By SLWAA President Geoff Hixson
We are now one week from our annual pilgrimage to the hallowed ground of Shangri La’. This fact carries with it a nice list of things that make me smile.
We will have the most level playing field to date, thanks to Chief Scientist Seph Lietz. The league welcomes back 2010’s two rookies in Derek Mayfield and Luke Kirby. We will mark the return of the prodigal son, Kevin Walsh, from his “high-falutin’ wedding trip absence in 2010, with the hope he doesn’t destroy any more of the park or kill himself. We will again be treated to some of the best hospitality and food available from the Hall of Fame hostesses – Dee Dee and Charlene.
Look for an upgrade to the DJ booth/press box with a location and elevation change. There will be uniformity in the participants not seen in 18 years with the “great uniform experiment of 2011”. There is a groundswell of additional surprise happenings yet to be announced. Our press coverage from both print and video will again be increased with the photo and video commitment of the aforementioned Mayfield and Jeff Cain Productions, respectively.
As in years past, there will be grueling field prep all day Thursday. The annual Old/Young Series (a name that I believe will stick forever, even though neither tag is accurate) will take place on Friday. And of course, Home Run Derby Friday night.
There will be camaraderie, catch-up time and an ongoing over-consumption of alcohol. There will be one champion and five “also rans.” There will be smack talk, debates on the future, exhaustion and bug bites. There will be heavy metal from Maxim Magazine’s iPod of the Year 2010. There will be a sense of family and fraternity. A sense of competitiveness, drive and fire most of us no longer get to exhibit on a regular basis, that will come out in the heat of battle.
There will be the self-proclaim of the greatness of the commissioner and all he has created (which kidding aside, is pretty well deserved). There will be memories that we be analyzed and re-analyzed for years to come. There will be a podcast or two. There will be pitchers on the fun island.
Most of all, there will be talk of the patriarch of Shangri La’ Wiffleball – who will assume his usual seat by the back door with the best view in the park, next to his wife and his buddy/long- time neighbor. He will be happy to be back. He won’t be bothered by the problems of the day to day life. He won’t be too hot, too “full” or too tired. He will be back at his happiest for his favorite weekend of the year.
There is a reason this event has become what it is. Let us remember all those things we look forward to the rest of the year and enjoy it in the moment, like the Mayor loved to do.