Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ultimate Fighting Moves That Sound Like Things Found in XXX Movies

  • Rear Naked Choke
  • Fishhooking
  • Side Mount
  • Ground & Pound
  • Small Joint Manipulation
  • Leg Lock
  • Head Butt
  • Kimura Lock
  • Front Roll
  • Inner Lion Throw
  • Scarf Hold Submissions
  • Cobra Arm Wrap Strangle
  • Cross Buttock

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

List of Beatles Song Titles if They Were Named After Major League Shortstops of the 1970s

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Help needed

Does anyone know what the regulations are for landing a helicopter in a public park? Who would I need to comtact to get permission, and what kind of fees would I have to pay?

Just curious.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The pressure is off

Well, since you didn’t see a gloating post on the Tuesday night after the final playoff rounds, we didn’t win the championships. We did make it to the finals, after beating Nuts & Honeys 10-1 in the semifinals. However, we fell in the Championship game 5-3 to the Wonderballerz.

How do I feel about it? Great! What’s the opposite of sour grapes? Sweet raisins? Then that’s what I’ve got, for the following reasons:

- Other teams were starting to hate us, not because of anything we did, but just because we’re the team that everyone was gunning for since we’ve won two Division championships and this last season’s pennant.

- The pressure to win was getting to be far greater than it ever needs to be for kickball.

- The Wonderballerz are really, really cool people. And, they were kind of like us our first championship season: they were the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, and pulled off four straight upsets to win the title. They were fun to play against, and I’d root for them if I wasn’t a Ninja.

New season starts in February. Expect big changes.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Division championships are Monday night

Oh yeah, we beat Redrum last week 5-3 in the Quarterfinals of the Studio Division tournament. We're in the semifinals at 8 p.m. against either Smurfageddon or Nuts & Honeys, with the Championship Game at 9 p.m. if we win. And Monday night is "Boo A Ninja Night" at the North Hollywood Rec Center. In honor of our showing at the Leaders Cup, we're encouraging all friends and enemies of the Ninjas to come give us a dose of our own medicine and heckle us during the game.

Leaders Cup Weekend Part II: Saturday Morning


Scott, Aaron and I get to the park early, because there’s a captain’s meeting at 8:30 a.m. that we need to be at (even though the first game isn’t until 10 a.m.) Because we were staying downtown and not at the “official” WAKA player’s hotel in the North side of San Diego (the tournament is at Coronado Park, which is south of downtown), we didn’t have access to the free WAKA shuttle that was taking players to the fields and back throughout the day.

So, we hire a town car. Because, when you’re a champion, you travel first class. Actually, it worked out just fine – it was a short drive to the fields (five minutes) and we got to spread out and relax rather than be crammed into a school bus with hundreds of other people. In retrospect, we should have told the driver to just pull onto the field instead of dropping us off at the parking lot, but that’s hindsight…

Here’s a bit of back history before I talk about the captain’s meeting: I’m always very, very skeptical of anyone who works for WAKA, especially at the national level. Until proven otherwise, I assume that they’re arrogant, smug and take themselves (and kickball) way too seriously. They fall into the same category that the “serious” kickball players I’ve seen on the message boards back East are in: they think they the mere fact that they play kickball makes them interesting. I tend to think that as Ninjas, we make kickball interesting with all of the bullshit things that we do. But I digress.

We took our pile of props, set it down at the fields, and went to the captain’s meeting. And, surprise, it took about two minutes to be condescended to by WAKA staff. This came when they were reviewing the basic rules (because clearly, the teams that are playing in the World Championship need to have to rules reviewed – do you think they explained to the Steelers and the Seahawks that football has four downs before the Super Bowl?). The guy running the captain’s meeting (who had all the humor and warmth of a camp counselor) decided it was important to point out when reviewing the strike zone that:

“So, I understand that some of the West Coast Divisions use this plastic strips to show where the strike zone is. That IS NOT how it is supposed to be done!”

Please note that he was staring directly at Scott and I the whole time he was saying this. Some more background: in Hollywood and then later Studio, we used to chop the crappy plastic bases into foot-long strips. If you place a strip on either side of the home base, you can see exactly what the strike zone is (12 inches on either side of the plate). Simple, right? A perfect way for even novice umps to accurately call a fair strike zone?

Except that WAKA decided that they didn’t want us to use the strips. Why? Because it wasn’t standard WAKA equipment. Basically, WAKA would rather have arguments about balls and strikes than budge from “their way” of doing things.

So, as soon as I heard the WAKA lackey make that comment, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I was trying to go into everything with as open of a mind as possible. But as soon as I heard that, it reconfirmed every belief I have about WAKA and their personnel, and just put me back into an adversarial relationship with the organization all over again.

Fortunately, I had brought several name tags to wear during the day (or at least until I sweated through my shirt and they fell off, which was about 90 minutes into the games). They said different things, such as “WAKA is a Monopoly” and “I Support Indie Kickball”. But, thanks to the attitude of the WAKA stooge, I went with a more direct message:


The rest of the team eventually arrived, and we went back from our field to the main stage for “Opening Ceremonies”. Now, if you know anything about our team, it’s that we sometimes can struggle to find togetherness. But, at the same time, we also relish finding a common enemy. Fortunately for us, through their arrogance, WAKA became the perfect windmill for this group of Pancho Sanzas to tilt. We decided to be the antidote to the self-importance that we noticed before the tournament started by being the most frightening team possible. If WAKA wanted “enthusiasm” from their teams, we’d give it to them in a larger amount and in a scarier package than they know what do to with. Basically, if we weren’t the best team at the tournament, we’d be the team that you’d least want to meet in a back alley.

This was helped by us being in the black T-shirts, which I think give us the impact of looking like Raider fans. And the fact that outside of the Dogtown Pregnant Cheerleaders, no one had ever seen us since we stayed at a different hotel and boycotted the official WAKA “Captain’s Party” that night. Why did we skip said party? Because it was free for the four captains to get in, but it would have been $25 for the rest of the team.

And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to go party for free while the rest of the team either can’t go or has to pay through the nose. I came to the tournament first and foremost to be with my team, and they’re more important than any “free” party. Sorry WAKA, we’ll pass.

At the opening ceremonies, they introduced each team, who then proceeded to politely clap for themselves. And first off, we had by far the best team name of any team there. Most of the team names were bad puns like “Kick Asphalt” or “No Small Feet” or somehow named after the names of the captains. Come on, guys, “Tack Wacket” vs. “Awesome Helicopter Ninjas”: which team would you rather be on.

Before our turn, Scott made sure that we knew what to do: scream as loud as possible for as long as possible. And also raise our middle fingers high in the air.

So that’s what we did, and brother let me tell you: it was loud. Very loud, probably five times as loud as any other team that was introduced. And the screaming probably lasted for at least 30 seconds. Add the flipping off of the entire tournament while we were doing this, and I’m sure it made for quite a, umm, “spectacle”.

When we were done, all the WAKA PR Rep/MC could say, in a very disgusted voice, was:

“Umm, thanks for the middle fingers, guys…”

The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Putting the “K” in “Klassy”.

Then came the National Anthem. As sung by “Spencer the Gardner”, the lead singer of the band that played the Captain’s Party the night before. My impression ahead of time is that the band was some sort of Jimmy Buffet-type jam band. And while his vocal stylings might be OK on a Friday night when you want to “cut loose” and “have a blast” after happy hour at the Black Angus, when it’s heard in the cold, harsh light of morning?

Ugh. More like “Spencer the Warbler” or “Spencer the Guy Who Fucking Murders the National Anthem”. In terms of spectacle, it was more “Ashlee Simpson at the Orange Bowl” than “Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl”.

Which is why I didn’t feel bad that we disrupted the big ending. Again, an idea that came from our fearless captain, Scott Jones, and his beloved hometown of Kansas City. Apparently, it’s a custom at Chiefs games during the National Anthem for the entire crowd of 75,000 people to shout “The home of the Chiefs” over “The home of the brave” at the end of the song. So Scott told us to do the same thing, except shout “The Ninjas” instead of “The Chiefs”. So that’s what we did, all 15 of us. And it was loud.

Except that the singer decided to pause an extra few beats after singing “And the home of the...” In our frenzy, of course we didn’t hear him and just screamed on the beat. I think (and I’m not sure because, like I said, it was loud) that he actually waited for us to stop, but our cacophony lasted so long that eventually he just gave up and didn’t get to finish the song.

To top things off, as we were leaving the Opening Ceremonies and going over to the field for our first game, what happened to fly directly overhead? A pair of Navy helicopters! Of course, this lead to much rejoicing from our team, as we took it as a sign of things to come.

As for the games themselves: as usual, they were superfluous to everything else. A short list of the extraneous bullcrap:

- The confetti canon: Perhaps the highlight of all of our stuff. Scott went and bought a very impressive, high-capacity confetti canon that we shot off several times during the day, complete with black confetti.
- The pool cue chalk: Used once during our opening game.
- Bribe money: I was very happy that this seemed to be a big hit with the other teams. I picked up a very cool suitcase from the 1960s at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I stuffed the briefcase with fake $20s, and before each game I would show the money to the refs and let them know that “I’m not trying to bribe you, but if you the close calls happened to go our way and this briefcase happened to get left with your stuff after the game, I guess that’s just a coincidence.”

Fortunately, every team we played in our Pool Play was very, very cool and I got along with them a lot. Of course, we knew one of them really well, and they were all West Coast teams, which I learned meant that they took things a lot less seriously than the East Coast teams. In order of our games:

- No Small Feet: The team of Shane from, and the team that won the West Coast Regional in Anaheim last month. They were very, very good and probably deserved to beat us, although not by the final score. We were tied 0-0 going into the third inning, and then we just sort of…fell apart. They got two runners on with one out, and then we made a couple of errors to let two runs score. Once that happened, I think we let our nerves of playing in the “World Championships” get the best of us, and we made a series of dumb mental errors. 15 minutes later, and we’re down 8-0. We got one back in the fourth but the game ended because of the time limit before we were able to finish.

- Pregnant Cheerleaders (Dogtown): Scott and I know and played against several of the people on this team when we were all in Hollywood, and they are all very, very cool people. Needless to say, we were very happy when we drew them in our bracket.

We went down 2-0 in this game, but I think we managed to snap out of it and realize that if we played smart, we’d be OK. We got two back to tie it in the second inning. The Cheerleaders scored two more to go ahead, but we tied it back in the top of the fourth. We were desperate to get them out in the fourth inning quickly so we could get one more inning in, since we were positive that we would get at least a couple of runs in the fifth and have a great chance of winning. And I think the Cheerleaders knew that as well, which is why they took their sweet time while at-bat in the bottom of the fourth.

The game ended in a 4-4 tie. At that point, I thought our chances of making it out of group play were sunk no matter what happened the next game.

- Orange Crush: They were the San Diego Champions, and they, again, were a lot of fun. However, I suspect they aren’t as good as they were in Spring when they qualified, since we were able to score early and often. The final score was 10-3, and it was a really good feeling to win a game. However, only two of the four teams from our group would advance, and the first tiebreaker was runs against. I was pretty convinced that giving up eight runs to No Small Feet in our first game would doom us.

However, somehow, someway, we were able to go through. The Cheerleaders lost to No Small Feet in their last game, 7-5. We tied with the Cheerleaders at 1-1-1. However, what we didn’t know was that when they beat Orange Crush in their Opening Game, they still gave up five runs. So, they give up 16 runs in the three games while we gave up 15, sending us through to the next round by one run.

(Note: Before the game, one of Orange Crush’s female players asked me “What was up with the middle fingers at Opening Ceremonies. Not that I was offended, but it just seemed a little…inappropriate.” Which sounds suspiciously similar to “I was offended but don’t want to admit it.” I tried to explain that we weren’t flipping anyone off in particular, and that it was a gesture made out of love, but I don’t think she was buying it. However, the team was very proud when I reported it to them later, and we can proudly fly the banner of “Most Inappropriate Kickball Team in America”.)

- Tack Wacket: Another team that I knew well, this time being the team from Hollywood. The team was captained by Tatiana and Jon Gellar, who are former Lebwoskis and who were on the Board when I was there. And their first baseman is Superman. And I don’t mean like Super Manfredi, but actually Superman, as in Brandon Routh, the guy who played Superman in the last movie. In anticipation of possibly playing them, Michael had wanted to bring a “Kryptonite” kickball painted green, but we didn’t have enough time.

It was a tough game. Tack Wacket scored a run first, but we clawed back. We had Bill on second and Ashley on first with one out, when I got up to the plate. All I wanted to do was get the ball into right field – if it was caught, Bill could tag up and go to third. If it fell for a hit, even better.

Well, my first kick started out down the right field line, but started slicing foul quickly and hard. However, Superman managed to make a great play and go about 15 feet off the base at full speed to make an over-the-shoulder catch. But this is where Superman turned into Clark Kent, so to say. (Har har har.) Because after he made the catch, he just kept running, leaping over coolers and lawn chairs and going about 50 or 60 feet.

I noticed this, and noticed that neither Bill or Ashley were tagging up. It turns out that like Superman, they didn’t realize that you could tag up on a foul out just like a normal fly out. So I started yelling at them to go, and they did. Bill managed to make it all the way home before Superman realized what was happening. He threw to the plate in an attempt to get Bill out, but the throw was wild and went sailing into the crowd. Because of the wild throw, Ashley was also able to score.

So, credit me with a two-run foul out, and we made the two runs hold up with some clutch defense. 2-1 for the Ninjas, and we were on to the semifinals.

- Kick Asphalt: These guys had won five World Championships, and are generally considered to be the best kickball team in America. And big surprise – they’re very good. They take this very, very seriously, almost like they are a semi-pro team. They keep their roster down to 11 or 12 players, with no random players being added to their team that they don’t know (which is how many of our team started as Ninjas). The other Virgina team in the tournament even goes as far as to hold try-outs if you want to join the team. Both teams are all former college athletes, and needless to say they take winning at kickball very seriously.

However, they are incredibly one-note. All they do is bunt, bunt, bunt, every at-bat. Keep in mind that they play exclusively on all-grass fields in the East Coast, while we play on actual dirt softball diamonds. This means that bunting is much more difficult where we play – balls roll further and get to fielders more quickly. Plus, softball diamond are built so that the ground slopes away from the center and towards foul ground (to help drainage when it rains). This means that any bunt down the lines is very likely to eventually roll foul.

But this doesn’t happen on grass. In addition, their pitcher threw overhand and very hard. Again, balls bounce a lot higher on grass, so you wouldn’t be able to do this. But, they have built their team to their environment, and they’re very good at what they do.

Still, we didn’t embarrass ourselves – we didn’t give up any big innings, and we almost scored (Scott was thrown out at the plate). The final was 7-0, and we were out in the semfinals. Since my original goal for the day was just to make it out of Pool Play, I obviously was thrilled. However…

I know this is going to sound like sour grapes, but I seriously think that we’d have a very good chance to beat Kick Asphalt, or any other team, if we played on dirt. Their team is built for grass, and we’re built for dirt. Take away their bunting ability and pitching advantage and I think it’s a lot closer than 7-0.

We stayed to watch the Championship game between Kick Asphalt and Gonzo. They are both from Virginia and are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in America. And the game was…really, really boring. All both teams did was bunt the whole game. And because everyone bunts on the East Coast, they both knew how to defend it really well. So, inning after inning of bunt, bunt, bunt, and no scoring.

After a couple of innings, we were getting really desperate to have something, anything exciting happen. So we decided to make it happen, by trying to do anything to get them to stop bunting. Which basically meant booing at every bunt and cheering every time a) someone was out when they tried to bunt or b) someone actually kicked the ball (which was rare). Not only did our whole team do this, but we managed to get a good portion of the rest of the teams watch to do the same thing. We had chants like “Please just kick it!” and “We hate bunting!” going for most of the game, which seemed to really confuse and/or upset the two teams playing.

Now I know what you might be thinking: it rude to boo two teams that are trying so hard to win and putting their all into it. Which is sort of true. But at the same time, the fact that they took it all so seriously became provocation to be even more unruly as the game went on. Each glare that we got from one of the sidelines was more than enough to spur us on to more chants. Plus, it really was incredibly boring. It was the kickball equivalent of the Neutral Zone Trap in hockey – effective in helping you win, but incredibly boring to watch. Eventually people stopped watching the NHL because of the Neutral Zone Trap, and if every kickball game I played was like the Championship Game, I wouldn’t want to play OR watch.

In the end, Kick Asphalt won 1-0. However, I think we were the big winners for causing discontentment with those who take kickball too seriously. To celebrate this, we ran around like idiots with our smoke bombs after the final out, even though we weren’t playing. And any time we can break out the smoke bombs is a win in my book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Leaders Cup Pt. I - Friday Night (B)Lights


A big group of us headed out to San Diego on Friday night via Amtrak. It was my first trip on Amtrak, and let me say this: it was highly enjoyable. You could walk around and talk to people, make phone calls, see the scenery and visit the diner car. Which, to be fair, featured microwaveable pizza and hamburgers, but you get the idea.

But the sights and the food were not what made this portion of the trip so memorable. No, dear reader, that would be Jim. Jim was traveling with his wife and two kids. And Jim was spectacular. Some highlights:

- According to Jim (har har), he wasn’t drunk, but for some reason the bartender at the train station told him that if he tried to order another drink “he’d be arrested”.

- Jim was a Steelers fan (complete with Terrible Towel), which lead to a lot of bewildering conversations with Scott and his friend Aaron (who came from Kansas City just to watch the tournament). My favorite was this:

“The Steelers used to go to Tennessee, and they’d lose every year. You know why? Because they used to go get that moonshine, that Jack Daniels, and get drunk the night before the game. Then Bill Cowher told them to stop drinking that and start drinking Gatorade, and then they started winning.”

The sad part is that Jim wasn’t kidding.

- About Jim’s outfit: he was wearing a pair of sleep pants that had the Coors Light logo all over them. Over his pants he had a pair of boxers that had the Miller Light logo plastered on it. He also had a sweater on, on top of which he put on his Marines T-shirt with a giant hole in the neck as he told us he was going down for the Marines’ birthday.

Needless to say, Jim was a special, special person.

We arrived at about 10:30 p.m. and decided to walk to our hotel. According to Google Maps, it was only 0.8 miles from the train station to the hotel. However, it didn’t say that it was entirely uphill the entire walk. Seriously, can’t Google maps include some sort of topography?

After checking in and meeting up with the rest of our team that was staying at our hotel, we decided to go get something to eat. We had Mexican food, and it was fine. Of course, it did provide our first bit of team drama for the weekend. The wait at the restaurant was about 20 minutes, which wasn’t too bad for 14 people at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. However, Scott thought that we would be out too late, and not be ready to play the next morning. He tried to convince us just to get some pizza and take it back to the hotel, but was veto.

So, after sitting down and getting menus, we realized that Scott wasn’t there. It turns out that Scott just…left. While this is anti-social, it isn’t completely unexpected from Scott Jones. When questioned about it the next day, he claimed that he wanted to get to bed, and it would take to long if he said goodbye, and that people would try to talk him out of it…

I love Scott, but sometimes he is completely full of shit.

The whole incident wound up creating a bond with the rest of the team. Specifically, our team toast that night was “Fuck Scott Jones”, and we spent a good portion of the evening taking turns sending Scott nasty text messages and voice mails every 30 seconds.

By midnight, we went to bed, tired and dreaming of what was to happen the next morning. (Well, most of us – some people stayed up all night hitting the bars. And by “some people”, I mean Adam G., Adam J. and Scott P.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Ninjas - #4 team in the damned World!

I don't care how many teams played, or which "powerhouse" teams didn't show up because the tournament was in San Diego. All I know is this - WAKA held a "World Championship" this past weekend, and we made it to the semifinals. Part of competing is showing up, and if you didn't show up, you can't complain. Therefore, we're No. 4!

Needless to say, this weekend was a complete blast. I'm still partially in recovery mode and partially in "I can't believe we have to play a Playoff game in the Division tonight" mode, so a full recap of the weekend's activities will have to wait until tomorrow. Expect to hear about the following:

- Obscene gestures
- Fireworks
- Confetti guns
- Military helicopters
- Rude behaviour
- Standing up TO THE MAN!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Leaders Cup on Saturday

I leave tomorrow for San Diego for the Leaders Cup, which is one of WAKA's two big tournaments every year. The winner technically has the right to call themselves the "World Champions of Kickball", because I think WAKA trademarked the phrase. Since the field has constantly been dropping with each week, and we're now down to 13, mostly West Coast, teams, it might be a bit of hyperbole to say that, but it's officially trademarked hyperbole, damn it!

We're staying in downtown San Diego, although the "official" WAKA hotel is in Mission Valley. Why?

- The fields for the tournament are in Coronado, which is twice as close to downtown as it is to Mission Valley.
- All of the cool bars are in downtown.
- The bar for the official post-tournament party is downtown, although WAKA isn't providing teams with transportation from Mission Valley to downtown for it.
- We like to be loners and mysterious and not socialize with the other teams before the tournament.

Needless to say, we're bringing our best shenanigans to the tournament, including some new, potentially explosive items. Let's just say there's as much of a chance of us getting kicked out of the park than us winning the whole thing.

If you'd like to follow the chaos live, WAKA is posting updates, interviews, results and more on their Web site via live blogging. God help the poor WAKA sap who tried to interview one of us.

Also, you can go on that link and vote for the team that you think is going to win. Please do so, and vote Chicago style - early and often. Hint: after you vote, go to another site and then clear your cookies. Go back to the site and, voila, you can vote again.

The Ninjas win the pennant! The Ninjas win the pennant!

Well, we finally did it. Monday night was the regular season finale, and we defeated Uno Mas 4-2 in a rematch of last season's title game. More importantly, we clinched the regular-season title with the win and the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs.

How do I feel about it? I would say pretty damned good, if I wasn't so superstitious. We've never won a regular season title before, in fact we've never been higher than a No. 3 seed. And, when we've won both of our playoff titles, we've never finished the regular season with a victory. So, the part of me that worries about history is a bit uneasy with things.

But, more than that, I'm proud of this team. I'll have to admit that it took us longer than usual to hit our stride, and for most of the season we didn't play to the same level of the teams from the last two seasons. But things have turned around the last few weeks, and Monday night was the best game we've played all season. We jumped out 3-0 against a very good team and didn't look back. We gave up a couple of runs in the last inning, but those things will happen against a good team.

So, the playoffs start on Monday, and we play...I don't know. We receive a bye into the second round by being the No. 1 seed, and because we're reseeding after the first round, we'll play whomever is the lowest seeded team remaining. Looking at the schedule, it could likely be Redrum (who because of a couple of bad results and two forfeits are the No. 10 seed out of 16 teams). I really hope that doesn't happen. Not because I'm afraid we'll lose (we wouldn't), but I'm getting of playing them in the playoffs. Too much tension and aggravation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Regular Season pennant is decided next Monday

We've won three games since the last time I've posted. We've played better each week, which makes me hope that we're peaking at the right time. The caveat here is that the games have been against teams that have ranged from average to not very good at all. Yesterday we beat Blackbeard's Ball Buster's 10-1, which looks great on paper. Then when you realize that they are 0-7, it's really basically what we're supposed to do.

I'd like to point out one particularly inspired bit of shenaniganary from last week. Michael built a giant box of chalk, like you would use to chalk up a pool cue. It was about knee high, a square box with blue "chalk" insde. The chalk was made of gardening foam (like you put fake flowers in), spray painted blue and with a circular divit in the middle. Michael and I pounded some blue playground chalk for extra effect. When Michael was up the first time, he deliberately fouled off the first pitch. He then loudly complained that the ball slipped off his foot, and he needed his chalk. So I got it from the dugout, brought it out, and proceeded to chalk up his foot. With blue chalk now covering his shoe, he then went out and...well, popped up. But still, it was a good visual.

So, we're one win away from winning the regular season title. Which is where we were last season when we pulled our choke job against the Valley Girls. This season our opponent is Uno Mas, in a rematch of last season's Division tournament title game. The winner almost certainly will be the regular season champs. This isn't life or death, because we like Uno Mas and wouldn't be upset with seeing them win. Plus, we've weren't regular season champs the last two seasons, but got it done in the playoffs. Still, it would be nice to add another notch to our belts.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

New video (not a press conference, but still)...

So, we're still working on the press conference from the week before! We thought we had everything done on Sunday, but due to some additional technical issues (and us being perfectionists), we still need some final work on it. And I doubt there will be a press conference on Monday night's Redrum game because...they had to forfeit for the second straight week. We played a pick-up game anyway, even though it didn't count in the standings.

I would say that it's sad to see Redrum have to forfeit two games in a row because they couldn't field four girls, but I think it's their own fault in a lot of ways. They onyl had five female players to begin with, and one of them apparently will be missing for the rest of the season because of work issues. If you leave yourself no margin of error, this is what happens. (And if they forfeit one more time, they are no eligible for the post-season tournament.)

However, we do have new video content for you today! Scott and I (along with cameraman Michael and costume designer Ashley) went down to the Hollywood Division's park last night to disrupt their end of season All-Star game. Since Scott and I have played in Hollywood before we switched to Studio Division, we still know a lot of people there, and this was done in the spirit of friendly shenanigans. (In fact, we're discussing some sort of mini-tournament with the AS teams of the three main SoCal Divisions - Studio, Hollywood and Dogtown).

56 people thought that our "attack" on their game was funny. One person did not. Needless to say, wackiness and near injury ensues!

Friday, October 06, 2006

New video postponed

The creation and post of this week's press conference has been postponed due to AWESOMENESS! Expect the video to be completed and posted later this weekend.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Taiko drummers

So, I've found a taiko drumming group in San Diego for the World Championships. In order to try and booka group of drummers from their club, there's a form you need to fill out with some really specific information. It seems really complex for me just wanting a couple of people to come and beat on some drums for an hour. I'm seriously contemplating whether this is worth all the bullshit, which is saying something since I always think that anything relating to the Ninjas is worth the bullshit, no matter what it is.

But then again, I think our reputation is starting to proceed us, and we need to do something big at the tournament to keep our reputation as "wacky pranksters". Which I think will also help us in the tournament since no one could possibly take us seriously.

Game Three: Ninjas vs. Rhino Stampede

It's eerie how similar this season is to last season. Our pattern last season was:

Game 1: Lose badly to veteran team
Game 2: Play terribly for first three innings against new team, then rally to win late
Game 3: Remember that it's OK to play well for five innings, and win easily

The exact same thing is happening this season. On Monday we played the Rhino Stampede, who are now in their second season and are getting better. It should have been a good test for us, since we had several good players missing and we somewhat shorthanded. However, like last season, we seem to have clicked during Week 3. We jumped out to a big lead early and basically cruised from there, winding up with an 8-2 victory (and frankly, we probably could have scored more if we had wanted to - we kind of started getting way too aggressive baserunning to the point of being silly and kicking for HRs instead of playing small ball.)

Honestly, it was the best we've played as a team since maybe the first championship game two seasons ago. Which is not to say that we haven't won by more runs, or beaten better teams. What I mean is that I really can't remember any glaring mental errors that happened during the game. Everyone made really smart, sound decisions and it paid off. I think at this point, if we don't beat ourselves, we should win every game.

Also this week in the Division:

- Redrum had to forfeit against Wonderballz because they didn't have enough females! They only have five girls to start with. One of them (Scott's roommate) was out of town this weekend for work, and another had to miss because of Yom Kippur. The Redrum captain tried to get the game postponed because they were missing a girl because of a religious holiday, but that didn't go anywhere. Basically, if you only have five girls on your team (and they like that so they don't have to "clog their line-up" with girls that they think are "easy outs"), you run the risk of this happening. Plus, only one girl missed because of Yom Kippur.

- And, the Valley Girls were beaten soundly by The Trey Stafford Explosion. This was a huge deal based on past history. If you recall, Trey Stafford was the person who had been heckling one of the Valley Girls' best players (Spitz) by reading aloud Spitz's own poetry that he posts on his MySpace. Perhaps the best and most vicious heckling I've heard in kickball. Needless to say, this has turned into a full-blown rivalry, which hasn't meant much since the Valley Girls have been significantly better than the TSE.

Until this week. Final score was 8-4 and I don't even know if it was that close. This was especially sweet to watch because The Valley Girls, as they are frequently capable of doing, had been getting pretty cocky because they were 2-0, and had beaten us in Week 1. (Pride comes before a fall, except in our case, when pride comes before another championship.) I could have told them that beating us in Week 1 is no great shakes since we always lose.

So, when you play really well and win while your two rivals lose, that's pretty much a perfect night.

Ninjas vs. Wonderballz press conference

In case you missed it, here is the latest press conference, done after last week's 8-5 win over the Wonderballz. I would normally have the YouTube link, but apparently Scott is too good to go ahead and upload the video to YouTube.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First win of the season

8-5 over the Wonderballz (or Wonderballerz or matter what, it's a terrible name, so I'm not going to take the time to look it up). And it was as ugly as the final score would indicate. We played down to the level of competition for about three innings until we realized that "Hey, we're better than them - let's start playing like it!"

Not to take anything away from the Wonderblahz (who, although technically a new team, have several people who played on other teams last season), who put up a good fight and have several very good kickers. But there was no reason we should have been down 4-1 after the first inning.

My main comfort is that we have history on our side. Not only have we always lost the first game of the season (as previously documented), it usually takes us about midway through the second game before we start playing like the games count. Last season is a good example: we were trailing Trey Stafford Explosion in Week 2 for most of the game before we decided to stop sucking pipe and start playing. The result? A 5-2 victory that let us go from being "terrible" to "decent".

Personally, my stats looked good: 3-for-3 with two runs (including the game-winner). Denfensively, I was better than Week 1, and had about four or five put-outs or assists. But, I'm probably at only about 80 percent of where I can be. I've noticed that I tend to sometimes assume that kickers aren't going to bunt, meaning I don't get a good jump on any actual bunt. I need to stop doing that. I also need to be less concerned about throwing or kicking the ball away when trying to make a play.

All of that, and also I'm now getting paranoid that I'm going to accidentally get in front of the kicker and have a big kick hit me square in the face. And really, when you have a face like this, you want to protect it.

Michael and I umped the lone 9 p.m. game, which of course started at about 9:20 p.m. Meaning that we were able to spend about one hour at the bar. Which is probably for the best since a) I'm broke until the end of the month and b) I haven't been feeling great since this weekend (reoccuring headaches), so anything more than one or two beers would have been, to borrow a phrase, "a fucking stupid idea".

Speaking of fucking stupid ideas, Scott decided that today is "Fuck Up Day" for him, meaning that he's going to do things that he always wanted to do, but thought were probably bad ideas. This coming from a person with little to no self-control to begin with, and who once teabagged an entire house.

The bottom line is this: I'm not bailing him out at 3 a.m. this morning.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just a little bit of history repeating

The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas opened our fourth season the same way we have opened our first three seasons: with a loss. And not a particularly pretty one, either - 8-2 to the Valley Girls. To paraphrase our team inspiration for this season, we've won two championships after losing our Opening Night game, so I'm not sweating it either.

Actually, we played OK for parts of the game (we led 2-0 after one inning). Basically, they made some really precise kicks, and we had some new players (and veterans) drop some balls that I don't think they'll drop again. Especially the new players - I think people either a) get really nervous the first week and make mistakes they eventually learn not to make or b) come in too cocky and think they should be able to be amazing from the start, and have to learn that you do in fact need to concentrate and take it somewhat seriously to do well.

However, despite the loss, I had a really good time. In fact, it was about as much fun as one could have while getting soundly beaten. The Max Fischer Players Edition got off to about as great of a start as I could have hoped for from a theme standpoint. First off, my uniform was top-notch:

- Red beret
- Black glasses
- Blue blazer
- Blue and red tie with dress shirt (with team T-shirt over the dress shirt but with the tie stick out over it)
- Khaki short

I played in everything except the blazer, which would have been a bit too restrictive in terms of making fielding plays. I can't say the uniform (comstume) hurt me at all, but I will say this: it was hot, even at 7:30 at night. It was even really hot at the bar after the game with everything on. I have a new appreciation for Jason Schwartzman and what he must have gone through while filming "Rushmore" while wearing that outfit and being under hot lights.

And the best part was that I wasn't the only person on my team to go with the theme! Of course Scott and Michael didn't get dressed up, but I didn't expect that because they are jerkburgers. But three of our female players did come in schoolgirl outfits (which, I'm sure some of my less classy readers would be very excited to hear about, and...yeah, it was pretty cool.) This included two of our new players, one of whom went the whole nine yards and was basically an exact replica of Margaret Yang. So much so that we kept referring to her as Margaret instead of by her real name all night.

(I had a single in my only AB - I would have had a better kick, but I was distracted by Michael dancing with Dre to "Oh Yoko" as the soundtrack from "Rushmore" was playing on our iPod boom box. Stupid sexy Michael and his sexy dancing.)

Of course, there were smoke bombs. Duh.

And, I have to compliment The Valley Girls on having the highest level of sportsmanship. I know I've ripped on them in the past, but that was before several of our players got to know several of their players really well, and it was actually a lot of fun to play against them, without the usual passive/aggressive BS that both teams usually bring to the game. So kudos to you, Valley Girls.

The bar was fun and really hectic. We now have 14 teams in the Division, which is five more than we've ever had. Unfortunately, that means that not every team is going to play against each other, which really sucks. But McWAKA (my new nickname for WAKA, since they are trying to franchise themselves as the McDonalds of kickball) likes to have 16 team Divisions instead of capping them at, say, eight and starting new Divisions in the area after that. I wouldn't do things that way, but I don't work there. (Thank God.)

So we play one of the new teams next week (Wonderballs), and I think that we'll be properly motivated by a) our poor performance last week and b) the fact that they have a terrible team name.

Oh yeah, we handed out championship rings in a brief pregame ceremony. I'll post pics later in the week - everyone seemed really happy to be rewarded for their hard work.

Monday, September 18, 2006

New season starts tonight

So our opening game is against The Valley Girls, which...I won't say that they are our rivals, because that would make them way too happy. It's sort of like how every team is rivals with Notre Dame or the Raiders, because everyone dislikes them except for their fans? It's like that. Plus, we're two of the Original Four teams left, so there is some history. (And they were the No. 1 team in the regular season, so they are pretty good. Even if we would have beaten them in the regular season finale and have been regular season champs if Scott and Bill weren't both out, but that's just sour grapes.)

Most importantly, it's the official debut of Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Max Fischer Players. Since we sort of got away from the shenanigans last season, we're vowing to redouble our efforts this season, even if it means not winning as much. (At least, until we get to the playoffs, because the regular season is a tad pointless.) Expect a full report (and judging by Scott's fireworks arsenal, perhaps a fire/police report) tomorrow.

And yes, you did hear someone from WAKA on Kevin & Bean on KROQ this morning. It was Johnny, one of the founders from Washington, DC. I didn't hear it, but apparently he said that the Studio Division season "hadn't started yet" and that there was "still time to join". Which will probably mean a bunch of new people and at least one new team joining before the official cut off date in before the second week, meaning lots of scheduling headaches.

Thanks guys! And maybe it would have been nice to let the local Divisions know about this before it happened, and perhaps use some of us as spokespersons instead of the WAKA Founders, who are 3,000 miles away. Not to prejudge (since I didn't hear it), but I'm almost positive that I, or any Ninja, would have been more entertaining on the radio than Johnny WAKA. Incredibly more entertaining. I suspect that perhaps they were worried that we would be so entertaining and engaging that it would distract from the overall WAKA message.

At least, that's what I'll tell myself as I cry myself to sleep on my giant, kickball-shaped pillow...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pick-up game

The annual pre-season pickup game was on Monday night, and as usual it was barely controlled chaos. This year was perhaps even worse than usual, since we have so many new people and teams. I believe we're at 280 people and 13 teams, and we had enough people at the pick-up game for six teams.

Once again, I've volunteered for the Division board, even though I always tell myself that I won't after the previous season. However, I'm just a bit too focused on civic duties for my own good. This season, I've agreed to be Rules Chair, since I probably know the rules book better than anyone, and it's a title that doesn't require a ton of weekly work. In keeping with the "Max Fischer Players" theme, however, I have requested that my title be changed to "President, Rules Club".

Speaking of the Max Fischer Players - the uniform for this season is almost complete. I have the beret, blazer and khakis. I also have a shirt and tie, that will be work underneath by "official" WAKA T-shirt. (WAKA has this hard-on about making sure that your official team T-shirt is "visible at all times" during games. One new team wanted to play in orange prison suits, but were told no by our WAKA rep. WAKA, incidentally, is full of weiners.)

The only thing I am missing is a pair of fake glasses. I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a pair. As a temporary mesasure, I wound up buying a pair of sunglasses at the gas station and popping out the lenses, but I would prefer "real" fake glasses with actual lenses. In the past few days, I have gone to every mall store I could think of (Hot Topic, Spenser Gifts, etc.) and a Halloween costume store. No luck so far. Anyone with ideas on where I could find a pair of fake glasses (the Buddy Holly/Elvis Costello kind), please let me know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kickball dorks

After spending some time reading posts on some other sites, site as, I've come to the conclusion that I'm glad we don't play kickball in Washington DC or one of the other "power kickball" areas. Because, frankly, those guys take the sport part of kickball way too seriously.

I mean, pages and pages of debate on if certain Divisions are major Divisions or just "mid-majors". Days and days of complaining about how WAKA does things a certain way, or how DC Kickball or NAKID (two rival kickball leagues, and I can't believe I typed the words "rival kickball leagues" without doing it in the context of writing a Will Ferrell movie) are superior or inferior. And don't forget the snobbery. One of the posters told me that I should "bring a camera" to the Regionals and World Championships so I could show our Division how real pitchers throw the ball.

I may have mentioned this before, but Scott went to the post-tournament party after the Regionals in LA this summer even though we didn't play. Several of the WAKA "executives" were there. Scott's comment afterwards was something to the effect of "They're a bunch of people who are incredibly pleased with themselves because of the fact that they play kickball." Having done some more research, I know now exactly what he's talking about, and why I never would fit in with that crowd.

At the end of the day, I'm a Ninja first, and more than anything else I'm proud of our team, and all of the absurdist, theatrical bullshit that we do. We've been successful on the field, yes, but that's been a secondary benefit. If I was on a team that took itself way too seriously, treated kickball as a "sport" and not as "a reason to be ridiculous and then go to a bar afterwards", I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much, even if the team won. I'd enjoy doing what we do just as much if we were on a losing "Operation" league. (Which, after having played a few games during the aborted Board Game Challenge, seems like a fun idea - I own the Funny Bone!)

So, to sum up, I may be one of the Head Ninja Nerds, but I'm not a kickball dork.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

to the Fall 2006 Edition of your two-time defending Studio Division champs:

Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Max Fischer Players

The plan is for the team to play in red berets, thick glasses, and blue blazers. Needless to say, this theme opens up all kinds of incredible shenanigans.

Expect a box of bees to be placed in someone's dugout by Week 2.

And of course, this means that your Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Scary Ghost Edition memorabilla is now out of date. Make sure you visit the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas team store for your officially licensed, limited-edition Max Fischer Players apparel. Look for a brick and mortar store to be opening at Staples Center sometime soon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Your Spring 2006 Playoff Recap

The season is over. The champion is crowned. As last season’s titleholders, I would like to publicly take this opportunity to congratulatethe Spring 2006 CA Studio kickball champs.

Oh right, that’s us…

BOOYAH! The semifinals and finals were last night, and we took both games to successfully defend our championship. To put this in historical perspective:

- We’re the first team in the Division to win multiple Division Titles.

- We’re the only team in any of the Southern California divisions to win back-to-back titles.

- We’ve qualified for the next World Kickball Championships, which is great because they are apparently going to be held somewhere in California.

- My own personal record in playoff games with AHN: 6-0 (I missed our playoff loss first season).

A recap of the two weeks of playoff magic shall begin:


AHN: SGE 11, Trey Stafford Explosion 1

There really wasn’t much to report on this game. The only real drama is whether or not Trey Stafford himself would accept Michael’s Board Game Challenge. Trey managed to blow his knee out on the second play of the season, and has been forced to be Mascot/Lead Heckler for his team ever since.

Michael (also on IR) decided to challenge Trey to a series of board games to be played during the game. Partially it was a way to question Trey’s competitiveness, and partially it was so we wouldn’t have to hear him heckling.

Trey refused to take the bait, much to our chagrin. Michael even went so far as to create advertising and everything…

Like I said, the game was pretty boring – we beat them 11-0 in the regular season, and this was pretty much that game played all over again. I was a little concerned that the team might be lackadaisical because of our past history, but we came out sharp, focused, and other adjectives describing being “on point”.



AHN: SGE 2, Redrum United Kickball Club 1 (6)

This is the game we were waiting for. The chance to beat Redrum for the third straight game and knock them out of the playoffs again was in front of us. Plus, the majority of Redrum have apparently decided not to play next season (I don’t know why), meaning that this was our chance to send them into retirement with a loss to us.

I should point out a few things I did before/during the game.

- I bought white wristbands, and wrote on them with black marker. “Die” on one and “Nasty” on the other. They work as standalone messages, or say them both aloud in a row to reveal a secret, encoded message.

- I also found some spare name tags in my bag, and decided to put them to good use:

One was for use against Redrum, the other was for the championship game. I’ll let you figure out which was which.

- I also purchased a red “Participation” ribbon, like you used to get when you didn’t place in the Science Fair but your teacher wanted everyone to feel special because they tried real hard. My plan was to present this to Redrum when we met on the field before the game, and explain that “I know you guys have never won a championship ring (pointing to my ring), and unfortunately you won’t this season, either. So, I wanted you to have something to remember how hard you tried this year!”

Scott objected to doing this. Something about “jinxing ourselves”. Mainly, Scott was just very, very nervous, more so than he usually is. And he’s a very nervous person by nature. On the scale of nervousness, Scott was somewhere between “Realizing you need to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW when there’s no gas stations for 20 miles” and Albert Brooks filling in as anchor from “Broadcast News”. I know that Scott would say that winning and losing isn’t important to him, but that tends to go out the window when the game starts.

(I should point out that Scott did produce two great signs for the games: one said “One for the Middle Finger”, and featured a giant hand in flip off mode, with a ring around the middle finger. The other was, well, I really can’t say what it was about in a public forum. Suffice it to say it’s
disgusting, cryptic and wonderful. Kind of like us.)

You might notice on the game score the (6). That’s because in the playoffs, you go extra innings if there’s a tie. Redrum went up 1-0 early, but we were able to tie it up in the fifth inning, and then Scott turned a single into the go-ahead run in the sixth by basically running and not stopping until he got home. It was great.

I can’t tell you why beating Redrum is always satisfying, other than that it always is. Basically, they have a real cocky swagger to them, which is funny since they’ve never actually won a championship. They are the team that takes things just a little too seriously, and probably would turn pro if there was such a thing. (Someone with money: make this happen.) Someone mentioned that they seem to have a lot of people who “peaked at 17”, as in they were the cool kids/jocks/etc. in high school, and now it’s 10 years later and they still can’t get over it. So, the fact that the team of A/V nerds (us) keeps beating them is a cake filled with delicious irony. I should point out that the four people from Redrum who actually come to the bar if they lose are top-shelf people and are exempt from the previous rant.

(However, two of their players wear football receiver’s gloves in the outfield. For kickball. Because that’s the difference between making a catch or not…)


AHN: SGE 9, Uno Mas 7

Yes, you read that right – 16 runs between the two teams.

And, Uno Mas defeated the Valley Girls (the No. 1 seed) in the semifinals. Which made us all happy to no end because a) we love Uno Mas (they are the most fun at the bar, our practice partners and all-around good people) and b) the Valley Girls needed a big bite of humble pie. I was playing poker on Saturday with Tyler, one of their captains (and a really good guy, BTW). He mentioned to me that they weren’t that concerned about Uno Mas because “they don’t score
enough runs to win”. I just shook my head – I knew they were overlooking them and they would get burned.

It was the most fun playoff game I’ve ever played in. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to win, because I would have been very happy if Uno Mas would have won. And the game was high-scoring, but not because of errors – there were just a lot of good kicks placed in perfect spots.

(I did give the participation ribbon and speech to Uno Mas before the game. However, since they are cool and have actually senses of humor, it was taken in the proper spirit instead of met with tough looks of “intimidation”, as other teams might have done.)

And it was a back and forth game. We went up 4-0 in the first inning, and it looked like it was going to be a rout. But Uno Mas came back to tie it, and it was on from there. There were four lead changes during the game – we happened to do it last by scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth innings. And Uno Mas managed to load the bases in the fifth inning with one out before we were able to get a pop up and a ground out to end it.

The celebration after the final out was interesting. I personally was excited, but it was a different feeling than before. Maybe it was the fact that we beat a team we really like. Maybe it was that we did it again. Maybe it was because, for personal reasons, I couldn’t get as excited as
I might have otherwise, but it was more a feeling of relief than elation.

This feeling lasted for about five or ten seconds. Then the smoke bombs came out, followed by much running around topless, posing for pictures, and generally make asses of ourselves. Even today after a long shower, I still smell like a Chinese fireworks factory (burnt gun powder, dirt and sweat). We weren’t able to get to the bar until 10:30 or so, but we made the
most of the time we had there.

Personally, I was happy with how I played. I went 2-2 in the championship game (with two runs scored and two RKI) after going 0-2 against Redrum. I had some very good defensive plays, including turning a double play on a popped-up bunt in the first innings against Uno Mas. Even though I did throw one ball away that cost us two runs. But I did hump home plate when I scored the second time, so that pretty much trumps anything else that happened.

So, in summary, I love kickball. I’m glad to have something to do once a week that gets my mind off of everything else that I’m going through. I’ve made some great friends already, and each season brings a new group of friends.

And we pretty much kick all kinds of ass, which is good because while I don’t need to win at all costs, winning is more fun than losing.

(Also, fireworks are awesome.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

End of the regular season

We lost. The end.

OK, not really, although it was a particularly crushing defeat. We lost to the "hated" Valley Girls 4-3, with the winner (i.e. not us) taking the regular season pennant and the loser (you know who) relegated to third place. It was especially tough because we gave up two runs in the fifth (final) inning to lose the game, when a couple of our players (I not going to name any names) committed about 12 errors between the two of them in the inning. We need to learn about the whole concept of Risk/Reward. As in, don't throw the ball to try and get someone out at third if there's a 90 percent chance that the ball will instead go flying into the outfield, letting them score the winning run. As a hypothetical example.

Also, one of the Valley Girls players (female, has called or team a Mafia that controls the Division and manipulates the rules in our direction) actually pulled her hand away from me in the post-game high-five line. As in, "high-fiving everyone else, but making a point to pull her hand away from me to move on to the person behind me when we get to each other." Really? Doing that at your age? At least she didn't pull her hand away and then run her fingers through her hair.

I really can't be that upset about the game; two of our best players (Scott J. and Bill) were out, so that's probably a 2-3 run swing right there. We still finished 6-2 and in third place, versus sixth last regular season. So, by my calculations, we should win two championships this playoff season, since we're twice as good. Or something like that.

And at least we're not the Pregnant Cheerleaders, who managed to lose to Redrum 32-1.

Seriously. 32-1. And that's not a typo. And before you ask, yes, there is a 12-run mercy rule, but the Cheerleaders chose to waive it. I can't imagine how much of a masochist you would have to be to be willing to keep getting beat like that.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shenanigans topped?

We've been low on shenanigans this season. Meanwhile, Trey Stafford of The Trey Stafford Explosion found poetry written by the star player of the Valley Girls last week, and read it to him from behind the backstop as he kicked.

He went 0-for-2.

Although the TSE lost 5-1, they still get a gold star from us for their hijinx.

Regular season title on the line this week

Sorry that the updates have basically...stopped. Those of you who know why this happened understand, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Since we last left...we've won three games. Most importantly, we beat Redrum in the Title Game rematch 3-2 last week to get back to first place in the standings. The best part was that we were able to score twice in the fifth inning to come from behind. Redrum basically thought they had the game won, only to have us break their hearts in a new, exciting way. Needless to say, we're so far up in Redrum's head, we're not only making breakfast, we're making them wash the dishes afterwards.

Redrum managed to have three (three!) people show up to the bar after the game, when they usually get about 12-15 players after a win. Glad to see that they take losses in stride.

Our win last night was a completely uninspiring 5-2 win over The Rhino Stampede. It's starting to worry me that I feel nervous after a three-run victory, and I know exactly how cocky this is going to sound, but...we played terrible, and we should have beaten them (they are 0-6-1 this season) by a lot more.

We play The Valley Girls this Monday in the regular-season finale. The winner is the regular season champion and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, while the loser probably falls down to the No. 3 seed. If we play like we did against Rhino Stampede, we're going to get thumped, AND we're going to get run out of the playoffs in the first round.

Oh yeah, and I'm captain next week because Scott is in Kansas City for his sister's art exhibition. Which at least means one week without someone getting teabagged at the bar. Or on the field. Or in the parking lot. Etc., etc., etc.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Post-game press conference - vs. Pregnant Cheerleaders

In case you missed it, here are highlights from Ninjas coach Scott Jones' press conference following Monday night's game against the Pregnant Cheerleaders:

A painful victory

The good news: We beat the Pregnant Cheerleaders 12-0.

The bad news: Michael broke his ankle in the second inning and is out for the rest of the season. Mr. "More Heart Than Brains or Sliding Ability" decided to slide into third base in an attempt to beat a throw that wound up beating him by about two or three steps. Actually, it beat his foot by a few more steps, as that stuck in the ground as the rest of him kept moving forward.

The ump said that he "could hear something pop" from home plate.

The best part is that Scott and I were coaching the previous kicker on first base when everyone started heading over to third once they realized Michael was hurt. The home plate ump told Scott that "we need you help because one of your players is hurt". Scott's response? "I'm not a doctor..."

On a personal note: The worst individual game I've played in some time. I went 0-2, including popping out to god damned Shirley to end the first inning. I'm not kidding that this might have been the first out she's ever recorded in a game. It's like having a two-year old steal a basketball from you.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Game Day: Week 4

We play the Pregnant Cheerleaders tonight. They're a nice group of people, albeit a bunch of dorks. And not dorks in the "using an excessive amount of smoke bombs and shooting model rockets into the trees" type. Apparently, at one of their practices, they did "trust falls" to establish team unity. So, more of the "never got over being a camp counselor" kind of dork.

They were the worst team in the Division last season, including losing 13-1 to us last season. They won their first two games this season, which caused them to suddenly get a little cocky and smirky at the bar. Which is interesting since both teams they beat were playing their first-ever game of kickball. Needless to say, they lost their last game to one of the new teams (The Bookhouse Boys), who at least had a couple of games under their belt.

I want to score 20 runs against them. Seriously. Nothing against them, but I want to really send a message tonight. Kill. Crush. Destroy.

The latest team project? Do you remember how sports teams all seemed to have their own music videos back in the 1980s? Some, like the Super Bowl Shuffle, were supposed to be by the team, talking about how good they are. The other kind was a music video of the team's official theme song, complete with a cheesy 1980s rock song that was usually "Go TEAM NAME, Go!", interspersed with highlights of the team on the field, acting goofy off the field, and the occassional cameo by a celebrity fan. The perfect example would be the 1986 Mets' theme song "Let's Go Mets". So much 80s cheese in there, it's amazing.

So, I discussed this with Scott and Ashley, and we're going to do this for the Ninjas. I'm going to work on a song this week, and hopefully we can get Behn (our videographer) to help us shoot some additional footage to go with our already existing game footage. Expect awesomeness to ensue.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Am I a jerky jerk?

I pitched one inning during the game. It was the fourth inning, and we were up 10-2. With one out, one of their female kickers came up. She looked at two pitches over the plate for strikes, and then one ball way outside. I then threw kind of an overarm pitch that breaks left-to-right instead of right-to-left that, if you've never seen it before, doesn't look like it has a chance to curving into the strike zone until it skips across at the tail end. She stood there and watched it go by for strike three.

The question is: should I have thrown that pitch, knowing that there was a good chance she would strike out? Being up 10-2, should I have just thrown normal pitches over the plate and given her a chance to kick? My feeling is no: the only way they are going to learn is by failing, and the lesson there is to a) not let two kickable balls go first and b) you have to try and kick it if it's close with two strikes.

Also, does this mean that I'm going to be a "tough love" kind of Dad? Like, "the only way Figgy will learn to not jam something into the electrical socket is to do it once."

Game 3 recap

We played Legs of Fury, which is another of the new teams. We scored 7 runs in the first inning and that was pretty much that. Final score, Ninjas win 12-2.

Perhaps the most remarkable event of the evening was the continuing transformation of Scott Jones from wacky coach to motivational, hard-ass, Bill Parcells-type head coach. I mean, one of our players kicked a fly ball that was misplayed by the outfield into a home run to make the score 10-2, and Scott was complaining about it, because we stress kicking ground balls with no runners on base, and the fly ball should have been caught.

And you know what? Scott's absolutely right to do this. We've played three games this season - one game against a veteran team that we lost, and then two against new teams that we won in blow-outs. And frankly, those wins don't count for much. As far as I'm concerned, it's almost like there are two Divisions taking place at the same time. One four-team Division for the good, returning teams (us, Redrum, Valley Girls and Uno Mas) and one five-team Division for everyone else (the four new teams plus the Pregnant Cheerleaders, who are great people, but aren't in the same league as the other returning teams.) Playing these new, weaker teams is only going to reinforce bad habits (going for home runs instead of just worrying about getting on base being a big concern) that is going to come back to haunt us when we play a good team at some point. Those fly ball home runs we kicked last night are only loud outs against teams like Redrum.

In fact, I'm making a prediction that we lose to Redrum in the regular season when we play them next month, based on our schedule. We'll have played two (what should be) easy games, and have had a bye week right before it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I see us hitting a lot of fly ball outs in that game, and being surprised that they can catch everything. I'd like to be wrong about this, though.

On a more fun note, Michael and I umped the early game. Michael brought yellow and red cards (actually yellow and pink index cards) that we issued to players for made up infractions during the game. We also ended up giving each other red cards while umping, which was nice.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One factoid from Monday night's game

I currently lead the league in number of times humping home plate when scoring, at 1.

I was on third base, and Ashley was on first. Tyler kicked a fly ball over the left fielder's head that wound up going for a triple. I jogged home, and then realized that I had plenty of time before Ashley was going to make it home (not that she's slow, just that I had a two-base head start). So, I did what any sane person would do: dropped on the ground and began humping home plate.

I don't consider this "showing up the other team", since it wasn't like I was doing anything directed against them. I was merely showing my enthusiasm and excitement over scoring.

By humping home plate.

Also, odds of me becoming the most hated man in the Division by the end of the season: now up to 8:1.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Finally a win...

We took an "easy" 7-1 victory over the Trey Stafford Explosion last night. I say "easy" because we were only up 2-1 before we scored five times in the bottom of the fourth inning to break the game open. I pitched the first two innings and the final inning - which I haven't been doing lately. But thanks to some advanced scouting, we had a good idea that they wouldn't be bunting a lot, and that my curve ball pitches would cause them a lot of headaches.

We played a lot better, overall, and I was happy to have an outlet for my anger after the US National team absolutely piled it in against the Czechs.

I think I'm going to hop on a motorocycle without a license or a helmet and plow into a Lincoln...

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Trey Stafford Explosion

They are one of the new teams in the Division, and they think they're pretty awesome. They have their own logo and MySpace and everything. And, they claim that they are going to "outshenanigan" us this season. We play them tonight, and we're taking it as a personal mission to out-everything them. Also, the US choked against the Czech Republic, so I'm extra bitter with a side of pissed off.

My prediction for tonight's game? A whole lotta this:

And by that, I mean "a whole lot of oral sex performed on ninja dolls by flaming, disembodied heads". Oh yeah!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I've been slacking off on coming to practice the last few weeks. Mainly it's been because I've been either sick or out of town. I'm definitely going to be there this week, and I certainly hope that after our poor display on Monday, any teammates reading this come out as well.

3 p.m at the North Hollywood Rec Center. We'll scrimmage, and go over kicking, fielding and running. And then maybe we'll go out for ice cream. Or play some pinball. It's not mandatory, but if you don't show up, I hate you.

Opening night...not so successful

- The model rocketry launch was a qualified success. We had one rocket, and Scott and Michael tested it about 30 minutes before opening ceremonies. It worked great. Unfortunately, they tested it near all the trees at the park so...yeah. Right now the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas rocket is about 50 feet up a tree at the North Hollywood Recreation Center.

- As expected, the launch of Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Scary Ghost Edition was met mainly with confusion from the other teams. I don't think we did a good enough job of getting the whole "ghost" theme across to the other teams. But next week, the Space Ghost costume will be in full effect, and Michael will hopefully have time to tell the team a scary ghost story, so that should help.

- The raising of the championship banner and the handing out of the championship rings was pretty damn sweet, however. Everyone really seemed to appreciate it, and we all enjoyed showing them off to the other teams after the game to remind everyone that we are the defending champs.

- Which was good that we had that, since we lost 4-1 in the season opener to Uno Mas. Which frankly isn't that surprising because a) we always lose to Uno Mas (the only time we beat them was in the first season playoffs when they only had four girls, then had to forfeit after one of their girls was hurt during the game); b) we are always "slow starters" and c) out of 21 people there last night, around 2/3 were new players, while Uno Mas is almost entirely the same team of veterans from last season.

We gave up three runs in the first inning, which were pretty much attributible to new players making poor decisions. (Or in some cases, veterans who really should know better making poor decisions, but I won't name names.) Some of the new players are going to be really good once they understand the basic fundamental concepts. Bill (who we usually scrimmage with on Sundays) in particular is a beast - he was all over the place on defense, and led off the game with an infield triple a la Scott Jones.

I can't compare this team to the team that won the championship last season, because even though that was only a few weeks ago, it is a very different team. I think we're better now than we were at the start of last season, and that's encouraging. If we had been playing one of the four new teams instead of a veteran team like Uno Mas, we would have won pretty easily, I think.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Opening Night, Take II

Finally, it's opening night for the Spring 2006 season. Other than the super-secret surprise that I can't even talk about here, there is the usual percentage of Ninja hijinxs. Scott should have the AHN model rocket ready to go for an exhibition, and I have the championship rings ready to go for a ring ceremony before the start of the game. It should be a first-class display of ridiculousness - expect pictures tomorrow.

Then again, we might wind up forfeiting this week. We were already very short on females for tonight's game when Ashley decided it would be a good idea to sprain her ankle on Saturday while dancing in Santa Barbara to an 80s cover band. Cuttin' "Footloose" indeed - if by "loose" you mean "loosening the ligiments that connect her foot, ankle and lower leg".

But Ashley will play tonight because a) she's tough; b) she's as committed to the Ninjas as anyone and c) if we need a fourth player to be legal I'll force her to be out there, even if she has to use Scott's crutches from "The Miracle Play" and just stand in the field as a stationary target.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Unfortunately, it looks like we won't be able to field a team for the WAKA Regionals in Los Angeles on June 10. Several of our females are out of town that weekend, and we can only get commitments from three females to show up for the Regionals. So, no Ninjas shenanigans on cable television. Oh well, that's how we like to do it anyway - underground. Also, it's kind of lame that we would play in Regionals, since we already clinched a spot in the World Championships by winning the Division Tournament. However, the Regional winner gets a $1,500 travel voucher to go to the World Championships (in Miami) while we get diddlypoo for winning our Division.

Sounds fair, right?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Opening Ceremonies update

Michael, Scott and I purchased championship rings on Saturday. And by "championship rings", I mean that it's going to be a surprise to what they are, and I don't want to ruin it for any Ninjas reading this blog. I can give a few hints, though:

- Chinatown
- Plastic
- Awesome

The model rocketry exhibition is...going OK? I mean, Scott did a great job with the actual rocket, and it looks great. The problem is that none of us have ever launched a model rocket before. This is either going to be lame or set the place on fire. But even if it's lame, it will be lame in a completely awesome way, so I'm not too worried.

Also, Ashley needs ideas for Theme Nights this season. For example, we play a game on June 19, which also happens to be:

- World Sauntering Day, which is so appropriate that I don't even know that we need to acknowledge it within the Division. We generally are pretty good at not jogging, running, etc. while we play, so perhaps we shouldn't encourage it even more.

- Garfield the Cat Day: players could eat a huge plate of lasagna each time they come to bat. And then I could punch everyone in the nose who participates in Garfield the Cay Day for having any association at all with the orange, flea-ridden menace of the cartoon pages.

- Juneteenth: while I'm all for celebrating the end of slavery in the United States (the official Ninja position: slavery is bad; working as an servant while learning secrets from your Master is, however, acceptable), I don't know that a Division that had three black players out of about 150 total players last season is really the best forum for it.

Although June 19th does fall on "Appreciate You Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Professionals Week". I wonder what a Ninja plumber is like. It must be tough to bill people,since you move so quickly and stealthly that they never know that you were under their sink fixing that clogged drain. Also, how would you wear a tool belt with a ninja outfit?

July is National Eye Injury Prevention Month. We should have a Theme Night where everyone is encouraged to wear their favorite type of protective eyewear. Which for me means one word: RecSpecs.

Pick up game

Because it was Memorial Day, we didn't have an official game yesterday. Instead, we had a leaguewide pick-up game. And by "leaguewide", I mean, four Ninjas, two Valley Girls and a couple of the Bookhouse Boys. Basically, the pick-up game turned into 30 minutes of kicking practice, followed by myself, Ashley, Michael and Scott going to El Torito for dinner. Yay margaritas!

So basically, I'm very disappointed in the Division's dedication so far. We had 40 people at a pick-up game on President's Day last season, and that was a) before the actual season began and b) in the dark, so we had to bring our own flashlights and candles to play.

I hope that the Opening Ceremonies is more enthusiastically welcomed by the rest of the Division.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rain out

Yup, we were rained out last night, despite it having stopped raining at 1 p.m. Apparently, Orion (our WAKA rep) called the park early in the morning when it was still raining to check if the fields would be open that night. Michael did go to the fields later and report that they were pretty muddy and unplayable. However, the blessing is that we now have two extra weeks to plan our Opening Night crap (admittedly, we were too busy celebrating our Division Title to focus on the next season.) Needless to say, not one but two model rockets are being built as we speak.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rain update

The rain is gone now. It's sunny outside, and I don't think it rained so much that we couldn't possibly play on the fields (perhaps needing to reconfigure the bases, but still very possible). I have a feeling that the games are getting cancelled, though, because Parks and Rec are lazy and will close the fields out of habit rather than actually checking on the actual condition.



If anyone didn't believe me on how awesome THE PLAY was, I now have film evidence:

If you want to see more Awesome Helicopter Ninjas videos, schedules, or other AHN related crap, check out the Official Awesome Helicopter Ninjas home page.


After surviving the Winter 2006 season, with its four rainouts, how does the Spring 2006 season start? Looking out my window, it's grey and wet. does say that it's supposed to be sunny this afternoon. The only question is if the field will be too wet to play on. Grrr...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Japanese are weird, Part I

In Japan, there's something called The Hello! Project, which is sort of an umbrella group for a bunch of all-female J-pop groups recording for the Up-Front Group label. Every year, they have the Hello! Project Sports Festival, which involves members of The Hello! Project competing in different sporting events. I'm not sure what the point is of all of it, or who they are competing against most of the time, but it's held at the Tokyo Dome and shown on TV in Japan.

Last year one of the sports was kickball (or as they call it, kickbase). Their team went against a team of grade school girls and got smoked. Here's some video of the HP team scoring their first run.,,

I don't know what any of this is all about, and if anyone knows more about this, please jump in with the info. My point is that if there's a way that we can go to Japan and play kickball against a bunch of Japenese girl pop groups and get on national TV, we shold explore it.

Things we need for Opening Night - a checklist

- Illegal fireworks
- A boombox with a CD of the National Anthem(s) - I have the US national anthem on CD as well as the O Canada if we have any Canadian players. Are there any other countries represented that we need to acknowledge?
- Patroitic Bunting (I mean this kind of bunting, not the type of bunting that leads to me kicking someone out at first base...)
- A "Winter 2006 Studio Division Champions" banner to hang from the rafters/top of the backstop during our games
- Championship rings to hand out to our team in a ceremony before the game starts (this means a trip to Chinatown this weekend)

What else?

2006 Spring Season...

starts this Monday, which means that we have to start planning opening night ceremonies. For the third out of three Studio Division season, we have a Ninja as President, as Ashley "Soul Train" Love-Smith is the new Division president. Which means that you can expect the same amount of wacky crap as before, plus our "kickball mafia" gets to control everything and rig things in our favor.

Not really, but some people in the Division have claimed that in the past. People that don't join the Board or get involved with leadership, but would rather complain out of ignorance, but I digress...

A better Championship Game recap

Now that some time has passed, I think it's time for a more detailed report on Monday night's activities:

I arrived at the park at about 6 p.m., where I met Michael and Scott to start testing the pyrotechnics. Specifically, we wanted to see a) how much smoke the smoke balls and grenades would produce, b) if that smoke would be enough to cause the fire station next door to send firemen out and c) if there was a chance that we would somehow burn down the entire park with these things. We decided to take our various smoke-making materials down to the Los Angeles River canal alongside the park. (Of course, being the Los Angeles River, it's completely dry and just a big cement channel. Like where the Rodriguez Brothers had their car chase with Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton in "Repo Man".)

We started off with a small smoke ball and threw that into the channel. There was smoke, but it wasn't overwhelming. However, from the other side of the channel in the trees, some homeless guy asked us very nicely to not do that, since it was disturbing "his camp". I certainly didn't want to argue with a homeless guy about where we could test our probably illegal fireworks, so we moved further down the channel. (Actually, Scott did. Michael and I had stayed up above the river bed because a) it was pretty steep to get down there and b) there were lots of briars and thorn bushes along the way, as we found by having to spend 20 minutes picking themout of our shoes and socks.)

Eventually, we did test the smoke grenade, and it looked to be just the right amount of smoke to create a cool effect for us to come running through before the start of the game, but not enough to make the fire department come out. The package on the smoke grenades promised "up to 25,000 cubic feet of smoke" each, but although we're not really sure how large 25,000 cubic feet of smoke is, what the "smoke grenade" put out didn't seem to be that much.

Of course, the irony is that for all of the planning, we wound up getting too busy ACTUALLY PREPARING FOR THE GAME to pull off our big pre-game entrance. Specifically, Scott went into his zone about 15 minutes before the start of the game where he was trying to put everyone in the best position possible in the line-up, and when he does that, basically you can't talk to him. You can, and he'll respond, but it's complete auto-pilot. Plus, we had to fill out two copies of the roster (one for us and one for the other team), and for some reason we had to include first and last names.

We did manage to get a small piece of shenanigans into the pre-game ceremonies. When we traded rosters with Redrum, Scott and Michael came out with four flutes of champagne (actually sparkling cider) to share a toast of good luck with Redrum's captains. It was a sporting gesture, especially so since we obviously DID NOT POISON THE OTHER TEAM. Which might have been easy to do, but we CERTAINLY DID NOT LACE THE OTHER TEAM'S DRINKS WITH POISON. If you want clarity, look at the two flutes we used to give them their "champagne":

See? Clearly NOT POISON at all...

Before the game started, Scott gave a really firey and passionate speech. Well, not really, but it was very sweet, and he did copy a few things directly from "Miracle", which had been watched several times the night before. Basically, he reminded us that we really had no business being in the championship game, but all things being said we actually had played better than Redrum in the playoffs, and had every right to think we would win. Plus, Redrum wasn't hiding the fact that they were completely overlooking us.

Backtrack: Redrum beat us 12-1 in the regular season. It was the low point for our team, perhaps ever, and brought about a lot of changes. Most significantly, we started practicing every week, and I moved from pitcher to catcher. Basically, we were getting bunted to death, and having a strong-fielding catcher can stop a lot of that bullshit. That loss was the turning point for the season, since that's when people started to realize that if we actually played well and won, it would be more fun than losing. Which is not to say that you can't have fun while losing, but all things being equal, it's more fun to win.

Before the start of the game, Redrum was being pretty cocky. Which is what they are to begin with, but they're cocky in a fun way, not in a douchebaggy way like some other teams I've come across before. Redrum's pitcher, Dave, basically was bragging that umping his games is hard "because my curve ball is different than anyone else's", while their captain offered us a draw to save us the humiliation of getting whomped again.

We were the visiting team for the game (as the No. 6 seed going against the No. 1 seed, they had home-field advantage), so we kicked first. Which I actually like, because I felt like if we could get a lead early, they might start pressing. Scott lead off with a single, I followed with a single, and then Scott was able to score from second on Eugene's ground-out. (Scott is very fast, and also greedy.) We were up 1-0 after a half-inning, and it set the tone that it we weren't the same team they thumped in the regular season.

What REALLY set the tone was when they came up in the bottom of the first. Their lead-off kicker is Clark, who is probably one of the two or three nicest non-Ninjas in the Division - everyone loves Clark. He's also very fast, and basically can get on base at will when he bunts. However, our whole strategy is to use me to eliminate the bunt option. It involves bending the rules as far as it can go.

Here's the thing - even though I'm the "catcher", I don't even bother to concern myself with catching the pitches. I just line up at the back of the backstop, and as the kicker is planting his/her foot to kick the ball, I break into a dead sprint alongside them towards the field. I can time it right so that I am usually right alongside them or just behind them when the ball is kicked, which is all the rules say you need to do (the restriction is to "not be in front of the kicker"). By doing that, I can make a play on the ball with all of my momentum going towards first base.

Clark laid down a pretty decent bunt, but towards the middle of the field. When I got to it, I realized that it was going to be almost impossible for me to get the ball of the ground and make a strong enough through to get him out. So, I just reverted back to my days of youth soccer and kicked the ball to our first baseman, Other Scott. And it was a beautiful kick - hard, and right at Scott's chest. Clark was out by a half-step, and the crowd (all 30 or so of them) went nuts (as nuts as a kickball crowd gets). Needless to say, our team was absolutely pumped after that, and it set a tone that there were no free bases to be had in the championship game.

Of course, the next batter also bunted, except more down the third-base line, and I was forced to attempt and awkward, left-footed kick that almost caused me to fall. But, Scott bailed us out by making a juggling catch in right center field (coming over from shortstop) and firing to second to double up the runner for a double play. Scott was so pumped up that he left me bruised by punching my chest in excitement.

The next four innings were just really well-played. We had a few chances to break things open but couldn't capitalize. Redrum for the most part never threatened on offense. Everyone on our team made every play they possibly could. I was able to get at least three or four more outs on bunt attempts (either pop-ups I caught or grounders I could field and throw to first on), which really started to get in Redrum's head. Basically, they got so frustrated that they were spending more time complaining to the head ump about me "crossing the kicker" (which I didn't) than they were worrying about trying to score a run.

We get to the bottom of the fifth, and we're still up 1-0. I go out to catch, and I think to myself "Boy, this would really suck if they came back." Which is awful to think, but I've been snakebit so many times on teams coming back on my team, that it's only human nature. All I really wanted was a quick 1-2-3 inning, with no one getting on base and no reason to panic.

Amazingly, that's what we got. Three fly balls, three catches, and just like that the game was over. The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas were freakin' Division Champions! I didn't know that ESPN was broadcasting the game, but I saw this image on my Tivo later that night...

I swear to God, I didn't know what to do. I ran towards our bench, then the field, and basically was like Jim Valvano looking for someone to hug after NC State won the 1983 NCAA Final Four title. Scott came bounding in, grabbed two smoke grenades, and quickly lit and threw them onto the field for proper "atmosphere". I took my shirt off, a la Dennis Rodman,  and attempted to throw it into the crowd. I was aiming for Sara, who was completely awesome and skipped yoga to come watch, but my throw didn't clear the fence. Which is odd since it was absolutely drenched with sweat (I sweat a lot).

Afterwards, we went to the bar to celebrate. I felt completely ridiculous being that excited about winning a kickball championship, but you know what? I still am excited, two days later. As Scott said yesterday, we took a group of people who really couldn't care less about winning and losing and made them care enough to really give everything they had. A lot of people improved how they played multiple times over through the course of the season, and for a lot of people, that's probably the highlight of their sporting lives. Plus, we proved that the wacky, lovable goofball team COULD win a championship (we're sort of the Rick Vaughn-led Cleveland Indians of kickball).