Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cross-promoting

In case you haven't heard (and I can't imagine how you didn't), I've started a new sports humor blog called Your Face is a Sports Blog. I'm sure it will provoke a wide range of opinions from people about it. Some people might consider it "mildly amusing" while others might call it "better than a marathon of Saved by the Bell: The College Years on TBS. I'll let you make the call yourselves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Championship Trophy

Scene: In the bleachers during the All-Star game following the Championships. VGs captain Tyler G. is carrying the Championship Trophy around everywhere he goes, beaming like a kid at Christmas, as he captains one of the two teams. Sitting in the bleachers are me and Ashley.

Me: I'm going to steal that trophy.
Ashley: No way. Tyler won't let it out of his sights for a second.
Me: Yes he will. And I'll be ready.

And that's just what happened. Because I'm a Ninja, and if I can't win the trophy fair and square...I have no problem stealing it. In fact, treasure earned is not really as cool as treasure stolen.

Flash forward to later in the evening at the bar. 90 percent of the Valley Girls are enraptured by this magician who had been at the bar the week before. (Apparently, he is doing a show at the Lodge on a different night, and shows up to "wow" people and drum up interest.) It's pretty standard up-close magic stuff, although well-done. And he's a pretty standard up-close magician, right now to the mulleted hair and the faint whiff of desperation.

But I digress. Most of the other players go apeshit whenever they see him. Like, literally start acting like he's five and you just pulled a quarter about from behind their ear. He's making a quarter smoke, or some nonsense like that, and everyone is gathered around the table in total focus on him. Meanwhile, the trophy is sitting all by itself on a table in the corner.

Opportunity taken.

I swoop down from my table, pick up the trophy and just walk out with it. No one noticed I had. Not even Tyler and his girlfriend Kelley, who were sitting outside right next to the door. They were so busy telling some story about who knows what, that they never noticed me walking out the door and to the car with their trophy.

Who is the magician now?

The trophy stayed in my car for about 30 minutes, until someone realized the trophy was missing and all hell broke loose. Tyler immediately came over to Michael and I and asked "if we knew anything about a missing trophy". Michael said no, because legitimately he didn't; I said no because I'm a filthy liar. All I heard from Tyler for the next few minutes was him going from person to person in the bar, with a pissed off look in his face, muttering "someone's trying to be funny, and it's not funny..." Which is where Tyler is wrong, because it was VERY funny. Especially since he specifically has a history of hiding personal items from people at bars that mean a lot of certain...well, I don't need to get into details. But it would have been funny to steal their trophy anyway, but the fact that it was a bit of turnaround being fair play made it even more delicious.

After letting him stew and panic for a few minutes, I went out to my car and brought the trophy back. All I could say was "Of course I took it; I'm a Ninja. You worked so hard for this trophy - take better care of it."

Tyler spent the rest of the night hugging the trophy like a baby and eyeing me while hiding his wallet. Lesson learned.

Championship Game Video

As I mentioned, The Valley Girls won the championship on Monday, beating The Warner Pros 7-3. I couldn't have been happier for them: the majority of the team wasn't on the first-season Valley Girls that won the title, so this was their "first" championship. It's amazing that they've gone from "The Team I'd Most Like to Have Die in Some Sort of Bizarre Warehouse Fire" to a team that I really like, with several friends on it. Part of it is just that a lot of the people who were playing first season that don't play now were the really...well, "troublemakers"? Mainly, though, I think the majority of it was that there were a lot of misunderstandings and insinuations early on that got all blown out of proportion. Spending time with them throughout the following seasons (and even playing on teams with some of them in Junction) has made me see that they really are a swell bunch of fellows (and ladies). I'm really happy that they won. (Not that I was rooting against the Warner Pros - there are several people on that team I like as well. I was just rooting for the Valley Girls...more?)

Of course, being giant attention whores, the Ninjas had to have a presence at the championships. Michael and I acted as PA announcers for the game, announcing each batter and the score after every half inning. And our PA system?



Admittedly not the Dodger Stadium PA system, but there weren't exactly 30,000 fans there either (although there was hardly a seat left in the bleachers - good job Division to show up and watch!).

The main reason we were there (and in our business attire) was to shoot some footage. Because the entire championship game was filmed using multiple cameras, which is currently being edited into a final, full-length version. Michael and I are then going to add a play-by-play and color commentary track before it's finalized. We have fake commercials planned, and guest appearances in the EA Sports Announcers Booth (or whatever the hell we brand it)...it should be boss. I have to thank everyone who showed up to film on Monday, and especially Jeff of the TSE, who is currently editing all of this into a rough cut. It's a daunting task, but I know he's up to the task.

End of season (fish) wrap-up

I know I've been very, very bad at updating the blog. I've had some requests from East Coast fans who couldn't attend the games, and perhaps didn't see highlights on their edition of SportsCenter (damned East Coast Media bias...).

I think our season could best be summed up by this:



Let me explain...

That is a picture of an unexploded piece of fish and chips that was supposed to inspire the team before our first playoff game. We were playing the Guy Fawkes Conservancy, which is the team of Kelly, Michael's girlfriend and also where former Ninja Cameron went to go play this season. Needless to say, we're very good friends with them. I wanted something to get people's focus, though, so we would act like it's the playoffs and not just another scrimmage game in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

So, I found out how to create a Penny Bomb using old toy cap gun rolls, a penny and some electrical tape. I don't want to be responsible for any lawsuits so I won't post any links, but they are easy enough to make, and as Sara can attest to (based on some testing I did in the street the night before), loud and pretty potentially destructive. I think her words to me before I left for the game were "try not to lose a finger".

With the Guy Fawkes team being (in theory) a bunch of limey British bastards, I wanted to destroy something British. So, I went to H Salt Fish & Chips (perhaps the most disgusting place on Earth, and this is from someone who cannot resist Long John Silver's) and ordered one single fish plank. The idea was to use that as a symbol of the other team, and then destroy it by blowing it up with the Penny Bomb in front of everyone to get us fired up.

The end result? A train wreck (I would have said "grease fire", but that would have been pretty close to what I was hoping to achieve.) The Penny Bomb needs friction to go off, usually being thrown to the ground. My bright idea was to tape the Penny Bomb to the fish plank and then throw it to the ground, causing the plank to explode in an orgy of fish, breading and grease. The reality is that H Salt fish is so greasy that I could not, for the life of me, get the bomb to stick to the plank - the tape would slide off from the grease, no matter how much I tried to use.

What wound up happening was me trying to throw this plank with the bomb half-falling off at the bottom, which gave it no momentum and not nearly enough speed to go off. So we would up with me throwing a fish plank into the ground, and then...nothing. I picked up the bomb and tried to throw it directly on the fish plank, but the plank wasn't hard enough to create a good surface, and it just bounced off. Finally, I just got mad and threw the bomb onto the concrete, but by this point, most of the team had wandered off, perplexed more than inspired.

Needless to say, we lost 4-1.

And that was this season. A lot of really big ideas that ultimately didn't go anywhere. Most of the team didn't get behind the "Amish" part of the team name for this season, and the things we did try to do...well, the barn raising was less than a success. And honestly, there was only so much you could do with being Amish - especially since we couldn't get a butter churn.

We finished the regular season 4-4, which actually wasn't terrible considering we had the toughest schedule in the Division by far. And we really only got blown out in one game (against the Valley Girls, who won the title on Monday, congrats to them...), and even then we were one close play at third away from making a game of it.

But it was a very disappointing season, and not just because of our record. As a team, we really didn't have a lot of passion or enthusiasm, not like we've had in the past. Some people were just burnt out on kickball, or burnt out on the team; we're a pretty demanding and "interesting" group of people, and I think it takes some effort to be fully involved. Plus, frankly, the vast majority of us have been doing this close to non-stop for two years now. I think that just puts a lot of pressure on relationships, and a) you start taking things for granted and b) every little thing that everyone else does starts to really get on your nerves.

And frankly, I'll take a lot of the blame. I know I can push the team to try to get involved, but depending on your point of view, it probably comes off as way over-the-top. There's a certain percentage of the team that just wants to show up and play once a week. Which I totally get, except that's not what the Ninjas are really about. I think as a team, we're a place for people who are completely insane, and want to spend hours planning a stunt to pull against the other team, or to record fake press conferences, or even just to practice. We try to take winning and losing as not seriously as we do take the theatrical, BS aspects of playing kickball. We want to win, too, and there's obviously no reason why we can't; but I want to shoot off confetti guns first.

The new season doesn't start again until Feburary or March of 2008 (thanks, WAKA!). Frankly, I think the time off will be good for us. I know some people won't be back - either they aren't playing next season, or they are joining new teams. And I'm fine with that - people should do what makes them happy, and I'd rather have someone not on the team than join because they feel obligated and be unhappy and unenthused. Our goal between now and then it to a) develop a lot of stunts and BS that the entire team can be involved in and b) recruit people who are willing to sell out for the team and get involved in our shenanigans. This will probably mean bringing in some players who have never played kickball before, which I actually love; they are a blank slate, and we are free to brainwash them and corrupt their unsuspecting minds.

Ha.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Update

We lost to The Valley Girls 8-2. And this blog is going on hiatus until we play like we deserve it. 3-3 teams DO NOT DESERVE THEIR OWN BLOGS!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Haven't updated over the last few weeks? You bet.

I have a lovely, wonderful, frequently screaming all night newborn baby at home. As hard as it might be to believe, somethings do take a priority over kickball...

We've gone 1-1 over the last two weeks. On 8/13 we lost to Redrum, 2-0. I wasn't at the game (driving back from a weekend visit to Tucson to see the in-laws, because I'd much rather be driving through a desert with a screaming baby than playing kickball), but reports I've heard from teammates range from "the game was tough" to "we played retarded" to "balls soup". I know that at least two our our players were thrown out trying for the first-to-third-on-a-single thing, while making two of the ugliest slides known to mankind. I'll let the offenders decide if they want to tell those stories themselves.

Last week was a complete turnaround. We played Smurfageddon, and I think you guys know the history between us. A friendly rivalry, and we were 2-1 against them all-time going in, but certainly a rivalry of some sort. And for whatever reason, everything "clicked" from the first inning, especially for our offense. All of the poor decisions on where to kick vanished. Everyone made good choices, even if it meant not doing what they normally do or even sacrificing themselves for the team. Thanks to that, we scored four runs in the first inning, and never really were threatened from there. (It helped that their pitcher walked three of our first four kickers - ouch.)

The final score was 10-3, but really I felt like it was 100-3. To see our offense go out against a good team and execute gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the season. I know that we apparently CAN "flip a switch" come playoff time, but a) that doesn't mean we WILL do that and b) I'd like to able to play to our level of ability in the regular season AND the playoffs - I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

I think most people know the Vince Lombardi quote of "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." I think every youth sports coach drilled that into our heads as kids to prove the value of sportsmanship. I think that's taking the quote all out of context. I think what Vince Lombardi meant was that your results aren't as important as playing at your highest level of ability - that's the "how you play the game" he was talking about. Winning or losing is sort of important to me, but I can handle losing if we played as good as we could, and another team still beats us. It happened to us in the semifinals in San Diego last year, and in the Championship Game against Wonderballz a few seasons ago. It happens sometimes. But losing because you didn't come close to your best effort as a team (or even winning in spite of it) sucks.

This week, we play the Valley Girls in a rematch of last season's Championship Game. As usual, it should be a very competitive, hard-fought game between two former bitter rivals who now have a lot of respect for each other. Plus, the "trade" of Tyler F. to their team for Spitz will certainly spice things up a bit.


Friday, August 10, 2007

A Ninja Manifesto - Offense and How to be Offensive

I think we know that we’re capable of being one of the top offensive teams in the Division. What we lack from time to time is consistency. Some weeks we can score double digit runs, while in other weeks we struggle to score at all. Why the wild swings? Because we only succeed on offense when we stick to the things that make us successful – the things we’ve done as a team in order to win three championships.

These things don’t include kicking for home runs and trying to overpower the other team – while the occasional home run is nice and sometimes necessary, we do well when we outthink and outplay the other team’s defense. There are things that we do on offense when things are going well that other teams don’t – call it “Kickball the Ninja Way” or whatever you want, but it has worked in the past and it will work in the future if we stick to it.

The difference between scoring 10 runs versus scoring two runs is usually a lot of little things. Here are some guidelines about what we should be doing every time we come to bat, regardless of who we are playing or what the score is.

PUT PRESSURE ON THE OTHER TEAM’S DEFENSE – I think that every specific thing that we try to do as a team on offense comes from this basic concept – it’s the overall philosophy that guides everything we should do. As we’ve seen time and time again, when you constantly put the other team’s defense in situations where they have to make plays, there’s a good chance that they will make enough mistakes that we can capitalize on.

GROUND BALLS PUT MORE PRESSURE ON DEFENSES THAN FLY BALLS – Ground balls require more things to go right for the defense than fly balls. Hopefully this diagram helps to explain things:



With a ground ball, the fielder must catch the ball, make a good throw, and the person at the base must make a clean catch while staying on the base. Meanwhile, for a fly ball only one thing has to happen – the ball being caught.

Ground balls in the right places (like down 3rd base) will make it almost impossible to get the kicker out. And even more importantly, it puts the pressure on the defense to execute a series of things instead of just doing one thing over and over. It’s frustrating when an outfielder makes a “Help Me Jesus” catch on a deep fly ball, but why give them the chance to make that play at all when a ground ball puts the defense under more pressure and increases the odds of them screwing up.

HOME RUNS ARE FINE, IN SMALL DOSES – I’ve seen our team fall in love with trying to kick for home runs several times in the past because someone kicked one in the first inning. The truth is that for every home run, there are probably eight or nine fly outs. In the long run, the reward isn’t worth all the outs we’ll incur trying for home runs.

GETTING THE FIRST TWO KICKERS ON BASE SHOULD BE ALMOST AUTOMATIC – If you can kick a ground ball to third base, it’s almost impossible for a defense to get you out at first base, or to get a runner out going to second. You don’t have to kick hard when kicking ground balls – keeping it on the ground is way more important than how hard you kick it.

DON’T KICK ANYTHING THE CATCHER CAN MAKE A PLAY ON – Any bunt that the catcher can field near home base is almost always going to be an out. Kicking ground balls instead of bunts takes the catcher out of the equation. But if you are going to bunt, try to get the ball somewhere in between the catcher and the pitcher on the 3rd base side – it’s tough to field and almost a sure base hit.

TAKE WHAT THE DEFENSE GIVES YOU – Every defense has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s in our best interest to exploit the other team’s weak spots to our advantage. If they have huge gaps in their outfield, aim for them. If there is a girl on second base who weighs about 50 pounds and has her hands in her armpits when the ball is kicked, make her make the plays. It’s not mean – it’s being opportunistic.

Remember: precision is more important than brute force.

LINE DRIVES ARE BETTER THAN FLY BALLS – There are situations when you need to kick more than a ground ball, especially with two outs and runners on base. But that doesn’t mean that you need to hammer a deep fly ball – that gives the other team a chance to get under it and make a play (and maybe have a better fielder get to it).

In these situations the key is kicking line drives that get over the heads of the infielders but fall in front of the outfield. These gaps always exist, especially with kickers whom the defense respects. Keep putting balls in front of the outfielders until they adjust and more up to close the gap. The beauty is that once this happens, our big kickers can then blast kicks over the drawn-in outfield’s heads and make them pay.

KNOW THE SITUATION AND KICK ACCORDINGLY – Before you go up, think about the situation: Where are the runners? Are there force-outs in effect for the runners? How many outs are there? These things all matter. A ground ball to third base is great most of the time, but with runners on first and second, it’s a sure out and worst of all we haven’t advanced the runners. In that case, kicking the ball to the right side of the field is a better play – even if you get out, the runners will advance up to second and third base.

It sounds basic but it needs to happen: have a plan for where you want to ball to go, and think about what will happen with the base runners if the ball goes where you are aiming.

UNDERSTAND YOUR LIMITATIONS AND THOSE OF THE KICKERS AFTER YOU – I know that I can’t kick home runs, so I’ve abandoned trying. My strength is kicking ground balls and getting on base. But certain situations require that I do more than just get on base. If there are two outs and runners on second and third, I could easily kick a grounder and get on base. But that leaves the bases loaded, and if a weaker kicker is up next, I’ve just put them in a bad situation.

Study the kicking order and don’t just know how is before you but who is after you. If a big kicker is up, you can focus on getting on base. If it’s a weaker kicker, you might want to try and punch the ball out of the infield and drive in the runs.

DON’T LOSE FOCUS – Generally we know what to do on the field. But when we lose focus, we can make silly plays that are out of character for us – not tagging up on fly balls, overrunning bases, or not running through first base. Obviously, we want to have fun, but when it’s your turn to kick, you need to be 100 percent focused and thinking several steps ahead – if you are on base, what happens when the ball is kicked? Go through the different scenarios in your mind and decide how you would react to them so you are ready for anything – it’s like role playing without the dice!

And this can’t be stressed enough: You can learn so much about opposing defenses by watching every one of our at-bats. You can tell if certain fielders have weak arms, so maybe you can take an extra base against them. Or, you can tell if certain outfielders have a better or worse chance of making a play.

RUN AGGRESSIVELY, BUT NOT STUPIDLY – I know that we see players stretch singles into doubles, triples or even home runs by being very aggressive on the base paths. And that’s great if you’re as fast as Scott Jones. But I know how fast I am, and I’m not going to be able to pull off the same things he can.

History has shown that if we can remember these things when we’re up to kick, we’ll score tons of runs. I mean, just giant buckets of runs. And the more times we score, the more people get to kick, and that’s fun for everyone.

Yours truly and a Ninja 4Ever,
Richard

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I hate kickball

We lost 3-2 last night. In the bottom of the fifth inning, after we were up 2-1. Against a new team that - yes, they played good - but had giant holes in their defense all game long. And yet we could still only get two runs.

It was embarrassing. Not just because we lost, but it was totally amateur hour for most of the game. Basically, we did everything that every other team does that we usually capitalize on: kicked lots of fly balls, made ill-advised defensive plays at the wrong time and generally lost our heads. It wasn't even close to good enough - if we keep playing like this the next few weeks (Redrum, Smurfageddon, Valley Girls all in a row), we're going to be looking at 2-4 really fast.

I would write more but I can just feel my head start to hurt the more I think about the game. Suffice it to say I have been this distressed by a loss in a long time.

(And by "distressed" I mean "pissed for about 10 minutes, and then went home and had dinner and drinks with my best friend from college who is visiting from Portland". Not the same distressed as "my pet dog died" or "a pen leaked on my favorite shirt".)

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Belated Week 2 Recap: A Win Is A Win

Last Monday we defeated the Rhino Stampede 11-0. It was a frighteningly efficient game (from our standards) - lots of scoring in practically each inning, and absolutely zero mistakes on defense. They came close to scoring once, but we managed to get an inning-ending double play, including throwing out a runner attempting to score at home. In all honesty, from where I was on the sidelines, it looked like the runner beat the throw, but both Megan (the catcher who batted the ball into home plate so it hit the sliding runner) and Adam J. (the pitcher who made the relay throw) insisted that the runner was out, and who am I to argue. Just like how an umpire's decision is final if it goes against you, it's also final if it goes for you too.

The whole situation didn't make the Rhino Stampede very happy - especially since the home plate umpire first signaled "safe" and then verbally changed his call to "out" after they were on the sidelines celebrating. Now, part of me understands their frustration at getting a run pulled off the board after they've started celebrating, especially on a questionable call. Still, they were down 10-0 at that point, so in the big picture it wasn't going to make a lick of a difference and the other team decided to be very angry for the rest of the game (at the umps and at us). I don't know what we were supposed to do - we didn't make the call, and we're certainly not expected to "give them a run" because "the play was close" and "we're leading by so much". I would think that would be considered very condescending if another team decided to take pity on us and "give" us a run.

Oh kickball, you continue to bewilder and infuriate me.

This week's game is against The Ball Breakers at 8:05 p.m. They're a new team, and we should handle them pretty easily, but their captain is a veteran from DC, so who knows.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Week 1 Recap: Really? We Just Did That

And by "that", I mean something that we haven't done in six seasons of Studio Division kickball: win our first game. And it was a good game against a good team, too - 2-1 over Nuts & Honeys. The odd part is that all the runs in the game by both teams were scored in the first inning, and there were nothing but blanks from there. Both teams had chances to score (for example, Megan was thrown out at the plate on a close play for us), but couldn't convert.

Even though our offense is a little rusty (it happens), I think our defense is in mid-season form. Honestly, I don't remember a mistake that we made the whole game, and we made several very heady plays. For example, in the first inning, Nuts & Honeys get their lead-off kicker on. The second batter kicks a ground ball to pitcher (Adam G.), who quickly gets the ball over to first (Scott P.) for the out. The runner on first decides to try and be aggressive and get to third. Which, honestly, works most of the time if the first baseman doesn't a) react immediately and b) make a strong throw.

Sucks for him, then, that Scott P. did both of those things. The runner was tagged out by about five steps, and I think it set the tone for the whole game.

Needless to say, the atmosphere at the bar was pretty electric. We've won regular season pennants and Division championships, but we'd never won our opening game, so it was nice to see all of our teammates celebrating being 1-0 versus going to our usual "well, we do this every year" card. You want to have something positive to let the new players on our team like Spitz see.

Yeah, about that...

Spitz was probably the best player on the Valley Girls, and especially when our rivalry with them was not-so-friendly, he was the most "hated" player on the team. There was especially a lot of tension between him and Scott J., since they are both oversized personalities, just in different ways. After a few seasons, some of us got to know Spitz as being the big teddy bear that he is and hearts melted, etc.

So this offseason. Spitz is leaving the Valley Girls, and during a conversation with some of us, the idea of having him join the Ninjas is hatched. And basically, it's a perfect storm of concept of execution - we need to keep it as secret as possible so we can not only blow the minds of everyone else in the Division but also our own team. Basically, five people in the kickball world know about this (Michael, Scott, Ashley, Spitz and myself), and we completely sell it to the outside world - Spitz tells everyone that he isn't playing this season (too competitive), but will come to watch games. We feign vague disinterest. We even go as far as to create a fake identity for Spitz to register under (Curt Hennig, aka Mr. Perfect) so that not even the WAKA reps will know what is happening.

Flash forward to Opening Night on Monday. All of the teams are brought onto the field to do leaguewide introductions. As defending champs (or maybe alphabetically, I don't know), we are introduced first. Spitz is sitting in the bleachers outside, having finished playing some basketball. Instead of cheering, we are silent (which Scott cryptically told the team to do). Scott says the following: "Wait, wait, this doesn't feel right. One of our players isn't out here. Spitz, do you want to get in the game."

And with that, Scott throws a t-shirt to Spitz as we walks from the bleachers to join his new team. Needless to say, minds were blown. It was spectacular. I couldn't be more thrilled at how it turned out. It was a better twist than anything M. Night Shymalayan has scripted in a long time.

My only regret is that we had some Amish-themed stuff to do that we didn't do, mainly because of the excitement of the night and the closeness of the game. Oh well, there's always next week...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Off-season hijinx

What have we been doing during the off-season?

Massive amounts of steroids, that's what.
Running underground dog fighting rings out of our backyard, that's what.
Stuff, that's what.

Several of us played on a new team in the Junction Division (Silverlake) organized by Michael, The Hobolympians. There were about a half-dozen Ninjas on the team, along with our friends from the other teams in the Studio Division (yes, we do have friends outside of the team. Even ones that aren't imaginary). We were able to take the regular season title there by a game and a half. The playoffs for Junction happened to wrap up last night, and while I won't get into details, let's just say that a No. 1 seed has yet to win a championship in any Division I've ever played in.

And oh yeah, I had a baby. Vivian Bliss Manfredi was born on June 29, weighing 6 lbs., 2 oz. She was six weeks early - I think she knew that if she waited until her planned birth date, that might mean I would have to miss some Ninja games, and that wouldn't fly with her. At birth, she's already very team-focused.

So for this season...keeping with the tradition of doing something different every season (Scary Ghost Edition, The Max Fischer Players), this year our team name official team name is the Amish Helicopter Ninjas. Why Amish? I don't know - it fit with the name, and affords us opportunities to do a lot of BS this season. For reasons of security, I can't get into most of our plans, but I will let you take a look at our suggested team outfits for this season.

First, for the gentlemen:



And now for the fair ladies:




We have some roster turnover this season, as we do almost every season. The difference is that while we've lost two players, we've lost them to other teams. Cameron has decided to join The Guy Fawkes Conservancy (the Pregnant Cheerleaders off-shoot) while Tyler is joining...the Valley Girls. Traitors. Seriously, though, I completely understand wanting to play with new people and wanting new challenges, especially after the fun I had with the Hobolympians this off-season.

That being said, in keeping with the Amish theme, both Cameron and Tyler will be shunned for the rest of their lives by our team.

Our first game is Monday night against perennial pretty good team Nuts & Honeys. Expect more announcements as the weekend progresses.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Studio "All Stars" Prove Otherwise

The game started as expected - 15 minutes late due to several Hollywood player no-shows and others "lost" on the way. The Studio Division would have been lucky to escape with a forfeit. I'm not sure what the final score was, like 9-1 - and as Brian Ching from Hollywood pointed out, that run should have been called out at first.

If anything, games like this should remind you that the game is just for fun. You can lose by 40 runs but when it's over, the pinata still comes out and we head to the bar. On the other hand, losing sucks donkey balls coated in doo-doo, with CORN!

No doubt I will be labeled as "negative" for this but really, even Roberto Benigni's character in "Life Is Beautiful" would have a tough time with this one.

The game started close - it was 0-0 before the first inning. But after Studio scored one run, it was all Hollywood. With standard pitching and catchable pop-fly kicking they still turned it into a rout. The bulk of their runs came off fly balls being dropped or simply flying over the Studio defense's heads and well placed kicks to enormous outfield gaps. While the comparison is less than polite, it reminded me of the Pregnant Cheerleader defense. As if to prove that sentence wrong, the best defensive play of the game was a fast catch-and-peg out of a sliding Hollywood player into third by a Pregnant Cheerleader.

The real fun came on offense. If we were slack-jawed yokels on defense, we looked like wide-eyed wannabe actors dazzled by the Hollywood lights (metaphorically) on offense. While Hollywood swung away, we sent timid bunts back at the pitcher. Hollywood's defense left a huge gap in left, and had their deepest players at the edge of the infield dirt as if ASKING to be scored on but we just kept gift wrapping our balls (oh yes I did).

We had probably 8 base runners in the first two innings and came away with one run. In the second inning, our fastest players didn't advance more than one base - not because of speed but because of "not getting a good jump" on a hard, skittering no-decision-necessary grounder. Other times, players would make it to base and then make a big turn to the next one to find themselves pegged out (I counted three), and one player actually wasn't familiar with "tagging up" (God bless him, nice guy and not a bad kicker). We squandered more opportunity than M.C. Hammer.

I could spin it with how fun it is to play a bonus game on a Saturday but really it unfortunately wasn't fun. Not because we lost, but because in a loss this bad, the game is a truncated experience void of the excitement of actual competition. It was a lousy blow out game; an astounding display of how badly we can all play when we really set our minds to it.

It's an interesting human trait, the difference between champs and chumps isn't just talent but a state of mind and how well they use that talent when challenged. Super Bowls in the 90s were notorious for exposing this truth. It is what it is, decent players playing a terrible game. The good news is, this could be the beginning of a tradition of cross-divisional All Star Games and for the inevitable re-match, we'll have much more detailed notes on their style of play then they'll have on us.

In the meantime, get over it bitches! It's just a game.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We are the New England Patriots of kickball

A 6-1 victory over the Valley Girls in the Studio Division championship game last night gives us three Division titles in four seasons (with an appearance in the title game in the fourth season). Three titles in four seasons officially makes you a dynasty. One more title and we're the Steelers in the 1970s or the 49ers of the 1980s.

More details to come from the game, but I'll just say that it was quite possibly the best game we've ever played as a team. Sofa King Good is lucky they forfeited, because I'm very, very confident that with the way we were playing, they would have had no chance against us last night.

Ironically, this was far and away our most difficult and tumultuous season, yet it was the easiest championship game victory out of our three so far.

Again, more details later, and I'm sure teammates will chime in to fill in some details. But, as I said to the team last night after the game, I don't know if this was the best Ninjas team we've had, but I know for a fact that no other team has ever shown as much heart and resilience as this team has. Once again, I'm proud to be a Ninja.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Championship Game" Tonight

Win, and we are the champions of the Studio Division for the third time in four seasons. Lose, and we're Redrum - out in the semifinals. This is what happens when one of the two finalists decides to take their ball and go home. I know the situation wasn't made ideal, but at some point you need to make a decision, and I think it's pretty much a no-brainer to play for a championship rather than in a regular-season game, even if it is against a team that broke off from yours. Especially when you have a history in other Divisions of kicking ass in the regular season and choking in the playoffs.

Until proven otherwise, I'm going to assume that Sofa King Good were going to chomp the bit tonight anyway, so whether or not they showed up to play is irrelevant.

As for the game tonight: The Valley Girls are very good. They are extremely fast, kick well, and field their positions. We know their strengths and weaknesses at this point, but it will take a total team effort to get the victory.

In other words: we are the underdogs again, which puts me in a very good frame of mind going into tonight.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Retraction

Remember how I JUST posted about how we are playing the Valley Girls in the Semi-Finals and THEN the winner was goign to play in the Championship against Sofa King Good?

Yeah, well Sofa King Good has forfeited the game, so they can play their opening Hollywood game against a splinter team.

More to come as the story develops...

Coming Up: Semi-Final vs.Valley Girls & Studio Division vs. Sofa King Good

Next Monday is going to be a doozy.

First we play the Valley Girls. A team that used to be bitter rivals (and they are of sorts) but over the last few seasons I've become pretty good friends with a lot of them. It has become a friendly rivalry. The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas at one point wanted to try a t-shirt swap with their team for the last game of the season, but it never came to be.

That doesn't mean I don't want to kick their ass.

Their team is good. Athletic, passionate. High spirited. They finished first in their conference, and with good reason. They kick and field really well. When I was making the schedule for the season, I had them pegged at #1 across the board. I scheduled their cross conference game with Sofa King Good because I knew that would be a great game. We haven't played them since the beginning of Fall '06. I am frigg'n jazzed out of my mind to play them.

But there is something bigger going on.

And as much as I want to beat the asses of the Valley Girls. I want the Studio Division as a whole to beat the asses of Sofa King Good. The winner of our game against the VG's plays SKG.

There is a buzzing around the division. A unified buzzing that wants either of our teams to really take it to them. Sofa King Good is a team that has played in the Hollywood Division and came over to play in Studio while Hollywood was in an off season. Well, they went 8-0 in the regular season and are fierce. But they have made some enemies along the way. They have an aggressive play style and have a pre-disposition for arguing calls.

Like last Monday night when they played Redrum in the Semi-Final. The game I saw them play. I saw them argue judgment calls at first base and there was the April's Mom incident where their team captain, Max Lucas, was rounding 2nd base and ran over April's Mom. He argued that she was in the base path and had a fit of sorts that he wasn't awarded 3rd base for interference. I'm staying out of the debate. But lets just say that is cemented their status as a-holes of the division.

Like I said. Doozy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Quarter Final Game: vs. Smurfageddon

This is long (that'swhatshesaid)

Weird. Fucking. Night.

I don't know how else to describe it. The mood of the game was off from the get go. It was windy and warm and twilightly and muggy and just...off. Its the kind of air that looms over you on nights where big things happen. Like presidential elections. You're there and you can't do anything about it, but you know something big is going on. I don't know how to properly describe it.

Going into the game I was nervous. Kelly can attest to this. We got to the field early and I just couldn't settle. We went out and bought some Crayolla sidewalk chalk paint so I could write nasty stuff about the Smurfs on the pavement, but I just wasn't in the mood.

Setup:

- The wind was blowing from home plate to the outfield, causing every kick to carry and hang in the air. Adam J. was walking by home plate in his flip-flops (thongs) and kicked a random ball and it went over into left field, with no effort.

- The sun was setting and was shining into the eyes of the outfielders.

- Mandy bought a GORGEOUS sign for us. A HUGE banner that was just beautiful.

- Everyone bought water or Gatorade and stayed hydrated. The other team was lacking.

The game got off to a really rocky start, in spite of Scott's best efforts to slow down the game. Oh, before I get into THAT, we had a big issue with umping in the division that night. (note: I just deleted a major rant that I'll save for another time). Anyway, things got off to a late start. By the time the game started, it was close to 7:30ish.

In the first inning a few insane things happened. Well, Smurfageddon did what we all knew they were going to do, which was bunt, bunt, bunt kick. Unfortunately, it was the kick part that killed us. For whatever reason, in the first inning Scott was off his game. Its a rare thing to see Scott miss play a ball. Sure, he's dropped really tough catches. But he always has the sense to know the field and know where to get the ball to next. But the Smurfs sent two balls his way. The first got caught by the wind and carried a few feet above his head. By the time he brought the ball in, they had scored three runs. A few minutes later, it happened again. This time the ball dropped just short of his play, and somehow got past him. Another two scored. They finished up with some more bunting and small plays in the infield, and we were down by five going into the bottom of the first.

Morale was low. But we began to threaten in the bottom of the first, though we didn't score. Adam J and Jack both got out. Julie kicked a little grounder that was played poorly by the Smurfs, and as the ball sailed into foul territory along the fence, she RAN to 2nd then to 3rd. She pulled a triple out of her ass and it was all due to hustle and listening to her teammates. It was awesome. Unfortunately, she was stranded at third. Or was she? I remember she ran home, against my base coaching, but I don't know if the score counted.

Top of 2, we held them to no runs.

Bottom 2, everything broke loose. We loaded up the bases and Gari got up to kick. He kicked a huge fly ball to right center, and it was not only went over the head of the girl, but was misplayed by the outfielder. He cleared the bases and got a grand slam home run! This brought us within one, and everything changed from that point.

We started playing better on the field. Offense heated up a bit. In the bottom of the third, Scott got on board with two outs on a double. I dinked in a shot down the third base line and got on board. Then Richard came up to kick. He booted a line drive beauty between me running to 2nd and into right field. As it whizzed past me I shouted "Whoopsie Daisy" as I headed to third. Scott rounded third and slid into home, and though his hand hit the plate a beat before he was tagged with the ball, he was called out. Slight disappointment on his side, to say the least. I gotta say though, some of the outfielders on the Smurfs have guns. Their throws from the outfield in, were dead on, and fast.

Both the Smurfs and Ninjas brought in a run each going into the bottom of the fifth, with the score at 6 to 5. We were down, but we were up to kick. Somehow, we loaded the bases again, with no outs. With being down by two, all Sam (who was kicking) had to do was boot the ball to the outfield, anywhere, and we would have picked up at least one. Then we could have gotten another one.

This however, is what happened:

Sam was kicking, and kicked a foul ball here and there, took a couple of strikes. He was really feeling out the pitcher, waiting for the perfect pitch. He then kicked really poorly, a rolling ball through foul territory. BUT it rolled through the ambiguous gray zone (long story) into fair territory. Before he or the Smurfs realized what was happening, Sam was running to first and our players were running to the plate. A throw was made, for some reason, AT Sam and to first base. But the ball went wide and the Smurfs instead of playing the ball, stopped. They stopped (including Orion) to come argue the call. Two of our players made it across the plate. The game was over. Just like that.

Appropriate ending for a weird night.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ninjas Injury Report, 5/1/07

Cameron Davis - Severe buttocks injury (recurring injury aggravated while attempting to make a diving catch.
STATUS - QUESTIONABLE

Richard Manfredi - Cut middle finger on right hand (sliced by Tyler Foster's talon-like nails in pregame warm-ups)
STATUS - PROBABLE TO BE WHINING ABOUT IT ALL WEEK

Angela Debibi - Cut to hand (sustained in the field)
STATUS - A LOT TOUGHER THAN RICHARD

Scott Jones - Bruised groin (injured while "teabagging" Joe McClendon
STATUS - GROSS

Scott Putman - Injured right foot (kicked ball so hard during game that it exploded - pieces of the ball embedded in his big toe)
STATUS - LIKELY TO DO THE SAME THING NEXT WEEK

Michael Winfield - Had a scratch in his throat (stayed out in the cold too long)
STATUS - DAY-TO-DAY, NEXT WEEK'S AVAILABILITY BASED ON HIM DRINKING PLENTY OF FLUIDS, EATING LOTS OF SOUP AND GETTING BACK RUBS FROM HIS GIRLFRIEND

Next week

Both the quarterfinals and semifinals are next week. The remaining eight teams play the early (7:15 p.m.) game and the winners advance to the semifinals right after. Two games of kickball for the fans for one low price - free!

Our quarterfinal game is a rematch of our regular season ending game against Smurfageddon. As you'll recall, we lost 6-5 on a force out at second with the bases loaded on a sharply kicked ball to the outfield by yours truly. Needless to say, I really, really want to win this game, and not just for the revenge factor. Smurfageddon are like the Young Life or Glee Club of the league - way too much enthusiasm wrapped up in a wholy dorky package.

They have "Smurf names" on the back of their shirts ("Clumsy", "Handy", "Smurfette", etc.). They go on the message boards and talk about "Smurfing" their opponents. They sing the Smurf theme ("Tra la, la la la la, la la la, la la!") at the bar AT FULL VOLUME after every game when doing a victory toast. They happy, grinning, and thoroughly nice people - generally the poster children for the "social activity" that WAKA is always preaching.

And for all of these reasons, I want to crush them. Badly. I'm talking 15 to 20 runs badly. We could lose to Redrum for 10 games in a row, and that would be the trade-off for winning this game next week.

Assuming we win, we'll take on the winner of the Valley Girls/Uno Mas tilt in the semifinals immediately following. Either opponent is tough, but beatable.

And fans should expect some pre-game excitement before the opening game - Scott J. has some big, explosive things in store. If you've never been to a Ninjas game before, or haven't been in a while, this would be the perfect game to make (HINT MOTHERHUMPING HINT).

Opening Round playoff results

It takes different teams a different length of time to “click" and finally start playing up to their level of potential. Some teams hit thal level from the opening gates, while other teams need to ramp up to their peak level. And some teams never do reach that point, for any number of reasons.

Last night was the Opening Round of the playoffs, and going into the game, I was pretty convinced that we were going to be in the “never reached our potential” camp. It’s not that our record was that bad in the regular season – we were 5-3, and the No. 6 seed out of 16 teams, and two of our losses were by one run – but it’s just that the majority of our wins were a lot harder than they needed to be, where we let inferior opponents hang around because we were unfocused and making a lot of dumb plays. Eventually, that’s what doomed us against Smurfageddon last week – we put ourselves in such a big hole, that even a huge last-inning rally wasn’t enough, when in truth we shouldn’t have needed to rally at all if we just played like we’re capable of playing.

I’m generally very, very skeptical that a team can just “flip the switch” come playoff time – I tend to believe that you learn habits (good and bad) during the season, and that at some point you can’t get away from those habits; in short, you are who you are buy the time the playoffs come.

I don’t want to use last night as an indication, because it was just one game, but…maybe I’m wrong, about my theory and about our team. Because I’ll be damned if we didn’t go out against a pretty good team (Mean Girls and Boys Next Door) and lay the hammer to them from the opening pitch on. The final score was 12-4, and it really could have been even more lopsided.

Without question, it was our best overall game of the season. Everyone, and I mean everyone, contributed. I believe we either scored in four of the five innings or in all five (Scott?) which means that the entire line-up was doing good things. And not just big kicks, but kicks that got people on base and moved runners over. All the little things that championship teams do but we had forgotten for most of the season.

I have to give a personal shout out to Julie P., who had to be arm-twisted by her brother Scott P. and her good friend Michael into playing this season. She’s been playing catch-up in adjusting to playing with a bunch of veterans since Day One, but no one has wanted to improve more than her. And guess what happened last night? She went 2-for-2 and kicked in a pair of runs. Afterwards, she came up to Scott J. and I at the bar and let us know how much fun she had last night.

And she’s right – last night was the most fun I had all season. And as much as I’d like to say that it had nothing to do with winning or losing, I know that’s a lie. Yes, I’ve had a lot of fun in games I’ve lost; and yes, I’ve won games and not had a lot of fun. But, as Chuck Klosterman said, if you are going to play a sport, winning is the logical thing to try and do. More importantly, I think we’ve finally “clicked” – there might be a few minor things to improve upon, but I think we’re right where we want to be.

It only took us eight games to get there.

(Side Note: Scott J. pointed this out to us last night - we are on the fifth season of kickball in the Studio Division, and there has only been one round of kickball play (regular season week or tournament round like Quarterfinals, Semifinals or Finals) that we haven't been involved in - the Championship Game of the first season. Since then, if there's a round of games being played, we've been involved (except for Wild Card round playoff games, since we've avoided those). We need two more wins to keep that alive this season.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Playoff Begin on Monday

Our last game of the regular season was Monday, against Smurfageddon. The winner took second place in our Conference for the regular season while the loser finished third. It was a very, very good game, probably the best I've played in or seen all season. We, being us this season, spotted them a 6-3 (I think?) lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. We then managed to close the gap to 6-5 and load the bases with two outs and yours truly at the plate.

What happened next was the Grand Bull Moose Award winner of mixed blessings:

- I lined a single to left-center field, in front of their best defender.
- He almost fell while trying to field the ball (I put some spin on it, and it sliced away from him), which would have won the game.
- He kept his balance and his composure, and had the presence of mind to run to second base (none of his fielders were covering the base) and step on it about a quarter step before our runner from first could get there.

So, we lost 6-5, but the last play was basically what good kickball was all about - I did what I needed to do and our runner ran as fast as she possibly could; their fielder just made exactly the right play.

Final regular season record: 5-3, and the overall No. 6 seed (of 16 teams) for the playoffs. Since two of our three losses were by one run each, I actually think we can go very far this postseason IF (and this is turning out to be a big if) we can play with focus and intensity for five full innings. We seem to sleepwalk through the first three innings or so, believing that we can just "turn it on" when we need to. Sometimes we can, and sometimes (like on Monday) we can't.

We play The Mean Girls 'N' Boys Next Door on Monday at 8:05 p.m. in a rematch of one of those "flip the switch" games where we needed a late comeback to avoid losing to a team we're much better than. If I need to be more intense and focused myself to make sure the team is in the right frame of mind for the playoffs, so be it - I don't care if Kareenah thinks I'm "angry" when I play like that. We're too good not to go far in the playoffs this season.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't Fill Up On Bread

There is a moment that happens at buffet restaurants. It's a turning point. See, at first buffets are nebulous experiences. You're assaulted with steak and pie and maybe Cap'n Crunch. This is a metaphor, usually nobody throws food at you. But like a food fight, it's coming at you from all angles and you've got to decide where to start. Pace yourself and try a little of everything just don't fill up on bread.

If you pace yourself too long you'll reach the paradox of being full yet unsatisfied. It's like you've made so many good friends with cornbread, pasta salad and mashed potatos but never found that deep connection with barbecue ribs. Your experience is incomplete.

The same thing happens on pub crawls or in Las Vegas when you keep saying, "Oh, I'm going to have a drink later." Before you know it, it's Sunday morning or the last Redline train is heading back to North Hollywood and sure, you saved a couple of bucks, but you never got to that make-an-ass-of-yourself-in-public point that makes the experience worthwhile.

You've got to locate the moment right before the enormous nature of the experience lulls you to sleep. That's where you end your sampling and moderation. Kick the opening act off the stage and get to the main event. You've got to stand on a bar stool and say, "I'm having a shot of Goldschlager AND a Pabst Blue Ribbon, RIGHT NOW! (please)". Then head out onto Hollywood Boulevard to make some questionable decisions because that is the recipe for a moment worth remembering.

Take that as you will.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Being a Pussy

I have terrible manners. Several kickballers know this, even friends like "Smidty" from Hollywood's Little Lebowski's, Christian on Redrum or Kevin from Dogtown's Pregnant Cheerleaders.

Rarely, I'll go an entire game without even saying a negative word to a teammate. Last night, I didn't say much. Cameron and I quietly corrected a misapplied rule, otherwise nothing happened.

Then there was the 5th inning. We've already got a 3-0 lead and I made the questionable decision to run home after a caught pop fly caught 7 feet from where I was standing. The outfielder had subconsciously given me the "go ahead and run because I'm not going to do anything about it" look. So, I did and was called safe in a close play at the plate. No argument from the opposition. The next kicker comes up. First base ump whispers to home plate and I'm called out. A brief perplexed look and protest followed. Especially telling was that the opposition didn't fight for the new ruling and quietly accepted it.

After the game, I pointed out to the home plate ump that he rules home plate like the heroic ump signaling "safe" in the Norman Rockwell painting. He asked if I felt the first base ump "could not see the play from 60 feet away". I said I'd prefer to be judged from 5 inches away. Yes, the game's over and we won. Not the point.

Next, I learned what unconvincing hearsay I was called out on, "I said I THOUGHT it hit you." the 1st base ump said, then added, "I didn't know if it was before or after you touched the base though." He said he couldn't quite see where the base was. He WAS 60 feet away after all.

This isn't even "reasonable doubt" to overturn the call. This was reasonable doubt's retarded cousin "Unreasonable Belief". Nonsense.

So, naturally, instead of leaving the field with a "whatevs". I mumbled for the ump to fornicate himself. He returned the wishes. I told him to perform the act with extra enthusiasm on himself, which he advised me I would probably enjoy too much. I lobbed the whimsical suggestion of using his face and an icicle. He chose to end the discussion.

Towards the end of the exchange, I obviously realized I was being a douche and hinted at that with increasingly ludicrous ideas. Naturally I felt bad but enjoyed the creative exercise of taking insults into unusual territory. My opinion on the non-ruling is pretty solid but my behavior needs adjusting. I took the first opportunity at the bar to tell the ump "I have terrible manners. You're a good guy. I'm sorry, it's just what I do." Now, I'm not resigned to the way I act or always proud of it but I do like having a little fire and passion. Listen, if the ship's sinking, you'd want me on the crew. I'll never lose that but I'm always trying to apply it more positively. It'll take a lifetime but I think I'm getting better.

Game 7 vs. Hype

Everyone played really well. There wasn't much to say. But i'll try anyway.

We opened up a 1 to 0 lead in the first on some fancy base running by myself and Adam J. I kicked a single, just over the head of the 1st baseman (what we were practicing in...well, in practice) and while they were diddling themselves with the ball, I ran to 2nd before they threw it back to the pitcher. Horray!

Adam J. ran the bases well, and frigg'n booked to home. I forget which kick it was on, but he caught 'em not looking.

Hype had good defense and got on base a few times, but never took advantage. They are an athletic team that really needs someone that can drive the ball far to bring in runs.

Cameron kicked a great line drive that was caught by fingertips at a girl's feet. He was bummed.

Tyler kicked a MONSTER fly ball, that was also caught by the same girl. He was bummed.

Scott kicked a ball, that I don't think he realized he kicked. It went fair, and he booked to 1st. Later on, he was also sneaky, and while on 3rd base, took advantage of a Hype player whose back was turned and he slid into home. He was totally safe. The ump at home thought he was safe, but the 1st base umpire said he "saw it hit him". Needless to say, it was kind of B.S. And well, ask Scott about it. Lets just say the words "fuck you harder" were said. And maybe "fuck you with an icicle".

Oh, Adam G. and Joe turned a double play to end the game, that was totally NOT a bummer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Week 6 Game: AHN vs. MGBND

On Monday, we played a team called the Mean Girls 'n Boys Next Door. I'm a big proponent for calling a team what they are named. I get my knickers in a twist when we're referred to as "the ninjas". Oh, also, there is a guy on Uno Mas who ALWAYS asks me "What team are you on?" and I ALWAYS say "Awesome Helicopter Ninjas" and he says "I thought you were just 'the Ninjas' " and...well, on and on.

ANYWAY, so yeah, we played the Mean Girls 'n Boys Next Door. They are one of those teams that play better than you think they will play. Good kickers. Good base runners. Good defense. We beat 'em, but it was in the bottom of the 5th, when we were down 3-2. We managed to load up the bases on great kicks by Scott P., Adam G, Megan and Joe. Someone else too. Joe ended up kicking in the winning run, so big "ups" to Joe.

But this is about ME! So, fuck you, Joe. I had the idea that we all play the first inning blind folded. This idea was probably very very...very poor, you know...in embryo, so it was nixed. So I convinced Scott to let me pitch the first inning blind folded. That is called 'compromise'. Look it up.

Yeah, it didn't go so well. Well, it didn't go BAD, it was just a pain and slowed things down. In hindsight...I should have kicked blind folded as well. But you know, hindsight. I think the problem we've had this season is that we've been wanting to do a lot of shenanigans, but keep getting bogged down by winning the game. Or at least, get put into a position early on where we're down, so our heads are not about the stupid, but about the kickball. I know, weird.

We also had some bad overthrowing mistakes. That seems to be the theme of this season. Forget the Rise of the Machines. It's 'Awesome Helicopter Ninjas and the Overthrowing of Azkaban'.

Stupid...dementors.

Also, Jack and I umped the next game: Redrum vs. Trey Stafford Explosion, and a girl got a ball to the face. And that was fun. First one I've seen all season. Horray!

Next week we play "Hype" and I know jack about crap about them.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

WAKA $TREET KID

Ha, Richard! I got here first!

This image was just about 100% Richard. I just cobbled it together for the Studio Newsletter. Why am I posting it here? Well, lets just say there may be a chance that WAKA brass may "frown" upon it.

Ok, a little backstory: Once upon a time, I decided to write the newsletter, then went all crazy, and turned each into a magazine of sorts. This lastest one was Electronic Kicking Monthly (I think I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I digress) and was video game themed. Richard, was all "have you ever heard of Wall Street Kid, also, lick my nuts". And I said "No.", to both. The end result was this. A fake advert for a shitty video game...

(Editor's Note: Click to see full-sized version)


Methinks it may cut a little to close to the bone for WAKA's liking. But you know, if they say "yeah, we don't want to put that in there" they should remember that because this is a social activity, we are friends with oh, EVERYONE.

Monday, April 02, 2007

No Game Tonight

It's Seder, so happy Seder to all of the Ninjas' Jewish friends. This means that we don't have an official game, although the Gentiles amongst us will be practicing at the park and probably working on some other stuff.

To hold you over, here's an appearance by Scott on NoHo Tonight (I think it's either a cable access show, or something on The CW) last week in advance of our game against Redrum. As you can see, the tips didn't help.

At any rate, watch and enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2007

EKM: Preview

As you know, I do the newsletter for the division. By do, I mean have vigorous sex with, then send out to the 300 plus people as sloppy...I guess seconds through threehundreds.

Each week this season we've done a different themed "magazine" of sorts. We had "Kick Fancy", "Cosmoballitan", "Kicks & Ammo" and "Martha Stewart Kicking". They take a whole lot of time. Usually while i'm working, so that's cool.

BECAUSE I love the Ninjas more than anything (sorry Mommy), I'm giving you (yes YOU) the Awesome Helicopter Ninja Blog reader a small sample of what will be in the next issue.

Under the "Classic Gaming Section"

Spitzy Kong:









"There are some games that are such a part of Studio gaming culture, that you can't help but associate the two. Certainly Super Manfredi Bros., Tecmo Kickball and Alex Kidd in Shirley's World are some of the standouts from the early days of console video games. But none are as iconic as Nintendo's Spitzy Kong. Its a classic tale. Spitzy Kong kidnaps the fair maiden, bartender Saana, as Scotty Jones tries to rescue her. Along the way, he dodges kickballs hurled by the beast, making his way up the crooked iron scaffolding to sweep her to safety.

What sets this game apart is it's endless game play. We never get tired of hearing of the constant battles between Spitzy Kong and Scotty Jones. Over and over. And OVER and OVER. To the point where you almost don't want to think about these two characters. But you keep coming back for more. Will Scotty flip the bird to Spitzy at the top of the ramp? Will he grab the ninja swords and cut the deadly balls down? Or will Spitzy knock the crap out of Scotty with his fearsome rage? You don't know. I don't know. All I do know is that this game is much better than Spitzy Kong Jr.
"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"...by the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas."

Tyler Granlund: Valley Girl. Mustache Contest Winner. Flip-cup Champion. Friend of the Ninjas.

He sent me this article he found today, from Entertainment Weekly.

Since its kinda hard to read, here is what the "Backstory" thing says on the bottom right:

"Last year, CSI's Jorja Fox and Eric Szmanda (above) were teammates on an Adult Kickball League team called the Royal Blue Balls. How did the actors fare on the court? So-so: The Balls were eliminated from competition in the semifinals. "

The article should have ended with "...by the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas, who went on to wint he championship that season, even though their season was even soer-so that the Balls."

Well, I can't wait till we play them on the "court" again. Hopefully, the end score can be 40-Love. Or I can perform a slam-dunk through the goal posts to Birdie the last hole.

Things Announcers Would Say if The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas Were In The NCAA Basketball Tournament Instead Of Kickball

"Well, I think Georgetown's 7'2" center Roy Hibbert would definitely have posed a challenge for the Ninjas down low. But, of course, we all have certainly by now heard of how his Achilles' tendon was mysteriously slashed by an unknown assailant on the way to the arena tonight."
-----------------

"North Carolina needs a three to tie. Martin gets it in the corner and fires a shot that is...wait, the ball popped in midair! It appears to have been shot down by...some sort of a blow dart."
-----------------

"Now watch this: Winfield is going to set a screen...I'm mean, it's a smoke screen, so I guess that's what you would call it. At any rate, the Kansas defenders can't find the ball in the confusion, and Love-Smith goes in uncontested for the easy lay-up."
"I think that has to be called a "Moving Screen", Jim."
-----------------

"Oh my God, is Scott Jones humping the UCLA Bruin mascot?!?"
-----------------

"Well, this is an interesting offense set: the Ninjas appear to be...maybe...YES! They are stacking themselves one on top of each other! I've never seen this before, Billy!"
"It's like they are chicken fighting, John."
"I think that's Cameron Davis on the top of this mass of Ninjas. He has the ball, and he must be 15 feet off the ground. He's got it...and it's a double somersault, 1080 spin slam dunk!!!"
-----------------

"This is incredible! You saw a few minutes ago that both teams mysteriously walked off the court with 10 minutes to go in the half. Now, only the Ninjas have returned, and they are scoring uncontested basket after basket! Let's go to Erin Andrews on the sidelines to find out what in the world is happening."
"Thanks, Dick. Apparently, at the last TV timeout, the Ninjas convinced the Blue Devils that the half was over. Apparently, they made a compelling case that the NCAA decided to have halves be 10 minutes long instead of 20 'to conserve energy as a way to fight global warming.' The Blue Devils have realized that they've been tricked, but the Ninjas weld all of the doors in the locker room shut before returning to the court."
-----------------

"Is that...does that bottle on the Ninjas bench say 'FLUBBER'?"
-----------------

"The Ninjas have promised an entrance for the championship games that, in their words, 'knocks the cock off' of anything they've done before. And here they come now, The Awesome Helicop...Oh My Mord, No! No ! No, no, no!"
"Oh, this is terrible..."
"I can't believe what I'm seeing. This is just..."
"Wow!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A pyrotechnics flash gun


Is it dangerous? Well, it shoots flames out of your hands 10 to 15 feet in the air. Do I want one? Sweet Christ, do I! If I buy one, then I need some sort of speaker system hooked up to me so that I can play "The Final Countdown" anytime I need to.

I could also have billows of smoke coming out of my hands, but why settle for ground beef when you can have fillet, right?
I just want to point out one last example of our trouble causing on Monday night.

-Tipping a certain person a dollar for the free "peep show" at the bar

Good times!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Magic Returns

It's back people.

For the last few months, our antics seemed passe to me. We win a ton of games, then throw smoke bombs and confetti. It was fun, it was celebration but the act was getting old, we were looking like a Dennis Rodman parody of ourselves. You've also got to consider the other teams' point of view: Damn Ninjas keep winning and rubbing it in our faces. Of course, if this is your point of view you probably don't know me and I shouldn't be offended that you'd think my love of theatrics has any impure motives. But hey, I understand, losing stinks and nobody wants to be reminded of it.

So now we didn't win a third straight championship (Boo-Hoo, I know) and we're 3-2 this season, finally gift wrapping a close game to Redrum (three things will change before next game) and I feel we've drifted off the radar again. Nobody has us in their sights anymore. The pressure to win is gone and I finally feel like dusting off the confetti gun. In fact, I feel like killing the lights at the park and projecting epic pre-game video to the tune of Van Hagar's "Right Now" onto a paper sheet and then crashing through it at a climactic moment. I want to perform trick plays that defy strategy, logic and public nusiance laws.

A carnival of mayhem!

For months I've lamented that other new leagues I've visited around the area have that special early-days-of-kickball feeling that's missing lately. I had been blaming the decline on too many players or too much competition. Now I'm pretty sure it was part my fault and part the natural pressure that comes from winning. After a while you're just relived to NOT lose a game. So, now the confetti gun is back, we can ease into the smoke bombs and surely we'll think of some new bull crap.

Don't get too excited if you've got us on the schedule, we're still going to play to win.

Trouble we caused last night

- Shushed people who were trying to play Flip Cup while we were having our Book Club.
- Pantsed someone from Redrum as they were standing on a chair in front of everyone trying to get their attention to start the charity gift basket auction.
- Stood there while said guy from Redrum went red in the face from screaming at us in a threatening manner.
- Stole a gift basket from the table when everyone was watching Flip Cup, only to realize that no one noticed and we actually could steal it. Then bringing the gift basket back along with all of the contents EXCEPT FOR A STICKY NOTE PAD. (Take that, Boys and Girls Club! How are you going to write memos to yourselves now? Huh?)
- Wrote helpful addition words and phrases to descriptions of gift baskets, such as "penis" and "nutsack".
- Made up for it by way overpaying for one of the gift baskets.
- Had to be talked out of beating the holy crap out of one girl on Redrum who was talking shit about someone from another team who might be the nicest, sweetest girl in the Division.
- Drank water straight from the nozzle gun behind the bar rather than waiting for bartender to get a glass of water (and I mean shooting water straight into the mouth, not just putting into another glass).

Amazingly enough, I wasn't involved in all of these things, just some of them, mainly the pantsing, the shushing and the stealing of charity gifts. The pantsing was interesting, because I believed that the target in question had the type of sense of humor where he would find that amusing. (A married, female player on another team mentioned after the fact that "I have pictures of his pubes from one of our parties", so I find it difficult to believe that his Puritanical sensibilities were crushed.)

He didn't find it funny, and I took the brunt of his anger. Which was great, since there were two of us who took part in things, but someone decided to be a "Ninja" and sneak away and leave me to take the heat. Pretty funny.

In completely, totally, 100 percent unrelated news, Adam Joseph molests raccoons.

So I wasn't involved in everything last night, just some things. This truly was a team effort in havoc-raising, and I'll let those responsible for the other parts of the evening explain themselves.

There's no game next week because of Passover, although there's a strong change that we'll practice on Monday night instead. And for our next game in two weeks: the return of smoke bombs, confetti guns and trick plays. If we're going to be a .500 team, we might as well do it in "style".

(And by "style" I mean "appalling taste and sense of decency".)

Redrum 2, Awesome Helicopter Ninjas 1

Well, we lost. You know why?



Sam.



Sam didn't show up, it was his "birthday" or something. Thanks a lot, Sam. I hope your cake was filled with um, blood.


And poison.


We had a bit of trouble with backing players up on the overthrow, on the two occasions it happened, a run scored or a runner advanced. So, um, yeah. We'll have to work on that.


That being said, there were more important things going on.


I speak of the Awesome Helicopter Ninja Book Club meeting that took place at the bar after the game.


Joe was reading up on some finer aspects of Ninja Mind Control. A romance novel of sorts, set in the thrilling age of midevil Scotland. Nah, its basically a HOW TO for aspiring Ninjas. Its pretty rad. Basically it tells you how to beat ass, hard. Also, the ancient art of nut grabbing.






Scott was parusing the ever delightful Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book by Robert Hamburger. The Ninja in RUP is a scamp that should be held up with other iconing american teenagers like Ton Sawyer or Mushmouth. He represents the innocence of the American youth. He is Johnny Tremain, without the horrible deformity. But basically its a fun book about the insanity of one boy's obsession with Ninjas. Everyone should read it.



I feel that there was a deeper, Faustian struggle than was was origionally presented on the surface in Pikachu's Day. This was seen in the torment of battle between Pikachu and Charmander. It reveled that in war there are no winners and losers, only tiers. Also, he is still super cute.



Richard was reading a menu from El Pollo Loco by William Shakespere. It was his last menu ever written. Some say that The Tempest was Shakespere's last great work, and that Prospero one of his greatest creations, but Richard will argue that it was Taquito's humanity that sets it apart from the rest.



Monday, March 26, 2007

Redrum Game Day Special: Free Memorabilia with Fan Club Memberships

As a way to get some good karma heading into our big match-up tonight, I'm letting you all know about an exclusive offer: the next five people who sign up for the Army of Awesome (the Official Fan Club of the Ninjas) will not only receive the usual cool crap for their $5 membership fees (including a sticker, button, autographed photo, membership card) but will also receive AUTHENTIC GAME-USED NINJAS MEMORABILIA! This could mean a headband worn by yours truly during one of our legendary playoff runs...or a kickball that was popped by Tyler Foster because he kicked it so hard...or one of Cameron Davis' suspenders. Who knows? But it will be something that is suitable for framing and placing in your game room or conservatory.

Remember, this offer is only good for the next five people who sign up for the Army of Awesome, so make sure that you do it NOW!!!

Tonight's...game (question mark)

Tonight is scheduled to be the big interconference match-up between us and Redrum (Grass Field, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2). Obviously, it's a big game, since there apparently is still some sort of rivalry between the two teams, even though we've beaten them the last four times we've played. But, it's Redrum, and they come in fully expecting to win. Somehow, we need to convince them they are the favorites, and that we, once again, are the scrappy underdogs.

The problem right now is the weather. For the first time all season, we're in serious danger of being rained out. The storm that was supposed to hit this weekend didn't, but it's expected to roll in...sometime tonight. So, that could mean after the games, during or before. The Weather Channel's hour-by-hour forecast shows that it shouldn't start raining until 10 p.m., which is right on the border for getting all the games completed. We'll update the situation with our NinjaWatch 5000(tm) storm tracking system throughout the afternoon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ryan Dempster, Stud

I don't know if I have the authority to do such things, but I'm going to go out on a limb and name Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs as the Official Baseball Player of The Awesome Helicopter Ninjas. Why? Because the Cubs' closer is apparently in training to be a Ninja.

My favorite part of the story?:

"'It's pretty cool. I wear the outfit around the house and try to sneak up on people,' Dempster deadpanned before the Cubs lost to the Colorado Rockies 4-2."

Which is kind of bullshit: why would you sneak up on people in your own house? If you aren't able to break into other people's houses and sneak up on them, then what kind of half-rate Ninja are you.

Proof that kickball players make better Ninjas than baseball players, I guess. Plus, I would think all the noise from the tobacco spit hitting the ground and the crotches being scratched would be a dead giveaway.

Tyler Foster's Feets Of Strength: Everywhere You Want To Be

In Part II of the Feets Of Strength series, we were able to capture some more of Tyler "Bigfoot" Foster's inhuman acts of kickballery.

Tyler Foster once kicked a ball so hard, it traveled around the world, stopping only to pass through immigration.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

UPDATE: E-mail for Ninjas Fan Club Memberships is fixed

I understand that the link that was posted to join the Official Ninjas Fan Club the other day may not have been working. The problem has been fixed. To make sure that everyone is clear, you can send an e-mail to us at ninjasfanclub@gmail.com in order to join the Fan Club. Make sure you include your shipping address and what you would like to order.

Sorry for the inconvenience. I'd like to lie and say this isn't going to happen again, but hey, it's the Ninjas - barely controlled chaos is par for the course.

If anyone has further questions or issues, I wouldn't be surprised.

Tyler Foster's Feets Of Strength: To The Moon

This is Part 1 in a series of posts dedicated to the amazing and umbelievable and downright mythical things Tyler Foster, three season Awesome Helicopter Ninja veteran, can do with his feet and kicking them...at balls.


Tyler Foster once kicked a ball so hard it hit the moon...

Things learned

White People are nothing but trouble. It's okay I can say that because I am friends with some white people. Also kickball is kicking my ass.

-Face

vs. the warner pros

I like the Warner Pros. a lot. Aaron, their team captain, is part of the Studio Newsletter writing staff. He comes up with ideas and does the covers. He's a good guy. He also plays on the Grassy Best in Hollywood. Well, Monday night we played their team.


Ok, backing up a bit. LAST week, there was a bit of a verbal scuffle between a couple members of OUR team and him. He and Kate were umping our game against the Ponies of Death and a Ninja said something jokingly to an ump, that was well, sorta dickish and Aaron stood up for umps everywhere. There was a call of 'cocksucker' at one point from Aaron, too. Good times.


Anyway, it blew over. No realy harm came from it. But I wanted to make it up to Aaron and his team.


So, I thought "Wouldn't it be fun if when I went up to kick, I smashed a record (LP) with my fists". Of course this turned into more than just that, as Richard (The Duke of Kickball) and I came up with a fake setlist for the album of Warner Music (who the Warner Pros. all work for) artists. I say "we" but it was really Richard. But I had the idea, dammit! So Fuck You, Richard!


So, it turned into this: during Rock Paper Scissiors we went and, in honor of their team, presented them with a newly pressed album, showing the titles and incorporating the WP logo. Then...in honor of OUR team, we took out the album, Richard held it, and I put my fist through it. All in good fun, mind you.


This is what happened to the record.




We also won 11-1. so that was fun.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bullshit at the bar

Now, I'm not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination. The last thing I punched was a ballot on Election Day. However, when provoked, I can "get my Irish up" pretty good. (Which I know is a hopeless racial stereotype, and one that doesn't even make sense - but it sure beat the more ethnographically accurate "get my part-Mexican part-Italian part-Okie up".) As a word of warning, this post contains some less-than-pleasant language, including one word (not spoken by me) that is about as bad as it gets (hint: that word ain't "moist").

The game itself was pretty straightforward - we beat the Warner Pros. 11-1. We jumped out early and never looked back. I knew a couple of their players from Hollywood Division, and they are generally speaking about the best group of people you would want to play against.

The scene at the Sportsmen's Lodge after the game was pretty low-key - a lot of people were still feeling the effects of St. Patrick's Day from Saturday, and decided to take this week off of the bar. I'd day the bar had probably half as many kickballers in it as it usually does on a typical Monday night.

As usual, it was 99 percent kickballers there at the bar (the Sportsmen's Lodge is usually kind of...well, let's say that it's an older clientèle - or as someone put it "I came here on Saturday and it smelled like old people and death"). We usually have a few regulars sneering at us for ruining their quiet evening of getting bombed, along with a few guests from the hotel who have no idea what the hell is going on.

So, I get there at about 9:45 p.m., and head to the bar to get my first drink. As I'm standing there, I see three guys who clearly aren't with the kickball league sitting at the bar next to me. They are in their mid to late-30s, and they all look basically the same:

- White guys
- Medium build, but getting kinda pudgy
- Haven't shaved in three days
- Baseball cap
- Sunglasses placed over the bill of their cap
- Jeans and slightly dirty sweatshirt of their favorite sporting team

Basically, these guys just scream "I'm a redneck from Central California" to me on sight. I'm from Central California, and I grew up with these guys - I know my own. Sure enough, as I'm ordering, the first thing I hear out of one guy's mouth (who resembled Garth Brooks from 1998, except slighter of build and less attractive) basically confirmed everything I was thinking. Basically, as I'm ordering, and as he's surrounded by kickballers, he decides to very loudly launch into this monologue with his buddies.

"Man, did you ever think that you'd be sitting in a bar in Los Angeles, surrounded by a buncha faggots playing kickball? Shiiit..."

My first instinct was to immediately turn and say something to him, but I actually was so stunned that I didn't know what to say. So, I just finished up my drink order and walked back to my table as Faux Garth kept on blabbing about how "I bet these people never were good enough to play football in high school, so now they have to do this..." and on and on.

Throughout the course of the night, I'd head back over there to get another round, and by gawd, he still was going on and on about the "kickball faggots". I'd report this back to people, and I had several people willing to "take care of some business", including a few people that I would not want to meet in a back alley (hi Doug from Nuts & Honeys). But cooler heads prevailed, at least for most people.

Except for Scott Jones and I. If I was going to pick one person who I knew was going to get just as riled up about this as me, it would be Scott. Put us together, and man oh man...so at one point, Scott and I went up there to the bar and were talking to some other kickballers while we were next to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour: Electric Boogaloo. When there was a lull in all conversations, I turned to Scott and had the following exchange, loudly:

Me: "Man, you know what would suck?"
Scott: "What?"
Me: "Being a redneck loser who has nothing better to do than to hang out with a couple of other dudes on a Monday night at a bar."
Scott: "Yeah, that must really suck."

And with that, we went back to our seats, mission accomplished.

Except for when the last call came, and everyone eventually cleared out except for me, Scott, and The Blue Collar Comedy Tour II: Electric Boogaloo. As soon as it was just us and the bartenders, Faux Garth made another witty one-liner (I believe it involved "fags who play kickball" - I don't think that he had a breadth of material to work from) directed at us. Which led to me responding, and then back and forth...basically, it started to get ugly once I decided to do my "imitation" of them to Scott:

"Hey, let's get us into our big ole' truck and get drunk at the bar. After that, we can get some chewing tobaccky, and then drive around and see if there are any fags or blacks that we can tie to our bumpers and drag down the street."

At this point, the bartender Saana was going to kick everyone out (and I don't blame her), but Scott wound up striking up a somewhat pleasant conversation with one of their friends who came in late over football (Scott is a Chiefs fan and this guy was a part of Raider Nation). Eventually, they took off for their rooms (they were staying at the hotel from - you guessed it - Bishop in Central California, albeit on the other side of the Sierra Nevadas than me) and Scott and I stayed to chat with Saana and the other bartender, who immediately made sure we knew that they weren't mad at us, and just wanted those "hicks" out of their bar.

There are two morals here:

1. I wouldn't go to a bar in, say, Tennessee, and start loudly complaining about "all these rednecks listening to shitty country music and having sex with their cousins" - it's pretty disrespectful - and if I did do it, I certainly would expect to have a lot of people pissed off at me.

2. I also wouldn't do that because I AM A REDNECK in so many ways. Grew up in the Valley? Check. Listens to country music? Check. Has been to Dollywood? Check. Watches NASCAR and sprint car races, and prefers beer in cans to bottles? Check, check and check. However, just because I'm a redneck doesn't mean that I have to be an ignorant, racist, homophobic asshole who is frightened because he's in "the big city" and there's so much weird stuff going on.

Adults playing kickball? Blacks and whites mixing? Gay people not having to hide in fear? Nope, Faux Garth don't like it none.

Again, I know this all too well. When I went home for my 10 year HS reunion a few years ago, about 25 percent of the people there (who hadn't left my hometown) saw fit to, within 30 seconds of talking to me, slam Los Angeles. "It's too dirty. There's too much crime. It's so big. They have a lot of black people there. I hate it." In fact, Faux Garth said something to me (when he wasn't rambling about "kickball" and "faggots") about how he has a daughter and "I could never see how anyone could raise someone in Los Angeles. In Bishop, she can walk the streets by herself and no one bothers her."

Which, first off, since I overheard you mention to one of your pals that your daughter is 6, I would hope she isn't walking the streets alone. That's shitty parenting, although if Daddy's getting drunk at the bar all night, I guess she needs something to do to keep from getting bored. Secondly, I personally can't imagine raising a child in a place that doesn't have the theatre. Or ballet. Or orchestras. Or museums. Or anything cultural whatsoever. Hell, even my hometown was close to Fresno, which had all of the above things, even if it was in a limited quantity.

So, in summary, I'd like to say something directly to Faux Garth (I know the odds of him having Internets access is slim, much less ever reading this blog, but still...): I'm sorry that your life (despite having a daughter at home) is so devoid of meaning that you get your jollies staying at a bar all night to drink while surrounded by people you clearly despise. Next week, I'll be back at the park and the bar, with several hundred interesting people from all walks of life. Meanwhile, you'll be face down on the bar at Slim's Place, or Two-Hand Larry's, or whatever seedy as hell bar you frequent in Bishop, while the bartender rifles through your wallet for cab fare. I'm not angry, really, just...kind of sad for you.

Also, if I see you again, I'm going to take a tire iron to your head. Cheers!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Kickball Night in America: Week 4

Tonight's game is against the Warner Pros., which is a corporate team from Warner Bros. Records. I have two predictions:

- Plenty of jokes about payola
- We WILL run a trick play tonight, whether we are ahead or behind. We've gone three weeks into the season without one and, well, it's high time we got off our asses and did something about it.

The Ninjas Fan Club is Here

Some of you might have heard rumors about it...others might have seen it advertised with the Richard Manfredi autograph booth before the Opening Night game...and for a select few of you, it might have come to you in some sort of sweaty, fever dream involving a flaming key lime pie and former New York mayor Ed Koch (and for those of you who fall into the latter category - we again deeply apologize). But no matter if you've heard about it or not...

The Official Awesome Helicopter Ninjas Fan Club is here!



I think the advertising pretty much says it all. For just $5, you get all kinds of cool stuff:

- One bad-assed sticker. Stick it on your car! Stick it on your computer! Stick it on yourself! Better yet, stick it somewhere else to spread the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas name and logo (it's called "branding"). I'm not going to encourage you to vandalize property, but I'm just going to say that places like bus stops, record stores and police cars are perfect places to place logos where they are sure to attract attention*.
- One rad button. Which was made with the Badge Factory, so you know it's "trendy", "hot", "neat" and other "catch phrases" that seem to be popular with the kids today (at least according to the box). Wear it on your leather or denim jacket along with your other "punk" buttons (like your Green Day, Blink-182, Pennywise or other "hard rockin'" bands). Remember: "Punks not dead" - not as long as you sport this "radical" button.
- One membership card. Use it for special discounts at Long John Silvers, The Pleasure Chest, Jamba Juice and other fine establishments. I mean, you can always try to use it to get a discount - maybe you'll get some 18 year-old kid working the front desk who doesn't know what discount cards they do or don't accept. If you act belligerent enough about it, they might give you the 25 percent off discount just to shut you up.
- An autographed photo. A nice, high-quality glossy either of the team (autographed by several team members) or your favorite player. Ask for you favorite player by name, and they write some pithy, probably obscene message to you!**
- Exclusive content. "Content" being a word used to describe cool stuff that we haven't finalized yet. I do know that it will include e-mail newsletters exclusively for Fan Club members delivered every...oh, few weeks I guess, at least during the season (probably less often in the off-season). Hey, it's a work in progress, and what do you want for $5?

I promise you that you won't find a kickball team fan club that offers you this much crap for just $5 - including shipping! Want to buy even more stuff? Boy, you sure are addicted to buying things! Glad we could help you fill the hole in your life where actual human contact should be buy allowing you to purchase lots of junk. (The Ninjas support rampant consumerism.)

But I disgress. WE HAVE MORE STUFF FOR SALE! Want to buy more stickers? Yup, we can do that...



So, if you are ready to order (and frankly, if you aren't, then fuck you. You aren't the "good friend" you claimed to be when you needed that loan.), it's simple: send an e-mail to us at ninjasfanclub@gmail.com detailing what and how much of each you would like to order along with your shipping address. Someone in our Order Fulfillment Department will contact you shortly with information on how to complete your order (not to be too secretive, but it involves bamboo paper, pomegranate juice and Betty White).

So what in God's name are you waiting for? You don't need to save for "retirement" or "your kids' educations" or "that heart operation" - Order lots of stuff today!