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*)
Home Loans351-8(36-33)
Reading Rockets342-7(41-54)
Pawsh Wash321-8(14-45)
Hookah House313-6(47-27)
Young Spine302-7(24-51)
Late Fees282-7(25-40)
Brew Tang Clan273-6(61-25)
Kicking Assets254-5(35-25)
23rd St.245-4(39-25)
Soda Jerks233-6(38-42)
Sacred Sword214-5(31-19)
R-Bar Patio205-4(40-26)
Bunt N Grind185-4(38-31)
Drop Stoppers174-5(33-38)
Free State146-3(25-23)
Lawrence Shirt Factory116-3(31-49)
Honey Badgers106-3(43-27)
Red Lyon Tavern96-3(27-36)
Red Legs75-4(19-36)
Love Garden68-1(57-22)
Muddy Waters28-1(28-25)

*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!


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.


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.


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.


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

Most Fun Wins, so Let’s Have the Most Fun:

An argument for tier-based scheduling

“You want to break apart the league!”

“That will destroy the ‘spirit of the league!’”

“What about (team x)? They improved a lot since last season.”

            These statements and more like them often confront me when I raise the often-touchy subject of competition levels in the league, and that, perhaps it’s time to try something different. When I’ve raised this topic at random kvkl events, the Jazzhaus during the podcast, or perhaps I’ve even cornered you at a less-than-enthralling gotw? People who are receptive usually begin talking about the need to split the league into a “competitive side” and a “for fun side”, or they suggest Champions League style relegation tiers consisting of 12-18 teams. (Please look it up if you have no idea what that means) However, I’m not suggesting anything so extreme. I merely want the league to give a different method of scheduling the season a try. I propose the board replace the current method with a tier-based 10 game schedule based upon the results of the previous season. This would have the teams in the 5/6, 3/4, and 1/2 seeds be scheduled to play each other for the entire season. Instead of the first five weeks of the season being bogged down with the majority of games being no-fun blowouts, each and every week would be filled with competitive (aka: fun) contests.       

Before I go any further with this post, I want to make it clear that I appreciate the work of everyone who puts time and effort into making the schedule every season. The suggestions I put forth, and the observations I will make are in no way a criticism of them. I’m going to lay out some evidence and see if I can convince anyone who cares to see if we can attempt an alternate scheduling format that benefits the league and increases every team’s chance at having an even better kvkl experience for the entire season.

No matter which side of the league your team happens to be on: the ultra- competitive/talented/athletic to the we’re just happy to be here/see how many beers we can drink/might win one game the whole season, I have little doubt that nearly half of your team’s games suck. I’ve been on teams with both points of view, and I’ve been on both sides of a 35-2 ass beating. While I’m always happy to be playing on a Sunday, my enjoyment sours pretty quickly if I’m part of one of those games. You may be reading this and think to yourself, “how often does that actually happen?” Well, I looked at every week of the past two seasons and I did the math. For the following information I classified a “blowout” as any game with a point differential of 9+ runs. I reasoned that if a team won by an average of 1 run an inning then that was a blowout. A “close game” is any game with a point differential of 4 or less.  

During the first five weeks of the 2019 season 51/90 games was a blowout, or 56% of the games played. 21% of games were considered close. That’s 19 whole games played. During weeks 6-10 when ranked play begins the numbers are nearly reversed. 40 of the games played were considered close with 30 of the games considered blowouts. I was a bit surprised at the number of blowouts in ranked play during 2019, but most of them were Muddy and Tree Care still blowing people out, or randomly the Misfit Toys team running roughshod over the rest of the 5 seeds. This season, the numbers make for a more compelling case for a different method of scheduling.

During the first five weeks of 2021: 55/90 games were blowouts and only 10/90 games saw the teams within 4pts of each other. 10 games! However, week 6 gave us 12(!) close games, with multiple games going to extra innings. There were only 2 games considered blowouts: Hookah House over Empire by 9 and Honey Badgers over D-Holes by 10. Why can’t the entire season be scheduled like rank play?  

How many times (with the current method of scheduling) during the first five weeks of the season have you listened to the podcast hosts make their picks for the week, or talk about the previous week’s games, and the outcome of nearly every game is treated like a foregone conclusion? Or perhaps you’ve visited the website to check out the week’s schedule, and maybe one or two of the games look like they might be competitive? Maybe you’re on a team that receives no joy beating other times 42-3 or being beaten 42-3? I’m willing to bet it was frequently. As a huge fan of playing in and speculating about the kvkl I sincerely hope we can try something new next season to improve the level of enjoyable competition for an entire season and not just the second half. For those of you who wonder about what this different form of scheduling would mean for the post-season, I will offer my thoughts and suggestions in my next post. In the meantime, I’m interested to see any other suggestions my fellow kickballers have after reading this.    

2021 Week 6 Around the Bases: Who to Watch & Way, Way Too Early Hardware Predictions

The first week of ranked pool play is in the books, and boy howdy do I have a lot of opinions! I got to watch 5 games of ranked play (and one forfeit), so I feel incredibly confident that I know everything about every team. On a personal note, it felt great to be reimmersed in the atmosphere of ranked play. Many teams throughout divisional play probably felt too sure one way or the other over how their game would finish; being able to approach every match moving forward with an achievable goal of victory creates an extra buzz around the park.

If you want the rundown of every game in Week 6, check out the KVKL Podcast; I’ll highlight one team per pool and tell you why you should be watching them:

#6 Seeds

Home Loans – One of the newcomers this season, Home Loans have fun playing and are a fun team to play against. It’s easy to see that they have the ability to win in this league and they almost squeaked out their first W against Reading Rockets, playing with 9 players all game. Their next chance comes against MaHomies at YSC 7 @ 5pm. Welcome to the KVKL, Home Loans! I’ll be rooting for you all season.

#5 Seeds

I’m going to be honest, the only 5 seed I’ve seen so far are Brew Tang Clan from divisional play, and I can confirm that they ain’t nothin to fuck wit. 5s, you all have done nothing wrong, ever, and I will make sure I find out more about you as the season goes on. That said, my team to watch is Kicking Assets. They have the ability to put up runs and I think they have a great shot to win the 5s. Their Week 7 matchup against Ghosts (YSC 7 @ 7pm, July 11th) could be an early decider for the top spot.

#4 Seeds

Sacred Sword played a great all-around game in their wire-to-wire win over Soda Jerks. They’re a solid squad that showed well in the 4s last year so they know what it takes to be successful in this pool. I think they have a great shot to win the division and their next matchup will test that sentiment. You were probably already going, but if not get your ass out to Hobbs Park at 915pm to watch Bunt N Grind @ Sacred Sword for the Week 7 Game of the Week on July 11th.

#3 Seeds

I don’t know shit about the 3s despite my team being in this pool this season and I feel like I’ll have too much to say about them by the end of it. I’ll give a shoutout to Woost; they put up 10 runs in divisional play against their higher seeds, 2nd behind Jazzhaus’ 11 in the 3s, and they pulled out what many consider an upset over the aforementioned Jazzhaus in Week 6. They bring the ruckus to the dugout and a great attitude to the diamond, so make sure you catch them at least once! Week 7 pits them against XXXoxo at YSC 8 @ 7pm.

#2 Seeds

If you’re looking for exciting play at a high level, look no further than Honey Badgers. This team is aggressive running the bases and they have the pure speed to play with anyone in the league. After winning the 3s last year and making it to the Twain semifinals, they continue to trend upward. I personally have them fighting for 2nd place in the 2s. Their Week 7 matchup (YSC 4 @ 7pm) against reigning “Week 6 Game of the Week” champions Love Garden will be an excellent test of both teams’ mettle.

#1 Seeds

There are no wrong choices here. All of the 1s deserve their rank and they are all fun to watch. That said, picking anyone other than Harpies for this exercise seems negligent. Their last loss was Round 1 of the 2019 tournament to Honey Badgers (10-0 since, outscoring their opponents 190-62 if I can count). They overcame some jitters against Post Haus in Week 6 before mounting a great comeback to garner their first ever win in their first ever game in the 1s. Harpies play with excellent situational kicking awareness and combine that with their ability to execute to create a fun product. You can catch the team du jour hosting Johnny’s July 11th at YSC 2 @ 5pm.

Who’s Gonna Win It


#6 Seed Winner MaHomies

#5 Seed Winner Ghosts

#4 Seed Winner Bunt N Grind

#3 Seed Winner Jazzhaus

#2 Seed Winner Love Garden

#1 Seed Winner Muddy Waters

The BootHome Loans

The PlateWoost

The TwainJohn Denver Experience

The CupMuddy Waters

Week 7 Game of the Week

Bunt N Grind @ Sacred Sword

Hobbs Park 9:15 pm, July 11th

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


League Round-Up: 2021 Ranked Pool Play Begins

Welcome back, kickballers! After a one-year sabbatical, Lawrence’s diamonds are once again graced by the cleats of the KVKL. As might be expected, several teams disbanded over the intermission; The Matadores became The Matadones, Chalmersiz is Chalmersizn’t, and Misfit Toys finally got picked up by Santa and taken to children across the globe who would appreciate them. The three teams to take those spots in the league are Louise’s Downtown Kickball, Hookah House, and Home Loans. Now, let’s take a brief look at each pool and how the teams fared last season:

#1 Seeds

Johnny’s Tavern (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 2, 4th place; Cup Quarters

Kansas Tree Care (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 1st place; Cup Runners-Up

Ladybird Harpies (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 2nd place; Plate Winners

Muddy Waters Studio (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 2nd place; Cup Winners

Post Haus (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 4th place (Black Stag); Twain Runners-Up

Athletic Republic Red Legs, The (5-0)

2019 Finish: Pool 2, 2nd place; Twain Winners

#2 Seeds

D-Holes by Bickelberg Farm (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 2, 3rd place (Hurtz Donut D-Holes); Twain Semis

Honey Badgers (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 3, 1st place (Rats, The); Twain Semis

John Denver Experience (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 3rd place; Cup Quarters

Lawrence Shirt Factory (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 2, 1st place; Cup Quarters

Love Garden Squids (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 6th place; Cup Semis

Red Lyon Tavern (4-1)

2019 Finish: Pool 3, 2nd place; Cup Quarters

#3 Seeds

Corksuckers (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 3, 6th place; Plate Quarters

Dynamic Fastener Drop Stoppers presented by Mr. P’z Bar and Grill and Mike Perz and Associates* (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 3rd place (Drop Stoppers); Plate Quarters

Free State Growlers (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 1st place; Twain Quarters

Jazzhaus (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 1, 5th place; Twain Quarters

Woost, The (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 6th place; Plate Semis

XXXoxo (3-2)

2019 Finish: Pool 3, 5th place (ReBoot XXX); Twain Quarters

#4 Seeds

AsteroidHEAD Vitalized by KANbucha (2-3)

2019 Finish: Pool 5, 2nd place; Plate Quarters

Bunt N Grind (2-3)

2019 Finish: Pool 5, 5th place; Plate 2nd Round

Mass St. Soda Jerks (2-3)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 5th place: Plate 2nd Round

R-Bar Patio (2-3)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 4th place (Jayhawker Crossfit); Boot Semis

Sacred Sword (2-3)

2019 Finish: Pool 4, 4th place; Twain Quarters

Liberty Hall Late Fees (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 2nd place; Plate 2nd Round

#5 Seeds

23rd Street Brewery (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 5, 4th place; Plate 2nd Round

Brew Tang Clan (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 5th place (Joplin Supply Company’s EletriKick Eels); Boot Runners-Up

Ghosts (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 5, 3rd place; Plate 2nd Round

Kicking Assets Goesers State Farm (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 5, 6th place (Kicking Assets); Plate 2nd Round

Pawsh Wash Filthy Animals (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 3, 4th place; Plate Quarters

Young Spine & Joint Chiropractic (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 2, 6th place (Goesers Good Neighbors); Cup Semis

#6 Seeds

Nick Lerner’s Patrick MaHomies (1-4)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 3rd place; Boot Winners

Empire Kicks Back (0-5)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 6th place; Boot Semis

Home Loans (0-5)

2019 Finish: Non-Applicable

Hookah House (0-5)

2019 Finish: Non-Applicable

Louise’s Downtown Kickball (0-5)

2019 Finish: Non-Applicable

Reading Rockets (0-5)

2019 Finish: Pool 6, 1st place; Plate 2nd Round

Week 6 Game of the Week

Love Garden Squids @ John Denver Experience

Hobbs Park 9:15 pm

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



Battle of the Exes

I have the night off since city league kickball games got rained out this Friday (4th time this year). So what better way to spend it then diving into future matchups for my favorite league, Kaw Valley Kickball. 

I will be covering matchups of players who are facing their FORMER teams this year in rank play. 

Shane vs Muddy Waters

The first matchup that I’ll go over is Shane who is currently on Johnny’s Tavern, vs his former team, Muddy Waters Studio. I don’t know the details, but Shane decided to leave the defending champions, for his current team. My guess would be his Kickball365 connections with Michael and Kerry played a part in his recruitment to Johnny’s possibly? With the departure of Tim Fredrickson, Johnny’s needed a 3rd baseman, and Shane has seemed like a perfect fit. He’s been considered as a MVP so far and is likely one of the main reasons Johnnys has made the 1s this year. He knows what it takes to win a KVKL championship. Can he bring that culture to Johnny’s? All I know is that it will be a tough task to beat the mighty Muddy. A matchup within the matchup, two top level 3rd basemen Shane vs Eli Tinoco will also be fun to compare. 

Nicole vs Muddy Waters

Nicooooole Flanders. She is the 2nd player being covered that has left the defending champions. Long time Rats player, she joined Muddy in 2019 and won a title immediately. I don’t know the circumstances of her departure either, but I know she landed in a great destination. Not only does she join Kansas Tree Care who is always a favorite to win the Cup and who has won it as recently as 2018, but she joins her now husband, Kenny no shirt Flanders. Nicole leaves a female cast of Kal/Jessica/Clare/Tierney to join Angela/Janae/Liz/Mags. Both groups are some of the best women in the league. Besides that blowout in the 2018 Championship, games between these two teams have been close. Does Nicole tip the balance? Will Kenny be unleashed now that he doesn’t have to worry about sleeping on the couch if he crushes his wife’s team? 

Turtle vs Post Haus

KTC is the benefactor of another big off season pickup, my dude Eric Turtle. Turtle was a long time member of Wildman/Jackpot which is now Post Haus. He won the title with Wildman in 2017. As a new member of Post Haus this year, Turtle was one of the main players I was excited to finally be able to play with. I had played city league and fall ball with most of the players on Post, but Turtle and I had never crossed paths. It was such a bummer when I heard Turtle had decided to play with KTC this season. From what I understand, he is neighbors and/or good friends with the McKee Bros. Those two are very good brothers to know if you’re in the market for joining a dominant team. He’s been playing fall ball with them for a few years as well. Turtle is one of the nicest guys in the league, and I wish him the best. Can his kind soul soften the hard hearts of Post Haus and their feelings of betrayal? I can’t speak for my teammates, but they might be #hungry for turtle soup. But Turtle has a great group to back him up when we play. 

AO vs Red Legs 

My brother Antoniooo Garciaaa aka AO. As far as I know, AO had played his whole career with Red Legs. Jose on Red Legs is a top 1st basemen in the league, leaving AO not much opportunity to shine at that position. But with the departure of Shane, Muddy Waters had a spot open for AO to thrive in. AO is not only killing it at 1st on defense, but I am sure he’s kicking in runs being in the 4th/5th spot in a lineup that features three of the best kickers in the league, Jimmy/Isaac/Eli. Shout out to James Findley who not only lost AO this off-season, but also Ariel Ludwig, a killer leadoff or 2 spot kicker who went back to D-Holes, and yet James somehow captained his team to the 1s. AO has the stronger team no doubt, but don’t count out Red Legs as they are the dark horse in the 1s in my opinion. 

Julie W vs Harpies 

Not only did Muddy Waters replace Shane with AO, but they replaced Nicole with Julie. Julie is a badass who is fast as hell. She started her career with Pizza Party, who is now Muddy. She has since played with Channel 6, Love Garden, Harpies in 2019, and then has returned to Muddy Waters this year. As you can see, Julie is no stranger to being on a top team. The main question is, did she leave Harpies too soon? Grant has done nothing but elevate his team each and every year, and they are young. Has she risked the potential of winning one title right now with Muddy, when she could possibly have multiple championships with Harpies once the league has aged? Would Grant let her come back if she wanted? If I was a captain I’d always make room for her. In regards to this upcoming matchup, Julie and Muddy probably have a 95% chance of winning. But we play the games for a reason and Grant has given Muddy a loss before due to certain players missing, so anything can happen. 

Keith Pipkin vs Love Garden

For me, this matchup is the most entertaining. The board must have thought so as well, seeing as we’ll get to see Keith and JDE vs Love Garden under the lights at Game of the Week to end the 1st week of rank play. From what I can find, Keith had been with Love Garden from at least 2016, and has been a big reason why LG has made deep runs in the playoffs year after year. But he has also been a staple on any JDE team that is captained by Avery Brow, whether it be indoor soccer, city league kickball maybe, or any other lawrence rec league sport, not including KVKL. In 2019, both JDE and Love Garden were both in the 1s. This year Keith makes the move from LG to JDE and now both teams are in the 2s. Going into the game, LG has scored the 4th most points in the league, while JDE is the number one defense. LG did not fare well the last time they played a good defense. But since that game they are motivated and with JDE’s offensive output, LG might only need 7ish runs to get the dub. The X-factor to this game is whether long time Squid player Jake Frydman makes the trip to play. My only tip to LG is to not test Keith’s arm if he’s in right field. But they probably know that already. 

Bickel vs Shirt Factory

Bryant Bickel. Owner of Hurtz Donut. Sponsor of the D-Holes. Bickel had been a long time member of the D-Holes. At the height of his career, he helped lead his team to a Twain trophy W. In 2018 Bickel made the decision to try and help Happy Shirt, the greatest franchise in KVKL history, get back to their championship ways. After two seasons on the team that is now Lawrence Shirt Factory, Bickel has come back home, to the 

D-WHAT, D-Holes. Alex Hawman who has been on the D-Holes for years has said they are 0-3 when playing Shirt Factory. But every time I look at the score or hear about their game, they get closer and closer to beating them. Could the addition of home team hero Bickel be what finally puts them over the hump against Shirt Factory? Rumors are that Shirt Factory has recruited retired players to come out and help them, after their 4-3 close win over Dropstoppers gave them a scare. Not only is this a battle of the exes, but it will be a battle between future spouses, the legendary Steve Harder (SF) and Arianna Auxter (DH). This slugfest between two veteran teams will not be one to miss. 

Finallyyy enough focus on the top teams. We are skipping down to the 6s. 

Rashaad vs Mahomies 

Aubrey vs Mahomies 

We have Rashaad who is with Hookah House this year and we have Aubrey who took her talents to Louise’s. Both are former subordinates of the KVKL fan favorite, Jason Cougar Hwang and his team Nick Lerner’s Mahomies. So no shade intended, but usuallyyy when players leave Cougar’s farm system team for greener pastures, they are leaving for a better team. But both players find themselves on teams that are in the 6s. Could the reason for that be that both players went to brand new teams in the league? Probably. Will Cougar and his team with experience make Rashaad and Aubrey pay for leaving? Probably. As for why both of them left, I can only speculate. Does Rashaad work for Hookah house? Does he just like hookah in general? Is he friends with my boi Hazem Chahine, the captain and owner of Hookah House? Did Aubrey leave because there’d be more playing time for her on Louise’s? Did she just like the bar Louise’s in general? Did she get sick of the in game yelling and post game emails from Cougar? I don’t know how long either of them played on the Homies, but I hope they had the privilege of playing with Dana Shoup. He was a role model for how to be, as a person, for this league. RIP Dana. 

Bonus matchups! 

These matchups are a battle of players who used to be on the same team in 2019, but who are facing each other on their new teams this year. 

Kristin C-S and Bunt N Grind vs Eddie Munoz and R-Bar

Kristin used to be the captain of Grandstand Glasskickers/ElectriKick Eels and Eddie was her long time teammate. This year Kristin decided to step down as captain, and when no one wanted to take over, the team dissolved. Kristin ended up joining Bunt N Grind who she had relationships from playing city league with them. And Eddie was picked up by R-Bar, formerly Jayhawk CrossFit. Both players have been used to the 6s for years. But not only are both players in the 4s this year, they both have a chance to be in contention for the Plate on their respective teams. 

R-Bar is looking like the most improved team from 2019. BnG now has one of the strongest lineups of females with Kristin/Maisy/Amber and led by the superstar Olivia, and everyone knows teams are only as good as their ladies. I’m gonna give the edge to BnG because I’ll never pick against my boi Barry, but I am positive that Eddie and Kristen will enjoy seeing each other on the same field again. 

Yace and Young Spine vs Kevin Frost and Pawsh Wash

Yace and Kevin were also unfortunate casualties of the Grandstand/Eels getting disbanded. Kevin was picked up by the kickball mom Erin Adams and Pawsh. And Yace sponsored her own team, Young Spine. They will both meet in a matchup in the 5s. Kevin is on a veteran squad that is pissed they are in the 5s. And Yace is excited to have basically a brand new team that has never played kickball, and not be in the 6s. As good of a coach as Yace is, it seems like she’s just got too many new players each and every week, and not enough veterans to help. Aaron and Ashley do what they can, and my gurl Morganna Wright has been traveling most of the summer. All I know is that if Kevin gets on the bases, no amount of coaching can prepare your team for the insanity that will ensue. I’ve witnessed it first hand. He runs with no regard to consequences. Like a bat outta hell. Like one crazy mofo with no fear. Will make veteran teams look silly. It is impressive. So Young Spine throw two bases ahead of where Kevin is running and just pray he runs into the player holding the ball because that’s your only chance to get him out. 


Out of the 9 matchups of players vs former teams, I won’t say which exact ones win, but I’ll say 4 players out of the 9 will beat their former teams. Between ex teammates, I’ll pick Kristin and Kevin to triumph. Sorry Eddie and Yace, prove me wrong! I swear I’m Gym Class Rejects for life. 

If there are any other battles of the exes that I missed, and I’m sure there were, let me know! I want to know! I can include them in a future recap! 

Finally shout out to Seth Sanchez, Jake Frydman, Thomas Joel, and anyone else who has written for Sundays in the Park. Reading any type of content you have posted over the years is always so fun to read. I’m hoping to have brought story lines of the league to light like you guys do. And thanks to Ben and the board for the approval! 

~Marcus Reynolds

The Most Important Games of July 28th

There are 25 games taking place on Sunday, including over half the league playing doubleheaders, so let’s take a look at the six most crucial games happening that day. 

#1 Seeds: 

Muddy Waters (7-1) vs. KTC (7-0) 

Muddy’s loss to JDE takes a bit of the shine off this Championship rematch, but it’s still the premier game of the day.  The big question is will Muddy have Isaac available and healthy to try and shut down the KTC bunt game? If he’s good to go this should be a classic, but if not KTC ought to roll again.  One item to note, this will be KTC’s second game of the afternoon, but they have tremendous athletes and depth so it shouldn’t effect them too much. 

#2 Seeds:

Lawrence Shirt Factory (6-1) vs. Hurtz Donut D-Holes (5-3)

When LSF factory surprisingly dropped into the #2’s they immediately became the heavy favorite to not only win the division, but to go 5-0 in dominant fashion.  While they haven’t done anything to dispel this thought, Red Legs are one (assumed) win over RC Mats away from awaiting them at 4-0 in Week 10 and are clearly firing on all cylinders.  Shirt Factory has a double header this week against Johnny’s and D-Holes, and while D-Holes have never beat Shirt Factory, this could be their best shot as they only have to play one game on Sunday.  Not saying it’s gonna happen, but it could be interesting.  

#3 Seeds:

Reboot XXX (3-4) vs. Rats (6-2)

The Rats have a chance to sneak into a top 10 seed if they keep winning, and the only two games left on their schedule are against sub .500 teams.  Reboot is on a three game losing streak, but their early season performances show just how well they can play when they’re on, so this should be the biggest test left for the Rats.  If they hold serve and finish at 8-2 the committee will have a hard time keeping them out of the top 10, which would be the high water mark for this franchise.  Congrats Rats, you’ve arrived! 

#4 Seeds

Free State Growlers (5-2) vs. Ladybird Harpies (5-3) 

These two have been on a collision course ever since they both dropped to the #4’s, and so long as Free State takes care of business against the Soda Jerks in their first game on Sunday this game will decide the champ of the division.  Ladybird has never beaten Free State, but they’ve only played once or twice since Ladybird dropped their average player age by about a decade.  This will be some high quality kickball, looking forward to it! 

#5 Seeds

Misfit Toys (4-4) vs. 23rd Street Brewery (2-5) 

23rd Street is the only team that can keep Misfit from at least winning a share of the #5’s, so this GOTW has plenty on the line.  Misfit has been rolling in the #5’s, beating teams by an average of 10 runs/game, so they’re the heavy favorite coming in, but as we’ve seen before — anything can happen under the lights. 

23rd Street might be the first team in KVKL history to get two Hobbs games in one night, playing at 5:00 and then needing to stay loose/sober until 9:30, not the easiest thing for a brewery sponsored team to do — good luck!  

#6 Seeds

Reading Rockets (2-5) vs. Jayhawker CrossFit (1-7)

Rockets has a chance to put up an untouchable KVKL record this Sunday — Most runs scored in a single day.  They play the Eels in their first matchup, who are giving up an average of 17 runs/game, followed up by CrossFit who allow 30 runs/game.  While many teams have scored 40+, there’s a real possibility here that the Rockets score 50 or 60 runs this weekend, as they are the class of the division and are playing two of the softest defenses in the league.  Y’all better hydrate and stretch, that’s a lot of circling the base paths. 

The Search for the “Perfect Pitch”

The Search for the “Perfect Pitch”

I know there’s a lot to discuss, but today I want to write about male entitlement in KVKL.

Specifically, I’m going to look at one dynamic that I have questions about. I’ve got concerns. The issue is women pitching to entitled male kickers. It’s not an issue with everyone and it’s not every time. I know there are enough times when male kickers act like jerks to male pitchers (Trust me, that argument doesn’t diminish my point; those kickers are still entitled jerks). And I can accept and tolerate a certain level of tension – no one’s perfect and sports wouldn’t be fun if we all were.

I also know that many female and femme pitchers may not agree with me. Maybe this isn’t their experience. I know that pitchers and kickers of all genders can be jerks. These are all things we should ask more questions about and be concerned with. But overall, I think we need to do better holding others (our male teammates, our friends, our partners) and ourselves accountable. Most of us could be more kind and forgiving in a lot of situations. I speak from ample experience.

But today I just want to say a few things about thisdynamic, this particular match-up:  women pitchers and male kickers. Here’s a few thoughts that I’ve have had over the last couple of years:

  • Do your best to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Or give the ball to the catcher (when they are looking at you and ready). Don’t put on a show if you don’t like the pitch. Literally treat the pitcher – regardless of their gender – like a human being. Sports, even rec sports, are competitive, but that doesn’t mean you get to be de-humanizing or disrespectful. Think about the message it sends to a person if you don’t even think they deserve the bare minimum. Grow up.
  • Talk to the pitcher if you actually have a valid concern – before the game, after the game, in between innings, etc. Find a calm or private space to do it. Most of us are nice people, and I can’t speak for others, but if you come and talk to me kindly and rationally, I will probably be fine talking to you. I am open to learning, looking at things from different perspectives, and meeting new people. Please don’t say passive aggressive, intimidating, or sarcastic comments, or simply be a jerk to the pitcher, if you don’t like a pitch or pitches. And if you mess up, if you say something because you are upset and emotions run understandably high … What if you apologized? What would our league look like if we apologized more?
  • Read the rulebook. Learn the rules of pitching and kicking. Everyone. Not just captains. What you might find out is that there is nothing in the rulebook that says a pitcher can’t use speed (within reason) or spin, as long as the ball doesn’t bounce and it comes by home plate. What you might come to realize is that kickers in KVKL have the advantage overall. There are no automatic balls and strikes and I have not seen an umpire ask a kicker to hurry up and kick. Our rules say:

Referees should use their discretion to make sure that every kicker gets the chance to kick a ball of their liking, but if a kicker is letting kickable pitches go by, strikes should be called.”

How many times has an umpire actually started calling strikes on a picky male kicker? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I am noticing that I’ve never seen it. I have only experienced male umpires telling me to give the kicker exactlywhat they want everypitch, even though that is not the rule. Some pitchers aren’t going to care about spin or speed or moving the ball around, but some might want to try. My main questions are: Are there different expectations for female pitchers?Do some men – consciously or subconsciously – want or expect female pitchers to not try?

  • Here’s another thought. Think about a pitch with spin on it. Then think about trying to cleanly field a ball that has weird spin or came off the foot of the kicker in an abnormal way. I’m no physicist, but I think spin could actually benefit the kicker sometimes. I think a faster pitch benefits a power kicker, too. Secure and experienced kickers understand these things; insecure and entitled kickers throw fits. I think we need to be more okay with a league in which pitchers have the option to change speeds or the direction of their pitches if they want to (of course within reason, like the rulebook says). The kickers already have the advantage in KVKL.


This issue comes up across the skill level of the teams and players. Sure, super competitive players and teams can have their own problematic dynamics, especially when it comes to gender and masculinity. But I play for a team that consistently finishes in the middle of the pack. We play teams who win most of their games and we play teams who struggle to win any games each year. I have found that it doesn’t really matter; there are people – almost exclusively men – on almostevery team who get upset if I try and be artistic, skillful, or competitive when pitching.

Again, it’s certainly not everyone. But what I say today is… Ask yourself if you are one of those guys. If you aren’t, how many of those guys do you know? How many are on your team? If you are calling them out already, thank you. I know it’s hard to stand up to people and hold them accountable, especially people who are our friends and teammates. What history and the present teach us is that when there are gray areas, people with more societal power and privilege often go un-checked. They assert their dominance in sometimes subtle or sometimes overt ways. KVKL is not exceptional.

But ultimately, we all have work to do and I’m not trying to shame anyone. I know that I can do more to control my reactions, to not get upset or to move on more quickly if I get upset. There are many people I should apologize to and I haven’t. But this I know: Sexism in KVKL happens and will continue to happen. Racism happens. A variety of forms of gender and racial discrimination happen. Discrimination is complicated and often it’s hard to “prove,” (and there are also plenty of people who want to deny or minimize that these dynamics happen in Lawrence, in our rec kickball league). These could be very personal and difficult experiences and patterns that people have learned to resist, to tolerate, or to put aside for the sake of being part of an imperfect, recreational community. It’s also true that people don’t come to this league without a lifetime of experiences and trauma and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Let’s try and remember that more often.

Finally, thanks for your time in reading this, what ultimately is one person’s perspective. It’s complicated and it doesn’t cover the really important issues involving gender (such as problematic league culture around the gender binary; discrimination again trans, genderqueer, and non-binary athletes; and why there are still only three ”women” required for each team… still… in 2019; and more!), but I just wanted to ask some questions and I want more conversation. Are we a community that can tolerate and even celebrate conversation? I think the league can be competitive and caring,but it’s going to take work and the actual desire to make that happen.

 Sure, fellas, you get the chance the kick a ball to your liking, but do you really deserve a perfect pitch every time?


— Missy Foree

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