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             Follow The Yellowstick Road 

                                                       by Carl Coffee

       When Jerry asked me to write an article for his website, I didn’t even have to think twice about accepting

his request.   In fact, as soon as I read his email my mind started racing about what I could write about.  I could

be selfish and make it all about me and brag about my league with shameless self-promotion

(WSEM   I could write about the London Wiffleball Tournament, which I am a six year

veteran of, but I think that might get boring.   Or I could write about my jealousy of Jerry and his ‘Wifflehaven’,

where he built some of the nicest most awesome backyard fields in the country.    There is a lot I could write about,

so I will break it up into three portions.


       A.)  Introduce myself.

       B.)  Talk about my wiffle road-trips including my 2009 trip to Chillicothe. And

       C.)  Compare some of WOW’s rules to London’s rules.


       I first discovered competitive wiffleball on the internet in 2004, and it immediately sparked my interest.

All over the country were these leagues, each with their own identity, rules, and personal touches.   When I

was home from college in 2005 before the start of my senior year, I decided to start the Downriver Wiffleball

League.   The website no longer exists but you can check out our hilariously bad website review here-   I immediately learned just how hard it was

to start a league, but we did manage to hold two semi successful tournaments that summer.


       After moving around the country over the next three years, I returned to Southeast Michigan in 2009 and

brought back competitive wiffleball.   Partnering with Brandon Corbett who runs our website now and in reality

is the co-commish, we formed Downriver Wiffle. We held three tournaments over the next two years as we tried

to find enough committed people to form a league.    In the fall of 2010, we finally had enough people to form

Wiffle in Southeast Michigan.


        With rules in place and eight teams signed up for our inaugural 2011 season, we were ready to start.   The

first year had its ups and downs, but in the end the season was a success.    2012 also was a success, and now

we will be entering our third year.    One note about this season is we are changing from the traditional yellow

bats to the Easton ProStix and Louisville C271 bats.   Our pitching has become too dominate, so the news bats

will help balance things out.


          Here is a list of five of my favorite rules/attributes/extras we have that set WSEM apart from other leagues.


           1.  Instead of having one set location, each team in our league has their own home field.

           2.  We host a Monthly podcast.

           3.  I know Jerry wrote about this in one of his articles, but if the first pitch of an at-bat hits the strikezone

                   board and you don’t swing, you are out.

           4.   4 on 4 in the field, which is pretty uncommon in fastpitch play.

           5.  This year we will be introducing steals.   Check out our rules page for a description on how they work.

           (Rule 8D)


          In addition to running my league, I love going on wiffle road-trips.   Ever since going to London in 2004,

I fell in love with traveling to tournaments where I could focus on playing and not having to run it.  I’ve traveled

all over the Midwest to play in tournaments.   In 2005, I made a return trip to London and also took a team to the

inaugural City Championship Tournament which is hosted by the Old Republic Whiffleball League

-   This mid-pitch tournament is still going strong to this

day, and Koby Keck does an amazing job running it.


          In 2009, I heard rumors that the London tournament was not going to be played that year.    It did end up

being held in October however.   I was very anxious to play in London and with the scare of it not being held,

I decided to take a team to another slow pitch tournament in Ohio.   You guys might have heard of it… it is called

Wide Open Wiffleball.  The official name of this tournament was the Matt Howe Benefit Goldstick Championship.

I signed up for the tournament and quickly discovered I was in trouble.   Most of the regulars I take to tournaments

were unavailable, so I brought some less experienced wifflers.  We only won two games, but I had a great time and

it was well worth the five hour trip. 


          Later in the summer of 2009, I went to Illinois for a tournament called Wifflefest-   

Unfortunately I broke a bone in elbow a week before the tournament so I couldn’t actually play, but I still attended.

Wifflefest is a very well-run, and they break up the tournament into two divisions (fast pitch non-baserunning & mid

pitch base running).  I would highly recommend this tournament to competitive players who are curious to see how

they would stack up against the best wiffle talent in the Midwest.


         I took teams to London over the last four years as the Jammers and Flying Squirrels, but in addition to going to

London in 2012, we were a part of the inaugural NWLA Tournament-   I wanted to host

a tournament that brought together NWLA leagues with a unified set of rules to see the type of talent these leagues

had.   I soon realized I did not have the resources to do this on my own, so Chris Gallaway who is the commissioner

of the Potomac Wiffleball League helped and put on a fantastic event.   The NWLA Tournament was played in

Columbus the same weekend as the London tournament.   We played under the lights on Saturday night, and then

finished it off on Sunday Morning.   Eight leagues brought teams to this event, with the Freaky Franchise of the

OCWA taking the crown.   We are already in the early planning stages for this year’s tournament, and we are

expecting even more leagues to play this year.


         I highly recommend taking wiffle road-trips if you have the time, and I highly highly recommend checking out

the NWLA tournament this year.   I know a lot of WOW players go to London, so taking the 20 minute drive to

Columbus afterwards is well worth it and very doable.


         Finishing off this article will be a cry to Brian Wheeler in hopes that he “sees the light”.    What I mean by that

is listing some of the rules that Jerry Driggs and WOW use, that I believe would help improve the London tournament.

I know there are a lot of differences between London and WOW rules, so I will limit it to my favorite three.


1.  Walks.   I have been very vocal on the London message boards about introducing walks to the London tournament.

     Without them, there is zero penalty to the pitchers to throw a bad pitch.   A pitcher can throw ball after ball after ball,

     and many times a frustrated hitter will impatiently swing at a bad pitch.  As a pitcher in London, I do not like to do

     this.   However, I know in the back of my mind it is an option if teams are doing it against us.  Jerry’s rules are perfect,

     and I actually used them in my league’s slow pitch tournament last month.  If Brian Wheeler were to add this to the

     tournament, it would speed up the game, the level of play would improve, and it would be a better equalizer for teams.


2.   Noodle.   When I played in the WOW tournament in 2009, the noodle was not utilized yet.   I am a big fan of this

      especially after seeing just how many flat pitches are thrown in the London tournament.   The noodle is a cheap and

      easy extra he could add to each field, and is something else that will improve the level of play.


3.   Close Plays.   As many know, London umpires aren’t exactly trained professional umpires.   I cut them some slack

      because I know it isn’t easy for one guy to see all that is going on in the field.   However, I do want the right calls

      made and Jerry has a good rule to help this.    A base runner must be completely past the bag (both feet off) to be

      safe.  This eliminates judgment calls to 1st base and would help the umpire make the right call.


        I hope you enjoyed my smorgasbord of wiffle fun !   Please check out the links I have, and if you ever have any

questions about the NWLA, podcasting, Midwest wiffle tournaments, or anything at all, do not hesitate to ask.  My

email is   Thank you and I wish WOW great luck in the upcoming season!


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   Comment : replies from the Commissioners are in orange

 I want to publicly issue a big thank you to Carl for an entertaining article.   The timing is perfect as my guys

 have talked about doing some travelling out of state this year - to the 4 or 5 "oldest", "best known" or 

 otherwise most famous Wiffle tournaments in the mid West.  Carl's encouragement and recommendations

 are perfectly timed to guide our quest.   I would only add that WOW rules come as the wisdom gained from

 over 1,000 games of league and tournament play in the last 4 years.   We have made every mistake in the

 book.  We may be exceptionally slow, but we are not exceptionally stupid.   The rules changes we made 

 were almost mandated by our experiences and our desire to keep things moving and fun.  I will only add 

 about Carl and his teams that they are very nice guys - the kind you don't mind losing to, if you have to

 loose.   We will be following Carl and the SE MI Wifflers and want badly to participate in the NWLA

 tournament this year.   Thanks again Carl ! 

03/04/2013 23:31 - Great article! Pretty intriguing ideas that your league uses as well. I'm really impressed that each team has their own home field. To create a wiffleball home-field advantage is an awesome idea. Also, pretty interested by the new steals rule you are introducing. Good luck with the WSEM!
03/05/2013 07:47 - Hey I know the Jammers - we played them at London a few years back - good to hear from you guys - best of luck Carl !
03/05/2013 08:16 - I went to your site, lots of good stuff their.  Why don't we have videos or pod stuff for our league ?
03/05/2013 08:29 - good read - our team was one of the 2 the Squirrels beat at the Matt Howe benefit deal.  They were nice guys and maybe we can convince them to come back so we can try and get even.
03/05/2013 08:42 - thans Carl enjoyed it, going to your site now, like your Coffee Time articles, great name for it, we need smething like that. sent from my iphone

03/05/2013 09:59 - OK, going to have to shut this thing down if Carl keeps making me look wanted to do videos but don't have a suitable camera and editing software...tired to farm this out last year with out any takers...maybe Carl's crew can get me up to speed and I'll buy what we need to do this - follow thru with a game of the week video and interview the Herbie Strange State Farm COWL Wiffler of the Week...sounds cool to me !  On a related note...Herrs has agreed to be a sponsor - looks like free chips to go along with our free dogs on the Grand Suaree Opening Night !

03/05/2013 10:07 - I want a snowball tourney like WSEM had !
03/05/2013 10:09 - Count PVB in for fun in the snow
03/05/2013 10:16 - more, more, more, want more - htanks for the story !  Only 2 months until season. (sent from Dave's Samsung Galaxy IIS)
03/05/2013 10:22 - Ain't gonna happen.  In the infamous words of Sheldon on TBBT, "that is why man has spent 5,000 years perfecting the indoors - to stay out of the cold"...would need to do someplace other than Legend's Park and we could probably scrub up 4+ teams if someone organizes...Worthington school beside Herrenstein field has a ready made Wiffleball field (their small baseball diamond hitting from 2nd towards home).  I could bring our bases, strike zone, batters box and foul lines.  In 1/2 hour we could have a solid field...prolly even 2 !

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