COTTAGE GROVE -- You know, from where I sit now, there is a certain joy in seeing young dudes my kids’ age and even younger whooping my ass in a game of wiffle ball. Knowing that so many of these really talented kids were riding the kindergarten or grade school bus when our little eight-team league hit the ground running so many years ago makes me realize just how much has changed as we round the corner from our fifteenth and head toward our sixteenth season.
Those of us who have been around since the first few seasons are waving goodbye to our proverbial “prime”, and saying hello to married life, kids, hair loss, weight gain, work entanglements and a whole lot of ibuprofen and ice after wiffle nights. We knew as these changes slowly but surely crept into our lives that it’s these young guys who are soon going to carry the torch if the league is going to see Season 20 and beyond.
To that end, I have decided to pick the torch back up as Commish of the HRL Twin Cities with the primary goal of setting this league up for success in future years and enabling the younger crowd to take it into the future when the time is right and the secondary goal of making sure wiffle night is the highlight of your summer. This will be my final stint in the Commish seat.
To some, it might look as though I just up and DEEcided on a whim one day that I wanted “my” league back. I assure you, this was a decision that was not at all taken lightly and mulled over well before the 2018 season began and as the season progressed.
Winter Meeting this past March was what really planted the seed in my mind in a couple of ways, when it was made apparent that H8R and Web Gem would likely have to step back at least a little bit due to them eXpecting brand new babies in their respective households and were uncertain how much time they would be able to commit. That got the wheels turning just a little bit for me, as I almost took that as something to consider. Later that same night, Eddie Bauer made an impassioned, almost angry plea to the league to get more involved in all phases, on the field and off. That really got my fire up a bit as well. I can’t say everyone appreciated his delivery of the message, or that everybody even received the message, but I certainly appreciated it and took it to heart.
It wasn’t long after I began two projects that truly brought back my appreciation for this league. One was an idea that Web Gem asked me to consider, which was a website article about how the league first started and the inaugural season that ensued. I was happy to take that on, but was brought back to Eddie Bauer’s fiery diatribe and said to myself, “Screw that, I’m going to do it one better and make a video series about it.”
I reached out to as many of the first year players as I could, and though not all of them responded or wanted to be a part of it, I was amazed at how many guys, even ones who hadn’t played in the league in years, eXpressed an interest in the project. Their excitement and passion really showed and got me even more fired up for wiffle ball again. Though it remains unfinished (the final 2 chapters are on my offseason “to-do” list), the project really renewed my energy for this league.
The second project was the building of The Bears Bar, with my rekindled spirit, it was a moral imperative that fun needed to be had, and dammit fun was GOING to be had. It took an entire weekend to do, but by Opening Day, the Bar was ready to roll and I was ready to have more fun playing wiffle ball than I ever had before.
As the 2018 season progressed, even as much fun as I and my Bears team was having (and even with a knee injury that hampered me), I sensed an underlying tension at times, like things were getting just a little TOO serious, and that even spilled over into my psyche from time to time, and I’d catch myself getting “wiffle pissed” at the stupidest things. Occasional stories would make their way to the message board, a thrown base here, a crowbar there, a misunderstanding here, a speed debate there…
When the Bears wiffle season mercifully was ended for us after a long and eXhausting (but fun) Wifflepalooza, I’d already had it in my mind that I wanted to be back in the driver’s seat. Coupled with the fact that both my kids had now moved out of the house and Mrs. Truck and I were empty nesting and would now have time to commit, the timing seemed perfect to get back on the horse.
So, no—this was not a whimsical thing on my part and a great deal of thought and communication went into it.
That said, I have learned this isn’t and cannot be a one person show! It’s going to take the ideas and effort and commitment of many of us to guide our league into the future. There have already been lots of great ideas bandied about over emails with other dudes—guys like Seuss, and Web Gem, and Beah, and H8R, and Kong, and Rocket, and K-Mart, and Epstein, and Bliss Jr. All of these guys are going to be very important and I value their ideas and contributions greatly!
I was told, though, that I needed to have a Vice Commish. No ifs, ands, or buts. Someone who can answer questions or step in if something comes up and I am not available. So after much careful thought and discussion, I have decided that Dee will be that person. Not only is he a former Commish (2010-2011) so he knows the ropes, he is what I would consider the missing piece in the grand discussion, as looking at improving the website is one of our major emphases this offseason. Dee is excited to get going on that and having him in the discussions with the other fellas will only make the collective ideas that much better. He, like me, also wants to get things in position for the younger guys to take this thing over at some point.
The choice of having Dee as my Vice does not in any way diminish the value of anyone else’s input and I really look forward to working with everyone to make this league kick insane amounts of ass in 2019!
I’ll be sending league-wide emails out and putting updates on the website throughout the offseason to communicate the ideas we’ve got, and of course I welcome your input as well, so please do email me any time if you’ve got a league idea, a podcast idea, a video idea, an article idea, anything!