Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Dr. Seuss and I am the manager and advocate for the soon to be reigning, defending, undisputed NWLA champions, the HRL All Stars. The 2018 HRL squad will look different from 2017s version, a conversation that begins with the absence of the team’s centerpiece for the past 4 tournaments, Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne. He, along with Danny “Griz” Heck, the team’s lead off hitter and left fielder the past two tournaments, will not be attending this year’s tournament. Gone also is Evan “Little E” Bischoff, who is not an active HRL player this season.
It was also recently revealed that HRL commissioner and NWLA favorite Erik “H8R” Ganeles will not be going to Morenci this season (side bar: can anyone help me stop my auto correct from switching “Morenci” to “Moronic”? It’s frustrating). In addition to H8R, The Godfather of wiffleball himself, Pat “Truck” Moriarty will not be attending this year’s tournament either. These absences are significant for the HRL All Stars, as Truck, H8R, Smallpox and Griz all represent what the HRL is about in such profound ways.
What has made the HRL great for 15 seasons, and what will make the HRL All Stars so successful for the 2018 tournament, is this league’s ability to honor its past, and embrace its future. And the future is now.
The HRL has traditionally had one of the oldest rosters in the NWLA tournament, and while there will still be several players waking up with sore backs, knees, arms, etc, the youth movement is here. Back are veterans Two Bat, the last remaining player from the HRL’s inaugural NWLA team, and yours truly, Dr. Seuss, a player on the last 4 squads who will now be playing and managing for the team. Both players will be building off very strong 2017 NWLA pitching campaigns which saw the two combine for just one earned run over 13 2/3 innings pitched, with a 34:5 K:BB ratio.
Two Bat Dr. Seuss
Two 19 year old members of the HRL Dodgers, John “Epstein” Cronin and reigning 2017 National Rookie of the Year Evan “Showtime” Sibbet will be making their national team debuts for the HRL. Epstein is in the midst of a major offensive breakout which combined with his strong pitching numbers, has made him one of the most dynamic players in the HRL. Showtime is as well rounded a player as there is in the HRL, and thrives when the lights are brightest.
In what many are calling The Great Minnesota Ransacking, “Handsome Mat” Peisert is returning to the HRL after an MVP caliber performance for MNWA. Handsome Mat won the 2017 NWLA All Star Game MVP award, then went on to go 2-0 on the mound, including a victory over defending champion OCWA, while OPSing .804, leading MNWA to their first top 8 finish. Mat boasts a wide array of pitches and post game celebrations, both of which were on display in double elimination last season against Wiff Is Life.
Chris “Hardball” Mathews returns to the NWLA tournament after missing 2017’s tourney due to injury. What people know about Hardball is that the guy can pitch. In his last NWLA tournament he threw 8 shutout innings, allowing only two base hits while demonstrating excellent control. What people don’t know about Hardball, is that the guy can hit. His 1.286 OPS is currently 5th best in Eagan.
Dan “Huck Finn” Duehn returns to the HRL All Stars after a quiet debut tournament in 2017. Huck Finn helped lead the HRL Rays to the Championship last season, and is one of the top pitchers in the HRL, as well as one of the most underrated hitters in the league.
2017 team MVP and Hopkins MVP and Cy Wiffle, Luke “Mippey5” Thompson returns to the HRL All Stars, looking to build off of a very impressive NWLA debut, where his abundance of clutch hits was outclassed only by the number of autographs he signed for the good people of Morenci, Michigan. Mippey provided the most exciting moment for the HRL’s tournament run, blasting this two run homer to put the HRL up 5-4 against Tampa Bay Wiffleball in the second game of double elimination last season.
Also joining the HRL All Stars in 2018 will be HRL original Sean "Rocket" Pabon, who will be an assistant coach. Rocket has been with the HRL since day 1, and will provide strong veteran leadership for the HRL's youth movement.
Ambitions are high for the HRL All Stars. The journey to the NWLA Cup begins next Friday, July 13th, with hopes of paying for an extra gold carry on item for the flight home on Monday.