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Sight Unseen Power Ranking – Week 3

Last weekend, I played kickball in St. Louis, so this iteration of the sight-unseen power ranking is extra authentic. Here’s my take on where teams stand after week 3.

  1. Kansas Tree Care (3-0)
    Kansas Tree Care now has the best two wins of the season, 6-2 over Harbour Lights and 9-8 over Post Haus. Not much else to say about the undisputed champion of Kaw Valley.
  1. Harbour Lights (2-1)
    A quality win against a top-10 Honey Badgers squad keeps Harbour safely in the #2 spot.

  2. Love Garden (3-0)
    Love Garden handled business against Red Legs without allowing more than one run in any inning and hangs on to the #3 spot in this week’s ranking. With no more games between Kansas Tree Care, Harbour, and Post Haus remaining on the schedule but all three teams playing against Love Garden in the next four weeks, Love Garden now finds themselves in an interesting position as the barometer for which the other top 4 teams will be measured. Here’s how I see the short-term implications. If Love Garden beats Harbour this week, then they will be a clear-cut #2 in next week’s ranking with Harbour falling to #4. If Love Garden loses, they’ll likely fall to #4 on the strength of Post Haus’ showing this week against Kansas Tree Care.
  1. Post Haus (2-1)
    Post Haus made a legitimate case for the #2 spot on the power ranking with a great showing and ultimately 1 run loss to Kansas Tree Care this week, compared to #2 Harbour’s 4-run loss in week 1. However, having lost their most recent matchups against both Harbour and Love Garden, I can’t quite bring myself to jump Post Haus over both teams after a loss (even if it is as quality of a loss as you can get in the KVKL… even with Simon blasting out of the park grand slams.) It is close though.
  1. Harpies (2-1) 
    Harpies proved they are still one of the KVKL elite teams, and, importantly, showed they can clamp down on defense in their 11-3 win over Johnny’s. Harpies still have games against Kansas Tree Care and Harbour Lights on the schedule, which are looking much less like foregone conclusions after this result. Harpies can really cause rankings to go haywire if they can find a way to knock off Kansas Tree Care this week. Good luck, kids!
  1. Shirt Factory (3-0)
    I have Shirt Factory jumping JWE and into the #6 spot in this week’s power ranking. I’m just slightly more impressed with Shirt Factory’s results thus far in the season, highlighted by dropping 17 runs on a Dropstoppers team that had only given up 2 runs through two weeks of the season. It also points to a dramatic improvement for Shirt Factory, who only managed a 4-3 escape vs. Drop Stoppers last year. 
  1. JWE (3-0)
    Another week, another big win for JWE. It’s hard to know what to make of the fact that they allowed 6 runs against Kicking Assets and 5 runs against Woost and just how seriously they were playing in these games while way out in front. Regardless, they’ll need to go into another gear now as their season starts in earnest. JWE has Johnny’s, Harbour, Red Lyon, and Post Haus as their next four games. 
  1. Honey Badgers (2-1)
    There is no shame in losing to Harbour Lights, who seems to be taking on Kansas Tree Care’s annoying trait of never dropping games to lesser competition. I thought it might have been closer than 9 runs, but, on the plus side, scoring 6 on Harbour’s elite defense speaks highly of Honey Badgers’ offensive capabilities. 
  1. Red Legs (1-2) 
    The new scheduling system (so far, so good!) is going to do some weird things to the power ranking. This is an odd case. Red Legs are 1-2, with their only win coming in a close game against Home Loans, and the jury is still out on how good Home Loans is. However, Red Legs lost to Love Garden and JWE by a combined 8 runs, showing they can hang with good teams. With Post Haus and Kansas Tree Care as Red Legs’ next two opponents, a couple more reasonably close losses could justifiably see Red Legs staying in the top 10 at a 1-4 record. Is that crazy?
  1. Red Lyon (2-1)
    Red Lyon posted their best result of the season with a 10-5 win over Free State. With Shirt Factory, Harpies, and JWE coming up next, Red Lyon will have three shots at a statement win and move higher in these rankings. 
  1. D-Holes (2-1)
    It’s good to see D-Holes putting up some runs! D-Holes jump up a few spots this week off the strength of this offensive showing and losses from a few teams ahead of them. Also, D-Holes’ results against Shirt Factory and Bald Beavers look better as those teams continue to win. 
  1. Johnny’s (1-2) 
    Johnny’s 7-5 win over Harpies in pool play last year feels like a long time ago now, having lost their last two meetings by 7 and 8 runs respectively. This is still a talented team with earned experience in high-level KVKL games that may give them an edge against teams below them in these rankings, but so far in 2022, they aren’t clicking at all.
  1. Brew Tang (2-1)
    After a decisive 11-5 upset victory over XXXoxo, Brew Tang finds themselves on the cusp of the top 3rd of the league. Perhaps the upset isn’t that surprising, rank 17 over rank 15 per last week’s standings, but it still feels big. This is both because of the decisive 6-run margin and because a new team finding this level of success this early into their KVKL existence is rare and exciting, even if Johnny’s and Red Legs are both recent exceptions to this rule.
  1. Free State (2-1)
    Free State falls 10-5 to Red Lyon and drops a spot in the rankings. Not the worst result, but not one that points to Free State taking big strides forward as a team this year. They have Jazzhaus next week in what should be one of the best games in the week as both teams look to bounce back. 
  1. Corksuckers (2-1) 
    The biggest risers in this week’s ranking are the Corksuckers. Moving up 7 spots this week, clearly, I had them too low all the way down at 22 last week (sorry). Holding Jazzhaus with the speed that they have to 1-run in Corksuckers 5-1 win is honestly amazing. Without seeing the game, I have to assume that Corksuckers are defending the bunt at a high level, and stopping the bunt is a great way to stay in and win games in this league. 
  1. KBC Tropics (2-1)
    KBC Tropics get bumped up a spot in this week’s ranking, which has more to do with Jazzhaus and Dropstoppers falling than it does to beating Empire and allowing 9 runs. Because KBC Tropics’ schedule doesn’t afford them the opportunity to play against any more of the top tier teams, they will need to make a statement in their next two games against the Corksuckers and Home Loans to show that they deserve to be seeded in the top-16 come tournament time. 
  1. XXXoxo (1-2)
    XXXoxo is the hardest team to rank this week. I flirted with dropping them as low 20 in this ranking, but ultimately decided to give this team the benefit of the doubt. While they are 1-2 on the season, XXXoxo has one great result in the 22-4 blowout over Bunt N Grind, one decent result in the 1-run loss to Free State, and one not-so-great result this week against Brew Tang. At the end of the day, I think I still pick XXXoxo to beat any of the teams below them in the ranking and probably a couple ahead of them. 
  1. 23rd St. (2-1)
    Another week, another 23rd St. offensive explosion? I’m still looking a little sideways at giving up 13 runs to Kicking Assets in week one, but I’m starting to believe in the offense. I don’t think 23rd St. is in a position that they’ll look past any game on their schedule, but assuming they win decisively against Ghosts this week, then their week 5 tilt with Freestate will have a lot riding on it and approaching pick ‘em territory.
  1. Dropstoppers (2-1)
    Dropstoppers falls a couple spots after getting smacked by Lawrence Shirt Factory 17-1. I’m reading into this result that LSF is much better than they were the last time the two teams met, not that Dropstoppers are much worse. Also, LSF may have had this one circled on their schedule as to make a point of avenging their near loss in 2021. (Can you avenge a win? If you can, then LSF is probably the team to do it.)
  1. Jazzhaus (2-1)
    Oof. Rick’s Jazzhaus squad tumbles eight spots down the ranking after the 1-5 loss to Corksuckers. I believe Rick when he says Corksuckers played error-free ball, but that doesn’t fully explain the offensive disappearing act. A team with Jazzhaus’ athleticism should be able to manufacture runs on anyone with a few well-placed bunts and a sac fly. Jazzhaus’ ranking wasn’t helped either by the fact that Asteroid Head got shut out 11-0 by Bunt N Grind, taking the shine off of the GOTW win a bit. 
  1. Home Loans (2-1)
    Home Loans drops one spot this week despite the 16-14 win over Sacred Sword, getting jumped by Corksuckers. A more decisive win against Sword might have kept Jazzhaus’ slide going, but as it is, a 2-run win over Sword isn’t earning a tremendous amount of confidence. It was great hearing Home Loans get some love on the podcast last week, and it’s clear that they have earned some believers with their play thus far. I’m not 100% in on them yet, but a win against KBC Tropics next week will go a long way towards convincing me and the rest of the league that Home Loans are for real. 
  1. Bunt N Grind (2-1)
    Bunt N Grind is up two places after their shutout win 9-0 over Asteroid Head. A shutout is always impressive, and Asteroid Head is no slouch on the offensive end. A quick record check shows that it is the first time Asteroid Head has been shut down in at least 3 years, and probably longer. (Records only go back to 2019 on the KVKL website.) I still have Bunt N Grind towards the bottom of the 2-1 teams, but a win this week vs. Dropstoppers will have me reevaluating that. 
  1. Bald Beavers (2-1)
    Bald Beavers starting 2-1 is one of the most surprising developments of the season so far. They followed up their close-ish loss to D-Holes by jumping out to a big lead early against Late Fees and then maintaining it the rest of the game. Wins over Late Fees and Empire aren’t the most impressive wins, but all you can do is win the games in front of you. With Reading Rockets, Sacred Sword, Home Loans, and Schoonies coming up next, is it possible that Bald Beavers could get out to a 6-1 start in their return season? Yes. It’s possible. Is it probable? I’m still leaning no.
  1. Ghosts (2-1)
    These Ghosts believe in themselves. Say what you will about Katie’s 8-2 podcast prediction for the Ghosts, but so far they have found a way to win both games they were expected to win, albeit by one run each against teams that will appear towards the bottom of this week’s ranking. Despite these results not inspiring a lot of confidence, if the Ghosts do find a way to beat the red hot 23rd St. this week, the 8-2 prediction will very much still be in play.
  1. Woost (1-2)
    Woost put up 5 runs in the 17-5 loss this week to JWE, which is surprisingly the fewest runs JWE has given up to anyone all season. The glaring problem for Woost so far this year is giving up 10+ runs to everyone that they’ve faced so far. I don’t expect that to change this week against XXXoxo. 
  1. Asteroid Head (1-2)
    Yeah, a 0-9 shutout loss to Bunt N Grind is going to cause a drop in this week’s ranking. In this case, Asteroid Head falls 5 places. The shutout loss is an especially surprising result for Asteroid Head after putting up 16 runs in week one against Soda Jerks — 6 more runs than Lawrence Shirt Factory managed. Asteroid Head also looked competent on the offensive end against Jazzhaus in GOTW, and, frankly, scoring has never been Asteroid Head’s issue. That said, they can be hot and cold, and this week they were, apparently, very cold.
  1. R-Bar (0-3)
    R-Bar stays in the 27th spot after a 22-9 loss to D-Holes. The good and bad in this result are obvious. Putting up 9 runs on D-Holes is solid offensive output. Giving up 22 runs? Not so good. Because R-Bar’s schedule has been so difficult thus far, they are one of the more difficult teams to rank appropriately at this point in the season. Despite being ranked #27 here, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see R-Bar give Corksuckers (#15 here) a close game or even win. This is a testament to the parity between teams in and around the middle third of the league. 
  1. Pawsh Wash (1-2)
    Pawsh Wash shoots up 6 places after an impressive performance and upset victory in GOTW (9-5 over Kicking Assets). Pawsh Wash seems to be honing in on who is on the team week in and week out, and that looks to be a pretty solid collection of players. If they show up consistently with this GOTW squad and start to gel with positions and kicking lineup, I think they can hold on to this spot and possibly even move higher up these rankings by the end of the season. They’ll have a big test this week against Young Spine to see if they can keep the hot play going in a regular, non-GOTW setting.
  1. Young Spine (1-2)
    I mentioned last week that Young Spine just needed to find a way to keep teams out of double digits to start racking up KVKL wins. This week they did just that, earning their first win of the season in a 4-2 defensive battle with Soda Jerks. It remains to be seen if they can keep the defense going this week against a team averaging greater than 1 run a game. The rapidly improving Pawsh Wash will be a big test and should be a great game this week. 
  1. Sacred Sword (0-3)
    Sacred Sword moves up 2 spots with the 12-10 loss to Home Loans. Adam Mitchell doesn’t strike me as a big moral victory guy, but I think this is a good result for Sacred Sword based on how well Home Loans has been playing this season. Sacred Sword is another team that is probably too low in these rankings just by virtue of how difficult their schedule has been so far. We’ll get a better idea of where they stand over the next few weeks in the coming weeks when they’ll play Soda Jerks, Bald Beavers, and Asteroid Head. Getting back to .500 by the end of the year isn’t out of the question, and would represent an awesome season for Sacred Sword with the difficulty of schedule factored in.
  1. Schoonies (1-2)
    Schoonies fall one spot after another lopsided loss, this time to 23rd St. They will look to bounce back this week against Empire, and they should. It’s hard to fault Schoonies too much for giving up 20+ runs to Honey Badgers, but to 23rd St., I’d have thought they might have kept things a little more reasonable. 
  1. Kicking Assets (0-3)
    It was a disappointing result for Kicking Assets in GOTW. When I turned on the Twitch Stream for the game in the 4th inning, I was surprised to see Pawsh Wash with a lead, but even more surprised to see that Kicking Assets had been kept off the scoreboard to that point in the game. Credit to Pawsh Wash for locking down Kicking Assets’ legs, but it is also a worrying sign for Kicking Assets that their reliable offense can be locked down so easily. (I understand Kicking Assets was also missing some key players and leadership, which definitely hurts in the GOTW setting.)
  1. Late Fees (0-3)
    Late Fees came up short against the Bald Beavers this week in a 10-4 loss and fall three places in this week’s ranking. Late Fees are giving up 20 runs a game on average, boosted by the 40 runs Harpies scored on them in week 2, and double-digit runs in all three games. I’m also surprised that they only managed 4 runs this week after solid offensive performances in weeks 1 and 2. Perhaps it is worth noting that this is also the second week in a row that I’m surprised by the number of runs put up against Bald Beavers, so perhaps I’m just not giving enough credit to Bald Beavers’ defense. 
  1. Reading Rockets (0-3)
    Reading Rockets came 1-run short of a big upset against Ghosts. Also wind in their sails is that the 1-7 loss to Corksuckers looks oddly similar to Jazzhaus’ 1-5 loss to Corksuckers this week. That’s enough to give Reading Rockets the benefit of the doubt and to jump one spot over the freefalling Soda Jerks. 
  1. Soda Jerks (0-3)
    It’s odd to see Soda Jerks this far down the power ranking. Last year Soda Jerks beat Asteroid Head, Ghosts, Schoonies, Late Fees, and gave close games to other teams as well. This year, Soda Jerks are averaging exactly 1-run through three games of the season, and you can’t point to any games on the schedule as surefire get right games. 
  1. Empire (0-3)
    It wasn’t the long-sought-after first win this week, but putting up 9 against KBC Tropics is a great offensive improvement from weeks one and two, and just generally solid offensive output. (Red Lyon also scored 9 against KBC Tropics.) That makes me think it is much more likely that Empire’s first team win will come this year. How about this week against the Schoonies, who are averaging more than 20 runs against in the last two weeks? I think it is possible. 
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2022 KVKL Top 36 AP Poll — Week Three

  1. KTC (3-0)
  2. Harbour (2-1)
  3. Love Garden (3-0)
  4. Post Haus (2-1)
  5. Ladybird (2-1)
  6. Shirt Factory (3-0)
  7. JWE (3-0)
  8. Honey Badgers (2-1)
  9. Red Lyon (2-1)
  10. Johnny’s (1-2)
  11. Red Legs (1-2)
  12. Brew Tang Clan (2-1)
  13. Corksuckers (2-1)
  14. D-Holes (2-1)
  15. Free State (2-1)
  16. Jazzhaus (2-1)
  17. 23rd Street Brewery (2-1)
  18. XXXoxo (1-2)
  19. Bunt N Grind (2-1)
  20. Home Loans (2-1)
  21. KBC Tropics (2-1)
  22. Drop Stoppers (2-1)
  23. AsteroidHEAD (1-2)
  24. Bald Beavers (2-1)
  25. Woost (1-2)
  26. Ghosts (2-1)
  27. Pawsh Wash (1-2)
  28. Young Spine (1-2)
  29. Schoonies (1-2)
  30. R-Bar (0-3)
  31. Sacred Sword (0-3)
  32. Kicking Assets (0-3)
  33. Soda Jerks (0-3)
  34. Late Fees (0-3)
  35. Reading Rockets (0-3)
  36. Empire (0-3)

Sight Unseen Power Ranking – Week 2

For those who don’t know me, I’m Jake Frydman, Kickball road warrior, 10-year player for the Love Garden Squids, and KVKL superfan. I moved to St. Louis before the 2019 season. I thought my time in the KVKL was over until the possibility and flexibility of remote work made it possible for me to commit to a few weekends in Lawrence last summer, and I once again found myself immersed in KVKL culture and as a full-fledged member of the Squids. This year, I’m hoping for much of the same. While I don’t get to watch or play as many games as most, I thought I’d still offer my mostly sight unseen take on a power ranking to complement Seth’s AP poll. Here’s how I see things after week two.

  1. KTC (2-0)
    The champs remain undefeated, with the best win of 2022 win of the season (6-2 over Harbour Lights.) 
  1. Harbour Lights (1-1)
    Uninspired play in the week 1 GOTW isn’t enough to knock Habour and their back to back to back championship appearances out of the number 2 spot. 
  1. Love Garden (2-0)
    With a quality 11-6 win over Harpies, Love Garden appears to be resuming right where they left off in 2021 as one of the only teams that pose a legitimate threat to the KTC and Harbour’s title game expectations.
  1. Post Haus (2-0)
    The other legitimate title contender at this point in the season is Post Haus. Perhaps playing with a chip on their shoulder after a quarterfinal exit in 2021, Post Haus has dominated their first two opponents of the 2022 season. 
  1. Harpies (1-1) 
    A five-run loss to Love Garden and surrendering 14 runs to Late Fees doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence that Harpies are poised to improve on their 2021 final four appearance and highwater mark as a team. They can score with the best, but it seems like they have work to do on the defensive end.
  1. JWE (2-0)
    Finding a quality win over Red Legs in week one and handling business in week 2, JWE has shown they’ll remain towards the top of KVKL in 2022. Always solid, it is hard to imagine JWE falling out of the top 10 this season, but questions remain if they have the ceiling to take down one of the top teams.
  1. Honey Badgers (2-0)
    The week one 12-5 win over Red Lyon might be the best win in team history by Honey Badgers, and they rolled a lesser team the way we expect top teams to in week 2. With red flags showing early for some of the following teams, the door is open for Honey Badgers to find more consistency and a signature win or two in 2022 that plants them firmly into the top tier of teams.
  1. Shirt Factory (2-0)
    After Love Garden barely avoided a second-round tournament upset to Shirt Factory last year, I suspected that people were too low on this team to start the season. A 5-run win over D-Holes and a shutout win in week 2 over Soda Jerks feels like vintage Shirt Factory results. Catching a glimpse of their week 2 game, I was struck by the number of young kids they had trotting around the bases. Young athletes coached by the Shirt Factory vets seems like a recipe to get better throughout the season (and they are starting out pretty good.)
  1. Red Legs (1-1) 
    Losing a close game to JWE in week 1 is nothing to hang your head about. The 3 run win over Home Loans (2-8 record in 2021) is raising alarm bells, but I expected Home Loans to take a big step forward this year, so I’m assuming that is what is going on here.
  1. Johnny’s (1-1) 
    Last year Johnny’s finished in a 3-way tie for 3rd in the 1 Pool with quality wins over Harpies, JDE, and Red Legs. This year, it feels like Johnny’s is heading in the wrong direction losing to Post Haus by 9 and barely scraping by 23rd St. by one run.
  1. Red Lyon (1-1)
    Perennial top 12 team, but starting slow, with a 12-7 loss to Honey Badgers and a 9-8 escape against KBC Tropics. Red Lyon isn’t a team that shows up every week or shows everything they have until the tournament, but still, these results aren’t great.
  1. Jazzhaus (2-0)
    Call this the GOTW bump. 10-3 over Woost and 12-6 over Asteroid Head are solid, if not wildly impressive results, but Jazzhaus looks the part with athletes all over the field. More importantly than that, many of these are familiar faces. Even a bit more experience for this always athletic squad may result in really good things in the coming weeks for Jazzhaus.
  1. Free State (2-0)
    Starting 2-0 with a nice win in their increasingly close rivalry with XXXoxo and thwacking of Sacred Sword (23-6), Free State is off to a sneaky good start. The floor for this team is really never a question, anchored by some of the best 3rd base defense in the league, the question is if their ceiling can be any higher than 12-15ish, where they’ve hung out for the past few years. 
  1. D-Holes (1-1)
    I have Jazzhaus and Free State both jumping D-Holes from pre-season seeding. Starting with a 10-5 loss to Shirt Factory isn’t too bad, but I’m not sure what to make of the 7-2 win over Bald Beavers. From my understanding, Bald Beavers is a brand new team. Only putting 7 on the board gives me pause from a team that struggled to get runs across the plate quite a bit in the second half of last year. (All my love and support to the Hawmans right now. Love you guys.)
  1. XXXoxo (1-1)
    Nearly eking out a win against Free State and then putting the hurting on Bunt N Grind is a solid start to the season for the team that pulled off the biggest postseason tournament upset last year (11-10 over Honey Badgers). XXXoxo at 15, highlights the parity in this part of the seeding from 7 through 15, I can see any of these teams beating each other without it feeling like a big upset. 
  1. Dropstoppers (2-0)
    The last remaining 2-0 team in the standings picked up wins on Corksuckers (4-2) and Empire (17-0) in shutout fashion. 16th has them moving up one spot from the preseason ranking. Giving up only 2 runs in 2 games is impressive no matter who you’ve played. Perhaps they should be higher, but only scoring 4 against Corksuckers indicates offense may continue to be Dropstoppers’ undoing as they face tougher competition. They will have the chance to make the case for a much higher rank this week against Shirt Factory who they very nearly knocked off last year. 
  1. Brew Tang (1-1)
    Entering their sophomore season, Brew Tang has done what they are supposed to do thus far in beating Sacred Sword decisively (16-4) and losing to KTC, but less decisively than one might suspect (8-1). That result against KTC is definitely something to build on and note. Teams that lost to KTC by more than 7 runs last year include Harbour, Harpies, JWE, and Johnny’s among others.
  1. KBC Tropics (1-1)
    For all intents and purposes, this is a brand new team. Week 1, their first-ever game, was a surprisingly decisive 15-2 win over Young Spine. Week 2 was even more impressive, where they gave Red Lyon every bit that they could handle in a 9-8 loss. I got to catch some of this game, and KBC was playing like they didn’t know they were supposed to lose and was just one bad baserunning error from the massive upset. (It may turn out to be not that big of an upset by the end of the season).
  1. 23rd St. (1-1)
    23rd St. has been putting runs on the board this year. That is huge for a team that has always had solid defense but struggled to score. Like KBC, this team was one run away from potentially earning the biggest win in team history in the 11-10 loss to Johnnies. On the less positive side, they are giving up a bunch of runs, more than 10 a game. If they can keep the offense and get back to their calling card strong defense, then 23rd St., could really rocket up the ranks from where they have been in years prior. 
  1. Home Loans (1-1)
    Home Loans is the third team in a row here with a result this year that is tough to figure out in week 2. While Home Loans fell by 3 runs (8-5) to Red Legs, rather than by 1 like KBC and 23rd St. in their respective games, it is still a quality loss. Last year, I was blown away by some of the talent Home Loans showed even in their 40-3 loss to my Love Garden Squids, and was even more impressed to see how far they’d come by the end of the year when they posed a genuine threat to Jazzhaus in the playoffs in a (16-13 loss). I figured if their best players didn’t get poached, they’d surely be much improved in their sophomore effort as a team. So far, that seems right. 
  1. Asteroid Head (1-1)
    Asteroid Head represented themselves well in the GOTW loss to Jazzhaus. They definitely know how to play the game, and when they show up can give competitive games to strong competition. This result following a 16-1 win over Soda Jerks in week 1 makes me think we possibly have a more committed Asteroid Head team this time around, even if they are always going to be a fun first team.
  1. Corksuckers (1-1) 
    Corksuckers are starting off the season 1-1 with a narrow loss to Drop Stoppers, and a 7-1 win over Reading Rockets, a surprisingly close result against a team that managed only two wins in 2021. 
  1. Woost (1-1)
    Woost has started the year slower than I might have thought. Jazzhaus seems poised to be solid this year, but last year Woost beat Jazzhaus by 2, this year they lost by 7. They bounced back with their first win of the season finding an 11-10 victory over Young Spine, a much closer result than preseason seeding would suggest.
  1. Bunt N Grind (1-1)
    Bunt N Grind got a quality and, in my opinion, surprising win over R-Bar in week one (11-9). They followed that up with a blowout 22-4 loss to XXXoxo, which was also surprising (I would have thought they’d keep it closer). 
  1. Ghosts (1-1)
    It’s difficult to know what to make of Ghosts either after a close win to Late Fees (10-9) and a blowout loss to Harbour. I’ve got them right around where their preseason ranking is until we know more. (I’m taking the quite-a-bit under on Katie’s prediction of 8-2 for the Ghosts, though.)
  1. Kicking Assets (0-2)
    While still in search of their first win of the season, Kicking Assets has shown some solid offensive capabilities across two games. Putting up 13 runs against 23rd St. and 6 against JWE is nothing to sneer at. They’ll have a good chance at evening their record out over the next couple of weeks, and if their defense improves even just a little, they can definitely move up the ranks.
  1. R-Bar (0-2)
    I have R-Bar as the second-best 0-for team in the league after their close loss to Bunt N Grind, and then a loss to angry Post Haus (which doesn’t tell us much.) The problem is, R-Bar may remain the best 0-for team for quite some time. I don’t have them favored in any of their games for the rest of the season based on these rankings. Keep your spirits up y’all. 
  1. Bald Beavers (1-1)
    Bald Beavers are back for the first time since 2006 according to the website, though I think I remember them being around in 2012 my first year in the league. Regardless, they started their return campaign with a big win over Empire (22-2) and then a surprisingly close loss to D-Holes. The jury is still out on how good this team can be, but they likely won’t be at the very bottom this year.
  1. Late Fees (0-2)
    Late Fees followed up taking the Ghosts to extra innings by scoring 14 runs on Harpies. That’s three more than Love Garden scored on Harpies the week prior. Unfortunately, Late Fees also gave up 40 runs, which is typically a pretty bad sign for KVKL success. 
  1. Schoonies (1-1)
    Schoonies got their first win of the season in week one over Reading Rockets (11-6), and then they got whomped by Honey Badgers (22-4). Like so many other teams in this range, it is hard to know what to make of these lopsided week 2 results. Schoonies may be much better than last year as they enter their second season, but we won’t get a read on that until we see their week 3 result vs. 23rd St. If they can keep it close or win, we may be on to something. 
  1. Young Spine (0-2)
    Despite what I’m sure was a disappointing loss in week one to KBC, who it turns out might be quite good, Young Spine showed resilience in giving Woost a great game. Unfortunately, they came up just one run short (11-10) from their biggest ever win as a club. That result definitely shows potential, but part of the recipe for success has to be finding a way to keep opposing teams out of double-digit runs.
  1. Sacred Sword (0-2)
    Sacred Sword hasn’t shown a ton in the first two games of the season, losing 16-4 to Brew Tang and 23-6 to Free State. They’ve also had a really difficult slate of games to start the season. Scoring 10 runs against some quality defenses is something they’ll look to build on as the defenses get less stingy over the next few games. 
  1. Soda Jerks (0-2)
    Soda Jerks are off to a disappointing start, scoring only once through two games. Getting shut out by Shirt Factory is understandable, but the lopsided loss to Asteroid head is surprising, especially after beating Asteroid Head 9-7 late into last season. On the bright side, the next four games all look winnable.
  1. Pawsh Wash (0-2)
    Pawsh Wash has unfortunately been on quite the slide over the past few years. This year, they might as well be a brand new team, and as I understand it the week 1 and week 2 teams may as well have been completely different from each other. They’ll have to find consistency in who is showing up week in and week out before working on the little things like offense and defense. Once they have that though, the rest should follow and they do have some solid new players (at least on the week 2 team). 
  1. Reading Rockets (0-2)
    Reading Rockets held Corksuckers to 7 runs in week 2, which is something to build on. They also lost to Schoonies by much less than last year. It seems like this team is improving, but so is everyone else it seems.
  1. Empire (0-2)
    Entering their second season, Empire is still in search of their first win as a team. It looks like it is going to be tough, but it is certainly not impossible. I wish y’all all the luck in the world in getting that first W this year!

Good luck next week everyone!

2022 KVKL Top 36 AP Poll – Week Two

2022 KVKL Top 36 AP Poll — Week Two

  1. KTC (2-0)
  2. Harbour (1-1)
  3. Love Garden (2-0)
  4. Post Haus (2-0)
  5. Ladybird (1-1)
  6. JWE (2-0)
  7. Honey Badgers (2-0)
  8. Shirt Factory (2-0)
  9. Johnny’s (1-1)
  10. Red Legs (1-1)
  11. Red Lyon (1-1)
  12. Free State (2-0)
  13. Jazzhaus (2-0)
  14. D-Holes (1-1)
  15. XXXoxo (1-1)
  16. Drop Stoppers (2-0)
  17. Brew Tang Clan (1-1)
  18. Corksuckers (1-1)
  19. 23rd Street Brewery (1-1)
  20. Bunt N Grind (1-1)
  21. Home Loans (1-1)
  22. Woost (1-1)
  23. AsteroidHEAD (1-1)
  24. KBC Tropics (1-1)
  25. R-Bar (0-2)
  26. Sacred Sword (0-2)
  27. Kicking Assets (0-2)
  28. Ghosts (1-1)
  29. Young Spine (0-2)
  30. Soda Jerks (0-2)
  31. Late Fees (0-2)
  32. Schoonies (1-1)
  33. Bald Beavers (1-1)
  34. Pawsh Wash (0-2)
  35. Reading Rockers (0-2)
  36. Empire (0-2)

2022 KVKL Top 36 AP Poll – Week One

  1. KTC (1-0) 
  2. Harbour (0-1)
  3. Love Garden (1-0) 
  4. Post Haus (1-0)
  5. Ladybird (0-1)
  6. JWE (1-0)
  7. Honey Badgers (1-0)
  8. Johnny’s (0-1)
  9. Red Legs (0-1)
  10. Shirt Factory (1-0)
  11. Red Lyon (0-1)
  12. Free State (1-0)
  13. Jazzhaus (1-0)
  14. D-Holes (0-1)
  15. XXXoxo (0-1)
  16. Drop Stoppers (1-0)
  17. Bunt N Grind (1-0)
  18. Brew Tang Clan (1-0)
  19. Woost (0-1)
  20. Corksuckers (0-1)
  21. R-Bar (0-1)
  22. AsteroidHEAD (1-0)
  23. 23rd Street Brewery (1-0)
  24. Sacred Sword (0-1)
  25. Kicking Assets (0-1)
  26. Home Loans (1-0)
  27. Ghosts (1-0)
  28. KBC Tropics (1-0)
  29. Soda Jerks (0-1)
  30. Late Fees (0-1)
  31. Schoonies (1-0)
  32. Young Spine (0-1)
  33. Bald Beavers (1-0)
  34. Pawsh Wash (0-1)
  35. Reading Rockers (0-1)
  36. Empire (0-1)

Thanks to all those that have signed up for shifts at Busker Festival this weekend, we’re going to raise a lot of money for KVKL + Charity. If you’re downtown Friday-Monday, grab a beer and checkout Pogo Fred, he might be a better athlete than Kenny. Good luck in Week 2!

Full schedule of events here

A Tale of Two Tiers

Not many players in the KVKL have the experience of playing in both the 6s AND the 1s in their career. That list of players is even shorter for players who have won The Cup and have played in the 6s. This article is covering the personal experiences and perspectives of Elizabeth Karr and Hannah Blodgett. Liz went from 6 to 1 and Hannah went from 1 to 6 this season. My boi Phil Chiles fits this criteria as well. But what is unique about Liz and Hannah, is that they both at one point played for and won The Cup with the same team, KTC.

Liz joined the league in 2016. Her sports background is track and cross country so it’s no surprise she’s one of the faster ladies in the league. My boi Eddie Munoz, her coworker and friend, introduced her to city league and KVKL. She played on the Grandstand GlassKickers/Electrikick Eels from 2016-2019. That team disbanded, and for 2021, Liz was asked by KTC to play for them. While on Grandstand/Eels, they went 0-5 in pool play each year, but were usually able to get 1-2 wins a season in rank play and with the tournament included. On her first season with KTC this year, they capped off a undefeated season going 15-0 and winning the championship in a walk off win in extra innings.

Hannah joined the league in 2009, first playing for the Ghosts. I’ll always remember Hannah as being the girl in gold shorts that would sneak up behind Paul Santos and grab his butt. She’s the reason the Diana Plate has a kickball painted in her hands and why The Cup is now gold. In 2011, she met the great Kris Marshall who let her play with his squad. She won The Cup in 2012 when the team was named Abraxas Death and Taxes. After the 2013 season, Kris gave the reins of captainship over to Hannah. From 2014-2019, Kansas Tree Care became the name and sponsor of the team. They won The Cup in 2018. After the 2019 season, there was a disagreement with how the team should be run and who should be captain. Most of the core members and the sponsor Cuinn left, while Hannah recruited her own team. She had too many people bail on her in 2021, so she gave up her team spot and just sponsored the team Home Loans. Her heart and her pride were hurt, but my boi Phil Chiles came in and offered her a spot on the Rockets which she accepted. The Rockets were in the 6s this year.

When asked what she liked most about playing in the 1s, Liz said that she enjoyed the challenge. She knew if she wanted to get better, she’d need to play with and against the best teams. The challenge of making defensive plays and getting on base was fun for her. She also liked that the team defense was way tighter. What Hannah liked most about the 1s is the attention that her and her team got from being so good. She grew up with lots of siblings, so she needed/wanted attention haha. She was always getting crap for being one of the worst players in the 1s, which made her a target, but Hannah loved that. Her favorite thing to do was yell ‘kick it to me!’. She also liked getting a rise out of players in the 1s who took it too seriously.

The main thing Hannah didn’t like about the 1s was the lack of playing time. She said you really have to have your own kicking spot to improve and get that confidence. Liz went from having her own spot kicking at the top of the lineup to having to split kick at the bottom, but she never mentioned play time being an issue. One thing that both Liz and Hannah had in common on what they didn’t like about the 1s was the pressure to do well each game. Liz’s stress levels were way higher this season and Hannah hated that they would kick players off the team in order to recruit better players. Where the opinions of these two ladies differ on is how encouraging they thought their team was in the 1s. While Hannah felt like she was always the biggest cheerleader and uplifter of spirits, she didn’t feel like her teammates reciprocated that. The focus seemed to be more on talking strategy than cheering on whoever was up to kick. This is in exact contrast to Liz’s experience on the team. Liz said they never got down on her for making mistakes and instead were always giving her tips and encouragement all season.

When asked what she liked most about the 6s, Hannah said she liked how super chill it was. Calls were rarely argued and no one got too upset at anything. Her team would cheer on every play, whether it was good or bad. And they would play all their ladies who showed up. Liz really liked that it was a lower stress group to learn how to play kickball. She said there are some good players in the 6s, so playing there still presents challenges to new players. What Liz didn’t like about the 6s was all of the defensive errors and failed hero throws that occur. When I asked Hannah what she liked least about the 6s, she said there was nothing she didn’t like. Apparently teams in the 6s drink Malort, and she said she even liked that ha.

I asked both ladies if their role on each team was different. Liz said she was a bigger presence offensively and defensively while in the 6s. She rotated between 2nd base and short stop. When kicking, her main goal was to move the lead off runner while also getting on base. When in the 1s, she was at rover where her main focus was to be prepared to back up any plays at 3rd. Kicking in general has been difficult for Liz while in the 1s, so she’s still figuring out her role on offense with the support of her teammates. Hannah’s role was basically the same. Self-appointed role to cheer the loudest and talk the most crap haha . While not being a captain anymore was sad and humbling, she did enjoy not having the responsibility of making sure players showed up and on time. Admittedly, Hannah is one of the worst refs in the league, so she wants to say ‘you’re welcome’ KVKL for not reffing at all this year ha.

Liz couldn’t pick between which team she had more fun on. She said they were both the most fun! Hannah on the other hand said she woulda made the switch to the Rockets sooner if she knew how much fun it’d be with them. Winning the KVKL championship was one of the highlights of Liz’s life so far. While Hannah will miss twerking on the trophy, some of her best memories in the 1s are tainted with how she was approached by her friends to step down as captain. Hannah unfortunately lost friends with her transition from 1 to 6. Liz seems to have had ex teammates be nothing but happy for and proud of her with the transition from 6 to 1. It’s hard to tell which one of these awesome ladies had more fun this season. I walked up to a Rocket vs Young Spine game in week 2 and I would have never guessed that the Rockets were losing by 20 because it looked like they were all having so much fun, led by Hannah. The Rockets have their own point system, so according to Hannah they are undefeated in their own world. But if you’re Liz, it had to be super fun to be on a team that went undefeated in real life.

-Marcus

A Rookie’s Perspective

I’m Mike Z and this is my KVKL story.

I moved to the Kansas City area in September of 2020 from Albuquerque, NM. Up until March 14th, I only knew one person that lived in Lawrence… Peter Loughead whom also moved from Albuquerque. But on March 14th everything changed when I posted on the KVKL Facebook page looking for a team to join. I received a couple responses and after Rob Z from the Love Garden Squids gave me a call I was welcomed into his kickball family.

That was the catalyst to forging so many meaningful relationships with some very amazing people. It started when I attended a couple practices that the Lawrence travel players put on in April. There I met some incredibly talented people that were fast, could throw ridiculously hard, and knew their kickball. The first thought I had at those practices was, how in the world does Lawrence have so many quality players? Albuquerque is quite a bit bigger than Lawrence and even has a comparable kickball league in terms of size, but the quality of play is just so much higher in Lawrence. That’s when I first realized I may not be the upper tier player in Lawrence that I thought I would be.

Soon enough it was May and Love Garden started hosting practices as well and I got my introduction to the “small ball”. I was amazed by having the ability to actually palm the kickball. Throwing it was different, catching it was different, and kicking seemed harder too despite the slow pitches. Not only was the ball strange but playing in dirt was new to me too. Anyone that has seen me play in grass knows that I like to throw my body when I make throws and suddenly the ground was not a comfortable thing to hit. I came away from those practices with quite a few cuts from the dirt. And then there were the rule differences. Catchers can’t move?? The 3rd base person could line up halfway between home and 3rd?? It seemed like such a weird league. Despite those things, I was getting very excited about playing in what Peter described as the best kickball league in the country.

The first few weeks of the season were tough on me. It was a much bigger adjustment to playing in KVKL than I imagined it would be. Kicking this tiny ball that came in super slow still seemed like such a challenge. For weeks my batting average was nothing to write home about and I got a little discouraged as my fielding wasn’t that impressive either. Something about catching and throwing this miniature kickball was monumentally different and I was not grasping it well, figuratively and literally. Even with my spiraling confidence, all of Love Garden continued to support me every week.

Then Jake came into town to join Love Garden to start attaining eligibility for the tournament. His coaching made an immediate impact. I started kicking better and my defense started to improve as well. Further, Jake wrote up an instructional article about kicking. I studied every word. From then on, I’ve been steadily improving and thankful to be a part of such a supportive group.

Suddenly, I found myself playing in a Game of the Week. This must be one of the coolest perks for the players in the league. The opportunity to play under the lights with a massive crowd is a surreal experience. It features a great balance of pressure, excitement, and comradery with the team as well as with the crowd. I absolutely loved the experience.

Next the league put on the Kickball Is For All clinic which was a wonderful experience. It is so amazing that one of the fundamental pillars of the league is for everyone to have fun and to continually improve. That’s what I find so special about KVKL, the focus on community inclusion. Not to naysay my past leagues, but they were more focused on tailoring to the top teams and ignoring the bottom. KVKL is something else. Not only is there the focus on kickball however, but the league does a ton of charitable work which is very impressive. I’m blown away by all that this league does that isn’t even kickball related.

Here we are with the tournament coming up this weekend. And suddenly I’m playing kickball loosely, confidently, and having a blast. I cannot be thankful enough to have been introduced into a community that supports everyone and encourages the most fun. And lastly, I am so grateful that I’m part of a kickball team that feels like a family and I can’t wait to experience the playoffs with them.

KVKL is something special. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

2021 Down the Stretch; Week 10: The Power of Positivity & The Rankings of Power

Why can’t we all just get along? My first season of KVKL was in 2019 and, by and large, everyone has been incredibly accommodating and inclusive. One thing I learned rather quickly, however, was that it’s a risky prospect to ask even your dearest of friends if they won their game on Sunday. I get it, no one wants to talk about losing; I get it, a lot of people were very successful in multiple sports in their high school days. It can be difficult to separate the desire to win from the human necessity to enjoy our time on this planet. This season, I’ve opted to switch it up and greet my colleagues with the question, “did you have fun today?” Word choice is an incredibly powerful tool in shaping the mood of any discussion and we owe it to our peers to wield it responsibly. I urge my fellow kickballers to consider using positive language around the complex, both on and off the field. We leave an impression not only on the spectators who have decided to see what the league is all about, but also the children who are watching and shaping their ideas of how to be an adult based on what they see. It is a cultural failure if outsiders look upon our league in a negative light and together we own the ability to mold that perception with our words and actions. This organization represents 600+ adults from Lawrence and the surrounding areas; a lot of us work together directly or contemporarily. Many people volunteer their time and energy to coordinate charity events and other organizational activities and it is unfair to them to have to answer for the poor sportsmanship of a few people. I know I’m not alone in saying that Sunday is my one day of the week I can afford to set aside for having fun. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you can’t have fun on the diamond, don’t make it everyone else’s problem. Don’t throw dirt, or beer, or insults, or anything else at the refs if you disagree with them. When you’re frustrated about the ruling on the field, take a second to consider the situation you’re in. What the hell is the “heat of the moment” when you’re playing recreational kickball on a Sunday and 90% of the players have a beer in hand at all times? Being a poor sport is NOT an excuse to yell at your peers. No one is responsible for holding space for you to be a whiny child because you haven’t learned how to handle the fact that life doesn’t always go your way. You are not being forced to show up on Sundays. Don’t get me wrong, I love some good-natured jawing between teams. But be considerate and keep it kind; I’m here for a good time, not a long time. If you’re out there to have fun like myself and a vast majority of players, spread the love <3.

Week 10 Totally Subjective Based On Literally Just My Opinion Power Rankings So Fight Me But Please Don’t I Bruise Easily, Brought To You By Carl’s, Jr. (Please Don’t Sue Me): The Trees Stand Alone

Team NameRankOverall Record(Pool Play Runs For/Runs Against*)
Empire360-9(36-72)
Home Loans351-8(36-33)
Reading Rockets342-7(41-54)
Louise’s332-7(43-37)
Pawsh Wash321-8(14-45)
Hookah House313-6(47-27)
Young Spine302-7(24-51)
MaHomies295-4(46-26)
Late Fees282-7(25-40)
Brew Tang Clan273-6(61-25)
Ghost263-6(35-37)
Kicking Assets254-5(35-25)
23rd St.245-4(39-25)
Soda Jerks233-6(38-42)
AsteroidHEAD224-5(12-26)
Sacred Sword214-5(31-19)
R-Bar Patio205-4(40-26)
Corksuckers193-6(15-31)
Bunt N Grind185-4(38-31)
Drop Stoppers174-5(33-38)
Woost166-3(37-30)
XXXoxo155-4(29-29)
Free State146-3(25-23)
D-Holes134-5(22-55)
Jazzhaus126-3(29-17)
Lawrence Shirt Factory116-3(31-49)
Honey Badgers106-3(43-27)
Red Lyon Tavern96-3(27-36)
JDE86-3(32-23)
Red Legs75-4(19-36)
Love Garden68-1(57-22)
Harpies57-2(25-36)
Johnny’s47-2(23-30)
Posthaus36-3(35-33)
Muddy Waters28-1(28-25)
KTC19-0(49-19)

*For the purpose of Runs Scored/Runs Against, all forfeited matches are considered to have a final score of 7-0

Week 10 Game of the Week

Post Haus @ Red Legs

Hobbs Park 9:15 pm, August 1st

Can’t make it to Game of the Week? Check out the live stream on our Twitch!

https://twitch.tv/kvkllfk

Rookie Edition!

From Marcus Reynolds:

I’m covering 9 teams (25% of the league) who have 1st year KVKL players this year. I tried to cover how a player got recruited, what their background might be, and how they are doing in the league so far.

Harpies

Grant has recruited five rookies. Five first year KVKL players, and yet his team not only made the jump into the 1s, but they have multiple wins in the 1s as well. That’s pretty impressive. He’s got Will L, Hallie, Becca, Kat, and Owen. Owen got recruited and played fall ball with the Harpies pre covid. Made the summer squad and has a great eye out in left field. Kat and Hallie both had significant others on the team. Kat is dating Brian and has been putting in the most work out of anyone during practices to make herself better. Hallie is dating the veteran Brittany, and was asked to just play for 3 games so she would be playoff eligible in case Grant needed an emergency sub. But once everyone saw Hallie play, she became a permanent fixture in the lineup. Grant met Becca during a random kickball tournament. They played on the same team and after they lost in the ‘ship, he went up and asked if she’d want to play in a actual kickball league. I had the pleasure of playing with her and Grant in a KC league last summer. It has been great seeing her shine in the KVKL. She has quite the leg. The biggest up and coming star might be Will L. He played D1 soccer for Arkansas. Insanely athletic and has been killing it at the catcher position. The cool thing about how Will L got recruited to the Harpies, is that his mother Elizabeth Laufer was an OG Harpie. That makes him the 4th player to have had a parent that played or plays for the team. You have Grant and Max who of course are the sons of the Commissioner Staci. Then you have 2nd year KVKL player Will Davis, who had BOTH of his parents (Carie and Josh) who used to play for the Harpies. Josh being the captain of the Harpies when Grant first entered the league. Shout out to Staci for being the last OG Harpie.

Honey Badgers

A new team name comes with a new captain. And a new captain, comes with new players. My boi Kenny K took over for Seth and Brad, and he changed the former name from Rats to Honey Badgers and brought on Kory, Deon, and Jessica. Kory, aka the Red Rocket, was recruited by the co captain Aaron Brooks. Both of them knew each other in high school and Kory was a soccer star. I’ve reffed one of their games and got to watch them play when their game was broadcasted against Jazzhaus, and Red Rocket has one of the most solid line drive kicks that you can have. Seems like he’s always on base. Kenny met Deon through 2nd year player Lucas, and right away Kenny knew he’d be a good fit. Lucas and Deon play basketball professionally for the KC Sizzlers, so they are obviously athletically gifted. While he might not be the strongest kicker yet, he makes catches in right field look easy with how he can track down a ball. I swear I saw him playing with one glove, is that right? Lucas brought on Jessica because he knew her from high school. Jess has a Lacrosse background, which I feel is pretty unique to the league. They all really love playing. Kenny has a 2nd year player named Bryce who is a fantastic hype man. And it’s been awesome seeing the rookies feed off his energy during games.

Love Garden

Even veteran teams need to replenish their ranks from time to time. LG has three rookies this year, Mike Z, Skylar, and Kirby. My man Mike Z. He moved to KC from Albuquerque, NM. He came with tons of kickball experience from down in New Mexico, specifically kickball 365 experience. Pete Loughead suggested the league to Mike, and after one fb post asking to join a team and with a seal of approval from Pete, Mike Z ended up with Rob Z. Maybe a couple weeks later, Mike was added to my K365 Bad Astra group chat, and it has been wonderful getting to play alongside with him. He plays catcher and lays down perfect bunts. LG is run by committee, so they have multiple captains, but Rob Z is their KVKL rep for the team. This year Tyler W got promoted to Captain, and he knew he had to have his buddies Skylar and Kirby on the team. Skylar has a basketball background. I saw him starting at 3rd base during their Game of the Week against JDE and I said ‘uhhhhhh wut?’ Spencer Scott was one of the top 3rd basemen in the league and has a cannon for an arm, why would you move him to pitcher? All my questions were answered after I saw Skylar snag ball after ball out of the air. Absolutely phenomenal hands. The crazy thing is that Rob Z went up to Skylar MINUTES before that game, and told him he wanted him to play 3rd. For it being your 1st year, 1st game under the lights in front of a crowd, 1st time playing 3rd base, and you didn’t crumble under all that pressure? Very impressive man, well done. Tyler’s other buddy is Kirby. Kirby has a baseball AND a competitive disc golfer background. He played catcher in college, so he was always gunning people down who tried to steal a base. LG really likes Spencer at pitcher, so when Skylar was hung over from his wedding (congrats), Kirby got the call to fill in at 3rd base. He helped hold Red Lyon to 6 and apparently kicked a homerun last week so LG has picked up a trio of very good rookie players.

Post Haus

Speaking of very good rookie players, time to cover the best ones. Go ahead and call me biased, I’m just spitting facts. Simon brought on four rookies, Jared, Cedric, Ricky, and Domo. Jared knows a thing or two about kickball championships. He’s won 8 of them on Wednesday nights in KC. He also won a ‘ship in a KC league on Sundays, where he was the MVP of the whole league. It wasn’t MVP of the championship game, it was MVP for the whole season. There were like 25 teams in that league! Beast. Jared starts in center field and is the lead off for Post Haus. He’s only played 2 games all season due to injury, but he’s healthy now, and looking to do whatever to help Post win. We have Cedric who moved to the KC area from Louisiana. Cedric has tonssss of kickball experience from playing in Louisiana. Simon recruited him for K365 and then for KVKL. Cedric said that there’s not much he’s seen in kickball that matches a GOTW and the electric atmosphere. He really digs the vibe, camaraderie, and structure of the KVKL. What he likes the most about the KVKL is what they do outside of kickball for the community. Compared to the other leagues he’s played in, the rules, pitching, and field positioning are different. He’s also had to adjust to the small ball and how to field/kick/bunt it. Ced has had to ease into the lineup mainly because he’s been nurturing what was basically a fractured ankle. But as his ankle has got better, he has gotten better. He should be 100% by tourney time. Next up is Ricky. He played in the same KC league as Jared and Domo. Has a volleyball background, so he knew Richard. Simon reached out to him because we were down 4 guys on Memorial Day weekend. He played so well, that he earned a permanent spot on the team. The dude is like 6’4, but he has a wing span of someone who is 7ft tall. He can play outfield or 1st base. Last up is Domo, he’s Jared’s best friend. He came along with Ricky during week 2 to not only help save us, but help conquer. Domo is no stranger to playing 1st base, seeing as how he played there on all of the same championship runs that Jared had. But for never playing with the small ball KVKL uses and having to field bullets thrown from Josh, Colin Flanders, and Sarah Riley all game long, he did amazing. His pregame and during game music playlists are 2nd to none. DJ Dom should be his name. I’m excited to see how they all perform under the lights in week 10.

Jazzhaus

Arguably no other team roster was affected more than Jazzhaus by the cancellation of the 2020 season. They were going to have all of their main players coming back, when normally they have one and done players. That team was coming off a spectacular 2019 season of making the 1s and then getting dubs there as well. But then Covid came, and a year off meant that most of their young players were moving on. If anyone could refill a depleted roster with solid young talent, it would be none other than the best recruiter in the league, the owner and team manager of The Jazzhaus, Rick McNeely. Rick has a total of 12 brand new players this year. He didn’t recruit all of them by himself, he had help from Maleena H, who happens to be a rookie as well. Maleena is on a academic scholarship at West Virginia, but in the summer she works at The Jazzhaus. She is responsible for introducing four of the other rookies (Reece/Harrison/Max/Ben) to Rick. Reece D comes from a basketball background. He’s 6’2, plays catcher, and is getting comparisons to Isaac Combs as to the way he shuts down the bunt. Harrison M is the 2nd player I’m covering who is coming from a Lacrosse background. Maybe captains need to scope out lacrosse games for new talent. Maleena recruited Max A and Ben C who both have a baseball background. They both play outfield and are just 18. Max turned down a baseball scholarship as a pitcher because he wanted to go to KU, so I’m sure he has an arm. After those four, you have a player named Cam N, who is good friends with Reece. He got injured while over running a base, so hopefully he’ll be good for the tourney because they need him as an outfielder. Rick always has athletes that are on scholarship somewhere for some sport. He has Darian L and Michael U. Darian is a TE at Baker. He used to come to games to watch his buddy Anthony Harvey Jr., and was finally convinced to play. At 6’2 and 220, I’d assume he has power. Michael U has a sister on the team named Margaret, and his first game ever was last week against Free State. Michael is on scholarship at Hutchinson Community College as a pitcher. Rick has four other new ladies. Sydney P, Alexa L, and Dalima K all work at The Jazzhaus along with Maleena. Sydney is a 5’8 ex volleyball player who turned down a scholarship because she wanted to go to KU. Alexa is a semi professional hula hooper! Her hand-eye coordination has got to be fantastic. Dalima is a recent college grad and gifted singer. Rick hired her 5min after meeting her, and added her to the kickball squad even faster. And finally we have Chloe H, who is the girl friend of Lee Campbell. When you have a stud like Lee who wants his GF to play, you make it happen. Chloe and Lee have joined a KC league to get more reps in, and it’s paying off for Chloe.

Ghosts

Jazzhaus isn’t the only team with an 18 year old on the squad. After years of only being able to kick around and field kicks in pre game warmups, and then watching his father play in the actual game, Junior is finally old enough to play. He is the son of James Tolbert. Junior was able to get his first game time experience back in the fall of 2019 on Cosgrove’s fall ball team. Cosgrove has said Junior has heart, wants it more, and listens. As a rookie, being coachable is an important virtue to have, and it sure seems like Junior fits the bill. James has had to sit this season out due to a back injury, but I believe he’ll be back with the Ghosts after a year long stint playing for Thomas Joel and triple X. For now, Ben from Red Lyon and his +75yr old dad are the only other father and son combo that I know of. But once James and Junior are playing on the same team, I’d like to issue the ‘Griffey Challenge’ to them. If Junior and James can kick back to back homeruns, I’ll buy James a case of whatever alcoholic beverage he wants, and I’ll get Junior some chocolate milk/Capri Suns or maybe just a pizza. Junior isn’t the only rookie the Ghosts added. They added Tom and Megan E. Tom is a Red Lyon regular, who was recruited by Katie Keating. Great place kicker, played in the outfield until he had to move to 1st base after their 1st baseman suffered a season ending injury. Megan was recruited by Brian Schultz. He was good friends with her and knew she had played soccer. She’s been at short stop and has been killing it. A common theme with these Ghost rookies is that they have all been described as awesome human beings.

Kicking Assets

Colton. Colton. Colton. I hear his name mentioned multiple times, by multiple players, week after week on the KVKL podcast. When you’re getting that many name drops as a rookie, you know his future is going to be bright in this league. Apparently the story goes that Colton and Junior from Ghosts are homies that played on the same fall ball team. The Ghosts only had one spot open, so Cosgrove took Junior, and Maresa got to claim Colton for her KVKL team. I haven’t been able to watch Colton play yet, but all signs point to him being as good as Jimmy was while he played for Maresa. Colton is the catcher, but he can literally play any position on the field where Maresa and the team need him most. According to her, Colton’s situational awareness is why he dominates. He has the game IQ to know where the ball needs to go, with the athletic ability to execute the play. His trust in his teammates has been influential for the overall team dynamic. Besides Colton, Maresa added five other rookies. Tyler W and Nick are her most recent additions. Their first game ever was last week. Both of them have a baseball background so they were familiar with the rules overall. They were splitting time in right field, and impressed Maresa by how they naturally backed up any throw to 1st base without having to be told. Kicking the ball was new to them, but they have two more games to get the kinks out before tourney time. Corey is a new player. He had no kickball or baseball background, so understanding the rules and how to play his position took some time. He plays short stop and has one hell of an arm. He recently bought cleats which will make him faster than he already was. Drew and Tyler A were added on due to the Sponsor of Kicking Assets, Kurt Goeser of State Farm Insurance. Drew does not play with cleats, but his ball tracking skills in left field are on point. He has missed some games due to his army duties (thank you for your service), but once he gets back, he’ll take his spot near the top of the lineup because he’s always kicking line drives. Tyler A was from State Farm as well. I think I like his story the most. Recently he expressed that his knowledge of kickball and kicking in general was lacking, and to me, that takes courage. Maresa and other teammates showed up early to a game to get Tyler some practice and give him a better understanding of the art. Kicking in practice is one thing, but there is no substitution for in game situations. Maresa ended up splitting with Tyler and letting him take the majority of the at bats to make sure that he was able to apply what he had learned. Tyler said that game made all the difference in the world. Sometimes the captain isn’t always your best player. I’m not saying Maresa isn’t the best player on her team, she could be. But being a captain means you’re the best leader or have the most passion. And any time someone is willing to put the success of the team or teammates over their own personal needs, that’s someone I’d want to follow.

23rd st. Brewery Screamers

So I have a City league kickball team that is basically Betsy Skinner, and all of her friends from work. Just about all the ladies on the squad work with Betsy. One of them is Carly Redlich, and her husband Austin also plays on the team. My boi David Shipley walked up to the dugout on the Friday before the first KVKL game of the season and asked Simon Skinner if he knew anyone who wanted to play KVKL. Simon introduced Shipley to Austin and Carly, and that Sunday they were both Screamers. They have to be one of the greatest random couple pickups ever. Carly played softball in college and Austin is just an all around athlete. I got to watch them play KTC, and they were the main reason why the score wasn’t 35-0. They were both getting on base frequently and defensively were absolute studs. I’m sure that Shipley knows Austin and Carly are on possible poach alert. Another rookie on the Screamers is Nick. He also works with Carly and Betsy. He came to watch a game, and Erin Garger asked him if he wanted to play. He then drove back home to get tennis shoes, and entered the game. Nick has been playing all over the field, but his most important quality is that he is reliable, since he has shown up for every game since joining. Albert is the 4th rookie for Screamers. He is the friend of Garett’s, and plays in the outfield. Albert is the same as Nick as he can play wherever, but mostly plays in the outfield.

Brew Tang Clan

Last but not least we got my boi Baeza and his wife Sonya. They have both captained multiple teams for multiple sports, but this year is their first year captaining a KVKL team. They were in the league in 2019, but not as captains. They have a very hands on approach to things, so I just knew they would get their own team eventually. They have a new team in the league and they brought in six KVKL rookies. First up is Luke. Luke came in all the way from Australia to do his grad studies at KU. He is a phy. Ed teacher so kickball is his speciality. Baeza was the first to recruit Luke. They let him play on their softball team to see how fit he was, and apparently he has a gun for an arm. I’ve also heard that Luke has the best calf muscles in the league. Kenny St. Pierre was a member of the Baeza’s softball team and was recruited at the time because they were short people. He plays the outfield in softball and his skills there have transitioned to the kickball field, so Baeza gave him a permanent spot. Kicking is always going to be hard for players without a soccer background, but Kenny works at it each game. Farai Rusinga is a city league player that wanted to play with Brew Tang. He has a soccer background so his bunting and kicking is excellent. He is extremely fast and plays catcher. His most important quality is that he listens to whatever he is being told to do. Brittany Cheek was recruited from city league as well. She’s got that competitor mentality. Minor set back might be that she needs cleats ha. Josh H has been a long time friend of the Baeza’s. He’s a utility player that can play anywhere on the field. Josh helped to recruit Ryan G to the team. Ryan has been a baller so far playing 3rd base. David is predicting he’ll be a top 10 3rd baseman in the league for sure next year. Ryan is also fast as hell, so he’s been in the lead off spot. Being rookie captains to KVKL, getting everyone up to speed and on the same page has been a challenge. But the Baeza’s are super proud of their team, and they are excited to see how they perform come the tournament.

I sure wish I could have covered the rookies for all 36 teams. I would have had to write a whole book when covering Young Spine, and I just don’t have that type of time ha. Maybe I can cover players for their 2nd season. I also wish I could have put a picture with each person so you’d have a face to a name, but that would have taken forever as well. If teammates can tag their players that are mentioned, that’d be cool because I’d like to see who I’ve been covering haha.

I know they talked a little about this topic on the podcast, but what sport background gives you the best advantage when coming into the league, not including kickball experience? What sport are you trying to recruit players from? Personally I’d rather have baseball and softball players. I’d rather a player suck at kicking to start off, than suck at catching a ball and not knowing what to do on defense. I think a sport that should get more players recruited from is Ultimate Frisbee. Players with that background are usually quick and agile. If they can read the flight of a disc, they should be able to read a ball in the air easily. They should have great hands. I know throwing a disc is more about technique than strength, but I’m sure they still have strong arms.

Which rookies did I miss that are ballers? Who would be in the top 5 or 10 for rookies of the year?

Some Stats on Divisional Play vs. Rank Pool Play

It sure feels like we have been treated to a ton of close games in the KVKL, since rank pool play began. I was curious, so I crunched the numbers to see how the first three weeks of rank pool play compared to the first five weeks of the season. I thought it would be worth sharing here on the Sundays in the Park blog as a companion piece to the conversation Adam Mitchell started with his awesome post a few weeks ago. While competitive, close games aren’t the end-all be-all of a fun recreational sports experience, they sure are fun to be a part of.

I’m using three metrics here: margin of victory (how much the winning team won by on average), close games (games decided by 3 runs or fewer), and competitive games (games decided by 5 runs or fewer). 

Divisional Play

In the first five weeks of the season, the average KVKL game was decided by a whopping 12.7 runs. Out of 90 total games, 16.7% of games were competitive (15), and only 11.1% of games (11) were truly close to the finish. That is fewer close games (11) than games in which the mercy rule could have been enacted (13) through the first five weeks. 

Rank Pool Play

Through three weeks of rank play, the story is much different. The average margin of victory is down to 4.5 runs. Nearly two-thirds, 65% of games (33) were competitive. Even more impressive is that 51% of games were close finishes (26), 11 of which were decided by a single run. The mercy rule could have been enacted exactly 0 times. 

It isn’t surprising that games have gotten closer in rank play. The point of divisional play, after all, is for teams to sort themselves into competitive ranks, where competitive games are more or less assured. 

Still, it is worth pointing out just how lopsided things were this year in divisional play. I’m not sure these stats even do justice to the state of competitive play in the first half of the season. For example, here are the raw margins of victory in week five:

22, 4, 16, 23, 7, 20, 13, 16, 13, 13, 13, 19, 13, 11, 1, 13, 6, 13

That is a lot of games decided by exactly 13 runs. More to the point, it shows that the average margin of victory isn’t necessarily being propped up by huge outlier scores. Instead, it is a result of consistently lopsided scores across all games. By the way, week five wasn’t even the week with the largest average margin of victory. That was week one, when games were decided by 15 runs on average!

This isn’t to say that divisional play should be eradicated. R-Bar is vying to win the 4 pool this year. Without divisional play, they would have likely been seeded as a 6 pool team. Pawsh Wash, on the other end of things, is currently struggling in the 5-pool. They likely would have been seeded as a 3-pool team based on 2019 results. 

In this sense, divisional play is doing its job. I just wonder if there is a way to do this sorting more efficiently than playing 90 games, where only a small fraction are ever going to be competitive.

What do you think? Could a shortened/modified divisional play structure work? I have a few ideas, but I’d love to hear any ideas or creative solutions you have here in the comments or in the KVKL Facebook group.

Jake Frydman
Kickball Ranger/Monk
Astrokitty Comics 2012, Love Garden 2013-2021

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