6 Ways To Master The Art Of Backyard Wiffle Ball

Flickr / Chris Radcliff
Flickr / Chris Radcliff

1. Have Complete Disregard For The Health Of Your Shoulder

A google search of Wiffle Ball Shoulder injuries is wildly disappointing — there are no harrowing stories about legends who never were, or gruesome depictions of what exactly happens to your arm after spending summer after summer hurling a wiffle ball as hard as humanly possible.

Feel free to dismember me for making this analogy, but baseball and shoulders are very Ross and Rachel — sometimes on the same page, and other times responsible for extreme personal strife. Which is why over the past few decades, the relationship has been adjusted so that pitchers undergo significantly less stress. Pitch counts and complete games, for instance, have decreased to the point that C.C. Sabathia — who has the most complete games out of any active pitchers in the league — is ranked 997th all-time. (With 38 complete games under his belt, Sabathia, the current pinnacle of excellence in terms of in-game stamina, is a cool 711 complete games behind all-time leader Cy Young.)

For professionals, increased care and attention to long-term health is most definitely a good thing. But for backyard wiffle ball players, it’s certainly unglamorous to stop after a little bit of shoulder pain — especially if your screwball/riser is in top form, and the other pitcher on your team is a poor man’s Tim Wakefield. Since there’s no manager to tell you what’s best for your long-term health, the key is to pitch until you’ve probably torn your labrum.

2. Know The Field

Last weekend, I played basketball at a city park in which the park’s “regulars” were at a clear advantage — the hoop, slightly lower then 10 feet, featured a soft backboard and relatively forgiving rim. Meaning, if you knew exactly which spots on the backboard to hurl the ball against, you could easily turn into a freakishly undisciplined Steph Curry.

I’d argue that backyard Wiffle Ball legends are born by the same means. Chances are, you’ll be playing less at a Parks Department No. 2., and more at a Steele Stadium or Tin Can Alley — a small poke in the right place, which might be an easy out on a normal field, may end up being a home run. Knowing the ins and outs of your specific field is arguably just as important as being fundamentally skilled.

3. Have A Weird Batting Stance

Wiffle ball has a lot to do with exaggerating the campy elements of baseball — the outrageous pitches, the Craig Counsell-like batting stances, and the trademark home run trots. Wiffle ball is baseball, but if it were created by your cool Uncle who constantly buys you Taco Bell against your parent’s will.

A kid I once played with — let’s call him Jared — was best known for his one-hand power-grip. Jared wasn’t that big of a person, but for some reason his one-arm batting stance was more effective than a Blastoise’s hydro pump on an otherwise unbeatable Charizard. If Jared made contact, it would almost always be a long-gone home run. He got the job done in an unorthodox way, which instantly turned him into a low-key legend.

4. Master Odd Pitches

A list about wiffle ball would be radically incomplete without paying tribute to the thing that makes semi-competitive –> competitive wiffle ball so alluring. Here are a few glimpses of greatness:

5. Stats?

I play in this Thanksgiving Football game, in which one of our friends keeps stats. The rest of us find this rather hilarious, given the fact that we play on a geese poop filled field at a park next to an elementary school.

Wiffle ball feels a little bit different. Strikeouts are easy to compile, as are hits, home runs, and BLCPI (Big League Chew Per Inning). Each rag-tag group of wiffle ballers, however, will most likely feature the aforementioned advanced stat guy — who, to the mockery of everyone else, will meticulously calculate ERA, Slugging Percentage, and stolen bases by your invisible runners.

6. Invisible Runner Strategy

Speaking of, the invisible runner is a mainstay in many a backyard wiffle game — as well as kickball, softball, and many other games that make you wish you were still in third grade. According to Wikipedia the rules, of the invisible runner vary by region — meaning that sometimes invisible runners are Mets fans, but other times they are Seattle Mariners fans…some invisible runners are passionate about Wegmans, whilst others live and die by Ralphs. Furthermore, depending on the ethical leanings of your wiffle ball crew, some players have been known to supply their invisible runners with performance enhancing drugs.

Sometimes, the invisible runner can be the hero of the game — don’t forget to thank them for all they do during your championship press conference. TC mark

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