS - a double whammy combo that makes it really hard to win games. That being said, I was high on them in the preseason and still believe most of the players on this roster are better than their ‘22 statistical profiles. The Yakkers finished 4-3 and closed out the regular season with wins over the #1 and #2 teams. Momentum is such a large part of playoff success and the Yakkers have it on their side. Come Wednesday, it’s an entirely new season and a fresh slate.
X-Factor: Mitch Buis & Cade Luker - This is a team that relies heavily on being greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts have all been very hit or miss up to this point. For the Yakkers to get going, Mitch Buis has to deliver on the mound and Cade Luker has to be a spark plug at the plate. As a duo, the regular season needs to be left behind them and the focus turned toward winning Wednesday’s round robin.
More Players to Watch
Austin Alles & Taylor Carpenter - The teammates seem to be #1 and #2 in the Silver Slugger race. The 8 Balls will likely drop down to a 4-man lineup and this race likely won’t be finished until the dust settles at the Dirtyard Classic.
James Haworth - Haworth’s unorthodox style gives the Yakkers a much-needed injection of energy when he’s in the lineup. If he’s available, he immediately makes the Yakkers better.
Holden Palmer - Palmer (6 IP, 1 ER vs Moonshots) has turned it up in his recent outings, giving the Shorts an arm that they’ve desperately needed.
Evan Butz - If not for Austin Alles, we’d be talking more about Evan Butz’ (.415, 10 HR) incredible rookie campaign. Expect to see him in the lineup on Wednesday.
Jake Sprinkle & Quinn Cloghessy - The Hounds only have 5 players eligible for the playoffs. Neither of these players accrued full-time hitting stats, but one of them will find themselves in the lineup for playoffs.
Blake Voris - As teams begin to use their 3 IBBs to pitch around Will Smithey, Voris (.459, 7 HR) will be counted on to make those teams pay.
Dirtyard Classic: 8 Balls over Moonshots
Playoff MVP: Austin Alles
Wednesday Round Robin Winner: Pork Pistols
The Two-Way Favorites
The One-Trick Ponies
Circle City Wiffle has partnered with the Hoosier Wiffle Ball League (Indianapolis) to form a developmental path for young players looking to join CCW.
As part of this partnership, CCW will host Hoosier Wiffle's Championship at the Dirtyard, create a Future's Game as part of the CCW All-Star Night and provide assistance for HWBL's growth goals.
The Hoosier Wiffle Ball League will be open to local players between the age of 10 and 14.
Registration, stats and other HWBL info can be found here:
Free agency is set to begin as soon the clock strikes midnight on February 1. The anticipation is high, the rumor mill is robust and time has seemed to slow to a crawl as we count down the minutes until February.
In case you've been living under a rock for the past 2 months, Circle City Wiffle is moving forward with 6 franchises - the 8 Balls, Hounds, Moonshots, Pork Pistols, Short Shorts and Yakkers. The committee then appointed a manager/coach to each franchise - Mike Speek, Dylan Jones, Will Smithey, Thomas Hopkins, Brendan Dudas and Rudy Lyon.
The managers were tasked with drafting their franchise duo partner in reverse order of their player value. The results of that draft are below:
Hounds: Dylan Jones, Jake Sprinkle
Pork Pistols: Thomas Hopkins, Reid Werner
8 Balls: Mike Speek, Taylor DeHart
Short Shorts: Brendan Dudas, Aidan Palmer
Yakkers: Rudy Lyon, Cade Luker
Moonshots: Will Smithey, Tyler Gregory
Instead of daydreaming about the unknown potential of next month, let's take a step back and analyze what we're taking for granted: these incredibly exciting 2022 Franchise Duos.
The tools we have at our disposal are previous years' raw stats, hitting/pitching values and the good ol' fashioned Mike Speek Sr. Eye Test (patent pending). Let's do what any good statistician would do and MASH 'EM TOGETHER! Here we go.
#1) 8 Balls: Speek/DeHart
Duo value: 92.8 (5th)
I love love LOVE this duo, and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment. Mike Speek is as steady and dependable as they come, and he's the PERFECT coach for a volatile player like Taylor DeHart. This duo is balanced, it's (ridiculously) good looking and it's going to win a LOT of games in 2022. DeHart had an outside shot at MVP in 2021, and I think Speek helps him reach new heights this summer. The biggest question mark here is Speek's health and commitment level with retirement on the horizon, but I'm confident he'll counter those concerns with a great performance in free agency. Not many people can recruit quite like Mike Sr.
#2) Pork Pistols: Hopkins/Werner
Duo value: 109.6 (2nd)
Thomas Hopkins was one of the bigger surprises in 2021 and a massive reason the Pistols were just a few plays away from knocking off the Shorts in the semis. Regression is a definite possibility here, but Thomas will no longer have to be his team's best player with Reid Werner in the fold. That's a scary thought. There are only a few guys I would rank above both Thomas and Reid when it comes to guys who really THINK their way through games. They'll be level-headed, well-prepared and nicely positioned to make a run at the Dirtyard Classic title... as long as Thomas doesn't throw his back out trying to put a base in.
#3) Moonshots: Smithey/Gregory
Duo value: 127.1 (1st)
I need to preface this analysis by saying that I mean absolutely ZERO disrespect toward Tyler Gregory, one of CCW's premier fielders and clutch hitters... BUT! This ranking is largely based on Will Smithey's dominance. His cap hit is 100... 1-0-0! The next closest? Reid Werner at 66.7. This is AFTER I manipulated the data to close that gap between Will and the rest of the field. He's an absolute beast and could lead a group of traffic cones to a solid season. You add in a player like T-Greg and ShEeEeEeSh!
#4) Yakkers: Lyon/Luker
Duo value: 104.6 (3rd)
Rudy Lyon shocked most of us by selecting Cade Luker in the duo draft, but upon further review, I love the pick. Rudy comes in at #3 in CCW's total value metric (7th in hitting and 8th in pitching). His #3 overall ranking shows you just how rare GOOD 2-way players are in CCW. Rudy brings consistent two-way value. Cade Luker brings thump, ceiling and good looks to this duo. The sophomore slump hasn't really existed up to this point in CCW, so (knock on wood) we should see Cade continue to improve as a hitter. He spent the entire season tucked between approximately 726 Hacker hitters, so don't be surprised to see him jump into the Silver Slugger conversation this year. He's sneaky good and that sneaky label won't last long.
#5) Hounds: Jones/Sprinkle
Duo value: 90.4 (6th)
This duo's ceiling concerns me. They lack speed and fielding, and both players accumulate ALL of their value from a single skill - Dylan Jones's from hitting and Jake Sprinkle's from pitching. When you combine them, you get a sum that's average at hitting and pitching, yet still doesn't offer any speed, base running or fielding. Free agency will be VERY important for these two, and they must be calculated with each signing. One thing that can't be quantified is the relationship between Jones and Sprinkle. While many of these duos are inviting new players into their circle, these two have been competing together at a high level dating back to their days at UIndy. One thing is certain: this team will absolutely find itself at the top of the beer drinking standings.
#6) Short Shorts: Dudas/Palmer
Duo value: 101.6 (4th)
The definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. Welp... Brendan Dudas and Aidan Palmer are RUNNIN' IT BACK, PEOPLE! Grab your popcorn, snag a can of Bud Light from the brand new Dirtyard mini-fridge (thanks, Drake!) and enjoy the (sh*t) show! If you want actual analysis, here it is: Dudas' turned in the best offensive season in CCW history in 2021 and Palmer has shown flashes of being an elite level arm. Think of this duo like an 8-leg parlay. If everything hits, it's time to celebrate, but... don't hold your breath on the +10,000 odds.
As I got to the end of this piece, I realized I was actually just writing a sales pitch for each team's potential free agents. Hear that? That's the sound of the Short Shorts' stock price slamming into the floor.
I want to note that I believe the actual standings are going to be REALLY tight. Yes, I ranked the Hounds and Shorts as 5th and 6th, but I think we'll see a ton of flip-flopping in the standings this season. There are still 4 spots to fill on each team, which will change things significantly.
PLEASE leave your thoughts! I'm excited to hear them.
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
For the first time in league history, Circle City Wiffle hosted a free agent draft. The order was created based on the reverse order of last year's standings. Additionally, each team that lost a player to the free agent portal was compensated with an extra pick between the first and second round.
Watch Brendan Dudas' video recap HERE
1. Outlaws - Aidan Palmer
The most obvious choice to go #1 overall. Palmer has endured a very up and down CCW career, but his "ups" have landed him in talks with some of the best pitchers in the country. If the Outlaws can get Aidan and Buis on the board, this becomes one heck of a fireballing, lefty/righty duo.
Hackers trade picks 3 and 10 to Yakkers in exchange for 2nd pick.
2. Hackers (via Yakkers) - Alex Gurtcheff
The biggest surprise in the draft came just two picks in. Gurtcheff made his CCW debut at Monday night's free agent workout. His batting practice was impressive and he showed the ability to hit the board from the mound. Anchored by Alec Buchman and Holden Palmer, the Hackers' rotation is just fine. Starke is taking a gamble in hoping that Gurtcheff provides some much-needed offensive thump.
3. Yakkers (via Hackers) - Sawyer Mitchell
Mitchell seemed like a shoe-in for a top 2 pick before the Hackers selected Gurtcheff, but he falls to the Yakkers and Rudy Lyon adds a decorated CCW vet to a roster in desperate need of bodies. Now, Lyon must turn his attention and effort to getting Mitchell to the Dirtyard on a consistent basis.
4. Pork Pistols - Michael Plourde
After failing to strike a deal to move up in the draft, the Pistols are forced to settle with this pick. Plourde is going to provide great value on the defensive side, but likely won't give the Pistols what they're looking for from the mound or at the plate. That being said, Plourde is a great teammate and most franchises would openly welcome his addition.
5. Short Shorts - Spencer Bogad
The Shorts spark a chain reaction of out-of-town picks with this one. Spencer Bogad (Skibbe Wiffle) intends to make a few trips to the Dirtyard this summer. Bogad is an elite fast pitch player and will help the Shorts on both sides of the ball.
6. Moonshots - Cam Smith
Also from Skibbe Wiffle, what was said above can be said about Cam Smith. Both the Shorts and the Shots will be looking to do everything they can to get these guys playoff eligible. From there, Smith and Bogad become complete game changers.
7. 8 Balls - Jared Jonkman
With a roster that's tight-knit and nearly full, most figured Mike Speek would pass on taking anyone here at number 7. Jared provides the 8 Balls with an offensive weapon and Wiffle mind that only strengthens this CCW powerhouse.
8. Noodlers - Kyle Gagliardi
Gags has bounced around a few times in his short CCW career, but lands in a great spot with the defending champion Noodlers. The Jonkman/Gags pairing puts a lot of pressure on the Noodlers roster should those two be unable to make the trip down to Indy consistently, but Gagliardi will be a plus contributor from the plate and on the mound when he's there.
9. Outlaws - Kyle Cortner
We're getting into the players that we don't know much about. Cortner is a current college baseball player and has received a glowing endorsement from league villain, Spencer Schriner. This is exactly the type of player the Outlaws need to surround Aidan Palmer.
10. Yakkers (via Hackers) - Cameron Gross
According to his resume, Gross has a solid amount of baseball experience. The Yakkers are in need of bodies, so Gross should get an opportunity right away to see if he has what it takes.
11. Pork Pistols - Paul Agresta
His profile reads "draft me and you will NOT regret it", to which Thomas Hopkins responded, "Gimme Agresta. I like his style." *shrugs*
12. Noodlers - Nick Booker
Not much is known about Booker, but he's 23 and has high school/travel baseball experience. Cody House is looking to replenish a roster that lost both Jordan Tackett and Sawyer Mitchell.
1. Outlaws - Josh Hart
HE'S BACK! Truthfully, Hart didn't expect to be drafted by anyone other than his close friends on the Short Shorts. He was part of a championship roster in 2015, but hasn't played competitive fast pitch in some time. Still, Buis is laser-focused on surrounding Palmer with athletic bodies and this selection achieves that.
2. Yakkers - Ryan Galiher
Galiher is a fixture in NWI. He's played a lot of high level Wiffle ball, but doesn't intend to be a CCW regular.
3. Hackers - PASS
4. Pork Pistols - Kenny Boger
This is likely nothing more than a depth addition. Boger is a competitive athlete that will likely factor in once the Pistols' throw their arms/backs out by week 3.
5. Short Shorts - Kevin Keefe
The Shorts begin stocking their farm system by selecting Keefe - Dudas' nephew - in his first year of CCW eligibility.
6. Moonshots - PASS
7. 8 Balls - PASS
8. Noodlers - PASS
Three CCW studs laid claim to prestigious National Wiffle awards this postseason - a fitting culmination for what was a very successful year for Circle City on the national level.
3 National Awards, 17 National Team selections, 6 Top 100 Players, Top 8 finish at the NWLAT, Most Improved Website.
With the young talent in this league, it’s beginning to feel like this thing might just be getting started.
Central Hitter of the Year, The Drop #76, CCW Silver Slugger
Smithey broke onto the scene in a big way during his 2019 rookie campaign. He led a dangerous Hounds squad to within one half-inning of a World Series appearance, impressing Mike Speek along the way and earning a spot on his team for the CCW Top 40 draft.
Some of the best players in the world, regardless of their sport, fall into the ‘Sophomore Slump’. But some unique circumstances - like the addition of the best Wiffle baller in the country (see Jonkman, Caleb) - somewhat silenced the noise of the mounting pressure that usually accompanies being labeled the next face of CCW. Will Smithey responded with a sophomore surge.
Smithey devoted himself to Wiffle in the summer of 2020 and it paid off handsomely. #1 in slugging, on base percentage and average while turning in top 5 pitching numbers that enabled him to *legitimately* compete with Caleb Jonkman for league MVP.
In his first NWLA Tournament, Will Smithey led the Chasers to their best finish in league history. CCW finished 1st in OBP, T1st in HR, 4th in runs, 2nd in SLG and 5th in AVG. With Smithey leading the way, Circle City Wiffle is going to find itself in the National conversation for years to come.
Alec Buchman, Central Rookie of the Year, The Drop #71, CCW Rookie of the Year
Buchman’s rookie campaign was largely just “fine” until his July 7th outing against the Short Shorts. 0 runs, 1 hit allowed and 12 strikeouts. Boom - it’s on.
Something clicked on that night and Alec Buchman never looked back. His final two starts of the 2020 CCW season? 1 run and 13 strikeouts in a playoff upset of the Yakkers, then 1 run and 17 strikeouts in a heartbreaking loss to the Short Shorts.
Buchman carried that momentum into his first NWLA Tournament appearance, leading the CCW staff with a 0.55 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 11 innings of work.
The velocity, arsenal and investment are all enough to make Buchman a perennial mainstay atop the CCW pitching leaders.
Caleb Jonkman, National Player of the Year, The Drop #2, CCW MVP and Cy Young
While it would be wrong to claim Jonkman as CCW’s own, he’s going in this article due to his impact on CCW, but mostly so the commish doesn’t have to hear it from him for the next 3 months...
It would be a waste of your time to do a recap on Jonkman. If you want the full season-long scoop, go read his write-up on The Drop’s Top 100 list.
There’s no statistical summary needed. No list of achievements, accomplishments or records. What Caleb did for CCW in 2020 was paradigm-altering. He brought a level of competition and discomfort to the league’s best players that will prove to be foundational in the growth and development of CCW for years to come.
In addition to the 3 National Awards, CCW had 17 players earn National Team honors - easily setting a league high, and 6 players listed in The Drop’s Top 100:
Speek Jr - 1st
Sprinkle - 2nd
Smithey - 2nd
Werner - 2nd
McFarland - 2nd
Leffler - 3rd
Smithey - 1st
Dudas - 2nd
Lyon - 3rd
Caughey - 3rd
McFarland - 3rd
Morris - 3rd
Buchman - 1st
Dudas - 1st
Gregory - 2nd
Plourde - 3rd
Hopkins - 3rd
Speek - 98
Smithey - 76
Lyon - 73
Buchman - 71
Speek Jr. - 30
A revamped Circle City board of directors has set the date for the 2021 preseason meeting. 2020, while an amazing year of Wiffle, was not free of missteps. CCW will look to address those issues and move forward with a clear plan of action.
Stay tuned for updates regarding the 2021 season. We look forward to having you join us for another amazing year!
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