Bad Meets Evil: Quest for Greatness
With the 2011 Wiffle® ball season coming to an end for Ass Backward, team Captain TJ Hannon was approached by a prominent figure in the BWBL. Bob Loftus, Sr. and Jr. discussed with Hannon the possibility of teaming up and seeing if they could win a title together. It wasn’t long until the three of them put together what could arguably be the best wiffle ball team in the BWBL’s history. Hannon worked hard to recruit new players to his team by signing Steve Dotzel, Jake Lukachik, and the rest of the Backdoor Bandits.
In 2012, Bad Meets Evil started the year off by entering the 8th annual BWBL Charity Classic. There were six teams in the tournament, including four-time BWBL Red Robin Cup champion Saturday Crush. The tournament was pool play followed by a single-elimination bracket. BME went 3-0 during pool play, earning them the number one overall seed. With four teams making it to the single elimination part of the tournament, it paired #4 Saturday Crush vs. #1 BME. Bad Meets Evil was playing short-handed, as Loftus, Jr. left early during the tournament, leaving BME with only three players for their match-up against the Crush.
Hannon and Loftus, Sr. talked over who would take the hill and even though Loftus was game to pitch, Hannon convinced him to sit this one out, as he wanted to take down his rivals. Hannon pitched a good game, scattering 11 hits and allowing five runs, striking out only three. He helped himself at the plate, going three-for-four with a HR. Not to be outdone though were his teammates - Mikey Holloway and Loftus, Sr. Combined the duo went 9 for 20 and drove in 10 runs. Bad Meets Evil went on to 10-run Saturday Crush 18-5 and would face the winner of the other semi-final game between Westside Washout and Sweet Dreams.
The Washout came from five runs down in the fifth and final inning to beat Sweet Dreams in extra innings. BME would be down yet another player as Hannon had to leave, giving them only two players on the field for the championship. The Washout knew what they were up against as Loftus, Sr. has won many awards in the BWBL, including three Cy Young awards. It didn’t take long for Holloway and Loftus to take care of the Washout, beating them in four innings, 16-3. Holloway had three HRs and 10 RBI in the finale, giving BME the Charity Classic title.
On May 27th, Bad Meets Evil started off against a Bases Loaded team looking to improve on their 2011 season. Things didn’t go as planned for Loaded, as they were victims to the mercy rule in the first game of the year. In the second game, BME beat Loaded again but this time it was only a score of 10-4. The next week BME decided to play four games in one day. Playing four games in one day is tough, especially during the summer months when the heat is taking its toll on you. Bad Meets Evil was up to the task and outscored their two opponents 52-15 over that stretch. Things were off to a great start for BME as they started off the year 6-0 and looked to put a strangle hold on the overall top seed the following week as they faced Saturday Crush. These two teams squared off and the series wasn’t everything it could have been. Ryan Hart was out with an illness and the Crush had yet to sign George Moser. Approaching the midway point in the season, Bad Meets Evil had a series against an improved Vipers team. BME struggled early, as they did in their previous meeting, but prevailed in the end to improve to 10-0 on the season. Although BME was 10-0 and outscored their opponents 127-36, they only got better in the second half of the season.
Starting the second half against a Sweet Dreams team they had yet to face, and only going by what they had seen weekly, BME took care of them quite easily 7-1 and 11-0. With every passing week, Hannon and Loftus, Sr. joked around about the possibility of a perfect season. It had only been done once before, by Saturday Crush, back when the BWBL was a fast-pitch league. Bases Loaded was next on the schedule for BME and just like on May 27th, BME took care of them quite easily.
While Bad Meets Evil was beating teams in the BWBL, they started getting some national recognition by the NWLA. BME was inside their top 10 after becoming 14-0. On July 15th, BME took on Sweet Dreams a team they had beaten a couple weeks prior and this series would get ugly quickly. With games of 14-1 and 11-1, the members of Bad Meets Evil were guaranteed the number one seed in the upcoming playoffs, even if they were to lose their last four games. Hannon and Loftus, Sr. decided it would be a great feat to go for the undefeated season and they had four tough games left, two against the Washout and a series finale against their hated rivals - Saturday Crush.
Word got out that Hannon would not be there for the Washout series, and that was evident in the play in game one of the double-header. Trailing 8-1 going into the third inning, BME’s offense came alive and scored six runs to bring the game within a run. Bob Loftus, Sr. replaced Steve Dotzel on the mound and gave the Washout fits, allowing only one run and surrendering only five hits. After scoring three runs in the top of the fourth, giving BME a 10-8 lead, they added seven more runs in the final frame to beat the Washout 17-9. Game two was also a struggle for a Hannon-less BME squad, winning that game 4-0 and improving to 18-0. This set up a huge two game series against the Crush.
With all eyes on if BME would complete the perfect regular season, the games didn’t live up to their billing. Evil would win both games by an identical 9-4 score and they matched Saturday Crush’s 20-0 regular season. Bad Meets Evil didn’t celebrate this feat, as they wanted more and go the entire wiffle season undefeated. At this point as the playoffs loomed, BME was ranked third in the NWLA and wanted to reach the top, but knew in order for that to happen they would have to complete a perfect season.
Now as the playoffs set up, the BWBL had a play-in game between the Washout and Dreams to decide who was going to play BME in the semis. That game was won by Sweet Dreams and they had to face a team that outscored them 43-3 in their four game match-up during the regular season. Seemed too easy for BME to reach the title series right? Well it wasn’t as easy as BME thought it would be. It wasn’t until Hannon and Loftus, Sr. pointed out that they were taking this series too lightly and in game two of the best-of-three finally put the series to bed to keep the perfect season intact.
BME awaited their opponent - either the Vipers or Saturday Crush. Once the championship series was set there was a lot of hype going into this series. It would be the first time a team captained by Hannon played a Saturday Crush team for a championship. As mentioned earlier the two teams didn’t really care for one another and that set the tone the week leading to the series.
As game time neared, Hannon contacted Loftus, Sr. and asked if he was ready and the teams shared an awkward hello as the field was getting set up. Food was delivered by King of King's Gyros for those that wanted a delicious bite to eat in between games.
Game 1 had a pitching match-up of Loftus, Jr. and Hart. In the top of the first inning Ryan Hart took a Bobby Loftus Jr offering over the centerfield fence, giving Saturday Crush an early 2-0 lead. Hannon messed around with the lineup and put himself first - something he rarely does - and it seemed to work out for BME as he hit a solo home run in his first at bat of the game, closing the deficit to 2-1. The next three batters would get out for BME, leaving the top of the order for the second inning.
Timely hits by Andy Peck would extend the Crush lead to 4-1 heading into the bottom of the second. Hannon once again led the inning off with a home run, closing the gap to 4-2 as the rest of the lineup was struggling at the plate. The Crush would answer back in the top of the third and score a run, which would prove to be the difference in the game. BME scored two in the bottom of the fourth to bring the game to 5-4, but couldn’t come up with the big hit when they needed it the most.
With the loss, BME was in an unfamiliar spot. Team captain TJ Hannon took the hill in Game 2 against Mark Belles. After a scoreless first inning by both teams, BME exploded for eight runs in the top of the second, giving Hannon all the run support he needed. Steve Dotzel came up big hitting two home runs and driving in six runs to help pace the BME offense and even the series up at one win a piece.
Game 3 saw the return of Hart on and Loftus, Sr. to the mound. Both teams got to the pitcher early in the game. After one inning of play, BME held a slim 5-4 lead. The game would stay that way until the series turning point in the bottom of the fourth, when Hannon would send another ball over the fence for a three-run home run and a four-run lead. Saturday Crush would score a run in the top of the fifth to make things a bit interesting, but Loftus, Sr. would close the door on any ideas of a comeback and give BME a 2-1 series lead.
Heading into Game 4, Bad Meets Evil had a decision on their hands - do they send in Loftus, Jr. or Hannon? Hannon decided it was best if they used Loftus, Jr. in Game 4, leaving himself available for a deciding Game 5, if necessary. Mike White took the hill for Saturday Crush and hoped to keep their season alive. Early on, BME looked as if they would win this game handily, but the Crush had other plans as they scored three runs in the bottom of the second to give them a 3-2 lead. Loftus, Jr. knew he had to do something to help himself on the mound and he couldn’t have picked a better time to come through, as he hit a three-run HR to give BME the lead for good. BME would tack on four more insurance runs in the top of the fifth and Bobby would slam the door shut with a strikeout, giving Bad Meets Evil their championship.
With Bad Meets Evil’s record for the 2012 season at 30-1, they had one last chance to impress the folks at NWLA. The League set up a late season tournament in our new field Diamond City Park. There were some new teams and some familiar faces. Bad Meets Evil would win their first-round game then face a new and improved Bases Loaded team that beat Saturday Crush. BME would beat Bases Loaded, giving up only a couple hits en route to a shutout. The win set up a championship match-up of BME against the Backdoor Bandits, but due to darkness a winner could not be determined.
As the Wiffle® ball season came to an end for Bad Meets Evil, their 32-1 record might not be impressive for some Wiffle® purists. Taking a closer look at what this team accomplished in an era of the BWBL where hitting is at a premium is really remarkable. Not including the two tournaments, Bad Meets Evil hit for a .525 average, 46 HRS, and 283 runs scored - an average of 1.76 HRS and 10.88 runs per game - while having a team ERA of 3.32.
In the late fall, the NWLA was having a mock fantasy tournament and Bad Meets Evil was getting moved on round by round based on votes by other leagues. Not only was this an honor for the members of BME, but for the BWBL as a whole, as one of their own were contending for a mythical national championship. BME made it to the finals of this tournament, where they faced off against the number one team in the nation according to the NWLA rankings - Freaky Franchise. Franchise had the edge in the match-up, as they played and won a tournament run by the NWLA. Still though, Hannon and Loftus Sr. tried their best to sway votes. Even Luke Modrovsky of the MPW had a say in the matter. When the votes were tallied, BME came in second, a runner-up to a deserving Franchise team.
What will 2013 have in store for Bad Meets Evil? Rumor has it they will be heading to Ohio for a tournament or two. Hopefully they can bring back a title to the BWBL, or at the very least go there and show what a little town in PA has to offer.
written by: TJ Hannon