Traditionally, I usually know how to pick up the signs when I've written something that is going to stir up controversy. When I was young in the game, I knew it before it was ever published. I could anticipate it and - because I thought it was cool - sometimes I did it just to get people pumping in money (that, unfortunately, didn't go to me).
Now that I'm older and wiser, I don't write click-bait. It's not worth it and it tarnishes what I hope is a pretty clean track record in town. So now I have to wait for texts to roll in. The more immediate the texts, the more controversial it's going to be.
I wouldn't say the first round of Westwood Wiffleball Association power rankings caused an immediate reaction, but it didn't take long for people to start reaching out. By the time I showed up at Opening Day, most of the league knew where they were ranked (and a few let me know how underrated they were).
It's good though because everybody gets to have fun with it. If anything, I think it's the perfect complement to a league that is for fun, but also has a way of getting the competitive juices flowing too. If I couldn't have fun with it - and players couldn't enjoy playing wiffleball - then we're all doing something wrong.
After a week, I felt it was time to update the rankings. I needed to make some wholesale changes (as you'll see, no team stayed in the same place). A lot of it was based on what I saw on the last two Sundays - and heard from the weekday games. Some of it though was trying to predict how the league's newest rule will effect teams going forward.
When I made the original rankings, I made the statement, "Pitching is the way to winning in wiffleball." Now that there's a cap on speed - thereby cancelling out the advantage of teams stacked with flamethrowers - I had to recalibrate and judge rosters on their speed, power and pitching (more control than speed).
Here we go with Week 2:
1. Smashing Pumpkins (5-1)
Last week’s rank: 3
Maybe I'm letting recency bias really affect me, but I can't help it. Just hours before this writing, I watched Smashing Pumpkins smash Purple Reign, a team that I never thought I'd see get rolled 20-7. It was eye opening to see just how much talent the orange team has across the board (Let's hope I can say the same another another team wearing orange next month).
Logan Underhill is the standout, hitting three home runs in Sunday's blowout. He's not alone though - Coty Grissom is super solid, Alex van Vuuren had something going with a wicked side-arm release and Richard O'Connor is a crafty veteran.
It wouldn't surprise me to hear 'Tonight, Tonight,' playing as celebration music at the World Series if the Smashing Pumpkins win it all.
2. Acuna Matata (3-1)
Last week’s rank: 1
Usually I'd only take a team out of the top spot if they lost AND I was putting the team that beat them at No. 1, but I have to drop Acuna Matata for now. This rule change could impact their squad more than anybody.
It's been no secret that the McColloch brothers - Matt and Merek - could bring the heat. On opening night, one batter who faced Matt told me they "can't see it, you just swing and hope it hits." Now that neither can bring Aroldis Chapman like speed from the mound, let's see if they slip up some.
3. Walk Off Warriors (4-2)
Last week’s rank: 4
The most impressive win of the first week was Walk Off Warriors blasting Acuna Matta 12-0. I wasn't there, but I wish I was. It didn't surprise me Walk Off Warriors won - they're very good. I was just shocked by the total domination.
This team has it all - good pitching (David Martin and Travis Byrd are a great 1-2 punch), power (Matt Martin crushed the ball Sunday) and strategy (they probably shift more than anybody). Combine that will unrelenting competitiveness and it's the right mix for a championship.
4. Bench Warmers (5-1)
Last week’s rank: 5
When I had a chance to talk to league organizer John Bryan O'Connor about the league's speed rule, I understood his logic. I agreed too - it's just too fast when guys are chunking it full speed from 36 feet away. It also made from some dull moments (in some games, people knew they couldn't hit, so they just stood motionless hoping for four balls before three strikes).
I also told him that speed would still be part of the game though - specifically, the team with the most guys who could run may win. That's why I pushed Bench Warmers up the standings.
Top to bottom, they may have the fastest team - both in the field and on the base paths. When they hit, it's almost always a double. If they're in the field, good luck getting anything down if it stays up for more than two seconds.
They're young, but this seems like a young man's game when they're flying around. Also, they have No. 1 draft pick Wyatt Wilson. That means something.
5. Purple Reign (2-4)
Last week’s rank: 2
Record wise, it seems crazy to still have this group in the top 5, but I'm not going to bury Purple Reign just yet. In the first week, they went up against Smashing Pumpkins and Acuna Matata, the two top teams in my rankings.
They still have guys who can hit it hard - Park Hilliard was smashing it Sunday and John Bryan O'Connor is pretty good for a guy who is heckled constantly. They're good defensively too, capable of putting speed all over the field.
They have to lock down their rotation (Ryan Jennings could be the big winner of the speed rule if the southpaw can get that devastating breaking ball down pat), but I think they'll be back in the win column soon.
6. Grumpy Old Men (3-3)
Last week’s rank: 7
Can a wiffleball team be scrappy? I'm saying it can - and that's what Grumpy Old Men is every game. They just seem like they're never going to be totally out of any game as long as they can hit a few long balls.
They play at their own pace, do the right things over and over and complement each other well. Don't expect to see them flying around the bases like some of the teams full of young pups, but they're going to maximize every opportunity to make game-changing plays. They are my No. 1 bet for the team that doesn't have a great regular season record, but is a nightmare to try to beat if you're matched up with them in the playoffs.
7. WiffleSnappers (2-2)
Last week’s rank: 8
I felt like a fortune teller when I heard Bryan Matheny tweaked a muscle after the WiffleSnappers played on opening night. After all, I had written about their team before the season that some of their top players were my age - and I didn't know if that was good or bad.
Getting injured trying to play wiffleball sounds like something I'd definitely do within 15 seconds if I signed up for the WWA. Get well Bryan! I know your team needs you.
8. El Ninos (2-4)
Last week’s rank: 10
Ansley Mullican didn't quit the Warren County Sports Authority when I ranked her team last in the initial rankings, but there were few dicey messages exchanged where I had to assure her I didn't think her team was bad, just her. I think that helped the situation a ton! (Sorry Ansley!)
I underrated just how much Casey Hertwig could take over a game - he was dynamite on Opening Night in a 1-0 victory. I'll be interested to see if the the new MPH rule changes Hertwig's style, but that riser the lefty can throw is almost unhittable.
9. Playground Legends (2-4)
Last week’s rank: 6
Nothing really stood out to make these guys fall backwards so much, I just realized when I was making the list that I had a better feel for the other eight teams in front of them. If anything, I docked them a bit for not doing more with what felt like an easy early schedule - they split with the two teams in front of them and were swept by the Bench Warmers (not a team I'd say is a juggernaut, yet).
I pushed El Nino's over them because they beat a team in the top five (Bench Warmers) and the WiffleSnappers haven't played enough for them to slide down too drastically.
10. Sharp Shooters (0-6)
Last week’s rank: 9
Here's the thing about rankings: Somebody is always first and somebody, unfortunately, has to be last. The Sharp Shooters are the only team in the league that didn't have a win in the first week. There's nothing more to say.
Shoutout though to Jeff Vance - one of the nicest guys in the league. He hit a bigtime homer Sunday that nearly sent an outfielder sprawling over the newly built outfield fence. I would think that this league would never have an ejection (there are no umpires anyway), but if somebody does get tossed, I'm saying it will be because they somehow harmed a field that had to take a lot of time to complete. Stay off the walls guys and gals!
Jeff Vance hit a homer Sunday, but Daulton Foster nearly took down the fence trying to make the play. No players or fences were harmed during the action.