Thursday, October 25, 2007


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) 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.