The hot, grinding regular season is over — and it is finally time for playoff kickball.
But for the first time in many years, there is no clear favorite to hoist the Chuck D Cup, the famed championship trophy of the Brooklyn Kickball League.
Each of the favorites has significant flaws.
Top-ranked Brooklyn United has been a juggernaut in the regular season, finishing 21-2-1, but has never made the finals.
Second-ranked Never Scared (21-5-1), which lost a heartbreaker in last year’s finals to the John Cougar Mellencamps, has sometimes struggled to score, leaving it vulnerable to upsets.
Third-ranked New Frontiersmen (20-6-2), lost star player Matt “Marquis De” Sadewitz to injury and thrived, but has had difficultly closing out games against top teams.
And the fourth-ranked Bacon Bits (18-6-1), while solid defensively, has few stars to carry it in tight games and played stretches of the season with a critical lack of focus.
Other teams have played brilliantly in stretches, such as the Lobos (15-8) and Majesty (10-6-1), which were hot in the first part of the season, while Mathletes (16-8-1) and Crucial Taunt (15-8-1) played inspiringly in the second half. It would surprise no one if any of those teams broke through to a Final Four appearance.
Brackets will be set on Wednesday night, when the top eight teams will pick its opponents for the first round — alas, after our print deadline. The playoffs will be all about matchups, but there are several questions looming like a fly ball over a dusty McCarren Park field.
1. Can Brooklyn United’s remarkable run continue or will it sputter against a solid defensive team?
Brooklyn United’s vaunted offense has steamrolled its opponents, amassing a wining streak of 16 games before it lost to the Bacon Bits last weekend. The United can sure pile up runs, but may find itself forced to manufacture runs when playing against good defensive teams such as the Bits or Never Scared.
2. Can the New Frontiersmen advance if Sadewitz is not 100 percent?
The men and women in plaid had the benefit of a weak schedule when Sadewitz was sidelined with his shoulder injury, but will face tougher opponents in the playoffs. Sadewitz said he is close to healthy, but the team will have to play inspired ball on both sides of the field to advance in a competitive division.
3. Will Never Scared keep its composure if it falls behind early?
A prohibitive favorite to win the championship at the beginning of the season, the people in purple have played tight games, losing to teams it should not have, and seem ripe for a playoff upset. But if former league MVP Karl “Spell Check” Pawlewicz delivers at the plate and the team defends well, Never Scared will find itself back in the finals.
4. Will Jesse “Czar” Alexander carry the Lobos to victory?
Alexander is a leading MVP candidate, but the Lobos are grasping at eighth place and finished the season poorly after a promising start. But if Alexander and his bash brother Neil “The Big Meal” Rabinowitz get hot, the Lobos will be tough to deal with.
5. Are the John Cougar Mellencamps going to show up or check out early?
No team was more of a mystery this year than the defending champion Mellencamps, who blew off the regular season and finished 11th. But Kickball Commissioner Kevin “Commish” Dailey thinks the veteran team is one of the most dangerous in the league and will find its way back to the Final Four as it did the past two years.
6. Who is the dark horse? Is it the aptly named Pony Boys?
The Pony Boys finished in fifth place at 13-7-1, and have beaten nearly every top team once in the past two years, but the Boys are unlikely to surprise anyone despite getting little buzz. Instead, look for teams such as Andrew “The Screech” Veech’s Salute Your Jorts, Kevin “Charlie” Kaufman’s Zeus’s Beard, “G’day” Kate Fitch’s Mau Mau’s, and the Divine Sisterhood, led by Brian “The Wild The Innocent” Ries, to do some damage.
The playoffs begin on Sept. 12 at McCarren Park ball fields (Bedford Street at N. 14th Street), 5 pm.