Check out Coach and Squirrel’s Holey Commutes podcast.  It’s really nicely done, and very entertaining.  Well, at least the one episode I listened to was nicely done and entertaining.  The rest might be trash… I have no idea.  Anyways, their most recent (maybe) episode is about us, the HRL, and the upcoming season.  Of particular note were their five hitters and five pitchers to watch.  Are you one of them?  Maaybe.  You’ll have to listen and find out!  Or keep reading because I think I mention them all below.  Spoiler alert.  Anywho, back to your irregularly scheduled reading… (sorry it’s late for morning poos).

Holey Smokes,  is this really happening?  Again? 

You’re probably thinking, “Nightmare, you're like 50 years old, in your 15th season, are you really that excited over another wiffleball season?”

You’re go**amn right I am.

I’ve been looking forward to this season since November 6, 2020.  The day after my beloved Baby Cakes were defeated by Huck Finn and some other guys in the World Series.  Congrats Huck Finn (& other guys), it was a great series.  And it was a good run.  Sorry to see you go your separate ways.

Sorry not sorry.

I’ll keep it short(er) because I’m running up against the made up deadline I gave myself.  I’m really excited about 2021.  Sorry, I didn’t come up with a big theme for week one.  Ummm, that’s it.  Time for jokes…

Public service announcement: Although the cities of Hopkins and Eagan no longer require face coverings at the rink, they has specifically stated that VLADE AND TOOTIN MUST KEEP THEIR FACES COVERED AT ALL TIMES.  They further suggest they keep their faces covered outside the rinks, on the way home, and even at home because… you know, their faces.

22.  Lugnuts (0-0).  I don’t know if I actually think they deserve to be number 22, but I do know I’ve been looking forward to the ‘22’ joke for about 18 months… I missed these guys.

Interesting story (not really, feel free to skip ahead).  There is a parking lot near my house.  In it is one of those huge cages to dump cans for recycling to support the local Boy Scouts or some such thing… anyways, this cage near my home is full of almost exclusively, empty Hamm’s cans… I figure, I must live near the Lugnuts…

20.  Pirates.  Will not play this year, but much respect to this franchise.  Respect to the players.  And most of all, respect to Jussie Smollett. 


* I just learned this kid is Derek Jeter’s nephew.  And most of the Pirates went to the Yankees for 2021.  That’s the sort of fun coincidence you can expect me to point out every week in my rankings.  Does your podcast do that, Coach?

19.  RoughRiders.  I heard 2020’s rookie of the year* Dumpy will not be playing this year because he’s too busy in college.  Your mom goes to college!  Anyways, Dumpy was one of Coach’s pitchers to watch.  I hope we get to see him at the rinks, but if he decides college is more important, I certainly wouldn’t blame him.  At least they finally took Hjal off the roster… which probably means he’ll play 20 games.  As for the rest of the squad, I can’t tell if they did anything to improve from last year… so… I guess we’ll wait and see what might happen.  P.S. Rest in Power DMX.

18. Bears.  Truck is back.  I’ve seen him with my own two eyes.  If you need to know anything more, you’re missing the point.  The league is better with him keeping an eye on things.  And that is an undeniable fact.  As for the rest of this bunch… there’s some names I’ve never seen before.  And some names I haven't seen in a while.  I believe when we last saw the Bears, they were working towards their first ever double-digit win total.  They do it this year.  10+ wins.  You heard it here first.

17. Mariners.  12 wins.  In their previous three seasons these guys won 15, 14, and 13 runs.  Logically, that means 12 is next.  It’s called SCIENCE…  That’s weird because when I stalk these kids on the Tweeter, they seem to be playing a lot of wiffleball.  I hear Coach still has a bum wheel from when he knocked the Biscuits down a peg.  That won’t help.  Hopefully he comes back for more than just play-by-play this year.  Super Dave is one of Coach’s pitchers to watch.  I don’t see him on the roster, so either I misheard the podcast, or Coach doesn’t know his players’ names… either is possible… Assuming he/I mean Super Nick, this guy has had 5 straight 100 strikeout seasons on the mound.  Fun fact (because I’m about to mention me): Nightmare has never had 5 straight seasons with 100 Ks.  That is SHOCKING and impressive.  Okay Coach, I’ll watch.  From a distance.  Cause you know, Hopkins sucks.

16.  Millers.  Is this the year Bliss finally gets some run support?  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… The Millers look… familiar.  I reckon they’ll continue to be a very competitive team that will play a lot of close games.  At the very least they don’t have to deal with Vlade anymore, so there will be a morale boost for sure.  For Bliss Jr., I’m working on my Wild roster trivia.  Just for you.

15.  Blue Sox.  Not all the readers of the article will get this, but if a team could ever recreate the “magic” of the old Expos, it might be this team.  There is a lot of experience here.  Tons of talent… but I also expect a lot of beers to be consumed.  Neither 20, nor 2 wins on the season would surprise me, and neither would a decent run at Wifflepalooza….  This will be an interesting team to watch.  Maybe.  Can we get a permanent mic for PorkBot?

14. The Twins bring back the second winningest pitcher in HRL history (K-Mart)… and the losingest (K-Mart).  And I know “losingest” isn't a word, and I don’t care.  They also managed to coax fan favorite TT out of retirement… for like the third time.  Is there a stat for most retirements by a single player?  I don’t know what to say about the Twins.  K-Mart is taking his Dude impression to new levels… I don’t know how that will impact his play, but I’d love to see him rock the sweater at the rinks… he’d need it today…  Oh, and Flow rocked the topless look while Mippey5 was still in diapers so… that’s something to say. 

13.  Yankees.  Outside my top ten for the first time… ever?  I believe the talent is still here, but I think this team could take a while to sort itself out.  A lot of new faces.  And a lot of competition in Eagan.  I could see some difficultly managing all the talent on this squad and figuring everyone’s role.  Rocket will do a great job, as always, but I worry there will be some growing pains.  I wonder if Jussie Smollett is a Yankees fan…  Also, Rocky is a beast.  Just a reminder.

12.  Marlins.  This seems a low ranking… but sources tell me, I have no idea what to do with this team… Box disappeared last year but is rumored to be back.  He may or may not bring Rex with him.  And if so, how often?  Is the mighty Fedawg really returning?  I saw their new guy, Yak, and he could be the Catfish replacement (at the plate, not in our hearts) they’ve been searching for.  Everyone knows I LOVE me some professor.  Did Shipwreck stop having kids, allowing him to show up more often?  I mean, I just don’t know what the deal is with this team and could see any number of outcomes this season… but really, if there weren’t any questions surrounding the Marlin’s and their line-up, would it even be the Marlins?

11.  Manatees.  A Kardinal and a Padre walk into a bar… out comes a Manatee?  I don’t know, but there’s a joke in there somewhere.  Not a good joke, but a joke nonetheless.  I think this is the section of the rankings I’ll just pretend I put thought into because really, who knows.  A lot of talent on teams ranked… 7-14… but who knows who will show up, who will drink too much, who will have kids with baseball games on Thursday nights… I don’t know, but I do know on any given night I think the Manatees could beat just about anyone.  The real questions, however: 1) Did the gold chain transfer to the manatees?  And 2) What about the bird seed?  Come on, inquiring minds… might think to ask.

10.  Trash Pandas.  If I was ranking teams solely on team name and/or mascot, the Pandas would be a lock for top 3.   Unfortunately, that is not the case.  However, these are my rankings, I can rank on whatever basis I choose, and therefore the Pandas are Top 10 (for now) based almost entirely on their selection of the best team name the HRL has ever heard (sorry Crawdads, you’re #2).  As for the team, MacGruber is a solid veteran presence.  He’s underrated on the mound and the Panda’s can ride his arm to a few wins for sure.  The rest of the team isn't the IronPigs 2.0 I thought it would be… Trash Pandas… that’s awesome.

9.  Rumble Ponies.  Welcome to the top ten.  These guys won Wifflepalooza in their first year.  They can hit, they can field, they can pitch… but can they drink?!  Yes.  They can.  Last year in my Week 1 rankings I said, “I feel bad for them.  Both because they’re choosing this year to start, and also because they’ll never make the same splash the Lugnuts did last year.”  Wow, could I have been any wronger… more wrong… I don’t know the word, but the answer is NO.  I could not have been more wrong… oh, that’s it “more wrong.”  Anyways, these guys did in fact splash like the Lugnuts.  Not in the same way (i.e. being super fun and drunk), but they were super fun and good at wiffles.  Styx with an X or GMX or I don’t know is one of Coach’s pitchers to watch.  I’d disagree with that and say most of this team is a player to watch, I see big things for all these guys in year #2.

8.  Chihuahuas.  The puppies.  Remember when these guys lost 10 in a row?  Nope.  Neither do I.  I just had a dilemma....  I was going to try and choose/highlight my favorite Chihuahua, and I realized, it’s a lot like choosing my favorite dog.  I can’t.  Every dog is awesome.  Every Chihuahua is awesome.  I can’t pick my favorite.  I wish I could.  Dammit.  It’s so tough.  I wish it wasn’t.  Then I thought maybe I’d go negative and pick my least favorite Chihuahua… I can’t do that either.  Man, I wish I could be negative about these guys.  Oh wait, I just picked my least favorite: A-Jizz.  In 2019 he promised me a Natty Light lemonade… and never delivered.  I wish he would have.  You let me down A-Jizz, so you are the worst good boy on the squad!  Is that me fishing for a free beer?  Maybe.  But do I really like these guys?  Definitely.  P.S. I AM GROOT!

7.  Americans.  These guys won 25 games in 2019?  Not surprising.  Me and my bestie KB and new bestie Lulu sit around a lot talking about it.  Like, nonstop.  We’ve been bro’ing so hard this off season… This team will get back to winning 20-25 games and still end up in Wifflepalooza.  They’ll win that and then have to deal with… whomever, I dunno, but that always seems to be the case.  My hope for you guys is you somehow escape Wifflepalooza.  Lulu is a Coach pitcher to watch.  I agree with that wholeheartedly.  Watch.  Don’t listen.  Just watch.

6.  [Racist Team Name].  Well, Webby screwed me (and now I’m pregnant).  Hahahaha.  Anyways, he took my replacement name for these guys, so I need to come up with a new team name to replace this racist one.   Milestones Chops will hit this year:  1200 Runs (1164), 1300 hits (1246) 400 HRs (398).  Not too shabby.  Daubs will hit: 300 HRs (278), 700 RBI (656).  And Squirrel’s saaaaays, his hitter to watch is Sanchez… Wow.  Hot take.  Anyways, are there any records Sanchez doesn’t have yet?  If so, he’ll get them this year.  And don’t forget they still have Matty, Shandy, and The Man.  These guys are a name change away from me really wanting to join this Mount WiffMore of the HRL.  Sod Poodles.  Trying it out for a test run… 

5.  RubberDucks.  This team is tough.  Last time we saw them, they had a Wish.  But now they have an Old Yeller.  I dunno.  On the one hand, I hate saying anything good about Stache.  On the other hand, I think he may be my “watch this guy, he’s super underrated” player of the year….  he will be good.  They will be good.  They can hit and pitch.  Also, Face is one of my new favorite human beings… they have a lot going for them.  FACE TIME!  Remember that.

4.  Huck Finn and the Vibes.  The biggest challenge of the season for me will be staying positive when I discuss the Vibes.  Because a) they’re the Vibes, so obviously, ick; but also b) Huck Finn.  What’s a guy to do?  I dunno, talk about the next team?  Ok.

3. Mets.  Charwall, JC, Mippey5, and Taco.  Sounds great.  All this team really needs is a guy (or gal) to be their fourth best hitter and fourth best pitcher… That was a joke that is probably falling very flat.  They asked me to join their team.  I’m not sure why, I wouldn’t add a whole lot to this squad.  Coach says watch Taco as an underrated pitcher… I mean, what?  He’s obviously never witnessed any of the Taco-Nightmare pitching battles… where Nightmare quite often swung at (and missed terribly) pitches that end up hitting him (me) in the wiener… Actually, I probably added “underrated…”  that makes more sense.  It just occurred to me that now we’ll get to see JC in low def replays every week.  That’s cool!

2. Baby Cakes.  Squirrel listed Psych as a hitter to watch.  Duh.  That is a grown a$$ man (in a scrawny body).  If I were asked to be on a podcast about players to watch, I’d have chosen HOV… just sayin’.  Oh, and Coach says watch Seuss...  It is apparent Coach and Squirrel were just mailing it in by the end because, duh again.  So… This is the part of the Rankings when I think to myself, who cares?  And Ron Burgundy has an answer… Hey, serious question, did any of you HRL whiskey fans try the Ron Burgandy Scotch that was available a couple years back?  I was super curious… but never did…  

1.  Crawdads.  Number 1?  Why?  First and foremost, I want to jinx this team.  The only place to go is DOWN.  Secondly, Griz.  Thirdly, BabyFace.  Fourthly, Smallpox.  Fifthly, Webby.  The season record for team HRs: 187 (2011 Orioles: Aquaman, TJ, Shants, Beardface, Whiskers).  Fun fact their worst hitter hit .344 with 16 HRs that year.  They had more bombs than strikeouts (177). They scored 381 runs.  421 Hits… Ha, now I’m just listing all the season stats I think this team is going to break.  I think the big “question” with this squad is in regards to pitching, but when your team goes and scores… 390 runs in a season (for you slow readers, that averages to 10 runs per game, every game), I think you could have Vlade out their pitching and still win every game.  HAHA VLADE BURN!  Squirrel’s hitters to watch: Griz and Baby Face.  Squirrel really went out on a limb and picked a couple guys who average 30+ bombs and a .350 average as his guys to watch!!  Love you Squirrel.  Coach made Griz an honorable mention for pitching… well, someone’s gotta be the #2 for this team.   Or not really cause, you know, they’re going to score ALL the runs.


*I don’t know care if Dumpy was actually ROY last year, but as far as I’m concerned, he should have been.

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