Why We Do the Things We Do; or, The Longing Impact of Loss

My first significant experience with death was when I was barely a teenager. I’d lost distant family members before, yet as a kid it didn’t bare the same weight at the time, so it’s hard to quantify that feeling of loss. My very first pet, my cat, Keebler, was hit by a car one night. I saw it happen—though at the time I didn’t realize what I’d witnessed—until I went outside and found her. She was six months old and I was devastated. I saw through my dining room window a car suddenly stop, and the driver get out and drag something to the side, get back in, and drive away. It was completely black out and I was concerned about her, so I went out with a flashlight—back when people had flashlights. I walked out with my mother and pointed to where I saw that monster go, and the light reflected off her eyes. I ran inside and I cried for days. 

My family insisted we get another cat, eventually, and, as the kid I was, I finally agreed. We found a pair of sisters—both all black: one short-haired; the other long-haired—who we aptly named Shadow and Phantom, respective. Phantom was mine, and after only 8 years, she developed kidney problems. She’d disappear into the darkness often, tucked away into the shadows of our attic, only appearing long enough to sip some water. Weeks later, even that stopped. 

We took her to the vet, but she passed that night. I remember it clearly because I became severely ill that night. Fever. Vomiting. Night terrors. Everything. I remember waking in the middle of the night to my room being overtaken by darkness, like I was being haunted, cursed, and I woke in a sweat, terrified. I could see the shadows move across the walls and envelop everything, like the hands of beasts clawing at every surface, like they wanted to suffocate me. Later, in retrospect, it felt like she, Phantom (or Fanny as we called her), was trying to reach out to me—to tell me it wasn’t my fault. It’s always hard to think otherwise, but I’m starting to believe her. Nobody ever gets used to nightmares, after all. 

My grandfather, Tommy, who I’m named after, passed away shortly after. And then my grandmother, heartbroken, had a stroke. She was a badass, too—she would’ve loved this league. I swear, every time I saw her, she had a PBR in hand. At the hospital, I whispered into her ear, told her how much I loved her, and apologized for not always being there—for not appreciating her and the man I’m named after. She passed away the next day. 

I have experienced my share of loss since then—family, friends, pets. It’s never easy. It’s never expected.

On 21 March, 2015, I lost my father. It was sudden. Yet in ’08 his doctor said he had six months to live. He didn’t like to listen to anyone, though, and sure as shit not that, so he fought the hell out of everything that came his way. Seven years later those six months came. Nothing has haunted me more. 

I always wanted him to watch me play something other than elementary school basketball, but he never had the chance, unfortunately. (He was my basketball coach as a kid, even, and he was pretty damn good.) Call it bad timing, call it whatever. But I’ve never had a chance outside of my day-to-day life to say I’m doing something for him, until this Sunday. 

I play in Game of the Week, on 18 July, on Father’s Day. Maybe a lot of us are playing for their fathers. I’m playing for him. I don’t particularly care about the outcome, because I know what it’d mean to him. And while he may not be there, I know he’s there. 

And for all of you, loved and lost and never forgotten: I wish you were here. 

All my love, 

Thomas

What Little We’ve Learned So Far; or, What Shall We Do Without Us?

After two weeks of KVKL’s 15th! season, we’ve all had more of an opportunity to glean what may be the season’s most interesting storyline: The quick turnaround of younger teams that once were considered easy wins.

The young Jazzhaus team easily demolished a Leeway Frank’s squad that’s full of veteran players, its leadoff kicker crushing consecutive home-runs, and its defense stifling L.F. to only nine hits total—and preventing it from even reaching second base. That’s fucking bananas.

banana-slicer
And then there’s the Ladybird Harpies, that, while it lost to Kansas Tree Care, 6 – 2, holding a championship-caliber team to 6 runs is pretty impressive. Especially if you look at some of its scores from last season:

17 – 3 vs. Chalmersiz
21 – 4 vs. Goats
24 – 0 vs. Los Matadores
16 – 5 vs. Rats

Not the best numbers against not the best teams. Call the loss to KTC a Pyrrhic victory (I would), but the Harpies already have a legit win by beating the Screamers, 8 – 7, and a good chance to notch another win this Sunday vs. the Corksuckers in the pre-Game of the Week.

For those who follow college basketball, one of the major topics of discussion in recent years  is the degree of parity, and the ever-smallering competitive gap. It would appear KVKL is experiencing something similar—with younger, athletic teams competing at higher levels, and veteran teams vying to steal younger, athletic players to supplant their aging rosters.

Because sometimes even great team chemistry is no match for great team biology.

Here are some predictions:

Screamers > Grandstand Glasskickers
Free State Growlers > Johnny’s Tavern
Where’s My Pitches? > Pawsh Wash
Channel 6 > Los Matadores
Red Lyon > Liberty Hall Late Fees
Kansas Tree Care > Red Legs
Hurtz Donut D-Holes > Ghosts
Muddy Waters Studio > Leeway Franks
Wildman Attack Force > Sacred Sword
Goats > Rockets
Love Garden Squids > Woost
Jazzhaus > Brewballers
Flying Hellfish > AsteroidHEAD
Happy Shirt > Repetition
Chalmersiz > Rats
Ladybird Harpies > Corksuckers
Double Meat > Nick Lerner’s “Homies”

Here is a drawing of a stapler:

Picture1

Week 1 Predictions

I promise to write more in the following weeks after actually seeing the new looks of some of these teams. I will also review this season’s jerseys, because that’s what I care most about in kickball nowadays.

Happy Shirt > AsteroidHEAD
Pawsh Wash > Liberty Hall
Woost > Double Meat
Johnny’s > Repetition
Rockets > Leafy Greens
Muddy Waters > Jazzhaus
Ghosts > Homies
Where’s My Pitches > Rats
Channel 6 > Leeway Frank’s
Harpies > Screamers
KTC > Corksuckers
Goats > Sacred Sword
Mario Chalmersiz > Red Lyon
Love Garden > Hurtz
Los Matadores > Brewballers
Free State > Flying Hellfish

Dear KVKL; or, I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

Dear KVKL,

It’s been awhile. Haven’t really opened this in awhile so when I did I thought, Hey I should write something. It doesn’t really matter what because this is just for you and me, but, well, I have to write something!!! So here I am, watching TV, pouring over my schedule, and realizing, Wow tomorrow is the first day of kickball!!! That’s so very.

I wonder what I should wear? I wonder what other people are going to wear? Will they all have cool jerseys and I’ll be the only one who doesn’t? That would be an epic bummer. . . .

Okay, enough of that. I haven’t done this in a couple years but was asked to do it again—so, here I am—and I don’t exactly know where I’m going with it. So fair warning: It might get a little weird at times throughout. A little nontraditional. Maybe even a little real. But that’s the fun part.

As far as the league is concerned, this feels like a wildly different season than in years past. Sure, Happy Shirt did what Happy Shirt do and won its third straight title. Red Lyon nearly made it to its third straight title game. Chalmersiz struggled against its tournament nemesis, Happy Shirt. And Channel 6 couldn’t make its first Final Four appearance.

Yet for everything we’ve come to expect, this may very well be an unusual season.

A lot of familiar faces have moved on, retired, or simply left for another team. Long-time winner Chris Ford is looking to relegate his role. Wildman’s CJ is moving from 3B to 1B, for some weird reason. Chalmersiz’s Colin has joined Red Lyon. And the entirety of Das Boot, save myself, has retired.

Maybe, then, it just feels different for me. It’s certainly a change going from an established squad to a group of almost nothing but newcomers. But, hell—I’m up for a season in which I don’t have to worry, in the slightest, about preconceived expectations. Sure, it might be (re: will be) frustrating at times, like it can be for all teams—kinda like the Bagels early last year—but, hey, I’ve won more championships than Chalmersiz, Red Lyon, Channel 6, Muddy Waters, Hurtz D-Holes, and a loooooooot of other teams combined. I’ve earned a year of Fuck it let’s just see what happens.

Welcome back, asshatsᶰ! Love you all.

ᶰ : my colleague told me to write that.

The Top Run Scorers of 2016

Final Regular Season Standings 

Women

1.Angela – 20 (Ch. 6)
2.Jeni – 14 (Goats)
3.Cheyenne – 13 (Ch. 6)
4.Kamari – 12 (Where’s My Pitches)
5.Danielle – 11 (Bagels)
6.Kaitlin – 9 (Das Boot)
7.Elise – 8 (Squids)
T-8.Emily – 7 (Brewballers)
T-8.Elizabeth – 7 (Das Boot)
T-8.Katie -7 (Homies)
T-8.Erin -7 (Los Mats)
T-8.Emily -7 (Red Lyon)
T-8.Megan -7 (Wildman)

Men

T-1.Isaac – 22 (Ch. 6)
T-1.Ariel – 22 (D-Holes)
3.Ben – 21 (Corksuckers)
T-4.CJ – 20 (Wildman)
T-4.Paul – 20 (Los Mats)
T-4.Colin – 20 (Wildman)
T-7.Jeff – 19 (Homies)
T-7.James – 19 (Red Legs)
T-9.Seth – 18 (Free State)
T-9.Chris – 18 (Happy Shirt)

Lady Stats by Alex Hawman

Based on some discussions that I’ve had this season, I thought it would be nice to finally compile some lady stats from around the league so that they can be showcased like the rock stars that they are. Many teams that I’ve talked to over the last several years have given lip service to the ladies. They say things like “Oh, our ladies are awesome!” or “We have the best ladies in the league!”, but yet no one wanted to show any quantitative data for it. Also, Cougar has his list of the “Top 10 ladies” in the league which never changes unless a lady retires. I wanted to show the league that there are excellent ladies that don’t get talked about and don’t show up on his list, since he’s “The Voice” of the league… or something.

Please note, this is all done off of scanned score sheets (which aren’t always 100% legible), in the span of about 8 hours of typing & mindless key tapping. I removed anyone who didn’t have at least 15 at bats from the summaries, which should fall between 4 and 5 games of kicking on average. Also, unless it was otherwise noted, split kickers I treated as 50/50, because I’m not omniscient. This is based solely upon On Base Percentage (OBP), which is one of the few things we can figure out correctly from all score sheets. I’d LOVE to have RKI’s, but we can’t seem to get the refs to check an extra box on the score sheet on a regular basis. Maybe next year, so we can show the true, overall value of the ladies in this league! Good luck this weekend to you all! See you on the fields.Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 14.08.39Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 14.07.41

The Must See Matchups of the Playoffs (Day 1)

The tournament is upon us and here are some of the most eagerly anticipated matchups.  (Round 2 are projected games)

Round 1:

(20) Los Matadores vs. (13) Merchants
Los Matadores played in this game last year as the 13 seed and were upset by the Rats, which started Santos & Co. on their path to the Princess Di plate.  The tables are turned this year as they enter this matchup as the underdog to the surprising Merchants of Death.  Merchants has turned in a very solid 7-3 campaign and finished second in the #3 pool with their only loss coming at the hands of Chalmersiz. They are looking to make some noise in the Awesome Bracket and enter as one of the hottest teams in the league as winners of seven of their past eight.  Winner has a tough matchup against Ch. 6, while the loser has to be a favorite for the Princess Di plate.

Prediction:
Merchants – 7
Los Mats – 5

(18) Corksuckers vs. (15) Das Boot
Both teams finished the season 6-4, but they’ve been good lately and that’s what matters. Das Boot is on a three game winning streak, having allowed one (yes, one) run in that span. That’s some championship caliber defense, I don’t care who you’re facing. Corksuckers have won five of their past six, with their only loss coming by a single run to Pawsh Wash in week six, so their about as hot as a team can be entering the tourney.  Expect this to be a clash of Cork’s offense vs. Boot’s defense, and in the playoffs I’ll take defense every time.

Prediction:
Das Boot – 6
Corksuckers – 4

(19) Ghosts vs. (14) Rockets
These teams are both on a skid entering the playoffs, each of them going 0-5 in rank play.  The good news is one of them will get their mojo back by winning this game, the bad news is they would turn around and immediately have to play two time defending champs Happy Shirt.  Regardless, a finish in top half of the league would be a huge step forward for the Ghosts, and if they do fall to the Rockets then they’re very strong contenders for the Princess Di plate.  The Rockets made a Final Four run last year as the 11 seed, so an upset or two isn’t out of the realm, but they need to regain their early season form.  This is a rematch of a week 2 game that Rockets took 9-1.

Prediction:
Rockets – 7
Ghosts – 3

Round 2:

(9) Red Lyon vs. (8) Free State
When these two teams played in week 5 it was one of the most contentious games of the season that ultimately ended with Free State on top 11-5.  That was the last time The Growlers won a game, finishing 0-5 in the #1 pool despite a few close losses (by one to both Ch. 6 & Wildman).  Red Lyon on the other hand went 3-2 in the #2 pool and got their signature win of the season just last week against Red Legs.  Neither of these teams is shy about drinking during games, and remember this will be the second game of the day for both, so brace yourselves, its gonna get intense (Sorry in advance refs!) Winner will probably take on KTC, while the loser has to feel good about winning the Twain Bust.

Prediction:
Free State -10
Red Lyon – 9

(11) Chalmersiz vs. (6) Red Legs
Probably the game of the day, Chalmersiz has been a sleeping giant in the #3 pool, just grinding out wins and somewhat staying off everyone’s radar, but certainly lurking.  Their win against Muddy Waters just looks better and better every week, especially now that Muddy clinched the #2 overall seed.  Red Legs have to be happy with a #6 seed in their first season in the league, but Findley and crew want a rematch with Happy Shirt and they’re going to need to go through Chalmersiz to do it.  Total coin flip game, but I’m going to to with the team that has been challenged week in and week out for the past five weeks.  Loser is the prohibitive favorite for the Twain Bust.

Prediction:
Red Legs – 6
Chalmersiz – 5

(12) D-Holes vs. (5) Wildman
D-Holes have proven they can beat teams they are even with athletically, it’s when they matchup with the truly superior athletes in the league (Red Legs, Channel 6, Love Garden) that they have some trouble.  Wildman is certainly one of the more athletic teams in the league, and that combined with their veteran savvy ought to help them advance to the second weekend despite an untimely injury to CJ.  This just shows the incredible depth of the league, that Wildman, who has a respectable 7-3 record, fell all the way to a #5 seed.

Prediction:
Wildman – 11
D-Holes – 5

A few more predictions:
The Eight Champion – Nick Lerner’s Homies
The Plate Champion – Corksuckers
The Twain Champion – Chalmersiz
The Cup Champion – Channel 6 (This was my preseason prediction and I’m sticking with it)

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