First Half Surprises. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Winfield   
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 11:21

First Half Surprises by Ryan Winfield 6/28/2011

The first half of the 2011 season has yielded some surprising results, both for teams and individuals. From three dominant teams in the American League to an NL that has been based on even play and parity, this season is shaping up like no other in league history. Here are some highlights and lowlights of the season up to the All Star break.

Contenders of the Past Having a Rough Season
The Diablos are coming off a season that saw them reach the championship finals before coming up just short against the Friars. Expectations ran high coming into the new year, but sitting at 8-7, find themselves scrambling to make the postseason. In the AL, both the Gentlemen and Townhall Posse had high hopes coming into the season, yet both are currently sitting below .500. In a top heavy AL, the fourth playoff spot is up for grabs (Hello Chuckers!), especially with so many rescheduled games to be played, but really looks to be nothing more than a first round exit waiting on the other end.

Upstart Teams Look to Capture Playoff Spots in the NL
Both the 5 Dollar Pitchers and the Lemons came into the 2011 season with low expectations, but for different reasons. The Pitchers may be the most likeable bunch in the league, but their .217 franchise winning percentage caused many teams to overlook this beer-swilling team. Nobody is looking past the Pitchers now, as they currently have a firm grip on a playoff spot behind the 1-2 punch of Andrew Werthman and Kurt Marlowe. The Lemons came off a fairly successful season, yet turned over every player but Travis Branch. Questions ran rampant whether Branch would be fielding a team, but his fellow geeks from Best Buy agreed to fill out his roster, and the team has offered a balanced hitting attack on its way to a 9-9 record. Not bad for a bunch of rookies who have been outscored 84 to 130!

Speaking of Rookies…
It has been a bumper crop of rookies for the league so far in 2011. Kurt Marlow is racking up more knocks than a Jehovah’s Witness, and may actually play his way out of Rookie of the Year consideration if he continues to be one of the frontrunners for league MVP. This could leave the door open for the ROY honors to fall to Marcus Kole or Mark Ford (both of the Ponyboys,) Steve Damveld and Kelly Brophy (Lemons) and Matt Smorch of the Waterfalls.

In the AL, we have Danny Boy Trayer of No Big Deal, who has stood out so far on yet another NBD team full of rookies. But this time, their roster really is locked up. For serious. Conor Barr may have the edge on him for playing a full season’s worth of wiffle while winning the season’s first Player of the Week.

Player Attendance
Quite frankly, it has been an embarrassing season so far for player attendance, with multiple teams having to cancel or move games due to scheduling conflicts or just plain old indifference. Granted, it is a player’s own choice to show up or not as long as they pay their league dues. However, frequent absence develops a reputation not only for the player but for the entire team, fairly or not. In one man’s opinion, being on a team that isn’t performing to expectation isn’t reason enough to hang teammates out to dry that still have interest in playing.

The evolution of the pitcher has taken a huge stride this season, as the middle- and lower-tier batters are feeling the pinch. In any other season, a 5-1 record with a 0.33 ERA and 93 K’s though 36 innings would make Adam Kuzmin of Scared Hitless a lock for Cy Wiffle. Not in 2011, where Brian Rensch is putting up quite possibly the greatest wiffle pitching season of all time (for any league) with his 5-0 record, 0.00 ERA, 8 hits allowed and a ridiculous 115 K’s through 43 innings, including 44 in one game! Already smashing the record for consecutive scoreless innings, he should best the league K record by at least 40 if he makes all his remaining scheduled starts. In a normal season, Eric Yoder and Adam Nash could also justifiably lay claim to the award, but barring Rensch deciding to throw lefty, it’s just not going to happen.

In the AL, two teams stand out for their dominant pitching staff. The PF Flyers boast a 2.16 team ERA as Jeremy Martin, Justin James and Ira Cohen are possibly the most dominant staff from 1 through 3. Jers has been especially effective, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.07 ERA. The Indies are the only team with an ERA less than the Flyers at 1.91 (including giving up 8 runs to the Ducks!). While the combo of Steve Everett and Brian Meyers has been lethal, the team also boasts the deepest quality staff, where Pat Kean and Zac Adams would both be number 1 starters on most teams. Yet Andy Ross of the Friars has posted his most dominant season yet, easily besting his ’08 numbers from his Cy Wiffle season with a 5-1 record while leading the league in K’s and second in ERA at 0.92.

Media Coverage
Thanks to Steve Everett’s amazing home run rob of Kevin Marszalek, and his random familiarity with MLB umpires, the KWL was thrust into the national spotlight this month. What started off as the lead story on Deadspin (yes, the same site that broke the Favre wiener pic story) was quicky picked up by the CBS Early Show. An online article at, and a print article written by the KWL’s own John Liberty led to the MLB Network asking for permission to feature the story on their show “Intentional Talk.” Tony Paul of the Detroit News followed up with a great piece in his bi-weekly column, and became a fan of the league in the process. The experience has been a great way to gain exposure and interest in the league, while also going lengths to legitimize our game in the eyes of outsiders.

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