Winter Classic

2018 Winter Classic Recap

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The high temperature in Medford, New Jersey this past Saturday was a chilly 30-degrees but inside the Big League Dreams Wiffle Ball complex, it sure looked a lot like summer.

A full eight-team field competed on Big League Dream’s custom indoor Wiffle Ball stadiums for the right to be crowned the first ever Mid Atlantic Wiffle Winter Classic champion. The tournament provided many of the competitors with their first live look at two of the game’s brightest young pitching prospects. Two local squads made their major northeast tournament debuts. One player attempted to return to the mound after an injury while a few others left Big League Dreams with newly acquired injury concerns. There were several classic pitching duels and a game where the teams combined for a whopping 44 runs. At the end of all of that action, it was the pre-tournament favorites that were left standing.

The tournament format was the standard eight-team fare with two pools of four teams for round robin play. The top two teams in each bracket advanced to a four-team single elimination round. The tournament field was slightly imbalanced in favor of quality veteran teams which left one pool – Pool A – with a decidedly tougher draw. Among the teams in Pool A were the experienced Golden Stick trio of Chris Sarnowski, Ben Stant, and Rob Longiaru playing under the team name, Fingerballzzzz. That team was expected to be even more potent, but Kevin Norris and Ty Wegerzn dropped out earlier week and replacement Phil Fresiello will apparently be in the market for a new alarm clock. Joining Fingerballzzzz in Pool A was an AWAA all-star team (Backdoor Sliders) of Jimmy Cole, Anthony LaValley, Michael VanNostrand, and Kris Morse with special guest TJ Loftus of Ridley Park Wiffleball and the veteran Re-Union team comprised of Dan Potter, Adam Milsted, and veterans Mike Soltesz, Lou Worthington, and Lou's nephew, Noah. With any one of those clubs serving as potential favorites, Pool A’s fourth team – El Flamas Blanca – had their work cut out for them.

Re-Union struck first in this high competitive pool taking down Fingerballzzzz 1-0 behind the superb pitching of Adam Milsted. Normally the captain of New Jersey mainstays Way Too Beautiful, Milsted provided much needed pitching depth to this veteran team. He kept the Sliders’ bats in check all game. Potter provided Milsted with all the runs he would need courtesy of a first inning leadoff homerun. Shortly after Potter’s blast, things went from bad to worse for the Sliders when Cole pulled himself from the game after suffering an apparent shoulder injury. The unfortunate injury did have one silver lining – it gave the spectators, which included several Ridley Park players, an earlier-than-expected look at TJ Loftus. The 19-year old made waves on the mound at the NWLA Pennsylvania regionals and the NWLA tournament last summer to the point that some folks already peg him as the second best pitcher in that circuit behind Michigan’s Stephen Farkas. Loftus made good on his reputation by retiring every single Re-Union player he faced via strikeout. His emergency relief heroics were not enough, however, as Milsted and company held on for the 1-0 shutout win.

TJ Loftus (Backdoor Sliders) is one of the game's rising pitching stars. Loftus struck out every Re-Union hitter he faced after being summoned for emergency relief duties.

TJ Loftus (Backdoor Sliders) is one of the game's rising pitching stars. Loftus struck out every Re-Union hitter he faced after being summoned for emergency relief duties.

El Flamas Blanca flashed definite signs of potential – one of their pitchers in particular has promise and their hitters never looked overmatched at the plate despite facing high caliber competition – but were ultimately overmatched on the day. Flamas Blanca finished the tournament without a win but with a little more pitching experience they will be just fine.

After a disappointing start, the Sliders bounced back against Fingerballzzzz thanks to an excellent outing from Kris Morse. Morse – a member of the Palisades Expos alongside Cole – held Stant, Longiaru, and Sarno in check all game long. The Backdoor Sliders took the lead early and added to it in the fourth courtesy of a Jimmy Cole grand slam. The win put the upstate New York squad right back into contention.

As many predicted, Pool A came down to the 1:30 PM showdown between Re-Union and Fingerballzzzz. With the Sliders already sitting pretty at 2-1, a Re-Union win would eliminate Fingerballzzzz. On the opposite side of the coin, a Fingerballzzzz win of ten runs or more would catapult them from the brink of elimination to the top seed in the bracket. The Ballzzzz handed the ball to Stant, who kept Re-Union in check all game long. Meanwhile, Adam Milsted was tasked with pitching a second important round robin game after both Potter and Worthington looked shaky in warms up. While not quite as good as he was against the Sliders to start the tournament, Milsted still carried solid stuffy but was let down by the play of his defensive. The Fingerballzzzz jumped out to a commanding lead and never looked back. The trio grabbed the ten-run win they needed and suddenly found themselves atop Pool A with the best run differential (the head-to-head tiebreaker was itself a tie). In the play-in game for the Block’s second spot, the Sliders put down a battered Re-Union team to move onto the semi-finals.

Evan Rosenthal (Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies) goes into his wind up on BLD's Fenway Park replica.

Evan Rosenthal (Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies) goes into his wind up on BLD's Fenway Park replica.

Over in Pool B, things were not quite as dramatic. Sophomore team The Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies showed noticeable improvement from their MAW debut last September. Evan Rosenthal flashed a previously unseen slider while his brother, Cory, once again showed off a strong arm that with some refinement could turn him into a solid pitcher. Offensively, the Duckies flashed their muscles against Sauce Squad by putting up 18 runs in a loss. With a little more experience and confidence facing top tier pitching, they will start to put up some runs against veteran teams as well. For their part, Sauce Squad packed a punch up and down their lineup to go along a couple of pitchers that showed off potentially solid sliders. Sauce Squad has extensive experience, but only on a shorter (33 feet) mound. We hope to see both Sauce Squad and the Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies back on the field this summer.

Pool B came down a 10:30 AM match up between My Name is ERL and the Giants. The Giants were the pre-emptive favorites to win the tournament but had to get through ERL in pool play first. ERL captain Connor Young handed the ball to debuting southpaw Blake Hoffman. The Ohio native gained a following over the years thanks to his backyard bullpen sessions and signed with ERL during the offseason. In only his second tournament ever and facing top tier competition in the form of the McElrath brothers and Jordan Robles, Hoffman showed that that the hype surrounding him is justified. The lefty used a wide assortment of pitches, including a rarely used riser that he had working on Saturday. The riser started so low that more than a few veteran hitters gave up on it, only for it to rise at the last second and nick the bottom part of the target strike zone. Ultimately, the Giants worked the young pitcher for three runs and ERL dropped the game, but with additional tournament experience Hoffman will blossom into a top tier pitcher.

Young southpaw Blake Hoffman (ERL) gets ready to deliver a pitch as teammate Joe Schlindwein looks on from the outfield.

Young southpaw Blake Hoffman (ERL) gets ready to deliver a pitch as teammate Joe Schlindwein looks on from the outfield.

ERL bounced back from the loss to post a 2-1 record in round robin and second place in their block. The 3-0 Giants took the first seed and chose to play their semi-final opponents – the Backdoor Sliders – on Fenway while ERL battled Finkerballzzzz on the Philly field.

Connor Young took the mound for ERL, relatively fresh after allowing Hoffman to handle much of the round robin pitching duties. It was far from Young’s best outing and ERL fell into an early hole. ERL crawled back to tie the game at 3-apiece when Young followed a Gerard Fitzgerald single with a two-run blast over the left center field wall. The game did not stay tied for very long. The next inning Young – struggling with the command of his riser – allowed back-to-back home runs to Sarno and Longiaru to once again give Fingerballzzzz the lead. Shortly thereafter, Young pulled himself from the game citing shoulder pain and Hoffman finished out what would end up being a 7-3 Fingerballzzzz win.

On Fenway, the Giants made relatively easy work of the Sliders to set up a meeting with Fingerballzzzz in the championship game. Both teams managed to reach the finals with a fresh pitcher – Ryan McElrath for the Giants and Rob Longiaru for Fingerballzzzz. Both pitchers were well rested and it showed early on, as the game breezed through the first three frames with little in the way of offense. In the fourth, Longiaru got a hold of one of McElrath’s offerings and sent the ball rocketing towards the right-center field fence. Before the ball could reach the wall, however, it banged off one of the ceiling beams some 30+ feet in the air and fell into the infield where it was cleanly played for an out in accordance with the tournament ground rules. Turnabout is fair play and in the 5th inning, the ceiling robbed the Giants of what also looked like a surefire homerun but ended up being nothing more than a loud force out.

Ryan McElrath (Giants) fires a pitch during the championship game as Jordan Robles gets set in the infield.

Ryan McElrath (Giants) fires a pitch during the championship game as Jordan Robles gets set in the infield.

The game entered the 7th inning still scoreless. As the innings ticked by, so did the clock. With a hard curfew of 6:30 PM, it was announced prior to the game that a new inning would not be allowed to start after 6:00 PM. The Giants took to the plate for the bottom of the bottom of the 7th around 5:40 PM, which meant that if the game stayed tied the eighth inning would likely also be the final one.

Fortunately, Jordan Robles made sure the curfew would not be a factor.

After one quick out to start the 7th, Robles stepped into the batter’s box and immediately fell behind. He refused to offer at the second pitch – a pitch that did not miss inside by much – signaling to Longiaru that he was going to have to bring the ball over the plate. Rob did just that – perhaps too much – and Robles deposited the hanger over the “Green Monster” in left field for the walk off home run.

The Giants were impressive all tournament long, taking down a trio of tough teams (My Name is ERL, Backdoor Sliders, and Fingerballzzzz) on the way to the title. Ryan McElrath showed the grit and skills that made him the 2017 Palisades WBL MVP while Robles – who in addition to his home run heroics, pitched 3 of the first 4 games for his team – demonstrated again why he is one of the best players around. For their effort, the Giants took home the $450 first place cash prize and the title of the first ever MAW Winter Classic champions.

The 2018 MAW Winter Classic Champions (R:L Ryan McElrath, Tim McElrath. Jordan Robles)

The 2018 MAW Winter Classic Champions (R:L Ryan McElrath, Tim McElrath. Jordan Robles)

Final Standings

1.     Giants (NY)                                         5-0
Ryan McElrath, Tim McElrath, Jordan Robles

2.     Fingerballzzzz (NY/PA/DE)                4-1
Rob Longiaru, Chris Sarnowski, Ben Stant

3.     Backdoor Sliders (NY)                                    3-2
Jimmy Cole, Anthony LaValley, TJ Loftus, Kris Morse, Michael VanNostrand

4.     My Name is ERL (NJ/OH)                  2-2
Blake Hoffman, Gerard Fitzgerald, Jim Linhart, Joe Schlindwein, Connor Young

5.     Re-Union (PA/NJ)                               2-2
Adam Milsted, Dan Potter, Mike Soltesz, Lou Worthington, Noah

6.     Sauce Squad (PA)                               1-2
Kyle Brocket, Bryan Goldman, Blank Fink, Jason Fink, Christian Kulczytzky

7.     El Flamas Blanca (NJ)                                    0-3
Neil Demarco, Paul Duffy, Kyle Fenwick, Rob Hanstien, Nate Potts

8.     Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies (NJ)  0-3
Connor Benus, Danny Devine, Cory Rosenthal, Evan Rosenthal, Steve Rosenthal

Injury Report

Jimmy Cole (shoulder) was removed from his team’s first round game with shoulder soreness and did not pitch again in the tournament. Cole did continue to bat and play the field, which is a positive sign . . . Dan Potter (shoulder) left his team’s third round robin game after colliding with the wall while making a spectacular catch on a ball that ricocheted off the ceiling. Potter sat out the remainder of the tournament due to a shoulder injury . . . Connor Young (shoulder) pulled himself from ERL’s semi-final game due to shoulder soreness as well and was listed as day-to-day after the tournament . . . Tim McElrath – who went down early last season in Palisades with an arm injury – pitched one game for the Giants but was noticeably still less than 100% . . . Jenkins (knee) of the Sauce Squad tore up the skin on his right knee diving for a ball on the Philly field but played through it.

Ben Stant had a strong tournament on the mound and at the plate.

Ben Stant had a strong tournament on the mound and at the plate.

Here and There

While Big League Dreams is unparalleled in its ability to provide a high-level Wiffle Ball experience indoors, the facility is not without its quirks. The short fences on the Philly field (60 feet down the lines) led to some relatively “cheap” home runs while the ceilings (30+ feet high) took several no doubters away. In the end, however, it largely seemed to even out . . . Mike “Salt” Soltesz was an important member of the only three-time national champions, Team Trenton, and joined the legendary Lakeside Kings in the early 2000’s. Making his return to the mound in Medford, Salt battled his command at times but still showed off an excellent drop pitch that made one of the game’s best. Salt picked up a win in his only game on the mound on Saturday . . . In lieu of a coin, the phone of ERL’s Jim Linhart was tossed before several games to decide home and away . . . In accordance with standard MAW rules, any ball that rolled to the wall was a double. The smaller dimensions – particularly on the Philly field – and the fast-moving turf contributed to most untouched ground balls finding their way to the wall. When MAW returns to BLD in the future this rule is expected to be altered in some fashion . . . The Backdoor Sliders were accompanied to the tournament by some of TJ Loftus’ fellow Ridley Park Wiffleball players. We hope to see these guys out in York this spring & summer . . . Just prior to injuring his shoulder diving into the outfield wall, Dan Potter (Re-Union) pointed out that what both teams initially thought was an inning-ending put out was in fact a hit. Potter is not only one of the game's best defensive players, he is a class act to boot!

Up Next

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The 2018 Mid Atlantic Wiffle regular season kicks off on April 14th in York, PA with “Opening Day”. Two teams are already registered for the event, which will be capped at 10 teams. Don’t hesitate to register today! And if April 14th doesn’t work, MAW returns to York just three weeks later on Cinco de Mayo for the second tournament of the 2018 regular season. Registration for all six 2018 tournaments is open now at the MAW pro shop.

We want to once again thank the staff at Big League Dreams for being helpful and accommodating on Saturday. MAW officials are already discussing possible return dates to BLD for the fall of 2018 and winter of 2019. Look for more information later this year as it becomes available!

2018 Winter Classic Preview

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Mid Atlantic Wiffle kicks off its 2018 schedule on Saturday February 3rd at Big League Dreams in Medford, New Jersey with the 2018 Winter Classic. The 8-team standalone tournament will take place on BLD’s two unique indoor Wiffle Ball fields. With a diverse field of teams, a one-of-a-kind setting, and numerous storylines to follow, Saturday promises to be an exciting start to the 2018 Mid Atlantic calendar.

Players to Watch

TJ Loftus (Backdoor Sliders) turned some heads this past summer playing as a member of the Ridley Park Wiffleball League at the NWLA tournament. The young right-hander struck out 44 batters over 15 innings of work while allowing only a single run. Loftus’ performance was impressive enough that some already rate him as the second best pitcher in the NWLA. Saturday will be another test for Loftus as he goes up against accomplished hitters like Jordan Robles, Dan Potter, Ben Stant and Chris Sarnowski.

2017 was a bittersweet year for Tim McElrath (Giants). His Palisades WBL team, the Giants, captured the league championship giving them a claim to – if not outright ownership of – the title of ‘best team in the nation’. Tim, however, injured his right arm early in the season and was relegated to the role of fielder and designated hitter for the rest of the year. Unable to pitch, the usually powerful right-hander struggled at the plate as well registering just a .126 ISO in Palisades games. Tim could be back on the mound in Medford and how he looks after a long layoff will be one of the stories of the day.

New My Name is ERL pitcher Blake Hoffman with a trio of K's.

New My Name is ERL pitcher Blake Hoffman with a trio of K's.

As much as we want to see Loftus and McElrath in action, the player that might draw the most attention in Medford is rookie southpaw Blake Hoffman (ERL). A native of Ohio, Hoffman has dazzled Wiffle Ball players for years with YouTube videos of his backyard pitching sessions. Hoffman dipped his toes into the tournament waters last year and now is ready to make his northeast tournament debut after agreeing to play with My Name is ERL for the 2018 MAW season. Those that have seen Hoffman pitch – including Cloud9’s Sean Steffy – rave about his overall stuff and vast potential. We will get first look at just how good Hoffman can be on Saturday.

Deep Depth

                               Jimmy Cole fires 3 strikes at the Fast Plastic Texas Open.

From a pure stuff standpoint, no team might have a better pitching combo than My Name is ERL and with the addition of Gerard Fitzgerald, they may have the bats to match. Likewise, it seems foolish to bet against a team  like the Giants that includes both McElrath brothers and Jordan Robles. If pressed to pick a pre-tournament favorite, however, we would have go with the Backdoor Sliders. Playing out upstate New York and led by veritable Wiffle Ball iron man Jimmy Cole, the Sliders go four quality pitchers deep. That depth could allow the quintet to make it to the elimination round – if not the finals – with a completely fresh top tier pitcher waiting in the wings. In addition to Cole and Loftus, the Sliders' roster is expected to include Kris Morse, Anthony LaValley, and Michael VanNostrand. This team clearly has both the talent and experience to win the whole thing, while their pitching depth could be a true difference maker.

unknown quantities

Saturday’s tournament will also include a pair of teams – Sauce Squad (Newton, PA) and El Flamas Blanca (Bordentown, NJ) – that are unknown to the rest of the field. As always, that presents a challenge for the opposition. Not only is there no scouting report to go off of but the temptation to assume an unknown team is also inexperienced can lead to an otherwise avoidable upset. In other words, do not overlook either of these teams. Sauce Squad, in particular, does have prior Wiffle ball tournament experience although the nature and extent of it is . . . unknown.

the Benefits of Experience

Evan Rosenthal (Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies)  with a spectacular one-handed grab. 

Last September in the final MAW regular season tournament of 2017, New Jersey’s Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies made their competitive tournament debut. As it often is with debuts, the Duckies struggled at times but finished with a respectable 1-2 record while demonstrating notable improvement in each of their three games. The enthusiastic young team followed up their debut by playing in the Wiffle Fall Classic outside of Philly later that same month. Now with a couple of tournaments under their belts, the Duckies are no longer wide-eyed newcomers and will be looking to take another step forward on February 3rd.

Lou Worthington firing a strike at a Maryland tournament in 2003.

Lou Worthington firing a strike at a Maryland tournament in 2003.

Speaking of experience, Re-Union has more than enough to spare. The team is led by one of the game’s more under-appreciated players in current York Yak and former Mr. Ault and State of Mind player, Dan Potter. The 2017 MAW Jerome “The Legend” Coyle Hitting Award winner will be joined by a pair of veterans who are among the best to have ever played. Mike “Salt” Soltesz made history from 1995 – 1997 as a member of the only back-to-back-to-back national fast pitch champions in Team Trenton. Salt went onto having many productive years with the legendary Lakeside Kings and was one of the more feared pitchers of his era. Rounding out the squad is “Sweet” Lou Worthington. The former Fluffhead and Lakeside King was known in his prime for his fluid and inimitable low sidearm delivery. Like Salt, Lou has plenty of big game experience including playing for the Kings in the 2001 National Championship at Lakeside Park.

late additions

                                 Rob Longiaru goes deep at Fast Plastic Texas Open

Team rosters submitted upon registration are often preliminary and rosters do not need to be finalized until prior to first pitch. As such, we expect some "late" roster additions that could significantly impact the tournament. The Fingerballzzzz original roster consisted of just two players, Ben Stant and Chris Sarnowski. The word going around is that the Fingerballzzzz might be adding a trio of impact players. The rumor is that an All-Star trio of Ty Wegerzn, Kevin Norris, and Rob Longiaru could be joining the Fingerballzz lineup which would catapult them to the head of the pack.

Likewise, Re-Union's roster is rumored to be in flux heading into the tournament. While the three players mentioned above are more or less set in stone, the club might add both a rookie and veteran player to their roster prior to Saturday. While the impact of the newcomer is somewhat unknown, both players would likely add a significant amount of skill and youth to the Re-Union roster.

Follow Along

You can follow along with the action as it happens via our social media accounts. Stay tuned to the MAW Twitter account (@midatlanticwiff) for game updates and Periscope (@midatlanticwiff) for live look ins at pool play games. In the mid afternoon (approximately 3:00 PM) we we will go live on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Midatlanticwiffle/) for a recap of the round robin action, followed by a LIVE broadcast of the semi-finals and championship game. In the days after the tournament, we will have comprehensive coverage including a full recap, videos, and more right here on www.midatlanticwiffle.com.

Offseason News & Notes #3

Winter Classic Sold Out!

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The 2018 MAW Winter Classic at Big League Dreams in Medford, New Jersey is officially sold out! Many thanks to the eight teams and all of the players that made it happen. The tournament promises to be a good one and the first step in what should be an excellent 2018 in the Mid Atlantic.

The Drop will preview the tournament in full next week, but in the meantime we can reveal the field and rosters as they currently stand.

  • Backdoor Sliders – Albany, NY – Jimmy Cole, Michael VanNostrand, Kris Morse, Anthony LaValley, TJ Loftus
  • Filthy Cheaters – Medford, NJ – Anthony Sacco, Tony Sacco, Rocco Circillo, Van Wiley, Aldo Morales
  • Fingerballzzzz – Pittsburgh, PA/Wilmington, DE – Chris Sarnowoski, Ben Stant
  • Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies – Morganville, NJ – Evan Rosenthal, Cory Rosenthal, Conor Benas
  • Giants – Kingston, NY – Ryan McElrath, Tim McElrath, Jordan Robles
  • My Name is ERL – Medford, NJ – Connor Young, Joe Schlindwein, Blake Hoffman
  • Re-Union – York, PA – Nick Shirey, Dan Potter, Lou Worthington, Mike Soltesz
  • Sause Squad – Newtown, PA – Christian Kulczytzky, Blake Fink, Jason Fink, Kyle Brockett, Bryan Goldman

Although we cannot accept any new teams at this time, there might be spots available for individual players wishing to play. Please contract Tim Cooke at timcooke1982@gmail.com or 301-661-7980 if interested in playing.

Road Trip! MAW Debuts in Canonsburg in 2018

In partnership with our friends at the Wiff is Life League (“WILL”), MAW is hosting a regular season tournament this summer in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania! The single day tournament is scheduled for Saturday, August 18th and will be played under MAW rules. Canonsburg is approximately 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, 2 ½ hours east of Columbus, 2 ½ hours south of Cleveland, and 2 ½ hours west of Altoona, making it a centrally located spot for players in eastern Ohio, west and central Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

We will have all the details on the tournament – including the ability to register a team – available in the very near future. In the meantime, MAW officials can confirm the following details. The Canonsburg tournament will be a normal 2018 MAW regular season tournament, meaning it will be contested under MAW rules and participating teams will have the ability to earn points towards the MAW Championship Tournament.  As always, a significant cash prize (dependent on the size of the field) will be awarded to the winning team.

Not everything will be the same, however. We are pleased to announce that the Canonsburg tournament will be an auto-qualifier for the MAW Championship Tournament in September. That means the winning team will automatically qualify for the Championship Tournament. This is a great opportunity for teams further west to instantly qualify for the Championship Tournament and the Championship cash prize, which totaled $1,400 last season.

Stay tuned to www.midatlanticwiffle.com and Wiff is Life League for full details and registration as they become available.

CFOT Season 2 Kicks off Tonight

In other indoor wiffle news, Cross Fit OldTown kicks off its second league season this Friday with a full slate of games. Last winter, Jerry Hill had the inspired idea to host an evening wiffle league for members of his Cross Fit gym in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The league spurred the formation of the Barrel Bruisers, who played in both the Potomac Wiffle® Ball League and Mid Atlantic Wiffle in 2017. The Bruisers contended all year in Mid Atlantic and spawned not one but three Rookie of the Year candidates in Hill, Chris Owen, and Ryan Doeppel.

No doubt Jerry will be looking to find the next Owen and Doeppel this winter as the Bruisers look to reload for 2018. The Bruisers reportedly have several roster spots open as only Jerry and Chris are relatively assured to return from the 2017 squad. It’s a solid base – Chris was among the most improved players in MAW last summer – and Hill is reportedly hoping to use the league to find another player or two to round out the Bruisers’ 2018 roster.

MAW’s The DROP will be in Alexandria for the league’s second week of play on January 19th. Look for a report on the site shortly thereafter.

Offseason News & Notes #1

ERL Makes an Early Move

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The offseason is not even a month old, but 2017 Mid Atlantic runner up My Name is ERL is already hard at work shoring up their roster for the next season. On Halloween, ERL announced the addition of young lefty Blake Hoffman to their roster. The Ohio native is part of the new breed of “YouTube wifflers”, impressing viewers with his quality stuff in bullpen sessions and one-on-one backyard games. His tournament experience, however, is rather limited. ERL captain Connor Young views Blake’s youth and inexperience as an advantage, not a detriment.

"We’re excited to have Blake on board,” Young commented via a team issued statement on social media. “This kid’s the truth. He’s hungry, too. Blake’s going to grow and excel quickly under my wing. This is the ideal pickup for ERL.”

Although ERL has been quiet so far on their exact plans for Hoffman, there is no doubt the team will look for him to take some of pressure off of Connor who tossed a Mid Atlantic leading 77 2/3 innings pitched in 2017. The Drop spoke with a prominent player who has seen Hoffman in action and believes that once Hoffman gets some regular tournament experience under his belt he will join the elite tier of pitchers in the game.

ERL might not be done yet, either. There are rumors that they have been courting one specific veteran player to round out their roster.

Winter Wiffs

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Can’t wait until April to get back on the field? You don’t have to! MAW will host the Winter Classic on Saturday, February 3rd at Big League Dreams in Medford, New Jersey. Big League Dreams – originally conceived as an indoor facility exclusively designed for Wiffle® Ball – features two permanent indoor fields modeled after Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park and Boston’s famed Fenway Park. The custom fields will provide a unique backdrop for this rare February tournament.

The tournament will be an 8-team event and registration is first come, first serve. Full details coming soon. In the meantime, contact timcooke1982@gmail.com or cyoung1282@yahoo.com for additional information.

Where Will Shirey Land?

The first transaction of the offseason – actually the first few – involved veteran Nick Shirey. The longtime captain of the Yaks first announced his own departure from the team he founded. Shirey hoped to land with the InHumans due to his desire to pitch more often and to act as a mentor to the kids on the team. We are told that Cameron Long initially balked at adding the veteran Shirey, but eventually relented. Shirey and Cameron – along with Dan Potter – competed as the InHumans at the Arlington Wiffle® Ball Tournament at the end of October. Yet in the immediate aftermath word leaked that Shirey’s move to the InHumans is not set in stone yet. We hear there is a chance that Nick might end up back with the Yaks after all. Stay tuned.

2018 Road Trip in the Works?

Although The Drop is unable to provide any specifics at this time, we can pass along from sources within the MAW offices the organization is exploring plans to hold tournaments outside of York in 2018. While Shi Wiffle® Ball Park would still serve as the home base for MAW and host the majority of the 2018 MAW tournaments, officials hope to add anywhere from one to three tournament stops next season. We hope to have more information on this story in the near future.