July 18-20, 2014. Columbus, Ohio. NWLA Tournament III. We’re going back.
HRL made its debut at the 2nd edition of the NWLA Tournament, and were immediately labeled as the “old guys”. The so-called “experts” had picked them to finish in the bottom half of the field because of the “medium pitch speed” rules HRL plays by, and their “rickety old bones”. They said HRL wouldn’t be able to “catch up” to the fast pitching at the plate, and wouldn’t be “fast enough” to successfully run the bases. They said HRL wouldn’t even be able to pitch a ball from the rubber to board because their “tendons would pop”. The biggest slap in the face, though, was that they said that HRL used “way too many quotation marks”.
The experts were all proven wrong (except for the quotation marks part).
HRL arrived in Ohio, and took down everybody that was put in from of them except the 2012 champions and the 2013 champions. They finished 3rd overall with a 5-3 record. More importantly, they did in typical HRL style… Laughing, joking, drinking, self-deprecating, and annoying.
In 2014, HRL returns four players from last year’s squad and loads up with four new players and a new coach who are eager to see their mugs on a jumbotron, and play some ball if they can put down the beer and tear themselves away from gawking at the screen long enough.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2014 HRL: Twin Cities NWLA Roster:
Pat “Truck” Moriarty (Manager) – NWLA Hall-of Famer, Truck, will return to manage the HRL squad for another tournament, although you may not recognize him. Since the 2013 NWLA Tournament, Truck has lost over 100 lbs. and is now more of a “Crossover SUV” than a “Truck”. Do not mistake his weight loss for any semblance of a loss in attitude, however. Umpires, opponents, and his own team (as well as the greater Columbus area) can still expect to hear him yelling the same inappropriate comments and razzing that was displayed in 2013. The only things at the NWLA Tournament that can expect any less abuse from Truck are the buffet line, the elastic in his shorts, and his chair.
Mike “Eddie Bauer” O’Dell (Bench Coach/Media Coordinator) – Having heard about all of the excitement that was the 2013 tournament, Eddie Bauer from the Blue Jays has decided to make the trip to Ohio this year to “get wasted and sit in a chair”. Officially, he’s an unqualified bench coach, and a “media coordinator” - a title we’ve given him in the off chance he decides to pick up a camera at some point over the weekend.
With his faux hawk, gauged ears, and sleeve tattoos, you’ll look at him and think, “man, that guy must be a douche”… and you’ll be right! A HRL Fun-Star in each of his previous five seasons as well as a three time “Canada Cup champion”, Eddie Bauer has certainly made a name for himself in HRL. He is the brains behind a number of Blue Jay gags including “Bedpan Night”, “ShamWow Towel Night”, and “Get Drunk Off Your Ass Before the Game and Go 0-fer-12 Night” (a frequent favorite of his).
Zack “Dr. Seuss” Eustis – Since joining HRL in 2006, Seuss has been far and away the most dominant pitcher in the league, and one of the best in the nation. He once struck out 60 hitters in 83 AB’s in a single 26 inning game. We’re not sure what the most impressive feat is from that game – the number of strikeouts or that the goofball actually pitched 26 innings! Seuss’s name is plastered throughout the HRL record book – most K’s in a career, lowest opponents’ batting average, most K’s in a game, lowest WHIP, 2nd in K/6, 2nd in K’s in a season, 4th in career wins (despite playing 2 fewer seasons than those ahead of him). He is a 3 time HRL Cy Wiffler, 7 time All-Star and a multiple NWLA Wiffy Award winner by taking the 2010 Strikeout King and the 2007 Central Pitcher of the Year. Of course none of this takes into account his most impressive accolade: winning 3 HRL Cups from 2007-2009.
A teacher by trade, Seuss is one of the nicer people you’ll ever meet. He’ll apologize as he’s mowing his way through your lineup, or he’ll shrug his shoulders and say things like “I guess I’m just getting lucky today”. It’ll make you sick.
Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne – Smallpox makes his NWLA Tournament debut in the midst of his 2nd HRL season. His rookie campaign was among the most impressive seen since TJ entered the league with the Orioles in 2010. Hitting 32 HR’s to go along with his 88 RBI’s, .410 AVG, and 1.279 OPS, Smallpox was an immediate force to be reckoned with at the plate and the league took notice by voting him the Hopkins Rookie of the Year, plus he was also awarded the NWLA Central Region Rookie of the Year award. His offense led the first year Rockies team to a division title, eliminating longtime HRL stalwarts, the Braves, thereby earning his nickname (think about it, you’ll get it).
His offense was not where he etched his name into the HRL record books, however. No, Smallpox made an indelible mark on HRL history by walking 101 batters on the mound – a record that may stand the test of time… Or until he breaks it this season. Smallpox is also a D-III pitcher at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He leads that team in HBP on the mound, and they won’t let him bat… We probably will.
Erik “H8R” Ganeles – EVERYBODY’S ON NOTICE RIGHT NOW… H8R IS COMING BACK TO COLUMBUS.
2013 was a very successful season for H8R on many fronts. Just as he told the world before the season started, he and his Gotham teammates claimed a 2nd straight HRL Cup. On the mound, he finished with career bests in ERA (1.70), WHIP (1.034), and BAA (.140); at the plate he finished with career bests in HRs (44), RBI (100), OBP (.407), SLG (.840) and OPS (1.247). He finished 2nd place in voting for both “Yellow Slammer” and “Sultan of Suck” – that tells you all you need to know about H8R. In Columbus, he led HRL in ERA, bats thrown at teammates heads, and fellatio jokes directed at umpires. All-in-all, it’s hard to imagine a more successful year is possible for this humble wiffler.
Travis “TwoBat” Heyda – After posting HRL’s worst ERA and 2nd worst batting average at the 2013 NWLA tournament, TwoBat returns to Columbus in 2014, much to the chagrin of his teammates. Upon returning home from Ohio last July, TwoBat found himself in the thick of the race for the HRL batting title – a race which he lost on the very last game of the season. In doing so, he was able to pull off a rare feat within HRL – choking on a big stage twice, in two different states, in a single season.
Despite all that, TwoBat did finish 2013 with career highs in batting average (.466), OBP (.507), SLG (.891) and OPS (1.398), he was voted the 2013 “Yellow Slammer” as the best hitter in Hopkins, and he also had his first errorless season in the field, cleanly handling all 57 opportunities that came his way.
Nate “Vlade” Hill – You may recall his walkup music from 2013… “HEY HEY NOW…. WHAT’s THAT SMELL?!”; That’s right, Vlade heads back to Columbus this year as the luckiest hitter in the 2013 tournament. A mediocre hitter in the HRL at best, he ended the 2013 tournament with HRL’s best OBP and 2nd best batting average, finishing only behind Beardface. Vlade is a 2 time “Most Improved Player” in HRL (in back-to-back years… who the hell is voting in this league anyway?!), 3 time All Star and the 2012 HRL batting champion. For the 2nd straight tournament, you will not see Vlade pitching in Ohio, however, because he is atrocious… Just plain awful.
Expect to see Vlade lugging around a cooler full of Minnesota’s own Surly Beer in Ohio. Don’t bother trying to give him any of that cheap swill you drink because… Wait… If you offer him a beer, he’ll take it, no matter how bad it is. Free beer is free beer, right? I mean, who are we kidding here? That guy has no taste.
“Handsome” Mat Peisert – Although Mat is in just his 2nd year of HRL league play, he has been a wiffle tournament player for years, and been very successful. He kicked off his HRL career in style in 2013, winning the league batting title with a .474 average and a .604 OPB. He added 29 Hr’s and 83 RBI’s, but still managed to get screwed for the Yellow Slammer award by TwoBat… Welcome to the league, n00b. Although his time on the mound in Columbus may be limited, he has a junkball repertoire that is second to none in the HRL, looping balls all around the board, and occasionally, even hitting it!
Mat loves jorts. Mat loves his cheesy pre-teen moustache. Hence the name “Handsome” Mat. Our plan is to hold him down, put some actual athletic shorts on him to cover his pasty legs, and pluck out his whiskers with a tweezers before leaving the Twin Cities. It’s too distracting to look at otherwise – even for his own team.
Rob “Beardface” Raymond – Beardface returns to Columbus after leading HRL in hitting at the 2013 tournament. So far in 2014, Beardface is on track to set a personal best of 49 HR’s, a pace he has no prayer of maintaining over the course of the entire year, but damned if he ain’t off to a great start.
He finished 2013 with one of the best seasons at the plate of his 4 year HRL career, although it’s honestly difficult to make claim as he has been so remarkably consistent throughout. He did reach a career high .423 batting average, and again put up 30+ HR’s and 60+ RBI’s for the third consecutive season. Most importantly, however, in Columbus, he was pictured holding a beer for the first time since the Minneapolis police pulled him out of a gutter in 2007. Sure he wasn’t actually drinking it, he was just holding it for Carl Coffee who had dropped to his knees to polish off another Louisville Chugger, but that’s neither here nor there. The pictures say otherwise.
Hjalmar “Hal/H9K” Westie – Hal will make his first trip to Columbus in 2014, and in doing so, will make the rare appearance outside of his secluded compound. The only member of the HRL Gothams that really matters, Hal is a back-to-back HRL Cup champion, and the reigning Eagan MVP. In 2012, Hal delivered one of the most memorable highlights in HRL history when he hit an extra innings walkoff homerun to win the Cup. Since entering the league in 2007, he has been one of HRL’s most dominant pitchers with a career ERA of 1.45, a WHIP of less than 1.0, and a miniscule BAA of.137.
A mountain man through-and-through, Hal is probably best known for the wood fired brick pizza oven he built himself in his backyard, his free range chickens (that occasionally end up in that oven), and sending the NWLA Hall-of Fame inductees, Red Sox, into retirement.