Hurts so good!
The John Cougar Mellencamps, led by an outstanding performance by ace pitcher “Shirtless” Tom (no last name, please), shut down the upstart Pony Boys, 5-0 and 4-2, in Sunday night’s best-of-three finals to win the Brooklyn Kickball League’s coveted Chuck D trophy for the second year in a row.
“We didn’t overplay — we had fun,” said Paul “Look Through The” Kehoe, who scored in the winning run in Game 1 in the first inning. “We had fun. We play best when we’re loose — and we were loose.”
The finals featured two of the best defenses in the league and a slew of MVP candidates, including the Mellencamps’ Priest “Lycra” Fontaine, Shirtless, Elana “Lone Wolf” Luppino, and the Pony Boys’ Jason “Einhorn” Finkel, Matt “Neck Tattoo” Tyson and Anthony “Buffalo Exchange” Snead.
The Mellencamps, who beat Majesty and the Pony Boys in the semifinals on Saturday night to advance to the finals, came out swinging in the first game, scoring the only run they would need on Eric “Passover” Seider’s RBI.
Five innings of scoreless pitching from Shirtless would have been enough (dayenu!), but the Mellencamps tacked on two runs in the third and another in the fourth.
In the second game, the Mellencamps struck again with a run off two Pony Boys fielding errors in the top of the first, but the Pony Boys, who had corralled Brooklyn United and Majesty in the semifinals, began to stir after the Mellencamps began to make their own mistakes.
Snead went to second on an error by the infield and a sacrifice fly scored a run, tying the game, and the bases were loaded after a Mellencamp outfielder trapped the ball, preventing runners from advancing.
But that’s as close as the Boys would get in the series after they left the bases loaded.
The Mellencamps came back with three runs on four hits in the top of the second, fueled by back-to-back safe slides at home plate by Angelique “Chris” Everett and Brook “Brothers” Bishop.
The Boys added another run at the bottom of the third, but left the bases loaded again after a pop-up by Snead could not advance the runners.
“We decided not to hit Shirtless’s curve balls,” said Laramie “Skin” Flick. “We didn’t get the timely kick with runners on base. We ran out of time.”
The Boys would not score again, as Shirtless and the infield defense kept them off the bases and secured victory once again. Instead, the Boys saddled up and rode off to the Turkey’s Nest for a post-game toast.
Snead blamed the loss on a quarterfinal injury to Erin “Berzerky” Berky, who left with sprained ankle and did not play in the finals.
“Having a player who, you know, knows all the team names and knows what to do is so crucial for our brand of kickball,” said Snead.
But Finkel tipped his figurative cap to the Mellencamps, crediting the team’s infield and Shirtless’s tough pitches as the key to the series.
“The right side of the infield is very talented and the right fielder is incredible,” said Finkel, who said the Pony Boys were the best team he’s played on in four years of kickball. “Hats off to them for shutting us down the way they did.”
After the game and an exhausting season, the Mellencamps partied on the field and at Turkey’s Nest, hoisting the Chuck D’s trophy for all to see.
League Commissioner Kevin “Commish” Dailey said the game was “fantastic” and that the Mellencamps “proved themselves worthy,” but not everyone was impressed.
“I wish nothing but virulent disease for the Mellencamps,” said Chris Hires, a star on the vanquished Never Scared team. “I hope they all catch colds.”
Fontaine, who won his second trophy in two years, was looking forward to the celebration and to life after kickball.
“This is really going to inspire me to do some great things that are not even kickball related,” said Fontaine. “For instance, there are a lot of girls here who are not pregnant who very well likely will be after tonight.”
Spoken like a true champion.