FP TX Open

FP Texas Open: Top 5 Plays

5. Great Stop, Better Throw (LV Wifflers vs. Wiff Inc.)

This play had a little bit of everything - range, good hands, and an incredibly athletic accurate throw. This hit off of the bat of Jordan Robles look destined to be a single to left field and would have given Wiff Inc. runners on first and second with less than two outs. Instead, it nearly ended in a double play. Getting to the ball was great enough; making that accurate of a throw while falling backwards put it over the top. Unfortunately for the guys from Las Vegas, they were unable to convert on the second half of the double play but the first half was spectacular enough to check in at #5.

4. Stant & Jim's Pub Turn 2 (Jim's Pub vs. Wiff Inc.)

Although Jim's Pub eventually fell short in their bid to beat Wiff Inc. during the first round of games in Frisco, Ben Stant did his part to keep the game in reach with this excellent double play. Stant dove to his left to come up with the ball, steadied himself, and made a perfect feed to Jimmy Flynn at second. Flynn completed the twin killing with a spot-on relay throw to Johnny.

3. Cross' Basket Catch (GSW vs. West Coast Wiffle Report)

Mike Cross has long been one of the more athletic and quality defenders in the game. Even after a long layoff from high level competition, Cross still knows how to make the highlight reel. Brock Drazen's bid for a double was snatched away courtesy of this Willy Mays-style basket catch.

2. Robles Turns Two The Hard Way (Wiff Inc. vs. Moonshots)

There were so many things going on here, I don't know where to begin. In the quarterfinals against the moonshots, David Wood put his defense to work and they held up their end of the deal by making several quality plays. None of which were bigger and better than this catch and throw by Jordan Robles. With the wind swirling, Robles went straight back on a dead sprint to catch the ball. The Moonshots called for the tag with Robles' back still turned towards the infield. In a fluid motion, Robles turned around and fired a bullet that hit Johnny square in the glove to complete the double play. That big time athletic play put the momentum squarely on Wiff Inc.'s side and helped punch their ticket to the final four.

1. Matty Griffin Goes Over the Fence . . . Again (Remember the Rookies vs. Cloud9, Championship Game)

In the semi-finals against GSW, Remember the Rookies' Matty Griffin leaped over the center field fence to rob Billy Owens of a home run. Unfortunately, the high point of the play - the actual catch - was not caught on the one stationary camera filming the game. Griffin took care of that by simply repeating the feat in the very next game. In the tournament championship, Matt made almost the exact same play in the exact same spot, this time robbing Cloud9's Ed Packer of a definitive home run.

 

 

A Texas Sized Statement

The Master Batters led all Texas Teams with their 7th place finish. From left to right: Will Marshall, Jon King, and Paul Marshall. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

The Master Batters led all Texas Teams with their 7th place finish. From left to right: Will Marshall, Jon King, and Paul Marshall. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Of the 15 teams that participated at the Texas Open, five were local to Texas. The most prolific of the five teams – scratch that, the only team of the five with any profile – was the Master Batters comprised of Will and Paul Marshall and FP veterans Craig Freeman and Jon King. Joining them was fellow Texas Wiffle® Ball League (TWBL) fast pitch division team the Jager Bombers, plus medium pitch teams Wiffle Jam, Whose Your Daddy, and Cosby Show. The tournament organizers ranked the Jager Bombers and Master Batters in the fourth group for seeding purposes while the other three Frisco teams landed in the fifth and final seeding group. Clearly, there were not very high expectations for any of the local boys.

When all was said and done, however, three of those Texas teams – Master Batters, Jager Bombers, and Cosby Show – blew those expectations right out of the water.

As noted in our last-minute tournament preview from Friday evening, of all the fourth seeded teams the Master Batters were best equipped to make a run into the 8-team elimination round. The 2017 TWBL champions were seeded where they were because they were a largely unknown quantity, not because they didn’t have the talent to compete. Riding the arm of their ace and team captain, Will Marshall, the Batter’s opened up pool play with a pair of quasi upsets versus LV Wifflers and Jim’s Pub. Both games were won on total bases with Will on the mound. Their lone round robin loss game at the hands of Jordan Robles and Wiff Inc., a fate experienced by several teams during pool play. What ultimately did the Texas boys in was a lack of hitting, as they managed just one run (a Jon King solo shot) through their first three games. The Marshall brothers’ inexperience playing under Fast Plastic rules bit them in their quarterfinal game with eventual champions Cloud9. There were several mental defensive blunders early on that allowed the game to get out of reach. Nonetheless, a 3-2 record with losses to the champion and 3rd place team is a heck of a run, especially for a team making their Fast Plastic debut. Will Marshall established himself as a player to keep an eye on. If he sticks with Wiffle® Ball full time – rumor has it Will might test his hand in independent baseball – he has the chance to be one of the nation’s best pitchers in a few years and along with Paul, form a formidable 1-2 pitching punch.

While some might have had a notion that the Master Batters would outperform their seeding, nobody saw the Jager Bombers coming. The team competed in the fast pitch division of the TWBL but were undecided on participating in the Texas Open until late in the process. They are certainly glad that they did. The four-man team pulled off the tournament’s first upset in the very first round of games by taking down the well-traveled Freaky Franchise 3-0 on field #4.  Pitcher Tye Webber followed that up with another strong outing in the Bombers second game against the veteran Moonshots, but tired late and walked in two runs in the loss. The draw didn’t get any easier next when the Jager Bombers faced tournament runners up, Remember the Rookies. The Bombers held tough and lost a 0-0 nail biter on total bases. The team ended pool play with a 2-2 record and snuck into the play-in round by virtue of their solid run differential. The tenacious Jager Bombers’ unforeseen run came to an end at the hands of Moonshots in one of the two play-in games. Their run to the final ten bodes well for their future in this sport. In the immortal words of one Bomber as they left the complex, “I know we could compete with any of these teams. . . if we actually practice.”

The Jager Bombers Tye Weber steps into the box during a round robing match up with Remember the Rookies. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

The Jager Bombers Tye Weber steps into the box during a round robing match up with Remember the Rookies. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

The most surprising of the three surprising Texas teams was undoubtedly the Cosby Show. In the day’s second group of games, Cosby went head-to-head with eventual tournament winners Cloud9. The Cosby kids only prior experience in the sport was in TWBL’s medium pitch division. Cooper – who pitched all four of Cosby’s game – featured above average velocity and strong command that silenced the Cloud9 bats. Think about it – these kids who had never competed in an unrestricted pitch speed environment before were one big hit or a few more walks away from completely altering the course of the tournament! Cosby hung tough all day with Cooper setting the tone on the mound. Although their record did not reflect it, these kids played really tough all day long against very high caliber competition. Cosby Show was a reminder how in this sport, no team should ever be taken lightly.

Mid-afternoon on Saturday – as the round robin portion of the tournament wound down and teams began to scatter – tournament director extraordinaire Tim Dean stood by as Whose Your Daddy and (later) the Jager Bombers headed for the exit.

“What did you learn today?”, Tim bellowed in his unmistakable Texas drawl.

The players on both teams rattled off a litany of lessons learned – about how to play the game, how to grip the ball, the quality of the other teams – from their first foray into national competition. It was a bit of a mixed bag for the Texas Teams but there is no doubt that every single one – the Master Batters on down to Wiffle Jam – walked away with some valuable learned information. If Fast Plastic returns to the Lone Star State in 2018, these Texas teams will be primed and ready to make some noise.

FP Texas Open Wrap Up - Results & Notes

Daniel Haverty (Remember the Rookies) waits for a pitch.   (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Daniel Haverty (Remember the Rookies) waits for a pitch. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

FINAL RESULTS

1.     Cloud9 (6-1)  PA  (2-0 in total base games)
Sean Steffy (tournament MVP), Ed Packer, Kevin Norris, Ty Wegrzyn

2.     Remember the Rookies (6-1)  CT  (2-0 in total base games)
Josh Pagano, Matty Griffin, Dan Haverty, Evan Lazur

3.     Wiff Inc. (5-1)  NY
Jordan Robles, Anthony Didio, David "Road Toast" Wood, Kenny Rodgers

4.     GSW (4-3)  CA  (0-2 in total base games)
Mike Cross, Joel DeRoche, Ryan DeRoche, Billy Owens

5.     BWC (4-1)  NY (1-0 in total base games)
Rob Longiaru, Sean Handahl, Dave Wegrzyn

6.     Master Batters (3-2)  TX  (2-0 in total base games)
Jon King, Will Marshall, Paul Marshall, Craig Freeman

7.     LV Wifflers (2-3)  NV  (0-1 in total base games)
Matt Trzpis. Steve Trzpis, Adam Bohnet

8.     Moonshots (3-3)  AZ
Jim Balian, Randy Dalbey, Sylvie Serrano, Robert Colon

9.     Jager Bombers (2-3)  TX  (0-1 in total base games)
Hunter Berry, Seth Herridge, Tye Weber, Christian Falkenberg

10.  Freaky Franchise (2-3)  NY  (0-1 in total base games)
Justin Tomkins, Ryan Bush, Jim Cole, Tyler Flakne

11.  Jim's Pub (1-3)  NY  (0-1 in total base games)
Danny Lanigan, Ben Stant, Jimmy Flynn, Chris Sarnowski

12.  Cosby Show (1-3)  TX (0-1 in total base games)
Cooper Ruckel, Logan Swink, Nick Wanzer, Cade Zastoupil

13.  West Coast Wiffle Report (0-4)  AZ
Jim Dalbey, Brock Drazen, Andrew Balian

14.  Wiffle Jam (0-4)  TX
Cameron Carricker, Donovan Mousel, Andrew Damin

15.  Whose Your Daddy (0-4)  TX
Scott Herridge, Jeff Down, Kyle Herridge


NOTEBOOK

The DeRoches Still Got It

Joel DeRoche (GSW) fires a pitch during pool play. After nearly a decade long layoff, Joel and brother Ryan proved they still have plenty of quality years ahead of them. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Joel DeRoche (GSW) fires a pitch during pool play. After nearly a decade long layoff, Joel and brother Ryan proved they still have plenty of quality years ahead of them. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

So maybe Joel DeRoche was not quite as dominant as he was from 2003 – 2009 on Saturday, but that’s a rather impossible standard to be judged on. The right-hander – as he is accustomed to doing – handled the bulk of the workload for his GSW team and for the most part kept the opposition in check. For a guy that hasn’t played in nearly a decade, that’s impressive. Joel’s brother Ryan also seemed right at home back on the playing field. As the brothers exited the Shawnee Trail complex after the tournament, they were already bouncing around ideas on how to best simulate high quality, live tournament pitching so they are better prepared at the plate next go around. Watch out for them next year.

Nobody runs a tournament like Tim Dean runs a tournament

There are few sights that make you think of a “Fast Plastic national tournament” quite like seeing Tim Dean leaning against a chain link fence while updating the master tournament bracket. Tim ran the old Fast Plastic National Championship Tournaments in Austin every year between 2003 and 2009. His ability to keep the tournament on schedule while simultaneously chatting with and making every player feel welcomed is as much of the FP national tournament experience as anything. Thanks to Tim, the tournament ran ahead of schedule the entire day. Whether in Austin, Frisco, or somewhere else, it would be hard to imagine a FP national tournament without him.

Freaky Franchise: A Throwback

Once upon a time, wifflers formed teams and then those teams traveled around to all sorts of different places to take in as many unique tournament experiences as possible. For the most part, Wiffle® Ball is a far more local experience now than in those days. However, there are some current teams – like Rochester’s Freaky Franchise – that take that approach to the game. This decade, Freaky Franchise has entered GSWL tournaments, participated in the NWLA leagues, participated (and twice won) the NWLA tournament, had players compete in Palisades, traveled to standalone tournaments elsewhere in the northeast, and now can add a Fast Plastic national tournament to their resume. Their willingness to travel and experience different styles of play sets them apart in the current scene. Only New Jersey’s Way Too Beautiful might be comparable in that regard. Although I am sure they were hoping for better results, the sport sure could use more teams just like them.

Fewer Innings, Better Results?

Since FP last ran regularly in 2009 and utilized six-inning regulation games, there has been a trend towards shorter games. Very few organizations using FP-style rules had a regulation game length of more than five innings in 2017. Quietly, FP adopted a 4-inning regulation game (round robin) and 5-inning regulation game (elimination round) format for the tournament, similar to that used by MAW. The results were overall positive. With fewer innings to play, the games moved faster and arms remained fresher longer. For the most part, Fast Plastic stuck to its traditional rules for this tournament but the choice to adapt in this situation appears to have been a smart one.

The Wind Factor

The wind was gusting all day long, sitting anywhere between 12 and 20 MPH. Naturally, the conditions impacted the play on the field. There were several wind blow home runs during the tournament plus a few moonshots that were no doubt aided by the elements. Remember the Rookies’ Evan Lazur hit a monster shot that cleared the center field fence and landed on top of a pavilion about twenty feet away on Field #4. The wind also impacted the pitchers. Both the Master Batters’ Will Marshall and Wiff Inc.’s David Wood noted to us that they had to pocket their drop pitches while playing on Field #3 because the horizontal wind kept knocking the pitch down. Nobody used the wind as an excuse and the elements impacted every team in some form or fashion.

Injury Report

While there were undoubtedly plenty of sore arms and legs on Sunday (and Monday), we are happy to report that no serious injuries were reported during the tournament. The only player who may not have made it out of Texas unscathed was Remember the Rookies’ Josh Pagano. Between the semi-finals and finals of the tournament – during an interview with The Drop – The Rookies’ Lazur revealed that Pagano tweaked his leg while warming up to face GSW in a final four game, which necessitated that they reconfigure their line up. Pagano still pitched both the semi final and championship game, but there is clear video evidence that he did at time favour the injured ankle. The Rookies – as expected – never used the possible injury to explain away their title game loss nor did they even mention it beyond that one passing comment.

A Bright Future

The Texas Open served as a showcase for some of the more talented young players in the game.

The rosters of both Jim’s Pub and Wiff Inc. were heavy on players under 25. 17-year old Ben Stant from Delaware is what you might call a “young veteran”, having competed in GSWL Yard League since 2014. In some ways it was a disappointing tournament for Stant, who threw only twenty pitches on the day as Jim’s Pub finished with a disappointing 1-3 record. Despite that, the future is bright. Earlier this season, Jordan Robles told us that Stant is the best “Yard League pitcher” he has ever seen. He also proved he could get it done on the mound in an unrestricted pitch environment in the Mid Atlantic this year by going 6-2 with a 1.53 ERA as a member of both Way Too Beautiful and the Barrel Bruisers.

Jordan Robles (Wiff Inc.) fires a pitch during round robin. Robles is one of several players under 25 years old who impressed in Frisco. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Jordan Robles (Wiff Inc.) fires a pitch during round robin. Robles is one of several players under 25 years old who impressed in Frisco. (Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Stant’s teammate, Chris Sarnowski, fits into the same “young veteran” category. Competing in GSWL Yard since 2013, Sarno has proven himself to be one of the best Yard League hitters around. He has the pedigree to go with it, as his father is the former State of Mind star of the same name. El Hijo del Sarno sat out the 2017 season but will hopefully be a more consistent presence in 2018. The talent is there.

Wiff Inc. was home to arguably the nation's best player under the age of 24 in Jordan Robles. The multi-talented Robles – who turned 23 just days before the tournament – is a threat on the mound, at the plate, and in the field. While Jordan would likely concede that his hitting lagged behind the other two facets of his game in Frisco, he still had what any impartial observer would categorize as a strong tournament. Robles is the Freaky Franchise of players – a player willing to travel to tournaments of all different shapes and sizes in order to play. This was evident in the results. Jordan led his teams to semi-final appearances at the Texas Open and in the Palisades WBL, a finals appearance in the GSWL National Yard League Tournament, and a championship in Mid Atlantic.

Last but not least on the young players to watch list is the Rookies’ Daniel Haverty. Haverty handled most of round robin and the quarterfinals for his team and was arguably one of the best pitchers in the tournament. While he tired late, Haverty never gave in and successfully got the ball to Pagano for the semi-finals and finals. If Remember the Rookies return in some form in 2018, it wouldn’t be surprising if the highly athletic Haverty was given a more prolific role.

Gas Left in the Tank

One of the questions we posed in our tournament preview article was how well would the players with long layoffs perform in a high quality tournament? The answer is “generally, rather well”. As previously mentioned, the DeRoche brothers performed well and you do not have to squint very hard to see them doing even better next year with a little more practice (Joel and Ryan's practice time this go around is said to have been limited to one practice a week in the month leading up to the tournament). Their teammate Mike Cross had a strong defensive tournament and looked more and more comfortable at the plate as the tournament progressed. The Las Vegas Wifflers finished in the top eight and seemed to be a pitcher away from a higher finish. The veteran Rookies looked like they hadn’t missed a beat.

It was a mixed bag for the Moonshots – comprised of former Viper players Randy Dalbey and Jim Balian and veteran California players Sylvie Serrano and Robert Colon – who went 3-3 en route to an 8th place finish. The Moonshots were solid, but missing the extra spark that defined the Vipers during their back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003. An 8th place finish is nothing to scoff at but given the talent on this team it feels somewhat lackluster.

Playing the Total Bases Game

While winning total base games it not exactly a function of luck, teams are definitely playing with fire when they leave the outcome up to such a flimsy metric. A couple of walks or an infield hit could and often does decide the difference between a win or loss. Seven games during round robin were decided this way. The eventual champions, Cloud9, started their run with back-to-back total base wins versus GSW and the upstart Cosby Show. Both games were scoreless and a couple of walks and hits in the other direction could have greatly altered the rest of the tournament. Cloud9 wasn't alone in using a couple of total base victories to jump start a deep run in the tournament. Their title game foes - Remember the Rookies - also won two games decided by total bases, as did the seventh place Master Batters. On the opposite end of the spectrum, GSW was the hard luck victim of a pair of total base defeats. With so many games decided by the most narrow of margins, its probably safe to say that if the tournament was played over 100 times the actual results might not be repeat even once.

On Cloud 9

2017 Fast Plastic Texas Open Champions Cloud9 (L-R: Sean Steffy, Ed Packer, Kevin Norris, Ty Wegrzyn) celebrate with their winnings. (Photo: Paul Cooke)

2017 Fast Plastic Texas Open Champions Cloud9 (L-R: Sean Steffy, Ed Packer, Kevin Norris, Ty Wegrzyn) celebrate with their winnings. (Photo: Paul Cooke)

The tournament champions, Cloud9, were in quite the celebratory mood following their big victory. How could they not be? With $5,000 in their hands, not to mention the tournament trophy, the champions gladly posed for photos on the field after being congratulated by many of the approximately 100 spectators that watched the tournament finale. After receiving their spoils, the Cloud9 foursome celebrated by breaking open four beers, only some of which found its way into their mouths. Why beer and not champagne? As tournament sponsor Jon King put it - like only he can - "I thought about getting champagne but this is Texas. We drink beer in Texas."

On the other hand, the tournament runners up - Remember the Rookies - weren't in quite as festive of a mood after coming so close to the title. The disappointment was palpable. When the Rookies received their second place plaque, one of Josh Pagano's children quickly grabbed it. "It's all yours, buddy," Pagno told him. "You can keep it," one of the Rookies added from the sideline. "None of us are going to hang it up."   

FP Texas Open Update #7: 4:00

PLAY IN ROUND

RESULTS

  1. GSW (3-2) 4 DEFEATS FREAKY FRANCHISE 1 (2-3)
  2. MOONSHOTS (3-2) 4 DEFEATS JAGER BOMBERS 1 (2-3)

QUICK RECAPS

  1.  Ryan Bush versus Joel DeRoche. Bush appeared to be tired after Freaky Franchise had to grind their way through each game to reach this point. GSW got on him early and although Bush settled down eventually, the damage had been done.
  2. Jager Bombers impressive run came to an end against the Moonshots. The veteran west coast Wifflers’ depth and experience was evident against their rookie opponents. Jim Balian and Randy Dalbey find themselves in a very familiar spot - the final 8 at a FP national tournament. 

 

 

Final 10

G1 - PLAY IN: Moonshots #10 vs. Jager Bombers #8

G2 - PLAY IN: Freaky Franchise #9 vs. GSW #7

G3 - Cloud9 #4 vs.  Master Batters #5

G4 - Remember the Rookies #3 vs. Las Vegas Wifflers #6

G5 - Wiff Inc. vs. Winner of G1  

G6 - BWC vs. Winner of G2

G7 - Winner of G3 vs. Winner of G5

G8 - Winner of G4 vs. Winner of G6

G9 - WInner of G7 vs. WInner of G8

FP Texas Open Update #6: 2:30

ROUND #4

RESULTS

  1. FREAKY FRANCHISE (2-2) 2 DEFEATS MOONSHOTS 0 (2-2)
  2. BWC (4-0) 0 DEFEATS GSW 0 (2-2) ON TOTAL BASES 6-2
  3. LV WIFFLERS (2-2) 6 DEFEAT JIM’S PUB (1-3) 0 
  4. *OTHER ROUND 4 GAMES THAT DID NOT IMPACT WHICH TEAMS ADVANCE HAVE BEEN OMITTED.*

NOTEWORTHY

  1. Freaky Franchise needed a win to stay alive in the tournament. They got just that behind an excellent performance by Ryan Bush. Moonshots threatened in the bottom of the 4th and put runners on the corners with two outs. Bush induced a pop up to end the threat and the game. The win (likely) puts Freaky Franchise in the final ten.
  2. GSW failed to guarantee a spot in the elimination round, losing on total bases to BWC who improved their record to 4-0. Joel DeRoche pitched well for GSW in the loss.
  3. LV Wifflers and Jim’s Pub faced off in a match up of 1-2 teams looking to get that all important second win. The game was close early on but the LV Wifflers went to work against Sarno, knocking him out after putting 6  runs on the board. Ben Stant worked his first inning of the tournament in relief but the damage had already been done. The loss eliminates Jim’s Pub from the tournament.

 

FP Texas Open Update #5 - 1:30

ROUND #3/4

RESULTS

  1. GSW (2-1) 8 DEFEATS COSBY SHOW 0 (0-3)
  2. JAGER BOMBERS 10 (2-2) 10 DEFEATS WHOSE YOUR DADDY 0 (0-4)
  3. REMEMBER THE ROOKIES (4-0) 2 DEFEATS FREAKY FRANCHISE 2 (1-2) 9-7 ON TOTAL BASES
  4. WIFF INC. (4-0) 2 DEFEATS LV WIFFLERS 0 (1-2)
  5. BWC (3-0) 3 DEFEATS CLOULD9 0 (3-1) 

QUICK RECAPS

  1. The Cosby Show finally seemed to run out of steam this round. GSW handled the youngsters easily with Mike Cross pitching.
  2. Whose Your Daddy becomes the first team eliminated at the hands of fellow Frisco, TX team, The Jager Bombers. With the win, the Jager Bombers likely punch their ticket to the elimination round.
  3. In one of the most competitive games of the tournament so far, Freaky Franchise tied the score at 2-2 with a double in the the final inning. A pitching change for the Rookies did the job though  and they held on for the total bases win. Jimmy Cole had the big hit for Freaky Franchise. Freaky Franchise needs a win in their next game to stay alive.
  4. Robles notched this third win of the tournament shutting out the veteran LV Wifflers. The win guarantees Wiff Inc. a spot (and a good one at that) in the elimination round. 
  5. The innings might have finally caught up to Wegrzyn. BCW got to him into the second and Wegryzyn was removed in favor of Ed Packer. The damage had been done though and BCW moves to 3-0.BCW is in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed with one game left to play. 

 

FP Texas Open Update #4 - 1:00

ROUND #3

RESULTS

  1. REMEMBER THE ROOKIES (3-0) 0 DEFEATS JAGER BOMBERS 0 (1-2) ON TOTAL BASES
  2. CLOUD9 (3-0) 10 DEFEATS WEST COAST WIFFLE REPORT 0 (0-3)
  3. JIM’S PUB (1-2) 11 DEFEATS WIFFLE JAM 1 (0-3)
  4. WIFF INC. 5 (3-0) DEFEATS MASTERS BATTERS 1 (2-1)
  5. MOONSHOTS (2-1) 27 DEFEAT WHOSE YOUR DADDY (0-3) 4

QUICK RECAPS

  1. Even in defeat, Frisco’s Jager Bombers are giving teams all that they can handle. The powerful Rookies squad was held in check but snuck by on total bases to become the first 3-0 team in the tournament.
  2. Cloud9 FINALLY got some runs on the board against Brock Drazen of WCWR. Drazen threw strikes but the previously silent Cloud9 bats came alive after two scoreless wins to start the tournament. Tyler pitched his third straight for Cloud9. 
  3. Jim’s Pub got a win they needed to have against the overmatched Wiffle Jam. This sets up an all important game versus LV Wifflers.
  4. The Masters Batters will not end round robin undefeated, but Wiffle, Inc. might. In a game to decide the bracket winner, Jordan Robles took the ball for his team. Robles only blemish was a HR off of the bat of Jon King. Kenny Rodgers added two homeruns to his tournament leading total.
  5.  Moonshots roll over Whose Your Daddy in a 2-inning mercy rule victory. If Moonshots beat Freaky Franchise, they are in the playoffs.

FP Texas Open Update #3 - 11:30 PM

ROUND #2/3

RESULTS

  1.  FREAKY FRANCHISE (1-1) 10 DEFEATS WHOSE YOUR DADDY 0 (0-2)
  2. GSW (1-1) 5 DEFEATS WEST COAST WIFFLE REPORT 0 (0-2)
  3. LV WIFFLERS (1-1) 0 DEFEATS WIFLE JAM 0 (0-2)
  4. MASTER BATTERS 0 (2-0) DEFEAT JIM’S PUB (0-2) ON TOTAL BASES 8-4
  5. BWC (2-0) 10 DEFEATS COSBY SHOW (0-2) 

QUICK RECAPS

  1. Freaky Franchise take a big step towards $10,000 with a definitive mercy rule win against Whose Your Daddy.
  2. Ryan DeRoche pitched GSW into the win column over Jim Dalbey and West Coast Wiffle Report. Joel DeRoche got GSW on the board early with a solo shot. Mike Cross made a couple of good catches on defense.
  3. LV Wifflers bounced back from their first round loss in a big way by blowing out Wiffle Jam.
  4. Will Marshall was once again nearly unhittable as the Master Batters moved to 2-0 with their second straight upset, this time over Jim’s Pub (Danny Lanigan, Ben Stant). Jim’s Pub will need to get the bats going against LV Wifflers and Wiffle Jam if they want to advance. 
  5. BWC moves to 2-0. So far they have beat the teams they need to beat. They have dates with GSW and Cloud9 still to come that will go a long way to deciding that particular bracket.

 

 

FP Texas Open Update #2 - 11:00 AM

ROUND #1/#2

RESULTS

  1. BWC (1-0) 3 DEFEATS WEST COAST WIFFLE REPORT (0-1)
  2. REMEBER THE ROOKIES (2-0) 10 DEFEATS WHOSE YOUR DADDY 0 (0-1)
  3. CLOUD9 (2-0) 0 DEFEATS COSBY SHOW (0-1) ON TOTAL BASES 5-3
  4. MOONSHOTS (1 - 1) 2 DEFEATS JAGERBOMBERS (1-1) 0
  5. WIFF INC. (2-0) 10 DEFEATS WIFFLE JAM 0 (0-1)

BRIEF RECAPS

  1. Veteran FP player (and host of the West Coast Wiffle Report), Jim Dalbey pitched admirably but fell short to the Golden Stick experienced BWC squad
  2. In the first blow out of the tournament, Remember the Rookies mercy rules Whose Your Daddy from Texas. 
  3. In a shock, medium pitch Texas team Cosby Show gave Cloud9 all they could handle. Cooper Ruckel was throwing gas and kept the Cloud9 bats off of the board. Cloud9 has yet to score a run in the tournament despite sitting at 2-0. Tyler once again took the hill for Cloud9 and was closed at 83-84 MPH consistently.
  4. The Jager Bombers got another strong performance from Tye Webber who held the FP NCT experienced Moonshots in check for three innings before tiring in the fourth. Randy Dalbey (Vipers) pithed for the Moonshots.
  5. Local Texas Team Wiffle Jam put up a valiant effort put were no match for the Wiffle Jam and Anthony Didio.

 

FP Texas Open Update #1 - 10:00 AM

ROUND #1

RESULTS

  1. WIFF INC. (1-0 ) 3 DEFEATS JIM’S PUB 0 (0-1)
  2. REMEMBER THE ROOKIES (1-0) 4 DEFEATS MOONSHOTS 0 (0-1)
  3. CLOUD 9 (1-0) 0 DEFEATS GSW 0 (0-1) ON TOTAL BASES 5-3
  4. JAGER BOMBERS (1-0) 3 DEFEAT FREAKY FRANCHISE 0 (0-1)
  5. MASTER BATTERS (1-0) 0 DEFEAT LV WIFFLERS 0 (0-1) ON TOTAL 2-1

QUICK RECAPS

  1. Jimmy Flynn (Jim’s Pub) worked himself in and out of a major jam in the first (second and third, nobody out) without allowing a run. Jordan Robles took the mound in the opener for Wiff, Inc. Wiff Inc. broke through int he last inning with a run scoring double and a Kenny Rodgers two run homer. Robles went to the distance for Wiff Inc. to pick up the win..
  2. Big time pitching match up of 2003 NCT MVP Jim Balian and young Daniel Haverty. Josh Pagano got the scoring started for the Rookies with a second inning solo shot. The Rookies’ bats exploded in the bottom of the 3rd for three runs on a pair of homers.
  3.  Joel DeRoche and Tyler W. Were stingy, with neither starter allowing a run. The game was decided on total bases, 5-3, after 5 innings of play. 
  4. In an upset, the Jager Bombers (TX) took down Freaky Franchise 3-0. Freaky Franchise suffers an early setback in their quest for $10k.
  5. In another semi-upset for a Texas team, Will Marshall was dominate on the mound for local favorite Master Batters, despite the wind causing him to pocked his drop. Master Batters squeaked out a couple of base runners to take their opener, 2-1 over the LV Wifflers.

 

News and Notes from FP Texas Open "Wild Pitch"

FP draw picture.jpg

The draw for the Fast Plastic Texas Open is over and the pools are set for round robin action.  Some news and notes from the Friday Night team get together at "Wild Pitch" where ten plus teams showed up for the live draw:

* The talk going around the Wild Pitch after the draw is that pool 3 is the toughest round robin draw.  Numerous players commented that this is the strongest group of teams and will be grind to advance through.

* The biggest upset may come out of Pool 2 with the Master Blasters as the four seed.  Drew Marshall, Blaster's Will Marshall's father, got a look at the FP trophy and jokingly said, "Where do we put Will's name on this?"  That's confidence.

* MAW talked to Jordan Robles earlier in the night to check in on his arm two weeks after the MAW Championship.  

"All well and rested," Robles said.  "Ready to go for tomorrow.  Going to be a great day with a lot of great teams."

* Pool 1 on paper looks like the most wide open bracket and we'll see how that plays out tomorrow. 

Some questions:

* Will GSW's later plane arrival have any effect on their tough round robin schedule?  These guys have been through the ringer but have also had a seven year lay off from competitive wiffle.

* Several players haven't played in several years.  Will there be rust or will it feel completely natural come first pitch at 8:30 tomorrow morning?

* Sean Steffy and his Cloud 9 teammates are early favorites.  An FP participant told MAW, "Steffy is legit but what has he played in and won?"

* At least one prominent player said Josh Pagano is the player to watch tomorrow.  We'll keep a close eye on that storyline.  

* Jonathan King talked openly about his team in Pool 3.  "I may have to throw our ace in round robin just to get to the final 8."  That could be the sentiment for the other four teams in Pool 3 as well.  

* Will Fast Plastic's stance on knifed balls have any effect on tomorrow's competition?  Some players are saying that sandpapered balls are better for pitchers than knifed balls.  Just talk or is there something more to that?

The draw aired live on periscope and can be viewed in full.

Fast Plastic Texas Open Preview

Past, Present, Future.png

I am not sure that I can remember a tournament – on paper, before it happens – quite like the Fast Plastic Texas Open. We are just days away from the event and I am still not quite sure what to expect.

Fast Plastic’s return to the tournament hosting business takes place this Saturday, October 21st, in Frisco, Texas just outside of Dallas. Fifteen teams are expected to compete with the winner going home with a cool $5,000 in cash. That is unless Freaky Franchise – the lone NWLA representative in the field – happens to win in which case they will return home to Rochester, New York $10,000 richer. The rules are essentially what we came to expect from Fast Plastic during its heyday a decade earlier which means no pitching restrictions, no base running, and a three-man defensive alignment, among other things.

The cash is certainly unusual. The amount of dough – especially when it is entirely sponsored driven and independent of entry fees – is virtually unprecedented. However, what really makes this tournament unlike any other tournament I can remember is the composition of the field.

Make no mistake about it, the tournament field – especially when you dive below the surface of the often unfamiliar team names to get to the players – is loaded with big name talent. There are heroes of Fast Plastic past including the DeRoche brothers, Jim Balian, Josh Pagano, Billy Owens, Danny Lanigan, and Randy Dalbey, among others.  There are players who built impressive legacies in the post-FP environment in Golden Stick including Ed Packer, David “Road Toast” Woods and Rob Longiaru. Some of the current starts of Palisades – including Jordan Robles and Anthony Didio – will be on the field in Frisco. The future of the game will be further represented through the participation of up-and-comers such as Will Marshall and Ben Stant. There are several former National Champions among this group. It is not an exaggeration to state that 80% or more of the players involved come into the tournament with a major accolade tied to their name. In that regard, it is a very impressive field.

What makes the field a bit of a mystery is that many of these players formed their resumes years ago during the Fast Plastic years and/or in the immediate aftermath. That is to say, the tournament field is littered with players who for all intents and purposes are not active in the game. Joel DeRoche very well might be the best pitcher the game as ever produced but he has not been an active player for the better part of a decade. It is impossible to know what to expect from him or the upwards of two-dozen other players who fit that bill. I would never underestimate a Joel DeRoche or a Jim Balian after what we have all seen them do on the Wiffle® Ball field over the years. It would not totally shock me to see some of these players return to their old selves under the bright lights in Frisco. Time and age do not discriminate, however, not even for the legends of the sport. How well the legendary players perform after significant time away from high level competition will be one of the – if not the – most interesting storylines to follow this weekend.

Of the teams expected to participate, only three can definitively be considered active, full time teams – Freaky Franchise (NY), Master Batters (TX), and Jager Bombers (TX). The rest of the field are either teams from the past reuniting – GSW as one example – or teams specifically constructed for this event. The lack of participation by full-time, active teams at the Texas Open is impossible to miss. This is partially a side-effect of the current environment where the team unit simply isn’t as important as it once was. It is a players’ game now and the Texas Open field reflects that. Perhaps this is an inconsequential detail. Talent usually triumphs over everything else so perhaps team chemistry really does not matter all that much here. Certainly, if one of the active regular teams – like Freaky Franchise – were to win by defeating a field of veritable all-star teams and re-united squads, that would be a major feather in their cap. In some respects, full time teams have more to gain than any of the makeshift teams by winning the event.

There might not be many active teams at the Open, but there will be plenty of extremely talented active players to keep an eye on. That list starts with Jordan Robles. Robles has already had an impressive 2017 season, leading different teams to the semi-finals in Palisades, finals in GSWL Yard, and to a championship in the Mid Atlantic. Those accomplishments – along with undeniable talent on both sides of the ball – make Robles one of the best players currently in the game. Robles’ teammate for the Texas Open, Anthony Didio, is also in that discussion. Didio has unreal power as evidenced by his .340 ISO this year in Palisades league play. Will Marshall of Frisco’s own Master Battershas top level stuff which he will get to show on a national stage for the first time on Saturday. While much attention is being paid to the big names of yesteryear returning for this event, it would not be at all surprising if the Texas Open is owned by one of the immensely talented young guns that will be in attendance.

Those natural conflicts – youth versus experience, active players versus non-active players, full time teams versus all-star teams – simultaneously make the Texas Open both fascinating and nearly impossible to put a finger on. Like everyone, I have my suspicions on how the tournament will play out but would not dare go public with them. Not in this instance. On paper the Texas Open is unlike any other tournament I can remember and very tough to predict. What that means for the actual tournament itself remains to be see, but it will no doubt be exciting to watch it all unfold!

Not attending the Texas Open? Follow along courtesy of “The Drop” from Mid Atlantic Wiffle. The Drop – the news and commentary branch of MAW – is the official home for live and post-tournament coverage of the Fast Plastic Texas Open. Make sure to check The Drop throughout the day on Saturday for live game recaps and commentary. Also stayed tuned to Twitter (@midatlanticwiffle and @fastplasticwiff) for additional live tournament updates. After the tournament, check back to The Drop for exclusive written, video, and audio coverage.