So I’ll end up writing this season’s first poll and probably later on the very last poll, with Jason and Gio writing four polls in between. Exciting!!! But also difficult. We have 10 total teams in Tropical Park, and 8 (EIGHT!!!) of those teams have won one game and lost another after playing two games. How do you rank those teams?! And the 15 teams from Miami Lakes aren’t much easier to rank right now, either, with 13 of those teams already having experienced one loss through three weeks of game play. In case you didn’t figure this out, this poll was written by Rene Medina. Enjoy!
- La Familia – 2 first place votes. 29 points. Every team in Miami Lakes knows about them, and most of them tell me personally how they’re not looking forward to playing this team. And I completely understand the fear. Returning with a new name and color from last season’s “White Hot Pitches” after experiencing an upset loss in the playoffs, this team pulled a Golden State Warriors after an incredible season by recruiting two All-Star caliber players in Danny and Angel Morales. But, if you’re trying to nitpick? This team has never won a Miami Lakes playoff championship (as the bulk of this team used to be the famous black teams from Miami Lakes), so… I wouldn’t say it’s a guaranteed thing. Remember, folks, they lost last season. Still, don’t ignore their +24 run differential (with only one run allowed) or their dismantling of last season’s playoff champions The Wolfpack.
- Life’s a Pitch – 1 first place vote. 28 points. Yawn. They’re great. They look poised to run away with Tropical Park. They beat the second-place team from Tropical Run 6-0, and their defense has only allowed one run through two games, so this team is primed to record a fourth straight playoff championship this season. Will they become the first ever four-peat in K.O.A.L.A. Kickball history, or will another team give them a run for their money?
- The Wolfpack – 24 points. The defending champions from Miami Lakes boast to me pretty frequently about their defense, yet I know they’re still kicking themselves over that 6-0 loss to La Familia earlier this season. Remember, though, never underestimate the heart of a champion. They quietly still have the best collection of females in the league, and they’ve got as much kickball experience as any team in either league.
- The Commissioners Pole – 17 points. Team captain Jose Lopez-Varela kept a calm face throughout a 6-0 loss to Life’s a Pitch this past Thursday. League insiders believe he’s greatly maturing into an incredible team captain, one who his teammates eagerly want to follow and who believe he’s quietly assembled a greatly talented team that has a puncher’s chance at winning the league trophy in the Tropical Park playoffs. Personally? I think this team should be thrilled knowing that they faced the toughest opponent in their schedule (on paper) and are still the second-place team in the standings. Should bode well for them.
- Balls on Fire – 17 points. A lot of new kickball faces in this team, yet team captain Elizabeth Ruiz has found a way to get this team playing on all cylinders in a grudge match against many of her former players on Balls Deep last week, which was a great win against a quality opponent. Their offense has kicked a strong 14 runs through 3 games, good for fourth best in Miami Lakes.
- Balls Deep – 15 points. No shame in losing to Balls on Fire. Honestly, I think it’s a coin flip between Balls Deep and Balls on Fire. The standings show this, too, as Balls Deep is just ahead of Balls on Fire by one run in the run differential (which is the only reason why they’re ahead of Balls on Fire in the standings). They have great in-game tacticians supporting this team with the Delgado brothers at the helm, and they can play with any team in Miami Lakes.
- Blackout City – 15 points. Usually, I point to a team’s run differential to show how good a team is, and this team has a +16 run differential. However, their Week 1 opponent was a completely new expansion team that only fielded 9 players, so it might be more fair to analyze how this team has played after that first game. Run differential after Week 1? 0. To be fair, they beat a consistently top-tier team in Ballbarians in dramatic fashion with a walk off single to end the game (in what became the first of two losses Jason Oliver lost to me that week), but the loss to Opa Locka Goonz hurt. The offense needs to kick it up several notches (as the defense has done a solid job in all of its games) to make it a game against La Familia this week.
- We Look RePINKulous – 7 points. I couldn’t be happier seeing Armando, Natalie, Matt, Michelle, Mikey, Tony, and Melanie, core players of teams with whom I played with at Tropical Park for four seasons, making an appearance in the Commissioners Poll. The good news for them? They’ve been scoring runs, as currently they have the second highest runs scored in Tropical Park at 16. If their offense continues producing runs and they solidify their defense, this team should be considered a dark horse for the league trophy come playoff time. You heard it here first.
- The Warriors – 4 points. They’ve scored 10 runs and given up 10 runs. They won their first game against We Look RePINKulous by one run Week 1, and lost to Kick My Bean by one run Week 2. This veteran team has played in big games against big teams and shown resiliency this past season, so no one’s surprised to see them fourth in the Tropical Park standings. I don’t think this team will lose many blowout games this season, so play them well because they should be in every game they play.
- Opa Locka Goonz – 4 points. The surprise team from the second-tiered division of Miami Lakes, I feel this team should be 3-0 after narrowly losing to Ballbarians 7-6 in Week 1. Then, they followed that game up with an impressive win over what was at the time the top team in the standings in Miami Lakes, Blackout City. They’re in the running to win the regular season trophy for the second-tiered division in Miami Lakes, and, watch out: their pitcher throws some nasty pitches out there.
Other’s receiving votes: Free Balling (Tropical Park team; 3 points), Kick My Bean (1 point), and Your Pitch Makes My Kick Hard (1 point).
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. If there’s a tie for points, then the team with the most number of Commissioners voting it higher than the team they tied will receive the higher position. Remember that this poll does not affect standings or playoff seeding in any way; it’s only for fun!