Kickball in the City

Friday, September 29, 2006

Take a few bites from the brownie


I am a person who will try pretty much anything - twice. My philosophy on this is that a one time sampling can be misleading. The Girl Scouts have a similar idea called something like brownie biting, where you have to try things three times. I like these ideas because it gives you a better idea of what things are all about. And that's the philosophy I am going to use for indoor kickball this winter.

Last year a friend of mine asked me to play on his indoor kickball team with District Sports, which I chronicled - somewhat - here. To say the least, it left me wanting. While the price was nice, just $35, you got basically your money's worth. The sponsor bar was abysmal featuring: Balkan Dancing, Whiny Bitchass Poetry Night, and was crowded with rude psudo-hippies and wannabe beatniks. There was no room for flip cup and we were not treated well. It's fine if that's what you want your bar to be, but then don't sponsor kickball!

The "parties" were basically happy hour special drink prices. The food specials at the bar weren't that good. The school we played in was Cardozo High School - not exactly the best. Water dripping from the ceiling, lead paint chips all around, and asbestos falling every time the ball struck anything. The flip cup tournament was run poorly too. The guy who ran it was nice enough, he was just clueless when it came to kickballers.

So now NAKID attempts indoor kickball this winter accoring to Sideshow Bob's craigslist stalking. I am intrigued. I checked out the rules and they seem fun and similar to the District Sports ones. The bar is the same as the the one we currently go to so I am assuming that will be good. Hopefully they will make some improvements on the things I have mentioned here that need help and things will go well.

I like indoor kickball because it's generally looser than spring and fall kickball and it's a great way to meet people from across the kickball landscape. I met many other WAKA and DC Kickball people last winter and hope that continues over this season.

At least I know there won't be any Balkan Dancing* at the bar...




*Kickball Homer has nothing against the Balkans or the Balkanese people or their style of dance, I just don't want it to get in the way of flip cup.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sometimes, we all CAN get along


It's an old saying in radio and such that less than 1 percent of your audience will ever respond. Most of the time when people do it's to tell you how wrong you are or how much of an ass you are making of yourself for something you have said. I assume blogging is much the same way. As I have chronicled and the comments show, most of the responses I get are from people telling me that they disagree with me. And that's okay by me, I appreciate people writing and reading at all! Further, I don't need validation from people on my opinions, everyone has their own and basically, in the end I'm right anyway.

Last night though I had a rare experience - a number of people I talked to actually agreed with me. Some of them had read KITC and were using it to reference things and only one person their knew I was Kickball Homer. It was kinda cool. We were at our usual NAKID (Tuesday is NAKID kickball) kickball bar and here are some of the things I heard:

I am really glad that they moved the game times back after one week. Last season we played with WAKA and had to pay extra money for fields with lights and they never turned the lights on. At least here they listen.

I love that there are always things going on to pick from. You can really see that the money goes back into the league.

I play in both WAKA and DC Kickball and I like this league the best. It just seems so well organized.

Why would I ever go back to WAKA, so I can be treated like crap again?

There are a few more but I get sick from the sugary sweetness already. In addition, a number of people have thanked the guy who started it for starting the league at all. I think that's nice and am sure he is glad to hear it but I hope it doesn't swell his head too much. And it's not like there are no problems.

There is one guy who refs for them who has power issues. I mean last night in one of the games a ref came over to try to help the guy out (he was officiating a game by himself) and he shooed the guy away. It took a player from one of the teams playing to point out that they are supposed to have at least two refs for the guy to relent. This guy has reffed a few of my games too and does have some serious issues with control.

I have also mentioned that the registration is a bit of a hassle and I don't like that captains can't email their teams via the website. Also, it seems as though some people get randomly placed on teams (I know this is unavoidable BUT) without regard to whether they will fit in or not. I know a few people who are on teams that never go to the bar, while they go all the time. Maybe next season they can have a team profile or something so people joining alone have an idea of where they would fit best. However, it is my favorite league of all of them in the area and I am glad to see that other people who have had experience in other leagues feel the same way.


Of course everyone in France thinks Jerry Lewis is a genius sooo, we could all be wrong? But I don't think so.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Like Mr T. said...


Ok this is getting ridiculous. I know that many of the people who read my ramblings and ravings play in DC Kickball. I have written things here, some praising and some paddling, DC Kickball in an effort to make it better. The guy who started it takes everything personally. Until now nothing has been meant personally. Until now...

Open letter to the DC Kickball Founder Carter Rabasa:

Hi Carter, this is Kickball Homer. Do me a favor please and stop acting like a jackass and get the WAKA ads off of your Legal Defense Fund page. Seriously dude, you have raised $10 so far and I'm not sure why. You claim to be representing and fighting for "indy" kickball, yet you advertise for the guys suing you. Further, the only way you get money from the google ads is when people actually click on them. So I am going to help you make money right now by clicking on the WAKA ad which will take me to their site. There they state that they need to protect everyone from you (well not you directly, but you know who they mean) by using intellectual property laws to sue you.

I wrote about this, not directly to you, last week and the ads went away; now they are back. So, I am writing to you directly as a paying customer of your league because while I think your fighting WAKA is noble, you can't advertise for them at the same time. If you want money from me in addition to my registration fee, you have to be smarter than this. It is appalling that you are STILL advertising for them.

If you continue to put ads for them up on your site, I have to draw the conclusion that you only care about money. When you initially started the league I don't think it was the case, but if this continues what other conclusion can I draw? And if you're the same as them then don't bother fighting the lawsuit, just fold up and go to school in Texas early. That would be a sad thing, but what's the point?

Just take the damn ads down already Carter. You look like a fool, and not one worthy of pity, but rather scorn.

Sincerely,

Kickball Homer

Friday, September 22, 2006

Don't forget to cover up!


It's party season again in kickball as many of the leagues I play in reach the midway point in the schedule, the parties start to roll out. I don't know if it's me or not, but it seems that the parties are less and less good. That the price seems to be relatively the same for me and my friends to go (anywhere from $5-$20) but the time frames, days of the week, and specials are not so, well, special.

I want to be clear here - I am assessing no blame whatsoever to the volunteers who put these things together. I have done it in the past and know it is no easy task. Basically, you have to go to a bar and promise a certain number of people will show and then beg for an open bar special. Most of them want you to come in when no one's there, but um, that doesn't work. So the price goes up and the volunteer has to haggle. Then, finally, they get a decent price. No help from reps for the leagues or league owners and it sucks. Because these volunteers don't have the time or the savvy in many cases to get the best deal. And if the founders or reps would help, they could throw their weight around. But they don't.

Also, the budgets for three parties in most of my leagues are from $5,000-8,000 (I'm rounding here) which may should like a lot but really isn't. Assuming 200 people will show at a party if you do the math that's about $9 per person the low end and $14 per person on the high end. Most places want to charge at least $20 per person, so the divisions have to charge players. And that sucks.

Here are a few of the parties that have been scheduled recently in the Kash guys league:

**Mid-season Party @ 18th Amendment**When: Saturday, Sept 16th (Time: 8:00 PM -11:00 PM) for $5 (DC Stars) & $15 (guests) All you can drink beer and wine!

Reminder to everyone that the mid-season party is tomorrow night, Friday, September 22 from 6- 11 PM at Adams Mill Bar and Grill.Here's the details....Party specifics: 3 kegs $4.00 Rail Drink Specials $5.00 Kickball Food Specials Specials end at 11pm $5 admission for kickball players and $10 for guests

In addition to these, the ones in California are a total joke as they boast just Happy Hour specials and a small portion of free food as a "party". I mean, a Friday night party with just 3 kegs? Again, I am not blaming the volunteers but it's no wonder that turnout in many division's parties that I have gone to has been around 100 - out of 416 people! In fact Sideshow Bob says that the turnout at one division's party was so bad they didn't even put one picture of it in their GMOT. But I have a solution...

I think that the volunteers on the various division board should just have house parties. Seriously. A keg is not more than $200, so for $1500-2000 for each party you could get 6 or 7 kegs and still have money for chips and stuff. I think this would increase turnout. Finding a place that someone has that can hold 100-200 people shouldn't be that difficult (as long as they rotate out). Put on some music, have a little dance area and people can dance in shifts.

Or if the person has a big house it can be like one of those parties in the 80s movies where everyone had a big house and huge parties with like 1,000 people! Like in Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, or Pretty in Pink. Just make sure no one tp's your trees. Or puts bras on their heads by your computer. That would be cool and fun!



Or you can avoid all of this by trying other leagues, I play in one where the parties are free and no work has to be done. But of course those of you married to your current leagues won't and others will write and tell me I am a schill for NAKID guys - and maybe I am but that doesn't make it any less true. That's fine, just make sure you cover the sofa with plastic before the End of Season parties!

PS Congrats to the DC Kickball guy on finally, after two days, removing the Kash guys ad from his legal defense fund page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When Google Ads go Bad

Normally, I wait until the morning to post, but this is too insane. I will echo some of the comments by Sideshow Bob in the last blog posting, buit have to add a few of my own. And really, DC Kickball founder, if you make it this easy what else can I do?

I get an email from the founder telling me the other day that he keeps less of the money from kickball than I thought. This is a little like coming in late to work and then arguing with your boss that you were only 15 minutes late when she said you were 20 minutes late. Um, you're still in the wrong - and that was the case with him.

Now, he wants me and other kickballers to give him additional monies to cover his court fees. Why not use some of the money that you are NOT returning to kickballers for parties for that? In part, I do understand doing this - I want him to win - but also, based on our last exchange this seems a little out of place.


Then as I scan the letter that accompanies his new legal defense fund page on his blog I see nothing much. I need money there are costs. Ok Ok I'm thinking. Then I look to the left of the page where there are Google ads (by the way, clicking on these ads helps generate money for the cash-needing founder). I freeze. "What in the name of all that is HOLY!" I think. I call Sideshow and tell Sideshow to open the page. Same thing. An ad for WAKA ON THE F'N LEGAL DEFENSE FUND PAGE!!!



So after reading how he needs to fight WAKA and he needs my money to do that, he is helping to advertise for them?! Is this the Twilight Zone? I realize he doesn't control the Google ads. But can't you code into them keywords with parameters like "kickball not WAKA"?? Seriously, is this some kind of bad joke? Money can't be so important to the DC Kickball founder that he would advertise for the guys suing him, can it?

Otherwise I can just click on the WAKA ad to help the DC Kickball guy get a few cents for his defense fund. Mr. Founder, just take the Google ads down, it looks bad.

Are you kidding me?


No doubt Homer will have more to say about this. But I couldn't wait for his commentary because I just can't believe what I'm reading.

DCKickball has started a Legal Defense Fund, says the site: The DCKickball Legal Defense Fund was created to provide an opportunity for people and organizations who care about protecting the rights of independent kickball league across the U.S. to operate without interference or intimidation.

Perhaps the founder should go back to his day job instead of asking for hand outs. What's next? Throwing on some ragged, smelly clothes outside and panhandling outside Caribou Coffee until 7, then switching back into some fashionably vintage-looking tee and partying it up at Tom Tom?

Kickball friends, put your money to better use. Support your sponsor bar and treat your hard-working bartenders to a shot or two.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Grotesque is in the eye of the beholder


I received this email from the founder of DC Kickball and figured it was only right to share it with my readers. It read "latest factual error" in the subject line:

"
In fact, now 25 percent of the money left over goes to the division for the party. That's only 5 percent more than the Kash guys!" I know you don't care about accuracy, but you really amaze me. WAKA (in divisions I know about) provides $12/head for a Division's budget. DCKickball provides $20/head. That puts us up 66%.

I find your whole blog grotesque. It's about as even-handed as FOX news. And what's worse, every time I have to meet
with my lawyers to deal with developments in WAKA's lawsuit, I'm reminded of the pettiness that pervades "indy" kickball in DC, both in its practioners and many of its players.


I'm sure you'll pass this around, post it, or just have fun behind your anonymity. But you can't even begin to realize how ifficult you make it desirable for someone like me to keep doing what I'm doing,despite what you imagine to be fantastic financial rewards. Regardless of your connections to other kickball leagues, you are at worst grossly mistaken about much of what you say, or a malicious liar. I hope you continue to enjoy
picking on DCKickball.


If I am incorrect about the money allotted to the divisions for parties then I apologize. I do recall when checking out DC Kickball to register that there was something posted about 25% going back to the divisions, but it may have stated $20. If so, I was mistaken about the amount. However, what I was not mistaken about was this statement by the league's founder "Once all costs are accounted for (insurance, equipment, overhead, etc), all money is directed to the 'party' account." is not true anymore, and that is according to him.


I do want to address this issue of my anonymity which some people seem to think is something bad. Please note the tone in emails and comments that I receive. Imagine what it would be like if people knew who I was. Maybe they would talk less openly to me, maybe they wouldn't talk to me at all, and that wouldn't be much fun. Plus, it's kinda funny that while he calls me out on mine, a link here on his page goes to another kickball blog that also is anonymous. I guess you can only be anonymous if you write nice things.

With regard to finding my whole blog "grotesque", everyone is entitled to think whatever they want. And to not read my blog, nor link to it on their site. I'm sure the other leagues have problems with what I write as well. That's too bad. I am free to write about my experiences with all of the leagues I play in. I don't like having to pay for parties during the season after paying a fee to play. What I think is grotesque is stating that a league will be run to give all the money back to the players and then not living up to that.

Finally, I am not picking on DC Kickball. Nor am I picking on WAKA, NAKID, or District Sports. I write this blog to share some of my kickball experiences and to try to make the people who run leagues, as volunteers or founders, hear some of the concerns of kickballers. If it's things they can't handle or don't want to hear maybe they should quit. After all I am sure that Mr. Founder has said much the same, if not worse, things about other leagues. Maybe I am "grossly mistaken" that the people who run leagues in DC actually care what their players think.

So, if I was wrong, I apologize readers. Sometimes I do make mistakes.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Everything is great - in theory


Ah, humble beginnings... Sideshow Bob did some dork searching this weekend and dug up some interesting items from the archives of a season gone by in the DC Kickball scene. And I do mean DC Kickball, not just kickball in DC. It seems that there were some admirable thoughts from the league's founder in the not so distant past and in a place not so far from here. But we all know that even the road to kickball Hell is paved with good intentions.

I submit from the founder's blog archives:

DCKickball Manifesto What would the perfect kickball league be like, if you were building it from scratch and could learn from the past?


A noble start and very understated. Here are some of the ideals for the founder's perfect kickball league:

Reward Volunteers People who volunteer to help run the league play for free. That's the least a league could do. This applies to board members, team captains, and season-long referees.

Communication Create a website to effectively communicate important information: The current week, game match-ups (locations/times) Results from past weeks Maps/directions to fields News/blog BB boards Set-up listserves for all relevant entities in the league: the captains the board each team

FUN! Priority #1 is to reach an agreement with a bar over drink/food specials for kickball players.
Having tables set-up in advance is a plus. Once all costs are accounted for (insurance, equipment, overhead, etc), all money is directed to the "party" account. Three parties (pre/mid/post) are probably sufficient. Insufficient attention has been paid towards making the happy hours more fun. This will be rectified.


I play in DC Kickball and think it is fair, a year and a half after this post, to see how it has help up to its original manifesto. Let's keep in mind that at the time, DC Kickball was a non-profit and since has been turned into a business. I think that matters.


Reward Volunteers: the original concept was a clear departure from WAKA, where the founder of DC Kickball served as uncompensated division president. From speaking board members they do play for free but the season long refs I'm not sure do. If someone has info to the contrary please let me know.


Communication: The website does tell you where you are playing, when, and the times but are not particularly attractive. If there is a team listserve for captains to communicate to players, none of mine have ever used it. As we know from past entries there was an interactive blog that since a few posts from me here has been shutdown and is used now just for announcements. Their now is a league message board that you have to be pre-approved to be on and if you disagree with anything you are usually flamed quickly.


Fun: This is the second (after communication) if not MOST important aspect for many kickball players - is the league fun? I think it's difficult to say that most are not. However there were certain goals in mind for the beginning of DC Kickball. The first, "... reach an agreement with a bar over drink/food specials for kickball players" was acheived. The second, "Once all costs are accounted for (insurance, equipment, overhead, etc), all money is directed to the 'party' account", may have been the case in season one but has not been this year. In fact, now 25 percent of the money left over goes to the division for the party. That's only 5 percent more than the Kash guys!


The third, "Three parties (pre/mid/post) are probably sufficient" has been upheld. You do get three parties and also a flip cup tournament. The last, "Insufficient attention has been paid towards making the happy hours more fun. This will be rectified" To my knowledge there has been no schedule for happy hours officially from DC Kickball. I don't know why, I guess it's just not a priority. Thus, this has been a failure.


I think overall out of these three goals, the first is half achieved, the second half achieved, and the third half achieved. Thus in my ranking of leagues DC Kickball rates about the Kash guys one because they are cheaper and they do give 5 percent more back to parties. But that's not saying much.


It seems that in the beginning the founder had the right idea - let's make a league that's player friendly, fun, and less expensive and better than WAKA. As a non-profit this goal seems to have been met. Since it has been made a business though it has become WAKA jr. - smaller scale, a little cheaper, a little more given back. He makes the money, kickballers do the work - sound familiar? At least the volunteers get to play for free.


That's hardly the "ideal kickball league" he was going for. But then, Communism is good in theory too.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thanks for your generosity


Tomorrow could be the greatest day in the history of the country! Okay, maybe that's overstating it a bit. But it's not overstating it to say that children in playgrounds, gym teachers, and adult kickballers will have their lives made better tomorrow. Okay, that's a bit much too. Let's just say that tomorrow, sanity takes over the Kash guys minds for once.

As of tomorrow, the WAKA kickball rules will be FREE for people to use. That's right! No longer do people have to cower in fear at possibly infringing on their "copyrighted" rules. They have been oh so generous to this point, as they state:

WAKA has always provided free license to schools, parks, charities, and other select organizations...

Odd because just a year or so ago they charged DC Kickball with using trade secrets including the rules in their frivolous lawsuit. Maybe they've just had a change of heart. Or maybe they realize that, incredibly I know, they didn't create kickball nor its rules. Maybe they realize that trying to sue people for using a red ball and putting bases out and then kicking a ball is not something you can actually copyright.

Now, other leagues have had a share alike agreement with users of their rules as long as they are given credit for the use of the rules. WAKA has always believed you should pay them. In fact, WAKA a few years ago they made it so that you could not even print out the rules - EVEN THOUGH YOU DID PAY THEM AND WERE PLAYING WITH WAKA! Maybe no one was willing to pay them and still - gasp - were able to form leagues and play anyway with their own rules. Or maybe, as their PR piece states:

...WAKA is happy to take these extra steps toward upholding its original mission statement to "provide and promote the joy of kickball to those young at heart".

Although it seems to me that the "extra steps" were: making it impossible to download the rules, suing people, and copyrighting the rules. It also seems to me that if one was providing and promoting "the joy of kickball" one would not be suing other people or threatening them with lawsuits. But that's just me.

Fear not though, the Kash guys have trademarked the term "World Kickball Champions" and now "New American Pastime" - I guess I owe them money now, I wish I had a Kash register sound effect. So they won't be poor.

Also, the latest press release boasts 25,000 players. It's been quite a year for the Kash guys - up and down wise. Tiffany, one of their spokesman, stated they had 50,000 in a CBS interview. An earlier statement from them stated 10-15,000 - and now they've reached 25,000. I wonder what the next number will be - apparently it's anyone's guess!

I'll credit the newer leagues and the independents for forcing the Kash guys' hand on this one. They tried to bleed even more money out of people to use their rules and it didn't work. What's more, neither did their threats. If people want to play a game, they will, and that's what the WAKA guys learned here.

No word on whether they are copyrighting the use of t-shirts to play in or rubber bases yet, so stay tuned. Maybe the next press release will boldly proclaim:

WAKA ANNOUNCES "FREE KICKBALL AIR" FOR ALL
That would be so nice of them - letting us breathe their air...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Warning: This Message is Not WAKA Approved


We all know the old adage about being careful what you wish for blah blah. Well I recently had a chance to see this in action in kickball on two separate occasions on what I will now refer to as WAKAkickball365.com. First, the first...

Some brand spanking new shiny faced WAKA Rep out of the Boston area has been all over the message board above talking to WAKA players. He started a thread for people who want "Have your voice heard" to WAKA where he was soliciting ways to improve the Kash guys league. He came up with a list that consisted of:

More visibility by WAKA reps, and more consistency. At least one regional tournament in Washington, DC. Make national tournaments larger, and more accessible, but consider allowing at-large teams in for a fee. Use KB365 Power Rankings for tournament seedings. Regional Social Director positions. More social programming during off-seasons. Have all divisions in the same region share a Mid-Season Party and an End-of-Season Party. More / better communication of changes to players. Better rewards for board members. Better support from national level for board members.

Some of them matter to most kickballers, some of them wouldn't. Frankly, using some poll to establish dominance in kickball is like asking 7 year olds who is the best at playing jacks - neither matter. A check of these things shows that very few are actually enforcable. More visibility? Does that mean we take pics of the WAKA rep to show he was there? Better support from board members, more communication of changes to players? More than what? Better than whom? Make tournaments larger? How does one do that exactly (they invited ALL WAKA teams)?

In addition the other ones like better rewards for board members and more social programming don't address the key problem: Those of us that volunteer have real jobs that we have to do. Why can't WAKA reps, like Mr. Bright Shiny Face run the divisions and plan off-season activities? Remember, they have to be WAKA approved too because if you do something with another group they will get mad (as I learned from NAKID).

Another guy who is so in love with WAKA that I hope they take him to breakfast every morning put most of the emphasis for reforms on players! He writes:

To the other readers -- do JSB a favor and be more specific -- you're likely to get the founders saying, "oh, more beer, less dues, more games, everyone says that -- blah, blah, blah." Think about specific ways the goals can be accomplished.

So, I added my two cents to the discussion:

I find it interesting Lost Sage that you note here that the impetus is on the players to come up with specific ways to respond to issues. Excuse me, but those of us who pay the money should not then also have to tell these people HOW to fix the problems that we encounter. That's their job. I have not read one single post that read "more beer, lower dues" or anything similarly trite. I guess this is your way of being funny. And on your marketing idea, that was addressed pointedly in another post and your lack of a response, which you usually have no problem coming up with, spoke volumes.

Equally interesting is that none of the suggestions on Kickball in the City are addressed by JSB. Like for instance, giving a little back to consumers in the way of sharing benefits, allowing free membership for WAKA champions in the next season, sporadic rules changes arbitrarily decided by presidents, and some others by other posters dealing with the quality of shirts and other issues. While "listening and being more visible" is great as a missions statement, it is hardly enforcable. Real change would be implementing something tangible for customers of WAKA.

To which the WAKA rep wrote back:

I'm not sure who you are, Kickballhomer, because I haven't read any of your prior posts. However, I put out a specific call to action for WAKA players to give their suggestions on bettering the user experience - not for people to direct me to a separate blog, or whatever Kickball in the City is. If you have a few ideas on KBitC that you'd like to see implemented, then great, bring them here. But to say that you "find it interesting" that I haven't addressed any points from a completely separate website which is unaffiliated with KB365 or WAKA... that's ludicrous. Either help shape the WAKA user experience for the better or don't, but don't call me out for not seeking out every single kickball blog.

Got it Mr. Bright Shiny Face. Only the 10 or so people who post regularly on a message board will get their ideas considered, no outside input need apply. Hmm, I wonder if Don Rumsfeld has relatives up in the Boston area... Hey, Mr. BSF if you click here you could win a million dollars. Oh right, you don't read outside interests, sorry about that. Gee that's certainly the attitude that will get more people to join WAKA and is a great example of how he will put those reforms to work himself. You know Mr. BSF, we DO pay your salary.

Then in another section someone outside of WAKA dared post on a topic on the message board that billed itself, and so I believed it was, NOT a Kash guys only thing only to get this response:

If you are a Nakid Parrot head, than go to Nakid's web site and talk to them....or aka better know as people who care! This point has been run into the ground......this is a WAKA web site, so that makes all of this site and all of the boards my domain. No one really cares what Nakid thinks about bunting on this site......

Granted, this post came from a guy who is all about being a four or five time WAKA champ and how this fills his life with glee, joy, and meaning. And who then states that his team will beat anyone anywhere in kickball (Hey, I know a bunch of fourth graders who would love to take you up on that since it seems to mean about as much to them as it does to you because, you know, they don't have real lives yet) and that he is proud to be with a national organization. Good for you man, you told her!

Someone later posted it's not a Kash guys website, but de facto that is what it has become. Outside interests need not enter. All hail the Kash guys, they can do no wrong so you cannot tell us we did. Maybe they should change their logo to those three monkeys... Speak no WAKA ill, See No WAKA ill, Say No WAKA ill*. With attitudes like the two above, the Neanderthal mentality leaves them not that far up the evolutionary ladder.

*Except on our approved message board and you better have specific ways to fix problems and you better not play for another league and you better have paid your registration. Then fill this form out in triplicate, submit it to Mr. BSF and we will consider thinking about it at our next meeting.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Day to Reflect


Today, I don't know, I've been crying all morning and kickball and almost everything seems unimportant. September 11th always has this effect on me, even 5 years later. I really don't understand the people who say they are not really effected by it or they didn't know anyone effected. 3,000 people died. 3,000 people who lived in the same country as you, were at work just like you, and didn't do anything but live their lives that day. I don't understand it.

Here's how I found out:

I have a friend who was working at a brokerage firm in New Jersey. I was running late for work that day. I was awakened by his message on my answering machine telling me that the first tower had been hit by a plane and no one knew what was going on. I turned on the television thinking that it was just a crash, got in the shower and was ready to go to catch the bus. Then the second tower was hit and I knew something was going on. I wasn't going to go to work. It's a good thing too. The bus would have left me at the Pentagon metro station just about the time the plane slammed in there. The windows in my apartment, about 6.5 miles from the Pentagon, shook like they were going to break. I thought the country was being attacked all over. I went to the vigil at the Capitol and gave out small flags to people. It was quiet with some people singing, but most people I think just still in shock.

Much like everyone else, I felt angry, sad, and helpless. Work was closed for about a month. I decided to go volunteer at the Red Cross by helping to load supplies into a warehouse and then onto the trucks to send to people. The outpouring of support from people was amazing. People would drive up with their car, SUV, or truck full, give us the stuff, and asked what we needed more of - then some would come back within an hour. It still makes me marvel out how great Americans are.

About a month later I was at Ground Zero. It was still ash covered and smelled of smoke. It was a giant hole in the ground with remnants of the towers still there. Cards and hand made signs from people searching for their loved ones were everywhere. There was a line of NYFD and NYPD shirts, signs of support, and other mementos across the street along that little red church that faces the site. It still gets me today. All the signs of people hoping to find their families, they were everywhere. That little Police station thing in Times Square was covered with them; drawings, pictures, and contact info.

If you haven't been there, you need to go before they build whatever they are building there. I think it's everyone's duty to pay respect to all of those people who died just for being Americans. And for all of the people who gave their lives helping to save others.

Then tell me it didn't effect you.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Things that make you go hmmm


I realize that running a kickball league is probably not too easy. People like me and others claim to have all the answers and are usually offering them to whomever will listen and that just adds to the difficulty. So unlike many others, I am not one of the people that think it's a crime to make money from people who play kickball. I mean people make money off of kids playing Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders and no one complains. I also realize that running a league gets those people certain perks from beer companies, bars, and other partners and I'm okay with that too. Having stated this, a post on kickball365 caught my attention:

The NAKID season is two weeks old and has given away two sets of Redskins tickets on the 45 yard line for games later this season. Sunday NAKID is raffling off two SETS of Redskins Opening Night tickets. The drawings are free to all NAKIDs. My question is, how can it be that NAKID has 4 pairs of tickets to raffle off with a smaller number of players than WAKA and being newer than DC Kickball and neither of these groups have EVER raffled anything like this off for free? Makes one think maybe the goodies are staying at the top while once again the players pay the bills.

Oh, but I forgot, you can go to WAKA night at the DC United for $18 and if 300 people show up they will put WAKA's name on the scoreboard. Oh, and broomball Caps games. That's true.

Having played for many seasons, I do not recall a time when any of my leagues before offered free tickets to the Redskins. Many times as a division president in WAKA I bought things with division money to raffle away for charity - but never received anything like that from them for free. Although as a president you are invited to a limo ride on the bar owners where they take you on a bar crawl - for free. But that doesn't benefit everyone. And we do get bumper stickers from WAKA. I wonder why we get nothing from DC Kickball; I mean how much can a sticker cost? And it's free advertising!

In any event, I hope that this cool promotion from NAKID will lead the others to follow suit and use some of their (in WAKA's case for sure) vast influence to give back some to its players. We know you're not going to give any money back or reduce your cost guys, so how about sharing some of those perks you get? Hmmm?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Potted Meat of DC Kickballers?


Ah Spam, the potted lunch meat of champions. I actually like Spam a little. It's not that bad and if you pile other stuff on it it's actually ok. It's huge in Hawaii, where some restaurants even have it on the menu. This is thanks to the GIs who were stationed there and made to eat it. But alas, I write today about another form that's not so loved: Kickball blogoshpere spam.

Dictionary.com defines spam as: Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail. In reviewing some of the comments on my last post. I'm not sure that they meet the requirements to be spam as defined here; but they are certainly in the neighborhood. So I created Kickball blogosphere spam as a new term to define these.


Normally when I post something negative about one of the groups I play in I get a few emails, usually anonymous, that have several curse words in them and I don't post those. You want to be a tough guy and write that stuff, leave your name. Most of the time though they are fairly funny and germane to the topic so I approve them. That's how it goes for WAKA and NAKID anyway. DC Kickball though, operates on another level.

DC Kickball must have a scout that reads my post and radios back to the base camp, "Code Red we have a negative email, send in the troops" and then the comments come in. Not only that, but based on stat counter, there is then an email sent out that must encourage readers to post a message (and give them examples) because within minutes of those being read, there are more comments. And unlike with the other groups, they are always oddly similar. Note:

I personally thought the trophy was quite awesome and original. Perfect to be displayed at a KICKBALL event. Real trophies can be for real sporting events- like Bocce :) I kid I kid.

Those were the best and funniest trophies I had ever seen. Who cares about a fancy trophy? More thought probably went into the homemade trophy than simply buying one from a store. In the end, we play KICKBALL. A goofy "sport" deserves a goofy trophy.

personally, I dig the homemade trophy. Having won a waka division wal-mart trophy in a previous year and having won a homemade trophy with accompanying bar tab, I can tell you my team had a lot more fun fighting over who was taking home the spray painted masterpiece. Shiny, sparkly and completely stupid. It was totally perfect for a kickball trophy.

For what its worth, I like the goofy homemade trophy. It seems, well, more suitable for the sport. Having won a waka division trophy in a previous year, and having won another such silly trophy, I can tell you that our team members fought much more over ownership of the dopey trophy. And enjoyed the accompanying bar gift certificate. Really, we'd rather the drinks and homemade fun than a cheap $20 wholesale trophy.

Now, gentle readers, I like getting comments - but please. These all came within minutes of one another and are strikingly similar, no? I especially like the two that emphasize KICKBALL with all caps. And the two that specifically use the word "goofy" though I did not in my post. And the mention of having had a bar tab and trophies from WAKA. Maybe it's a coincidence, and maybe Spam will win food of the year.

In the future fellow DC Kickballers, just use a little more originality when posting. I understand you like the league and that's fine. Hey, none of you mentioned my praise for DC Kickball for the lighting issue which means I'm a fan too, just gimme a break. It's a little pathetic. Much like the Catholic church still reciting the Lord's Prayer (you guys know that was supposed to be an example of a prayer, not an actual one, right?), these comments are clearly cookie cutter. Next time have the scout leave some spots blank like in Mad Libs so you can add some of your own thoughts.

Leave the Spam to Hormel - or at least make them the sponsor meat for DC Kickball and get something out of it. Spamburgers all around!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chocolate covered kudos


Complaints from kickballers rarely get listened to. Whether it's because the HMFICs don't care or because they just view us as drunken piles of money I don't know. So when complaints are addressed, I believe kudos are in order. Or at least, as in this case, partial kudos.

DC Kickball last fall experienced many problems due to poor planning. Some games were called off after three innings due to lighting issues. Game start times had to be moved up. Many DC Kickballers were left angry - and some just left. The founder of the league though, has heeded the words of his customers in this case and decided to act, witness this post from him:

For anyone who played kickball last Fall, you know how rough things can get as the sun starts setting earlier and earlier. Games getting moved up to 6:15pm, games being shortened to 3 innings, you get the picture.

So this Fall we decided to do something about this. Starting Week 4, we will be moving to Stead Park (map).
Stead Park is located near the corner of 17th and P St, just a couple of blocks away from the Dupont Metro. You can see a map showing the journey from Stead Park to Tom Tom on the
Adams Morgan Division website.

Stead Park has a lot of things going for it: size, grass and LIGHTS. Fields with lights cost more than fields without lights, but can you really put a price on getting in a full 5-innings of kickball goodness? I think not.


I would debate the last line, but overall I applaud this measure - with one caveat. I am a little concerned by the cryptic line, "Fields with lights cost more than fields without lights, but can you really put a price on getting in a full 5-innings of kickball goodness? I think not." I will assume that this means that it is costing more from his profit margin and not that he is going to charge us more this season. If that's the case, thanks very much. If it's not... well that will be another blog entry.

While I could argue that the thought could have gone into this before the season started, thus meaning that we would be at the same fields this whole season, I won't. And while others have argued that it's a far walk now from the fields to the bar, I disagree. The walk is further than it was, but it's no further than most other leagues distance to their sponsor bars. And now we have lights, which is a step in the right direction, and more than other leagues would do upon hearing complaints.

However...

A few entries ago I mentioned that the flip cup champions in DC Kickball didn't get a trophy for winning nor did they get a mention on the DC Kickball website. Voila, the mention appeared. Voila, at the end of season party a trophy appeared. But the trophy was not really a trophy at all. I was reminded of this by the article in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine. In the picture at the link you see one of the kickball "trophies". I use quotes because these are spray-painted things that look like they have tin foil on them. Those are hardly worthy of a real business.

In college, they would have been cool and funny because a lot of us were poor (or would have rather spent our money on booze). If I was 7 that would be neat. But when I am paying $50 for a season and the guy running it is taking the lion' share of that money I don't find that cool or neat; it's just crappy. A trophy costs between $25 and $100 depending on what kind you want - I don't think that's too much to ask. He could have even gone to Pier 1 or someplace and just gotten a pitcher for $20 and people would have been happier. It doesn't take much to make kickballers happy, but it takes more than a spray-painted mini keg; and I don't think that's asking a lot. But then, it would take away from his profits.

I may just be disappointed though because I assumed, "Well if it's this cheesy it must be chocolate filled like those coins we used to get at Easter from the Easter Bunny" and it wasn't. Upon touching it and further inspection, it was just a spray-painted kickball type thing and mini keg (note there was one real one, so I assume that counts). Guess I have to wait for the good tin foil wrapped stuff.

So, half a kudo for the DC Kickball guy. Just buy some freakin' trophies, will ya?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Three up and Three Down


One of my friends and loyal readers suggested the other day that I do an entry stating three things that I like and three I dislike about the leagues I have or do play in. It's a not a bad idea, it's rainy outside, and I have some creative juices flowing, so I figured I would do it. Here goes:

District Sports
Likes:
  1. The guy who runs the league is very cool
  2. The indoor kickball rules were lots of fun
  3. It's not overly competitve as a whole

Dislikes:

  1. The bar is the worst as a kickball bar
  2. The refs are not very good
  3. Not nearly enough flip cup

WAKA

Likes:

  1. By far the easiest to register for and use after you login
  2. Plenty of divisions to play in
  3. Offer the opportunity to play in playoffs around the country

Dislikes:

  1. Seem to only care about the money
  2. No one responds to any concerns
  3. Budgets are too small to have great parties we should be able to

DC Kickball

Likes:

  1. Allow more money than WAKA for parties
  2. Allow a certain amount of autonomy to divisions
  3. Guy who runs it is usually around

Dislikes:

  1. Guy who runs it likes himself - a lot
  2. Rules differences between divisions
  3. Debate has been cut off forever on issues

NAKID

Likes:

  1. Cheapest, free parties, most of the money seems to go back to players
  2. Lots of focus on flip cup
  3. Best newsletter of all the leagues by far

Dislikes:

  1. Not the easiest to register/login to
  2. Sometimes too many emails during the week
  3. Don't always have all the shirts for the teams so late joiners get stuck with a generic color

These are the top three of each I could think of off the top of my head. This means they are either the best points or the most pressing needs to be addressed. All of them tend to have hot people and most of them are fun.

So that's it my good and bad for each league in the area. What are yours?