If no one hears or sees a wiffleball giant fall, does it really happen? Attendance was low for Wednesday's solo UWBL matchup between the Bearded Bullfrogs and Rally Dragons, but that didn't stop history from happening.
The Dragons used a late-inning surge to knock off the defending champs and break a ridiculously long winning streak by a score of 17-14.
The two-month layoff rust showed early on for both squads who combined for one measly run through two innings. From there on, however, it became the David Kellett show. Hitting for the cycle with a grand slam and three total homers and 15 RBIs may have been the greatest single-game performance in UWBL history.
The Dragons played without one of the bash brothers Zack Watson, yet still ripped off a massive win thanks to 10 runs scored in the final two innings. The late-game dramatics soared with one out and two on in the final frame. Seth Hinrichs crushed a ball deep into right field, only to be denied a home run by an unruly vent unit. Had it been a home run, the game would've been tied. As it is, the Dragons now become the first team in several seasons to get a win against the Bullfrogs.
It may be too soon to declare the Bearded Bullfrogs dead, but there are chinks in the armor. Perennial All-Stars Drew Provence and Mike Wilder combined for a mere 6 RBIs, while the career leader in strikeouts among active players Travis Vaughn notched another K on his belt.
It's too early to panic, but if you're the Bullfrogs, there will be no coasting to title town this year. Every W will be earned.
For the Dragons' GM Josh Garrison, this was a culmination of savvy off-season moves, balancing to perfection power bats and gold glove play in the field. The question is can the Dragons do it in the playoffs?
- Before the game, the league commissioner was notified that two of the Bullfrogs’ players violated the uniform code. No word yet regarding disciplinary action for those players.
- The Bullfrogs’ streak lasted 441 days. Their last loss was also to the Rally Dragons by 1 run, 21-20.
- David Kellett needs only 15 RBIs over the next two games to break the all-time regular-season RBI record, currently held by Terry Wright (45).
- Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there were a limited number of fans allowed in the stadium. In fact, only one fan was allowed in.
- The Slippery Locomotives are still winless on the season.
UWBL Week 3 Recap: Covid-19 cancels one game, Dragons dominate other game
While the most anticipated game of the week (2-0 Feline vs. 2-0 Bullfrogs) was postponed due to either Coronavirus concerns or a general lack of commitment from the teams, the Rally Dragons and Slippery Locomotives went on as scheduled, playing in front of zero fans.
The Dragons needed no rally this week. An early 10 spot in the first inning nailed stopped the Locomotives' engines early, en route to a 26-11 Dragon victory. The Bash Brothers of Drew Warren and David Kellett crushed two homers apiece while Josh Garrison added one of his own.
The Locomotives meanwhile went the entire game without one extra-base hit. GM Kyle Heppeard spent time during the 3rd inning complaining about the infield fly rule which, according to our research has been a part of baseball since 1895. No, literally. The infield fly rule has been around for ONE-HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. Still, Heppeard argued it.
Add on to that star first baseman Terry Wright fraternizing with the grounds crew in the 4th inning instead of playing defense, you wonder if this isn't the beginning of the end for the Locomotives. A team brimming with promise now seems destined for the cellar unless they turn a switch quickly.
We'll keep you updated on next week's games.
Feline's bombs drop the Dragons, Slippery Locomotives stink again
At press time, the UWBL commissioner stands strong about the league continuing despite Coronavirus scares. Refusing to follow the lead of the NBA, MLS, and NCAA, Mike Wilder is deciding to let the league play, but no fans can attend. Looking at the Bullfrogs-Locomotives box score, it looks like only one team attended that game.
After three innings, the Bullfrogs were up 18-2 on the Locomotives who were without star player Terry Wright. Rumors swirled pregame that Wright tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be quarantined. Look like the Locomotives' bats were quarantined as well. Bart Shartzer had a nice day at the plate though, hitting a homer and knocking in 6 RBIs, and holdout Corey Helle did make an appearance, though he was two innings late and spent most of the time on his phone. But the return of Wilder, who fell a triple short of the cycle, proved to be the difference. Travis Vaughn did add to his career strikeout total as the active leader in that category.
The Feline are proving to be one of the more dangerous teams in the league as they knocked off the power bats of the Rally Dragons 26-22. Despite 5 home runs from the Dragons, not one of them compared with Reed Jostes' moon shot in the 5th inning that helped put the Feline up for good. Third baseman Ben Baldridge had an impressive day at the plate going 10-12, hitting an impressive opposite-field double in a big 10 run third inning. The Dragons did have Josh Garrison back in the lineup, though not at 100%. f the Dragons ever get the bats going in the first two innings of a game, they'll be the best team in the league.
We'll keep you updated on the UWBL's plans regarding the Coronavirus. Other than Terry Wright, no other players as of now are thought to be in any immediate danger, though many of the actual wiffleballs have been affected by the virus. Commissioner Wilder, in an apparent money-saving move, has decided against getting any new balls and instead has suggested teams play with the cracked balls currently in use, or old tennis balls, or balled up socks if need be.
Bullfrogs Win Instant Classic, Locomotives Get Derailed Early
UWBL Week 1 Recap: Bullfrogs win instant classic, Locomotives get derailed early
Spartanburg, SC- In a day where the league's commissioner was MIA and fans were kept from attending games out of an abundance of caution from the Corona-virus, the UWBL kicked off its fifth season in dramatic fashion.
The three-time defending champion Bearded Bullfrogs fended off a valiant effort from the Rally Dragons to win 16-15. After getting pegged at home plate in the top of the 7th inning trying to stretch the team's lead, Travis Vaughn made a great game-saving catch in the bottom of the inning to seal the win. Both the Bullfrogs and Dragons were playing without key players, but it didn't distract from what turned out to be a classic.
Down 11-1 in the bottom of the 4th, the Dragons did indeed rally to score 11 runs and take a 12-11 lead. The teams went back and forth, swapping leads the rest of the way until the Bullfrogs put it away. Drew Provence showed why he once played minor league baseball (albeit for a team called the Corn Belters) by going 11-12 with a homer and 6 RBIs. Drew Warren led the way for the Dragons having a career day that included 3 home runs and 8 RBIs.
The other UWBL game was...not so close. The Freshwater Feline treated the Slippery Locomotives like Waffle House hash browns leaving them scattered and smothered to a tune of 24-10. Curtis Wheeler, managing the Feline while rocking a hat and pair of sunglasses despite playing on a dimly lit indoor basketball court, built a wrecking ball of a team. No player from the Feline scored fewer than 5 runs. Taylor Dale crushed two homers for 9 RBIs.
The Locomotives were without first-round pick Corey Helle. You may recall a few days ago we reported on speculation that Helle might sit out this season in a contract dispute. Indeed, Helle was a no-show, though GM Kyle Heppeard said he was "resting his hurt achilles." The Locomotives had only one run across until the last inning. Many in the sports media world began posting #FreeTerryWright, a gesture to let the power bat go play for a true contender. Wright went a perfect 8-8 from the plate.
Next week's games: Slippery Locomotives at Bearded Bullfrogs, Freshwater Feline at Rally Dragons
Opening day is almost here, and the commissioner is hiding. Nope, we're not talking about Rob Manfred. We're talking about the UWBL! Here are five big questions for the coming season, along with our World Series prediction and the top ten fantasy players.
5 Big Questions
- Does Helle hold out? A no-show at last week's scrimmage, some have speculated former Feline fan-favorite Corey Helle isn't pleased with his contract situation and may hold out the first part of the season as a newly drafted member of the Slippery Locomotives. Helle is arguably in the twilight of his wiffleball career, and many around the league think he has no desire to take part in a rebuilding project as the Locomotives seem to always be in the middle of.
- Can Bullfrogs repeat? It's not a question of can, but will. Is the drive still there after a UWBL threepeat? GM Vaughn was absent half the season, and league commish/superstar Mike Wilder is a healthy scratch for Opening Day. Rumor has it the Bullfrogs are bringing in Doug Grote to fill in for Wednesday's game. Just how committed are these Bullfrogs to winning another title? Time will tell.
- Will the league ever get outside? The majority of normal wiffleball leagues play their games outside. But most other wiffleball leagues also don't have postgame press conferences and mythical sideline reporters. Still, is the commish holding the league back from expanding beyond the walls of the Star Center out of fear? Do the power bats of the Bullfrogs diminish in the fresh air? It will be interesting to see in the offseason what happens in regards to games being played outside in the future.
- Can Curt carry the Feline? No team had the overhaul the Freshwater Feline did this past offseason. The only remaining player left from the first UWBL champions is Ben Baldridge. Wheeler made some savvy draft day moves, though his advantage in making deals is enhanced with multiple phones in his pockets. Is Curtis Wheeler the next Mark Cuban or the next James Dolan? The Feline will be intriguing to watch.
- Which Watson shows up? The Rally Dragons took a gamble on Zach Watson in the draft. In his rookie year, Watson hit at a clip of .761 with 22 RBIs. This past year with the Feline, Watson struggled to .500. Can GM Josh Garrison right the ship and get Watson back on a strict training regimen? If the Dragons are to have a chance this year, Watson has to bring his power bat.
- Bearded Bullfrogs (5-1)
- Slippery Locomotives (3-3)
- Rally Dragons (2-4)
- Freshwater Feline (2-4)
World Series: Bullfrogs over Locomotives 2-0
Top Ten Fantasy Players and Projections (AVG/HR/RBI)
- Terry Wright (LOC): .820/5/43
- Mike Wilder (BUL): .775/6/42
- Andy Aulick (FEL): .773/2/41
- Josh Garrison (DRA): .761/4/39
- Seth Hinrichs (BUL): .717/6/40
- Drew Provence (BUL): .712/3/38
- Kyle Heppeard (LOC): .667/4/31
- David Kellett (DRA): .667/3/31
- Ben Baldridge (FEL): .649/3/30
- Reed Jostes (FEL): .635/3/30
If a UWBL preseason scrimmage happens at the Star Center but no one is there to play in it, did a scrimmage ever happen?
This question might seem a bit extreme, but fans of the UWBL cannot be pleased with the low turnout from players during Wednesday's scrimmage.
Each team was scheduled to scrimmage each other team, but only 13 players in total showed up. This makes for a sloppy start to what is supposed to be the most competitive UWBL season in years.
"We're in a good spot, but I do wish the GMs would communicate with their teams better" stated UWBL Commissioner Mike Wilder. "The important thing today is that no one got injured, and the players who did show looked to be in midseason form."
The highlights of the game that did take place were mixed with controversy sparked by a long ball hit by Locomotives' GM Kyle Heppeard that was ruled foul. Heppeard hit well (despite zero effort on the basepaths), and fielded well. Also, he showed up, which is more than can be said of 2 other GMs: Josh Garrison and Curtis Wheeler.
Garrison informed the league he has placed himself on the 7-day disabled list, though concerns murmuring across the league is that Garrison may have the Coronavirus and could be out an extended period of time.
Wheeler seemed unconcerned with anything going on regarding the wiffleball team he now manages, almost as if he didn't know there was a scrimmage today. He certainly didn't inform any of his players.
Bullfrogs' GM Travis Vaughn did manage to show up to the scrimmage (eventually), spouting something about "losing his wedding ring somewhere." (It is our policy not to comment and/or speculate on the personal lives of players.)
To put a bow on it, the scrimmage told us very little about expectations for this coming season. Terry Wright crushes the ball like few others, Taylor Dale lets nothing past him in the field, and lots of players thinking they've just hit a home run will turn around disappointed to have the commish just rule it a foul ball.
Season previews coming next week, along with predictions and fantasy players to watch!
UWBL Draft Recap
Another UWBL draft is in the books, and teams shook things up a bit. Well, unless you're the Locomotives' GM Kyle Heppeard who apparently sat in a daze while GM meetings went on around him.
A blockbuster 3-team trade was finalized right before the draft. The highlights from the deal have Seth Hinrichs going back to the Bullfrogs, David Kellett going to the Rally Dragons, and the Feline nabbing the top two picks in the draft. Again, GM Heppeard was asleep.
Here are five key takeaways you need to know from Wednesday's draft:
- Curtis Wheeler has a plan for the future. By making room to take on three of the draft's 8 picks, Wheeler has officially turned the page on the Feline of old. Losing Hinrichs doesn't hurt as bad with the addition of two immediate impact players in Taylor Dale and Reed Jostes. Throw in a big bat in Charles Blue, and the Feline have solid footing to make waves now and in the seasons to come.
- Travis Vaughn turns back the clock. By giving away the #1 overall pick to bring back Seth Hinrichs, Vaughn is determined to not only win another title but recapture the glory of arguably the best hitting team in UWBL history. Choosing Hinrichs seems a bit risky when last year's MVP-caliber Taylor Dale was sitting there for the taking, but Vaughn seems confident in his choice.
- The Rally Dragons are banking on defense. GM Josh Garrison's move to bring David Kellett to the Dragons was prompted by the idea of creating the best defensive squad in the UWBL. Three elite defenders (Garrison, Kellett, and Drew Warren) combined with Zack Watson are sure to provide headaches for slap ball hitters and power hitters alike.
- Kyle Heppeard kept his picks safe, but solid. As we first suggested in Tuesday's mock draft, bringing Corey Helle aboard is a much needed shot in the arm for a high-powered franchise that has no real direction. Bart Shartzer was a safe pick: a solid power that doesn't bring any negatives to the roster. Heppeard was mocked for not making any pre-draft moves, but that may have proven to be the best move made of anyone.
- Concerns are growing among Bullfrog fans, and for good reason. Aside from Mike Wilder (league commissioner), no member of the Bullfrogs was present at today's voluntary workouts. Gary Hazelwood had "prior commitments" and Drew Provence "didn't even know there was wiffleball going on today." Add to that GM Travis Vaughn showed up to the draft 20 minutes late, fans are worried that this Bullfrogs team is on cruise control, not taking things seriously. When pressed on these concerns, Vaughn stated: "Wiffle ball is my passion project, but it isn't what keeps the lights on."
Check back next week for season previews, fantasy rankings, and the biggest questions heading into opening week.
2020 Season starts tomorrow with UWBL Draft
The Carolina winter is fading and the sun is taking just a bit longer each day to drop beneath the horizon. Springtime is coming.
And if there's anything that sports fans in spring look forward to most, it's these two things: Opening Day and Mock Drafts.
Sure, the excitement for these events is from two different sports, but why should it be? After all, the fifth installment of Upward Wiffleball is upon us.
Not much has changed since last season. The Locomotives' talent can't quite reach its apex, the Rally Dragons can't get out of their own way, and the Bullfrogs are still sitting on the throne.
The Freshwater Feline, however, turn the reigns over to Curtis Wheeler after Ben Baldridge decided GM and Player duties were just a bit too much since starting a lawn care business and having his 37th child on the way.
Though the landscape is relatively calm, that could all change with this week's draft. Wednesday afternoon, the 4 GMs will gather in a smoke-filled room and begin their nefarious dealings: some GMs looking to pad stats, some trophy cases, and others pad their pockets.
Nevertheless, the free-agent talent pool is top-heavy and, by all calculations, this draft could make a massive impact on which franchises are focused on truly building a contender, and which ones are just vying for a playoff spot.
So here it is, a full mock draft of both rounds.
A few items to note before we jump in...
- By some illogical fashion, the defending champion Bullfrogs get the #1 overall pick. Granted, they also have the last pick, but with a team that has arguably the two best players in the league, perhaps some parity might take place if the commish changed that around. Oh, nevermind. The commish PLAYS FOR THE BULLFROGS.
- The Rally Dragons apparently traded the underrated Andy Aulick to the Feline for Doug Grote and a Ronald Acuna rookie card. Kudos to Dragons' GM Josh Garrison on picking up a rookie card of an amazing player. How this helps his team we're not sure since bringing in Doug Grote is also like a stiff piece of cardboard that doesn't really move.
Let's mock, shall we?
Round 1, Pick 1: Bullfrogs select Taylor Dale. Why mess with a good thing? Dale was a monster last year, garnering MVP votes and Gold Glove nominations. No sense in GM Vaughn debating this obvious selection.
Round 1, Pick 2: Rally Dragons select Reed Jostes. Another former Bullfrog, Reed would fit well in Garrison's defensive-minded squad. Jostes can smack the ball too, making up for the loss of Aulick.
Round 1, Pick 3: Freshwater Feline select Zack Watson. Watson is no stranger to the Feline franchise, who are in a bit of a rebuild mode. He brings energy to a team that sorely lacked it last season. New GM Curt Wheeler will help Watson transition his basketball skills to the wiffleball field.
Round 1, Pick 4: Slippery Locomotives select Corey Helle. One might argue that Helle is the Tom Brady of the UWBL. He's talented, wins a lot, and is getting a bit old. That's not to say he's not typically the most athletic player on the field. Helle's intangibles make him a perfect pick here. All Kyle Heppeard's team lacks is some solid leadership, and Helle can bring that.
Round 2, Pick 5: Slippery Locomotives select Gary Hazelwood. Things get a bit murky in the second round, but a smaller athletic player like Hazelwood would complement a team of bigger players well. A strong conditioning regimen from Hazelwood would help as well since the Locomotives seem often decimated by injuries. Though maybe that's a result of the steroids? Who knows.
Round 2, Pick 6: Freshwater Feline select Charles Blue. No doubt the nemesis of the Feline has been the Bullfrogs, and Blue was a rare player that dominated the defending champs, batting near .700 in two games against them last year. A power bat is exactly what the Feline needs.
Round 2, Pick 7: Rally Dragons select Bart Shartzer. The Dragons already boast a talented lineup (depending on where the Acuna rookie card bats in the lineup), so adding utility man Shartzer gives a well-rounded balance to a team desperately searching for answers to get over the postseason hump.
Round 2, Pick 8: Bearded Bullfrogs select Eddie Becker. It's been close to two years since Becker has touched a wiffleball bat, so this is a bit of a surprise pick. The former Thirsty Blizzards' GM feels he has enough left in the tank to make any squad a bit better, if not at least keep detailed scoring records in the book.
With the future of so many franchises hanging in the balance, Wednesday's draft is sure to be interesting. We'll keep you updated with a full rundown of the draft and season preview in the days ahead
Bearded Bullfrogs are your 2019 World Champions
There aren't many grand things about Drew Provence. He likes the Gamecocks, has questionable taste in music, and has an odd man crush on Ryan Tannehill. But one thing UWBL fans cannot deny is Provence's clutch performance in the World Series.
The Bearded Bullfrogs won their third consecutive title Wednesday thanks in large part to clutch hitting from Provence, including a third-inning grand slam in the first game, effectively dismantling the roid-driven hopes of the Slippery Locomotives.
The Locomotives, coming in as huge underdogs in their first World Series appearance, seemed a bit off before the first pitch was even thrown. GM Kyle Heppeard was seen berating UWBL beat reporter Edna Becker for a fact-driven article, using big words such as "asinine" and "stupid". Needless to say, his "I had a dream speech" did little to inspire his team this week.
On the field, Heppeard crushed a homer, but little was seen from the Locomotives' offense past that. In fact, Provence's game 1 slam scored as many runs as the Locomotives did in the entire second game.
Perhaps the most overlooked but most genius managerial move of the series was the Bullfrogs deciding to keep Travis Vaughn out of the field for the entirety of the series. This not only prevented a potential defensive liability, but helped Vaughn continue to recover from his weekend jog around the White House.
Not many teams in sports' history can claim three-straight titles. The Bullfrogs join elite company, with striking similarities to the 90's Chicago Bulls. Provence brings size and defense like Scottie Pippen, Wilder has all-around play like Jordan, and Vaughn, like Dennis Rodman, gets just as many questions and comments about his hair as he does his play, and has made some questionable off the field decisions.
Congrats to the Bullfrogs on yet another (predictable) world title. Where they go from here isn't the question as much as the UWBL trying to figure out how to improve the parity across the league. For now, the teams can sit back, enjoy the offseason, and prep for the holidays, knowing winter is coming soon.
2019 World Series Predictions
It's only fitting that the MLB would rig their World Series to reach a game 7 on the same day the UWBL World Series is played. Clearly Rob Manfred fears the competition the UWBL brings in the ratings, as previous World Series have boasted as many as a dozen spectators.
This championship round features the UWBL dynasty Bearded Bullfrogs and first-timers Slippery Locomotives. The Locomotives have always had the talent to make it here, but have performed in the playoffs as if Andy Reid were their coach, choking away chance after chance.
Look for the Locomotives to come out swinging for the fences. Kyle Heppeard and Terry Wright are the modern day Bash Brothers, and since the UWBL has no formal PED policy, will likely continue to be so for years to come. Add on a Prince Fielder-esque player in Charles Blue and some real-life minor league player, the Locomotives have all the reasons in the world to be confident.
But this is no exhibition squad they're playing. This Bullfrog team is used to winning. So much so that their manager has decided to not only skip half the games, but put his (and his team's) health at risk by willingly running around our nation's capital in pouring down rain. For fun. No really...he did that.
Still, Travis Vaughn has built a winner. Mike Wilder is no Andy Dalton: he knows how to perform well in the regular season and postseason. The addition of Drew Provence only makes this team more potent than ever, and that's pretty remarkable.
Rain is falling, but that's no reason for this World Series to be delayed. And though the Locomotives will pull out all their tricks, there will be no treats for them in this day-before-Halloween-championship.
GAME 1: Bullfrogs 18, Locomotives 15
GAME 2: Bullfrogs 22, Locomotives 11
Bearded Bullfrogs 22, Freshwater Feline 2
The ramp-up to club volleyball season and the Florida Gators making a run at an SEC East title will surely help distract Ben Baldridge from an abysmal year with the Feline. Matching only Eddie Becker as the only GM in UWBL history to have a winless season, this surely won't be Baldridge's swan song. Yet one has to wonder upon hearing that 4 of the 5 Feline members may retire: is that number too low?
Slippery Locomotives 33, Rally Dragons 13
In what can only be described as a shocker, Kyle "I swear we're not taking PEDs" Heppeard went off as did the rest of his team's mashers, setting up what should be an exciting World Series. Meanwhile, we're still confirming reports as to whether or not Josh Garrison was "seeing ghosts" in the field as his team did their best Braves' postseason impression giving up 33 runs. Early speculation of the Dragons also chalks this loss up to the "Provence Curse."
World Series EARLY LINE
Bullfrogs -4.5 vs. Locomotives
2019 Fall Season Recap
Freshwater Feline; 0-6 Record
Things have not gone well for the Freshwater Feline in 2019. Every single player, with the exception of Corey Helle, has regressed offensively. Helle raised his average .068 points from the previous year. Baldridge, Grote, Kellett, and Watson decreased by a combined .469!! On the bright side, the Feline clinched a playoff spot for the 4th consecutive season. They were competitive in half the games they played in, and were blown out in the other half. The Feline still have not recovered from their 2018 playoff loss, going 1-13 in their last 14 games. Baldridge will have some big decisions to make in the off-season to right this ship.
Rally Dragons; 2-4 Record
The Rally Dragons are coming off of 2 consecutive World Series appearances. Andy Aulick was lost for the season prior to the draft, so Josh Garrison did everything within his power to replace his production. Garrison found that replacing a Silver Slugger Award winner is no easy task. The Rally Dragons aren’t the worst team, but they didn’t do enough during the regular season this year to show that they’re elite. They have made some uncharacteristically bad decisions on the base paths during big moments this year, which has cost them on the scoreboard. Garrison led the way offensively while tying the single season HR record with Seth Hinrichs finding himself near the top of the average leaderboard. 1st year Rally Dragons player and 2nd year pro Drew Warren didn’t fall victim to the sophomore slump and looks poised to be a cornerstone for this franchise for years to come.
Slippery Locomotives: 4-2 Record
Talent has never been an issue with this franchise. On paper, they’re the best team. They’re also looking for their 1st ever World Series appearance. Terry Wright hit .822 on the year giving him his 2nd career Silver Slugger Award. Rookie Landon Beck struggled early after missing the first 3 games of the season, but has come on strong as of late. Stuart Kay has played exceptionally well at 3B while managing to hit over .700 again. Kyle Heppeard once again found himself near the top of the league leaderboard in runs scored. Perhaps the most surprising stat of the entire 2019 Fall season is the Locomotives have hit 2 HR’s on the year (Wright & Kay with 1 each). The small ball approach that the Locomotives have instilled this year has gotten them to a winning record and a #2 seed in the playoffs.
Bearded Bullfrogs; 6-0 Record
The Bearded Bullfrogs are on quite a run. They have won 18 of their last 19 games dating back to 2018. 2nd year player Taylor Dale has taken significant strides this year and has proven himself to be one of the best players in the league. Dale and Provence have set the table all year for Wilder, who tied the single season RBI record this season. Rookie Reed Jostes has played well defensively at 1B and is a threat to do damage offensively. Travis Vaughn dealt with some calf injuries early in the season causing him to miss some time. His pitching has been outstanding since he’s returned and is a large part of why the Bullfrogs have looked even better over the last few weeks of the season. With Vaughn at the helm, the Bearded Bullfrogs find themselves at the top of the league with no end in sight.
An Embarrassing Start for the Slippery Locomotives
There has never been more excitement around the Slippery Locomotives than this year. After the controversial ending to last season’s team, they looked poised to make a run heading into the Fall 2019 season. They lost Drew Warren to the Rally Dragons in the Rule 5 draft, and lost Justin Finley to early retirement. Replacing those 2 is rookie Charles Blue and professional baseball player Landon Beck. That means they have 2 former collegiate baseball players (Heppeard & Kay), 1 former professional baseball player (Wright), 1 current professional baseball player (Beck), and 1 former college basketball player (Blue) on their roster. To say the sizzle has worn off from their big off-season would be an understatement. It didn’t help that they played the 2-time defending Champion Bearded Bullfrogs in week 1. It also didn’t help that Landon Beck is currently tied up with his pro team for a few more weeks. Former League MVP Terry Wright was been placed on the 5 day DL prior to week 1 with Vertigo. Charles Blue is listed as day-to-day after leaving the game in the 2nd inning with a quad injury. It got so bad that the Bearded Bullfrogs GM Travis Vaughn put on a Locomotives jersey and played 2B for them. Vaughn is known for his sportsmanship and willingness to give the other team the benefiting call, but even this is stretch for him. The Bullfrogs seemed to be going through the motions and won easily by a score of 29-5. Bullfrog’s rookie Reed Jostes looked ready for the big leagues, while Drew Provence finds himself as the front runner for the Cracker Barrel Player of the Week.
Bearded Bullfrogs 29 Slippery Locomotives 5
The Rally Dragons made a statement in week 1 with a pounding against the Freshwater Feline. Josh Garrison, Drew Warren, and Seth Hinrichs all hit HR’s in the game while they combined for 10 extra base hits on the day. The Freshwater Feline seemed underprepared for week 1. They struggled at the plate and in the field. Corey Helle led the Feline with 5 base hits. They'll look to rebound against the Slippery Locomotives next week.
Rally Dragons 25 Freshwater Feline 7
2019 Fall Season
For the first time in UWBL history we have a franchise with back to back Championships to begin the season. The Bearded Bullfrogs have established themselves as the class of the league. The Bullfrogs bring back 2 time MVP Mike Wilder and Drew Provence in an attempt for another championship run under the leadership of Travis Vaughn.
There isn’t much turnover this season with only 2 players unable to participate this fall. Reigning Silver Slugger Award winner and Rally Dragons OF Andy Aulick is on temporary leave while Slippery Locomotives 1B Justin Finley has been demoted to the minor leagues. This means there will only be 2 players invited to the first year player draft – Landon Beck and Reed Jostes. Both players come with high expectations and will battle it out for the right to be chosen #1 overall among a crowded list of draft eligible players.
Dates to know entering the 2019 Fall Season:
August 1 – Teams must submit keepers
Bearded Bullfrogs – Mike Wilder and Drew Provence
Freshwater Feline – Corey Helle and Zach Watson
Rally Dragon – Bart Shartzer and Seth Hinrichs
Slippery Locomotives – TBD
August 14 – Pro Day/Scrimmages
August 21 – Scrimmages/ UWBL Draft
August 28 – Scrimmages
September 4 - Opening Day
October 16 – UWBL Playoffs
October 23 – UWBL World Series
How'd We Get Here
If you’re tired of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers playing each other every year in the NBA Finals, then you’re probably tired of the Bearded Bullfrogs and Rally Dragons playing every year in the UWBL World Series. Much like the Warriors and Cavs over the last few seasons, the Bullfrogs and Dragons have been the best teams in the second half of the UWBL season. Both teams are coming off of walk-off wins in the Semi-Finals round, albeit without lack of controversy.
How’d They Get Here?
The Rally Dragons and Bearded Bullfrogs made the biggest draft day trade in league history when they swapped Seth Hinrichs and Andrew Provence. The Rally Dragons have been pleased with Hinrich’s left handed bat in the lineup who has the ability to hit for power and average. The Dragons started the season 0-3, but then went 3-0 to finish the season. Bart Shartzer has had a big second half, which has contributed to their hot streak. 3B Josh Garrison has hit for power, tying the single season HR record (5), this year and he’ll always rank near the top defensively. OF Andy Aulick is the 2019 Silver Slugger award winner and is a candidate for MVP. This team ranked #1 in the Pre-Season Power Rankings, so it’s no surprise they find themselves in the World Series. They’re looking to win their first UWBL Championship.
The Bearded Bullfrogs have been the best team the entire season. GM Travis Vaughn isn’t afraid to make aggressive moves to better the team. He took some heat with the aforementioned Hinrichs/Provence trade, but Vaughn couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. Andrew Provence finished the season hitting .806 and didn’t make an out in the Semi-Finals Playoff round. He’s the all-time 1B leader in league history and sets the tone for the big boppers hitting behind him. 2017 League MVP Mike Wilder has had another MVP candidate season. Wilder leads the league in Hits, Runs, 2B’s, HR’s, RBI’s, SLG and also hit .800 on the season. Rookie Taylor Dale has done what is expected offensively, while playing great defense in the OF. Perhaps the biggest moment of the Bullfrogs season was when David Kellett dropped to them in the draft. Kellett has been one of the most improved players from last year now that he’s playing for a winning franchise. He’s a 3B by trade, but has played 1B this season making the Bullfrogs the best defensive team in the league. The Bullfrogs look to become the 1st Back-to-Back League Champions and first UWBL Dynasty team.
UWBL Power Rankings Playoff Edition
Bearded Bullfrogs – There’s no surprise here. The Bullfrogs have been the best team from start to finish. They head into the playoffs as favorites to repeat. Drew Provence and Michael Wilder have lived up to expectations this year, while David Kellett has made significant strides and find himself in MVP consideration. Rookie Taylor Dale has done enough offensively for the Bullfrogs, but it’s his defense that solidifies them as the best defensive team in the league. GM Travis Vaughn has dealt with injuries and scheduling conflicts this year, but he’s managed the team brilliantly, even though from afar at times. The Bullfrogs are the favorites to win the 2019 UWBL.
Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons have rallied from a 0-3 start to the season to finish with a 3-3 record. They’re the hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs, and should find themselves in the World Series again hoping for a different outcome. Andy Aulick is this year’s Silver Slugger award winner, and Josh Garrison tied the all-time single season HR record. Seth Hinrichs has had a career year, and Bart Shartzer has come on strong in the second half of the year after some bad luck early. Hazelwood will be out for the playoffs, but should be able to return if this team advances in the playoffs.
Slippery Locomotives – The Locomotives have the best offensive team on paper. A lineup of Heppeard, Wright, Kay, Warren, and Finley sounds like an offensive juggernaut, but they managed to score a total of 7 runs in their last game. If you’re a Locomotives fan, you’re hoping that they figure out a way to put it all together at the right time. There’s nothing to suggest they will, which is why many have them predicted with another first round exit.
Freshwater Feline - The Freshwater Feline have had the type of season that many predicted. We knew it’d be a rebuilding year with them. They do have a Championship pedigree, so they have a punchers chance at moving on. Doug Grote is the leading candidate for comeback player of the year. Most eyes will be on what the Feline do this off-season, but let’s not count them out yet.
UWBL Draft Grades Are In
2019 UWBL Draft Recap
Slippery Locomotives – The best player in the draft was Drew Warren. The Locomotives had the 1st pick, so it was hard to mess this up. They didn’t get too cute and took the best player on everybody’s draft board. They also came away with first year player Justin Finley. They’re the only team to draft two players with no UWBL experience. Overall, this was a nice draft for the Locomotives. DRAFT GRADE: A-
Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons moved up in the draft when they traded away Drew Provence to the Bearded Bullfrogs earlier in the week. They added experienced UWBL players and stayed away from any rookies. While that’s not an aggressive strategy, it could turn out to be a smart one. They added Gary Hazelwood, one of the fastest players available, and the sure hitting Bart Shartzer to go with their already strong lineup. There were no surprises with these picks. DRAFT GRADE: B+
Freshwater Feline - The Freshwater Feline were involved with the most surprising picks of the day. They took Blake Scribner, who impressed in his Pro Day workouts with the 3rd overall pick. They elected to go with the offensive player Scribner over some better defensive options that were available. In the second round, they selected Doug Grote, who is already threatening to sit out the remainder of the year due to his Ailurophobia. DRAFT GRADE: C-
Bearded Bullfrogs - The Bullfrogs needed an OF heading into the draft. Even though they needed an OF, they took the best available player on their board with their 1st round pick in IF David Kellett. The draft broke their way in the second round when OF Taylor Dale dropped to them at #7. The Bullfrogs were able to address a need, while also adding another solid player to their lineup. DRAFT GRADE: B-
A Monumental Trade
The day began with an Upward Wiffleball luncheon where ticketed guest were able to spend some time with their favorite UWBL players. In a day where the luncheon was designed for the UWBL to get to know season ticket holders and fans, it quickly became overshadowed by a monumental trade agreed upon by the two teams that represent the biggest rivalry in the league. The Bearded Bullfrogs and the Rally Dragons agreed to a trade that sent Seth Hinrichs and the 5th draft pick to the Rally Dragons in exchange for Drew Provence and the 7th pick. Both Hinrichs and Provence have been staples on their franchises over the last several seasons. It’s a change in direction for both teams after competing against each other in last year’s World Series.
The Rally Dragons have had a major overhaul this off-season, plucking 2 players away from the reigning champion Bearded Bullfrogs in Andy Aulick (acquired in the rule 5 draft) and now power hitting 1B Seth Hinrichs. It didn’t come without a cost. The Rally Dragons lose Drew Provence, who is coming off of his best season where he hit .803. Provence doesn’t hit with as much power as Hinrich’s, but he has gotten on base more consistently over the last few seasons. It’s unclear if Provence will be in the OF or IF for the Bullfrogs.
After much speculation over the last few weeks with all the UWBL teams, the Bearded Bullfrogs and Rally Dragons were finally able to come to an agreement. This certainly shapes up for an interesting Pro Day and Draft Day tomorrow. One thing is for sure – the UWBL is Back!!
UWBL Pre-Draft Power Rankings
1. Slippery Locomotives – This might be the only time you see the Locomotives at the top of the power rankings, so let’s start with that. However, after a disappointing finish to their season, they are in great position heading into the draft. They return 2018 League MVP and Silver Slugger award winner Terry Wright, along with Kyle Heppeard and Stuart Kay. It’s hard to argue that their top 3 isn’t the best top 3 in the game. They have the first option of what draft order they’d like to have, so it’ll be interesting on their strategy headed into the upcoming draft.
2. Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons caught a break, when the Bearded Bullfrogs didn’t protect Andy Aulick in the Rule 5 draft. Aulick was scooped up and solidified their leadoff and OF position. Drew Provence had a great 2018 season ranking near the top in many offensive categories, while former gold glove winner Josh Garrison is one of the most consistent players in the league. The one thing this team lacks is a true power hitter. GM Garrison has been the most aggressive scouting potential players and holding private work-outs making sure he finds the right player.
3. Freshwater Feline – It’s not uncommon for the Freshwater Feline to find themselves near the bottom of the power rankings to start the year. It’s also not uncommon for them to be at the top of the power rankings by season’s end. The Feline had an incredible 2018 regular season, but came up short in the playoffs. They lost Zach Roschi and Curt Wheeler to retirement, so this could be a rebuilding year for them. They do return MVP candidate Ben Baldridge and 2019 Silver Slugger watch list nominee Zach Watson for 2019. Don’t overlook the best pitcher in the league, Corey Helle, or you’ll be looking up at them when the season ends. Baldridge and Helle won the UWBL World Series in 2017, so they understand what it takes to win. If they can bring along the new guys, they’ll have chance to win another Championship this year.
4. Bearded Bullfrogs – The defending champions find themselves at the bottom of the Pre-Draft power rankings. Most of this has to do with the unknown whereabouts of GM Travis Vaughn this week. It was no secret that the Bullfrogs struggled during the 2018 regular season. To Vaughn’s credit, he had the players committed to the process and they were ready for the playoffs and ultimately won the 2018 UWBL World Series. Returning to the Bullfrogs along with Vaughn is 2017 MVP and 2018 Gold Glove winner Mike Wilder as well as left-handed hitting Seth Hinrichs. There’s no doubt this team could repeat in 2019. The question is which team will show up from week to week.