The Longballs Get Deeper
The flurry of activity at the onset of the 2018/2019 Mid Atlantic offseason has left all of us playing catch up and collectively asking, “Wait . . . who is on what team now?” Throughout the winter months we will sort through the madness by taking a team by team look at the some of the squads you can expect to see next season.
The Ridley Park Longballs reached the semi-finals at the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament this past September thanks to a solid one-two punch on the mound and timely power hitting. Now they hope that two internal additions – one player returning from the disabled list, another making his tournament wiffleball debut – will push them to even greater heights in 2019.
As a foursome last season, Sean Bingnear, Dylan Harshaw, Tyler Nachbar, and Colin Pollag went 7-4 with their only loses coming at the hands of ERL (twice) and the Stompers (twice). The well-rounded nature of the team was the quartet’s defining feature. Bingnear and Nachbar were impressive on the mound, with Sean specifically standing out for the way he performed against quality competition. As the team’s third starter, Pollag provided significant depth and helped make the Longball’s deep rotation the envy of many other teams. All four members of the 2018 Longballs can hit and there is plenty of reason to believe they will only improve in that regard as they gain more experience in the style of play found in MAW. If the Longballs simply stood still in 2019 without any additional adds, they would likely still be viewed as a top four team entering the spring.
The club is not standing still, however. Thanks to the impressive depth of their home league – which includes two additional teams slated to compete in MAW next season – the Ridley Park guys are entering the new year with a couple of internal reinforcements.
In getting Tommy Loftus back from injury for (hopefully) the full season, the Longballs will be adding a pitcher with true top of the rotation stuff to their already impressive pitching corps. Loftus missed much of 2018 with a back injury but returned in time to compete with Freaky Franchise at the Fast Plastic tournament. A hard thrower with impressive clean ball offerings, Loftus is difficult to square up on when he is around the strike zone. The extra benefit of re-adding Loftus – assuming he performs to the level he is capable of – is that it allows Bingnear and Nachbar to slide down one spot into the #2 and #3 roles, where they will stack up very well against their peers. If that wasn’t enough depth, the Longballs expect to add tournament rookie Cam Farro to their roster this year. Farro broke out in the Ridley Park Wiffleball League last summer with a memorable post-season pitching performance. Cam is still somewhat raw – his breaking balls are still a work in progress – but already carries plus velocity and above average command. Due to their depth on the carpet, the Longballs can afford to be deliberate with how they use the rookie.
2019 Gameplay Rule Changes
Earlier this fall, MAW held its offseason meetings. On the agenda was a review of the 2018 rule book. Following those discussions, several minor gameplay rule changes were ratified for 2019. The official MAW rulebook will be updated shortly to reflect these changes but here is a first look:
One ball will be allowed on the playing field at a time. In 2018, pitchers could keep two balls with them on the rubber provided they were prepared the same way. This rule is being altered to eliminate the judgment call over “similarly prepared balls”.
Prior to 2019, the MAW rulebook did not explicitly address intentional walks and therefore defaulted to the Major League Baseball rule. In 2019, the rulebook will be updated to reflect that verbal intentional walks are prohibited. Pitchers are expected to attempt to hit the strike zone or backstop on every pitch. Normal wild pitch rules will still apply. This rule is being addressed as a means of adding more action to the game.
While running the bases after a home run was never disallowed prior to 2019, the rulebook will be updated to specifically allow for optional home run trots. As with the above rule, this is being done with the goal of adding additional action to the game.
Here and There
2019 is are just around the corner which means the 2019 Winter Classic is almost here! Teams are filing in and we will have more on the tournament lineup right here in “News & Notes” as we get closer to the event. Register your team today – registration will remain up through Friday January 25th. . . Looking to join a team for the Winter Classic? Let us know and we will get put you in touch with an interested squad . . . While the timing did not work out in 2018, word is that MAW officials are preparing to send a team to the NWLA Tournament in Michigan this July. Many players have already reached out to express interest in being part of the Mid Atlantic team, providing a plethora of options to choose from in putting together a winning and representative club . . . The Winter WILL tournament - with a unique one-on-one style format - took place on December 22nd in Canonsburg, PA. Chris Sarno - captain of the MAW Juggernauts - took first place edging out Mike Graziani eight runs to seven.