Jul
14
The World's Greatest Wiffle Ball Tournament



you may know Staten Island for the ferry the accent or as the birthplace of the wu-tang clan but for one weekend last summer it was the home to the best wiffle ball tournament on the planet risers nut loose curves that would make your head spin all on display on a collection of Little League fields welcome to the wiffle ball championship give us the count Oh Oh Cal it's filthy all right wiffle ball is for all practical purposes a kids game with about a decade of pro baseball under my belt I expected to walk into the best wiffle ball tournament in the country and see something quirky and fun but not necessarily skilled the golden stick national championship was where I learned I was dead wrong about wiffle ball it's honestly it's very similar to facing Mariano Rivera where he throws the ball at you and you're like oh there's no way that that can curve into the strike zone I cannot believe that so you're the commissioner yeah well I mean the Commissioner I'm president of the league we actually you don't have a commissioner head grounds crew as well 15th anniversary this year so I think I've done every job at least once this is actually our best event of the year teams played all year starting in May to accumulate points to qualify for this event and now they're here their seeds all dictated by what they did in the regular season play but this is really what matters lost the open so there'll be a national championship given out tomorrow it wouldn't win this Hall wraps up so is this the best wiffle ball competition on the planet I think so I mean this is you see guys from all over the place come to Staten Island of all places and you know we all hear it growing up and you know I have this pitch and I've hit the ball over that house and you hear all the lore but like the lore comes to a head right here during early games rules are pretty simple two strikes four balls and base hits granted based on where the ball is hit the back fence in the air you've got a triple trickle one pass the infield and there's a man on first but base running with ghost runners is fair game with designated DoublePlay areas and runners tagging on deep fly balls this is everything you wish you had in your backyard what are some of the finer points of wiffle ball that a lot of people that just like baseball wouldn't quite pick up you take a great major league baseball pitcher right so who throws a great curve ball breaks from the 12 and 14 inches these guys can break the ball four feet so 48 inches you can you can break the ball pitch I'll be throwing today will be the finger Iser change what you want to do is you want to flick it right off it's just to slow up the velocity and the timing of the hitter it's a knuckleball anybody knows baseball in those knuckleball I usually kind of hold it in between these two and just push it's odd it looks funny but the ball moves and these guys if it don't move they'll hit it out pitch I'm about to demonstrate is a knuckle curve pitch is a screw this is the riser I thought that a super curve and it comes across the plate into a righty the sights and sounds here are incredible most of these guys wouldn't be considered to be in athletic shape but the skill and hand-eye coordination make these competitors athletes aces throw untouchable shutouts and if a pitch hangs in the zone it's almost guaranteed to be a home run in the game of wiffle ball this is as good as it gets we heard a lot about the high rollers would he got on high rollers high roll is there an emerging team here their captain Dan have a tea five or six years ago was this little eight-year-old runt came to one of our pro camps young team high rollers are incredible we have a reputation for being hockey team even though we're not it will just seem not to like every rub you know really rub people the wrong way I guess I think people have just heard that we play with energy and we beat everyone that's true we bow up we don't want me in Dan'l pitch well this is a moonshot basically it doesn't come with this this is just a bike tire just gives it just a little bit extra pop and add some more weight it just gives you more control if you look closer we grade the ball like what I do I take a cheese grater I just rub it against it and I get these nice lines and it just makes it really rough it moves a lot more than if you were just how to clean wiffle ball right out of the box are we the best best in shape team around like definitely yes my 40 time is just unreal I just love being out there so I just I just smile and then like people on the other team like what is this kid doing why is he smiling and you realized you're playing wiffle ball so yeah why not smile don't matter oh there's no age bracket there's no weight divisions this is really it's everybody's game that's the beauty of wiffle balls so to contrast the youth of the high roll is we've got this team of guys born in the 60s that is the screwballs I mean they're definitely the oldest collective team here they look better than all of us they're going through those guys are they look like they just finished the p90x right all right let's go let's do this welcome Tom Watley's we do muffins exclusively muffins it's a lot of pressure a lot of responsibility you know you have hundreds of people so when we go out to you know play wiffle ball that's the one place I truly like forget about muffins what's up screwball oh good one Johnny ere it is because it a league there's always a goal right there's always something to look forward to come on we got me let's go man up first we'll be out here at least eight to ten hours a week we play so off ball if I play a full point play rack'em nothing is as competitive as wiffle ball because you know as a lot of action we've been playing it since we're five you know so we take it serious come on there's no question we're feeling empowered by the fact that we can be successful you know at this age and we keep saying it we got it we got to keep playing we got to keep practicing because nothing gives us a juice like this yeah first and foremost welcome 2016 yard league national championships [Applause] and of the free and home of the brave as a tournament got underway Lou took us over to his bracket which looked like something out of a Beautiful Mind a criss crossing round-robin leading into what seemed like four different single elimination brackets it's a lot to look at but essentially it's simply four rounds and the winner is going all the way to the national championship dance the screwballs knew their game from the beginning pitch well enough to keep themselves in the game and use their power to put some runs on the words see a lot of differences in style here some of the younger teams they hit a home run they run the bases or this bump in the whole nine run they just come right back in they don't run the bases after a string of tough losses in just one victory the screwballs found themselves right on the bubble of the single elimination round of the tournament as far as they're concerned the next game is win and you're in [Applause] you guys have the momentum when you're our age and you're feeling that it means a lot we're gonna roll with it I know it I know we're in this game get out this time lose bracket wasn't kind to the screwballs and they didn't advance based on a run differential of a single run we just want an epic game in extra innings and squeeze our way into the top bracket we're about to make an historic run if you look around everybody's high-fiving everybody's smiling but believe me like down dirty they like this is a title that they want to hold right now a lot of money involved and people put their whole year into this and some of them their whole lives so I think it's taken from them they they they fight pretty hard I say on it yeah yeah yes sir Chris just name the place but you know everybody makes fun you think it's just wiffle ball but it's it's a game it's complete competition you know so he's still competing that's good it's good for us it keeps us young the high rollers were natural favorites in this one cocky 18 year olds from Boston that hadn't lost a regional tournament in the better part of three months for all they had in skill it became clear pretty quickly that they didn't know how to deal with early losses the high rollers found themselves in one for the ages with the yum-yum's typical games here are played over four innings but the teams were locked up 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth Dan Havertys famed knuckleball was dancing all over the place one mistake here and the season was over you just don't like to lose now but we're that team that link has lost once in the last three weeks so it's kind of not really we're not really know how to lose yet so we're kind of childish in that regard hi everybody welcome to the 2016 golden snake yard League national final it all came down to the seventh floor crude versus the yum Yum's the winners would take home two grand but the ultimate prize on the line was wiffle ball glory two-to-one score in the top of the ninth inning the yum Yum's are up to bat if they do not score here the game is over the golden stick with football tournament is over the seventh floor crew behind me doused in champagne they have done it by a score of 2 to 1 over the yum Yum's very good game the rain is coming down it's over as the rain came down and the crowd was reduced to just the few brave souls who stuck it out this kind of felt like the perfect way for this tournament to end the winners might not even tell the folks at work what they did the past weekend and they probably wouldn't get it if they tried but for now it's just a few guys drenched in water and champagne taking incredible joy from a victory no one else could really understand you