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And of course, this means that your Awesome Helicopter Ninjas: Scary Ghost Edition memorabilla is now out of date.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.