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May 19, 2005

Kickball: Game 1

Tonight was the first game of the inaugural season of WAKA Kickball here in the state of Minnesota…and the City of Lakes, Minneapolis specifically. I had signed up a few weeks ago and had been waiting with great anticipation ever since.

WAKA Kickball Photo WAKA, or the World Adult Kickball Association, has been around since 1998 and has been spreading around the US ever since. Our division, the MN Twin Cities Division has 6 teams, all averaging around 18 players. We play over on the soccer fields near Lake Calhoun, which makes for a beautiful setting and easy access for me via the bike routes if I ever chose to commute to the game via bike. Our season is 8 weeks long, plus a playoff event afterwards. You can find me/us at both 6:30pm and 7:15pm each Thursday night. I was assigned to the “Lake Minnetonka Purifiers” team, headed by a veteran player from one of the many DC divisions. (The league started, and is particularly popular, in the DC/Virgina area as you can see on this page over at the WAKA site which lists all the divisions)

Early Kickball Game Photo I got to Lake Calhoun Park a bit early, which was perfect since I got to see the previous game between the “Uncle Rico Raiders” and the “Sexy Ball Kickers”. It looked like everyone was having great fun playing…and I was eager to get out onto the field, if for no other reason but to get a better chance of getting blown by some wind to keep the gnats away.

As the first game wound down, our team gathered together and did introductions. We got our official team jerseys and picked out our starting positions. (We’re the white team, which means I’ll be giving Era a workout this season in an attempt to keep the t-shirt nice and clean!) Soon we were walking over to the playing field and prepared for play.

After the referees read a standard rule and disclaimer, a game of rock/paper/scissors was used to decide who would kick first and who would field first. We won the toss and chose to kick first. Our kicking order was decided in rough alphabetical order, which placed me, the left fielder, second in the line-up between our center fielder and pitcher. Jason, the center fielder, kicked a single, and I kicked a single as well. Now we were rollin’!

We went through the first two innings with hardly any scoring pressure. I think we were all trying to establish our bearings after not playing for 10, 15 or 20 years. It wasn’t until the third inning that our batting order choice finally clicked in just the right way. We scored 9 runs in the top of the third, unanswered by our opponents when they were up to kick. In the fourth inning, we picked up an additional 3 runs and limited our opponents to 2 points in the bottom of the inning. The fifth inning was scoreless on both counts, leaving us with a point in our “Wins” column with a final score of 12 to 2.

On the defensive side, I only dropped two fly balls; otherwise, I think I must have caught 5 or so fly balls during the course of the game. In one particular case, I lunged forward to catch the ball as I ran up to catch it right behind the third baseman and felt it slip through my hands. I did manage to deflect it under my body, came down hard on it but had it wrapped up underneath me. I heard my teammates yell for me to send it to second, so I rolled off to my side, located second base and threw it over leaving just enough time for the second baseman to catch the ball and tag the runner.

After the game, we went over to the Uptown Bar and Cafe, the league bar and tossed back a few drinks over conversation. They have certainly got the best hot dogs I’ve had in a long time…and at $3.50 for a hot dog and a cold Grain Belt the price was certainly right, too.

Of course, now I’m paying for all the crazy plays, moves and lunges I performed over the course of the game, but it was so totally worth it. I enjoyed every last minute of the game…the team I’m on has great chemistry right out of the gate, and I really loved getting to play kickball again after all these years. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to play - all of the excitement of reaching home plate, watching that pop-up just drop right in the pocket gaining our team a base hit (kick).

May 20, 2005

Kickball: Game 1 - The Day After

Well, the old adage, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should” certainly applies to me today.

Sure, getting to tell stories of great diving catches, lunges back towards a base after an overrun and bringing home the first game in the “Wins” column were quite ego-boosting, walking around like a crippled old man wasn’t all that great!

My muscles aren’t sore…I think I have my biking to thank for that. However, the impact of a bike ride is nothing compared to running full speed towards a base, only letting up at the last minute and having all 300+ pounds of me push down on my legs when I try to stop on a dime. It feels like each of my joints are crying out in pain today!

In other news, the Twin Cities WAKA League photos from Week 1 were posted today. Frustraiting you can’t download full resolution photos from the gallery site, but they did manage to catch quite a few great shots (including some of yours truly, as you’ll see below!)

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May 26, 2005

Kickball: Game 2

The second week of WAKA kickball was a promising outing. My team, the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers, was hot off a 12-2 blowout of the Number One Spot team from game 1. Our captain, Joshua, would finally be joining us after finishing his finals at school. All of our team would be in attendance (we only had 11 of the 17 people on the team at the first game). The outlook was incredibly hopeful.

As you might guess from above setup, this week’s game against the Godless Whores did not go as well as our first outing. We managed to pull in 5 runs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 6 runs the GW’s brought in. Disappointing, to be sure, but luckily we’ve got many more games yet to play during which we’ll be able to prove our unmatched kickball prowess…

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June 2, 2005

Kickball: Game 3

The day was perfect…a bit muggy, but the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers were ready for battle against the dreaded “Sexy Ball Kickers”.

I called upon my trusty chariot Twinkie to travel down to kickball tonight. Twinkie hadn’t been on a long drive in some time…and considering the wonderful weather we had for the game today, it seemed like the perfect vehicle to ride into battle. I found a spot right next to the battlefield, parallel parked with haste and headed over to watch the 6:30 battle already in progress.

After the forces collected themselves, the traditional rock/paper/scissors contest decided we would be on the offensive first. Our captain, Joshua, revealed his plans to his troops for the battle. With our order set, positions assigned, we proceeded engage the enemy.

It was a bitter battle…balls were thrown, kicked, caught and then thrown again. In the end, the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers fell in battle 4 to 7. Wounds were bandaged, scorn was leveled, defeat was admitted. Then everyone retreated to the Williams Pub to negotiate the next stage of battle…flipcup. We did no better in flipcup than we did kickball this evening…the Uncle Rico Raiders finished us off in 3 straight team versus team flipcup matches.

The question on everyone’s mind - how does one pay for beer which is handled in a community manner at the flipcup tables? Should everyone bring their own beer? Should each team be responsible for their own tabs? These and the actual questions relating to the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers’ kickball performance will all be answered in time…we hope.

Also up for consideration…given how central flipcup (and by extension, beer drinking) is to the kickball experience…how long can Damon continue to categorize these entries in the “Fitness” category?

June 10, 2005

Kickball: Game 4

After our first week’s romp over the Number 1 Spot, the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers went down two straight weeks in a row to both the Sexy Blue Kickers and the Godless Whores. We were hungry. And, considering the messed up schedule our division put together, luck gave us another shot at the Number 1 Spot again. (Even tho we still haven’t played Your Team Sucks or Uncle Rico’s Raiders) A perfect meal?

Josh, Jason and I ref’d the early 6:30 game between the two undefeated teams, the previously mentioned Uncle Rico’s Raiders and the Godless Whores. The game started late, and ran even later. In the final inning, the Godless Whores pulled in just enough runs to end the game in a tie, leaving both teams still undefeated!

We grouped up and realized we only had 11 people show up this week. (The same number we had show up for the first game of the season against the same Number 1 Spot team) Luckily, it broke down that we met the minimum number of both boys and girls so we good to go. We lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors, which meant we were up first.

We totally had our game on, even with our reduced numbers, and pulled out an 9 to 3 victory, bringing our season record to 2 wins, 2 losses (on the kickball field). After the obligatory “good game” handshaking/high-fiving line, we were off to the bar.

Josh Takes Him On The flip cup games weren’t well organized or played…and once again, the beer provisioning left much to be desired. However, our team captain, Josh, finally got to take on the wise-talkin’ member of the Your Team Sucks on a 4-on-4 showdown on flipcup, and bested him 2 out of 3 games. [Video Provided Here]

June 19, 2005

Kickball: Week 5

Josh was gone this week for the game, and so was our first week’s captain Jodi, so the honorable Dan Rothstein was our captain for the evening. During the week, I had setup LMPKickball.com, your source for authoritive LMP kickball coverage. As part of that effort, I put together a little Questionnaire to help complete each player’s bio page on the site. While we were waiting for the game to start, a few people took advantage of the downtime and filled out their questionnaires…the rest promised to submit them over the next week. I threatened that anyone not doing so would be punished by having a completely false bio put together…we’ll see how many people take the threat seriously.

This week we played the Uncle Rico’s Raiders, captained by the division president, Amy Ciardiello. As an added bonus, my parents made it out to the game to take in everything WAKA kickball is about (as much as they could without playing, of course!)

The game started off in a bad way for LMP, but in the end we managed to eek out a tie. Amy got semi-violent (you know she was that way ‘cause a beer went flying up in the air!) when the ump made a questionable call for the 4th out of an inning, but otherwise the game went off smoothly.

My mother’s comments were great…

“Whoever the captain of the green team is sure has a potty mouth!”

My parents and I took in a wonderful meal at Kinh Do and I headed over to Williams afterwards. The flipcup games had already began, so after visiting with the team (and picking up my first 2-for-1 drink special, Scooby Snacks, please!) I joined in and played my heart out as you may be able to see if you browse through the selection of pictures on the league’s photo album.

The mid-season party was on Saturday as well…sadly I wasn’t able to make it. Word is, tho, that the LMP members who did make it performed admirably in the “Flipcup Cup”, taking the grand prize. Way to go LMP! Yeah!

June 23, 2005

29 Years (and Kickball: Week 6)

Although I think all two readers of this blog wished me a happy birthday already, I’ll make note of my 29th birthday here for posterity in case future cockroach archeologists dig up this blog after the nuclear holocaust.

My official birthday (it sounds like it may stretch out into a weekend-long celebration) was wonderful.

I worked today, but that didn’t mean that any fun was lost! JManDoo and his wife made me a cake, while I received many candy gifts from other co-workers as well. Lunch took the form of an outing to the Chic-fil-a Express down at the U of M, which was just as yummy as always. I shared my cake around the office, turned on the celebratory lights and put the finishing touches on a project that had been sitting on my plate for way too long.

My kickball games are always on Thursday night…tonight was no different. Even tho the temperatures at game time were over 95, both my parents and Kelly came to the game. My parents, besides bringing big “Happy Birthday” balloons to tie to their chairs, also brought little party-favor squirt guns for everyone on my team (I got a huge super soaker since, well, it was MY birthday!) Considering the temperature, the party favors were the perfect choice, since when not shooting each other they could be used to cool oneself down a bit!

The Lake Minnetonka Purifiers brought home an absolute victory over “Your Team Sucks”, which was absolutely the best gift the kickball team could have given me for my birthday! At the bar following the game, I also managed to avenge my team captain’s loss a few weeks ago to one of the black-shirted “Your Team Sucks” members in a 1-on-1 2-cup Flip Cup deathmatch. Even better!

Birthday with the family is on Saturday…stay tuned!

July 1, 2005

Kickball: Game 7

I scored [against a] Godless Whore last night!

Yes, readers, I finally scored! Game/Week 7 and I finally scored. Sure, I had crossed home base before a few times…but each time it was just after the third out of the inning.

While LMP was in good spirits, we were all acutely aware that we were going up against one of the two undefeated teams in our WAKA division. The Godless Whores (otherwise known as “The Angels”) were 5-0-1, their tie coming from their game against the other lossless team, The Sexy Ball Kickers. The weather was miserable…it alternated between a light mist and a heavy drizzle for 30 or so minutes before gametime, leaving not only the fields slick but the ball wet as well.

We built up a huge lead early in the game, which thankfully gave us some cushion room when The GW’s came out with legs a kicking in the 4th inning. I was supposed to sit out the inning, but when it was discovered that an oversight left right field open I got pulled back onto the field. What a mistake!

I usually like to play my right field position fairly far back. Due to my biking, I have a good deal of sprinting ability, but I’m not nearly as flexible as most people. By playing back, I can usually run up at the ball, allowing me to catch it in front of me without having to twist around.

After the first kicker dropped a ball right behind our first baseman, Josh pulled me in from playing so far back. ‘course, then the next kicker kicked the ball back beyond my position, meaning I couldn’t make that play either and ended up bobbling the ball. (Never mind the rain/mist that made everything slippier than normal!)

So, yeah, I shouldn’t have been in the 4th inning, but whatever. We still ended up pulling in a huge win!

The afterparty at the bar wasn’t all that and a bag of potato chips, but it was still fun nonetheless.

Next week is our final game…against the other undefeated team, the Sexy Ball Kickers. Hopefully we’ll have just as much (if not more) luck than we did this week and pull in another victory for the season.

July 8, 2005

Kickball: Game 8

We went into our final game still high off the previous week’s victory over the first of the undefeated teams in the division, the Godless Whores. This week’s game, the last game of the regular season, was against the other undefeated team, the Sexy Ball Kickers.

The first game ran really late, so in celebration of Michelle and Debbie’s birthdays we all consumed a few alcoholic beverages before heading over to the secondary field for our game. Upon arrival, we discovered that the Sexy Ball Kickers were short one girl. (League rules dictate that you must have at least 4 boys and 4 girls making up your squad each game) This would normally force a forfeit, which would have secured another win for LMP, but our team decided that we’d rather play our final game of the season, so we decided to let them play. Usually that would be the end of it, but considering they are undefeated, we added a compromise that they would automatically receive one out at the bottom of their batting order and have to field with only 10 people.

We lost the rock/paper/scissors, so we ended up batting first. We pulled in an amazing 4 runs in the first inning, totally pumping us up towards another win. Due to some fielding errors and questionable calls by the refs, they also ended up scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st, tying us all up. A few more runs were scored, a few more errors made in fielding, a few more questionable calls (both benefiting us and penalizing us) and we entered the 5th inning down by a run. We managed to pull it in, but in the quest to bring in the go-ahead run we made a bad move and kicked on what would have been a walk forcing a runner home, bringing an end to the top of the inning. In the bottom of the inning we were unable to hold them back, they scored their one run to break the tie, and the game was over.

Certainly, we made some errors, but overall it is great to see how the team has come together over the course of the season. LMP certainly has grown and gotten better over the season, and I look forward to the playoffs where we may again meet the blue team again for the division championship.

After the game, we made our way to Williams. Flipcup was just getting organized (with plenty of cups this week, since even people not “responsible” for the cups brought a few packs) so I sat down and ordered some snacks to fill up my stomach. After chitchatting with the team, I was called over to the Flipcup table and ended up on the SUCKY side. Ugh! After we brought on some help from other non-kickball playing bar patrons, we did finally manage to pull in a win.

Nick and I had a rematch of our 1-on-1 2-cup Flip Cup deathmatch from my birthday night, only I went down in a best 2 out of 3 in 2 straight games. I’ve won one match, he’s won one, so look forward to another update for who will take home the season title!

People cleared out early again…I hung around with some members of Your Team Sucks and chatted a bit. Most of them are U of M ACM members, which makes it easy to explain what I really do for a living when asked.

Playoff schedules will be forthcoming…it sounds like the word on the street was that we would be first playing against the Number One Spot, which we beat twice during the regular season. If that’s the case, then our first playoff game should be a snap. *crosses fingers*

My Bubba And Me

Yesterday I got talked into going to the Great Satan by a coworker on the way back from lunch. (Regular readers/friends realize that I usually try and avoid Wal-Mart at all costs…but it was suprisingly free of the regular Wal-Mart annoyances like crying babies during this visit) While she was dropping off some film to get developed, I got to take a peek at that row that greets you when you walk in every Wal-Mart. Right there, for $5.92 I found a wonderful new drink holder, a Bubba Keg.

Picture of an orange Bubba Keg The Bubba Keg (my model does NOT have the big “20” shown here…just a plain stainless steel band) is a huge insulated mug holding 52 ounces of your favorite fluid. It promises to keep cold drinks cold and warm drinks warm for hours on end. I found an orange Bubba Keg, verified it was in good shape (the first orange one I picked up was cracked) and headed for the cash register.

I did some initial testing here at work. The entire top of the Bubba Keg unscrews from the body, allowing plenty of room to fill it with your favorite beverage. No complicated spigots or other hard-to-clean items on the mug…everything is easy to wash and keep clean. When the sipper is closed with the flip-top cap provided, nothing spills out of the Bubba Keg at all.

The real test was the kickball game. I loaded it up with a full tray of ice, filled it to the top with water and sealed it up around 6pm. Once I got down to the game, I sat down and enjoyed some nice cool refreshing water from my Bubba Keg. It sat out in 85-90 degree weather for a good 3 hours until our game was finished, when I carried it back to the car I could still hear some ice cubes and water sloshing about inside. Drove over to the bar, parked in the shade and went inside. Upon my return around midnight, the Bubba Keg still had a few ice cubes floating in the water.

I think the Bubba Keg is a great product…certainly performs as advertised, has plenty of capacity (but not too much, it isn’t too heavy to carry at all) and has a good design. Now only if it came with a bike attachment…

July 21, 2005

Kickball Playoffs Tonight

Tonight we’ve got the WAKA Twin Cities Division division playoffs.

We finished third in the division, which will mean we’ve got to play two games before we get to the finals. (Had we won last week, we would have gotten a first round bye) The first round we play the Number One Spot, which we beat both times we played them in the regular season. The second round is against the Godless Whores. We lost early in the season to them, but beat them the second time we played.

If we win both those battles, we’re up against the Sexy Ball Kickers for the division final. (Unless, of course, they lose in the second round to their opponents) We barely lost to the Sexy Ball Kickers in the season finale but this time around, they promise to have their full team on-hand.

July 22, 2005

Quest for Glory

LMP’s season came to an early, unexpected end Thursday night as they lost in the first round of the Twin Cities Division of WAKA’s inaugural season championship.

As you might have read elsewhere, LMP had its sights set on the finals. Many observers expected LMP to easily overcome Number One Spot, which they beat twice in the regular season. However, Number One Spot came out onto the field in tip-top shape, got a lead early on some great ball kicking, then kicked us in the balls with their great defensive skills. (Heh, been waiting all season to use that line!)

After our loss, being the perennial good sports LMP has been all season long, we stayed around and watched the semi-final game and the championship game. In the end, the team who won the regular season as well, the Sexy Ball Kickers, won the playoffs.

The remainder of the evening was spent at Williams playing flipcup. Nate Nick and I had a chance to settle our 2-on-2 flipcup matchup…he pulled out a win, breaking the tie and can sit smugly in victory until the next season…when he will, I repeat, he will be goin’ down!

Tonight we’ve got the end-of-season party. $600’s worth of free beer…that’s a good amount of flipcup, that’s for sure. In addition, we’ll be getting a good base in the tummy by stopping off at Jason’s Old Spaghetti Factory for a meal beforehand…should be awesome.

Pictures available here. Enjoy!

July 23, 2005

A Great Time Was Had By All

Last night was the end-of-season party for the inaugural season of WAKA TC. We had space set aside for us at Grandma’s Saloon and a $600 division-sponsored budget for the evening.

LMP met up at Jason’s Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner before heading down to the party a few blocks away. Jason’s restaurant in downtown Minneapolis is well managed (he is the manager of the restaurant, so we’d hope so!) and the pasta base was perfect for a long night of many alcoholic libations.

LMP got down to Grandma’s around 8:30 or so. There was already a volleyball game going on, people finishing off beers, etc. I took some pictures and then joined in the volleyball action. I hadn’t played since high school…but it reminded me how much I loved to play. Maybe after I lose a few pounds (so my shins don’t leave my body in protest) I should join a non-competitive adult league. I digress…

After volleyball, the division president, Amy, distributed the drink tickets, someone ran across the street to buy cups and we started flipcup. The setup was less than ideal…but we managed to cobble together 3 hightops along a wall and got quite the game going. Most participation all year, I’d guess. Anyway, we must have played for 3 or 4 hours with only periodic potty breaks…the competition was intense. At one point, we even had a non-English speaker battling it out from the non-kickball crowd nearby. No real champions of flipcup were crowned at the event…contrary to Nick’s post I remember no two-cup showdown flipcup. I congratulated him on finally drinking BEER in his flipcup, but otherwise it was team action all night long.

I realized about halfway through the night that I was the only photographer in attendance, which sucked since I knew my camera had been acting up recently on close-ups. Most of the pictures came out just fine, tho, you can check out the gallery here. I had come to the party with two charged batteries and four memory cards, which meant I was busy snapping pictures (and a few movies) most of the evening. Even managed to score a posed shot with the president of the division, Amy, handing over the TC division trophy to the winning team, the Sexy Ball Kickers.

Around 1am, Amy once again called everyone together and convinced many of us to head down to the basement’s dance floor for some hot booty-wigglin’ action. Jason even gave some of us white boys (and girls) some great dance lessons. At least now I can say I suck less than I did at the beginning of the event! There’s even a shot of Jason, myself and Josh dancing to the Run-DMC track ‘It’s Tricky’. Heh.

The house lights came up around 1:45; we slowly filtered out and walked back to the cars. We made plans to get together again this next Thursday as a team, just for a social event. Plans were also made for a possible fall WAKA TC kickball season…hmmmm…

I can certainly say that the kickball season sure went much better than I ever imagined. It certainly wasn’t what I imagined it would be when we started out…I thought it would be kickball with drinks. This certainly turned more into a social outing as the season went on…friendships were made, new skills (flipcup, the importance of keeping the ball on the ground) were forged and I was introduced to new media (Chappelle’s Show, Entourage) that I will continue to enjoy long after the season fades. Hope to see everyone next season…until then, in the words of LMP’s captain, Josh, “Stay Classy!”

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