The 2017 HRL regular season has come to a close which means 13 HRL teams will vie for the final two play-off spots in the double elimination tournament known as Wifflepalooza. While Wifflepalooza was not originally a part of the HRL's landscape, it has evolved to become one of the most fun days of the wiffle season. Every year a team few expect to make a run always seems to advance to the play-offs. Before we look at the competing teams as well as the first round match ups, here are a few things you should know about the tournament:
-The tournament will be played at Pilot Knob park, beginning at 8:45am sharp. 4 fields will be set up for 4 games to be going on at the same time for many parts of the day.
-While the 1, 2 and 3 seeds for Eagan and Hopkins are already set, the Wifflepalooza winners will play as the remaining 4 seeds.
-It is possible for two teams from the same city to advance to the play-offs, as the Mariners and Rays did in 2016. If two teams from the same city come out of Wifflepalooza, the team with the better regular season record of the two will be the 4 seed in the other city.
-Even if you aren't playing, you should grab your favorite rink drink and come check out the action. The HRL camaraderie will be going strong.
We'll start the preview with a look at the top three seeds, all of whom have first round byes, then we'll look at each of the first round match ups.
1.) Dodgers (26-13, Eagan)
The Dodgers, who used their three extra games against the defending champion Reds as well as the HRL's 2017 best regular season record in the Rays, not to mention the above .500 Diamondbacks, have to be looking at the Yankees (25-12) Game 3 opponents this year in the Bears (2-37) and Giants (13-26) and shaking their heads. The Yankees wound up winning the Wild Card in Eagan by percentage points. Nonetheless, this team features two frontline starters in Epstein (8-2, 0.90 ERA) and Eagan ROY favorite, Evan (10-5, 2.61 ERA) and are poised for a deep Wifflepalooza run.
Why they'll win Wifflepalooza: The top two SPs are arguably the strongest in the tournament, and pitching wins championships.
Why they won't: The Dodgers will be without All Star hitter HPV, which won't do the lineup any favors. That said, these kids can play, and are the Vegas favorites to secure one of the two play-off berths Wifflepalooza has to offer.
2.) Marlins (23-16, Eagan)
The Fish made one of the biggest splashes in Free Agency this past off season, signing long time Pilot and former Eagan MVP, Box. The result? A team that won just 14 games a season ago is now in position to make a run to the HRL's play-offs.
Why they'll win Wifflepalooza: With 5 players OPSing over 1.000 this season, the Marlins team can flat out rake at the dish, and Box is one of the strongest #1 SP arms in the tournament.
Why they won't: Questions abound about the crucial #2 SP are prevalent, though if HRL veteran TT throws the way he has in past Wifflepalooza's, the Fish may very well have their first HRL playoff date in franchise history.
3.) Bees (21-18, Eagan)
The conglomeration of HRL legends resulted in a strong debut season for the Bees in Eagan. Team captain, Sanchez lead the way offensively with an Eagan leading 45 HRs, a career high for the HRL original. Offense is the name of the game for the Bees, as the team OPS'd 1.048, but had a team ERA of 6.29.
Why they'll win Wifflepalooza: Two time HRL Champion, The Man is play-off eligible and has been confirmed to be in attendance, giving the Bees as strong a play-off pitcher as the HRL has seen (his career play-off record is 30-13 with a 1.63 ERA). They're going to hit. Sanchez, H8R, Deuce and The Man will see to that, and no one should sleep on Dee.
Why they won't: While both two time HRL Champion H8R and Sanchez have pitched well in the past in the play-offs, neither has been on his A game this season. If one of these two can emerge as the clear #2 SP the Bees need, they will be as likely as any team to extend their season beyond this weekend.
And now to the first round match ups, starting with the 8:45am games.
4.) Diamondbacks (19-20, Hopkins) vs. 13.) Bears (2-37, Eagan)
Likely pitching match up: Lulu (7-2, 2.11 ERA) vs. Truck (2-9, 5.87 ERA).
Why the Diamondbacks will win: It look a last second extra game against the Dodgers for the MNWA break away squad to finish below .500. Dr. Dipshit is for real at the plate, and Lulu is a very consistent and effective SP.
Why the Bears will win: Don't look now, but Truck has regained vintage form on the hill, leading the Bears to victory over the Pirates and defending HRL champion Reds in recent weeks. If Truck is on, the Bears may shock the world yet again.
5.) Padres (17-21, Eagan) vs. 12.) Rockies (6-29, Eagan)
Likely pitching match up: JC (3-3, 2.73 ERA) vs. EAD (3-12, 6.66 ERA)
Why the Padres will win: No team is more misrepresented by its record than the Padillies, as an injury to JC and fatherly commitments for Shirls robbed the team of it's dynamic pitching duo for the majority of the regular season. Both are said to be in attendance for Wifflepalooza, which combined with outstanding regular season offensive performances from Seabass and The Kid, make the 2016 Eagan runners up a force to be reckoned with at Wifflepalooza.
Why the Rockies will win: If EAD is hitting the zone, the Rockies will have a shot. The bats can be very solid, but the deck is definitely stacked against this second year squad.
6.) Blue Jays (17-22, Hopkins) vs. 11.) Pirates (9-28, Eagan)
Likely pitching match up: Thunderson (9-5, 1.92 ERA) vs. Ulysses (4-10, 4.46 ERA)
Why the Blue Jays will win: This team has made deep runs in Palooza before (just ask the 2014, Reds). It is entirely possible the BJs roll the dice and save their Ace for a potential second round match up against the Bees, but it's unclear who on the Jays staff would be next in line for such an important game, as Fockerdome hasn't been his usual self, and Thor has had the best pitching season of his career.
Why the Pirates will win: The loss of top pitcher, Knuckles (5-10, 3.33 ERA) certainly stings, though Ulysses development of some new pitches has made him much more effective in recent weeks. T-Mac always sees good pitching well and the Pirates always come to play.
7.) Mariners (16-21, Hopkins) vs. 10.) Astros (11-28, Hopkins)
Likely pitching match up: Squirrel (8-8, 3.70 ERA) vs. Jon E Manziel (4-12, 6.47 ERA)
Why the Mariners will win: The pitching is legit, regardless if Beatch decides to have Squirrel or O'Bannion start. The loss of Little E would be devastating for most team's Palooza chances, but the Mariners are deep enough to overcome it, and make a repeat of their 2016 run to the HRL play-offs.
Why the Astros will win: Everybody's favorite 3 man squad each played an astonishing 39 games this season, never once needing to reschedule despite only having three guys on their roster. Legendary. Super Dave, Jon E, and Andre the Giant will definitely make the M's hit the zone. This should be one of the most tightly contested games of the first round.
8.) Twins (16-21, Hopkins) vs. 9.) Giants (13-26, Hopkins)
Likely pitching match up: K Mart (7-8, 3.61 ERA) vs. Bliss Jr (5-7, 3.30 ERA)
Why the Twins will win: The Twins are another team that always seems to fight its way to the finals of Wifflepalooza. Former HRL Champion K-Mart is no stranger to high pressure situations, and will be leading the pitching staff, as well as a strong corps of Twins bats.
Why the Giants will win: When Bliss Jr is on, he's capable of beating anyone. The Giants know how to manufacture runs. If they can get to K Mart early, they've got a strong chance of defeating the Twins.