After a long layoff, we’re back! After studying the results from the last week, the Commissioners voted for the best teams in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball and – as always – there was agreement on some results, and strong disagreement over others. This week, the rankings are written by Rene Medina, who promises to provide you with an in-depth analysis of each ranked team without any of the cute stuff that the other guys have done.

1) Prestige Worldwide (3 out of 3 first place votes; previously tied for 1st) – 30 points They’ve taken care of business against pretty much every opponent on their schedule (+54 run differential!), and most games, it hasn’t even been close. Exceptionally coached and with proven leadership at key positions throughout their roster, this team is a juggernaut that has rolled over almost every team in their path. This week, they get a chance to avenge their only loss of the season (a 7-4 loss to Nerf Ninjas) in a highly anticipated matchup with little more than pride on the line, as Prestige Worldwide last week already secured the Commissioners Trophy by clinching top spot in the regular season standings. Even so, Prestige Worldwide expects nothing less than a dominating, statement win over their bitter rivals.

2) Pitch Please (previously tied for 1st) – 27 points It’s hard being the defending Miami Lakes champs these days. When you combine the results from last season and this season, Pitch Please has lost a total of ONE game over a stretch that spans 17 games (including last season’s playoffs). Just ONE game. So if they feel that the Commissioners are nitpicking when they’re doing these rankings, they may certainly have a point. However, their run differential this season is +12, which means that they’re only averaging a 2 run win over their opponents each week this season. Four out of the other nine teams in Miami Lakes (and two of the six Tropical Park teams) have a higher run differential. Nitpicking? Probably. But we just feel that Prestige Worldwide is playing better kickball than anyone right now. It ain’t easy being the defending champs.

3) We Got the Juice (previously 5th) – 23 points Their girls. That’s what We Got the Juice’s captain repeatedly said he was thankful for when he talked about what kept this team afloat. For a team that has a tremendous amount of swagger (who can forget their preseason boast that they were coming after Pitch Please?), this team is simply not performing to the level they think they can. In our last version of the Commissioners Poll, Lorenzo compared this team to Florida, claiming that they hadn’t played one of the top teams in the league (in an extreme bout of unbelievable luck). Perhaps you can make a better comparison to a team from a different sport: the Cleveland Cavaliers. Talking to the media after a tough loss, LeBron James was quoted as saying “You can’t play down to the competition at this point, because we’re not better than no one in the league… We’re not entitled to win … and until we figure that out, we’re going to continue to put ourselves in positions to lose basketball games.” Substitute “basketball” for “kickball,” and you can almost envision Lorenz… – err… We Got the Juice’s team captain – making that statement. Still, they haven’t lost a game and have an elite +22 run differential (good for second best at Miami Lakes and third best in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball), although the toughest part of their schedule is finally rapidly approaching.

T-4) Hotline Swing: (previously 6th) – 18 points This team was ranked sixth in the previous version of the rankings, and eighth in the version of the rankings before that. Clearly, this team is trending up. A huge win over Nerf Ninjas last week has certainly caught the attention of the Commissioners. The real question surrounding this team is: how good are they? They’ve lost to Prestige Worldwide twice, but they’ve played them better than most other teams in the league have played them (and even with those two losses, they have a great +17 run differential). Can they surprise people in Tropical Park and win the league trophy on December 12? We’ll soon find out. They certainly feel they can. Winning against Wasted Potential and obtaining a first round bye in playoffs is their immediate goal this week.

T-4) Pitches Be Trippin: (previously 4th) – 18 points “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Walt Kelly, famous cartoonist, 1953. No quote better applies to this team than these words. Highly passionate and competitive, this team is stacked at every position in their roster. They’ve demolished almost every team in Miami Lakes. They’re fully capable of winning the league trophy. But can they keep their composure when games get tight? That’s the only thing keeping them from having an excellent shot at winning it all. Look at their Miami Lakes league-leading +28 run differential (an indicator that sports analysts frequently argue is a better gauge of a team’s quaity than win-loss record), and you’ll see a team that is primed to make a championship run if they put it all together.

T-4) 2 Legit to Quit: (previously 8th) – 18 points This team practices every week before their games, and their unity, composure, heart, and determination makes them a tough opponent for anyone that plays against them in Miami Lakes. They played Pitches Be Trippin to a 4-1 win last week, but you couldn’t tell from how they approached the win afterwards. They’re all fun (but also all business), and they’re a team that – like Pitch Please – always keeps their head in the game regardless of the scoreboard. Don’t sleep on this team. They know how to play the game.

7) Nerf Ninjas: (previously 4th) – 13 points The Commissioners have punished Nerf Ninjas for a tough, 7-1 loss against Hotline Swing – and their second loss of the season to go with a previous tie against Hotline Swing – by giving them the biggest drop in the rankings this week in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball. The team made uncharacteristic errors throughout the game; maybe they were insulted by the lack of respect at being compared to the entire Big 12 in college football, maybe they looked ahead to Prestige Worldwide. There’s certainly no shame in losing to Hotline Swing, a team we already feel has shown is in the upper tier of K.O.A.L.A. Kickball. And they’ll be heavy, heavy underdogs against rival Prestige Worldwide, a team that may feel that their loss to Nerf Ninjas was nothing more than a fluke. However, this team has excellent leadership, enjoys playing in each and every single game regardless of the outcome, and has great chemistry. And they won’t mind flying under the radar going into playoffs.

8) Ball Liquors: (previously tied for 10th) – 8 points Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting all of your players playing a few games together. We’ve seen teams that have lost almost every game in a season bounce back the following season and play much, much better. However, the thing that makes this team different from those is that they made their progress with each passing game in the first half of a season. They’ve played the third best team in the Miami Lakes standings to  1 run loss, and they’ve given they second best team in Miami Lakes to a 2-2 tie. Ball Liquors is energetic, hungry, and confident. They’ve added dangerous weapons to their team that has helped solidify their outfield. And, maybe most importantly, they’re peaking at just the right time.

9) Blue Balls (previously 8th) – 6 points They’re managed by savvy, veteran leadership. They know how to play the game. And their improvement from last season has been incredible. Losing to We Got the Juice is perfectly acceptable. They’re playing teams tough, they’re playing together, they’ve learned how to play the game, and they’re highly deserving of this spot at ninth. Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out for them, they’ve already exceeded expectations, and are probably the most underrated team (sorry, Morning Kicks) in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball.

T-10) Team Jacked (previously unranked) – 3 points Welcome back to the rankings, Team Jacked. A talented team, Team Jacked has shown that – when they’re on – they can play any team in the league. Too many inconsistent results have pushed them down in the rankings (and standings), but if this team catches fire, they can play well against anyone in the whole league. One other thing to note: this team possesses a +15 run differential in Miami Lakes.

T-10) Morning Kick (previously 9th) – 3 points Morning Kick is captained by a goofy, quirky, and always loveable guy that boasts more experience playing kickball than anyone in all of the 200 combined, registered customers that have played at K.O.A.L.A. Kickball this season. Perhaps that’s why his teams always find their way here in these rankings. They’ve certainly played well at times, as they’ve defeated 2 Legit to Quit (a team we’ve ranked tied for fourth in this version of the Commissioners Poll). But peer a little closer and you’ll see a team that has a -12 run differential in Miami Lakes (good for second worst in our Miami Lakes league). Underrated, or overrated?

Quick Reminder on How the Poll Works:

Once both leagues have played at least 2 games each, the Commissioners each cast an anonymous ballot for the teams that they think are the top 10 in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball across our Miami Lakes and Tropical Park Leagues. The first ranked team in each ballot gets 10 points, the second ranked team in each ballot gets 9 points, and so forth all the way to the tenth ranked team in each ballot, which gets 1 point. The points that each team gets from each ballot are added up, and then the 10 teams with the highest total number of points are declared the Top 10 in the Commissioner’s Poll. Remember that this poll does not affect standings or playoff seeding in any way; it’s only for fun!