Well it’s that time of year again. The landscape is becoming greener. The sky clearer. You can actually wear short sleeves and not bring a jacket for ‘just in case’. Picnics abound at all the surrounding parks. There’s no denying it: spring has arrived. Some of you may completely forget about wiffleball in the winter and it’s only when the symptoms of spring return that you once again find yourself behind your keyboard visiting the websites of your favorite leagues. A lot of you probably check on the same few that are considered by many to be the elite leagues in the country. You know the leagues: Golden Stick, Kalamazoo, Palisades, Hess Field, and so on… But what you might not know is that there are some incredibly promising leagues on the cusp of greatness. Some of the five leagues I’m about to mention may be brand spanking new or have been around a while and are reforming themselves. I can only speculate that these leagues can deliver what they promise in 2012 but I believe that these five leagues have potential to impress us all this year.
1. Ontario County Wiffle Association (Farmington, NY)
This league did incredibly well in 2011 and did not let their small size hinder their season. They have abandoned their leaguelineup.com site for a relatively impressive looking new site with a lot of color and a smart design. Something a simple as having a site that is not preceded by the words ‘league lineup’ is enough to generate a significant amount of site traffic. For this reason alone I think that a lot of people might dig this league a lot more than they might have last year. They did some videos last year too and if they do more this year it could definitely help. But I doubt that will be the case.
2. Wiffle Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia)
This league has certainly had it’s ups and downs over the years. They remain the veterans of wiffleball leagues in the southeastern United States. Former commissioner Jordan (last name escapes me) has returned to his role as commish as Blaine Milam steps down. They seem to be going with a more easy-to-update website that they say will be used for the 2012 season. They look to be expanding from 6 to 8 teams this season. Wiffle ATL used to be one of the best leagues to keep up with only a few years ago and 2012 could be the year they finally get that prestige back.
3. Crofton Wiffle Association (Crofton, British Columbia in Canada)
This is a brand new league ran by a guy named Jamie Francis. We first saw this league in action on Youtube back in January and they’ve been growing ever since from just a couple of guys to 4 teams. They are currently in their ‘winter ball’ season but are looking to expand for a regular season in the spring and summer. They must contest against adult softball leagues for players and it remains uncertain if they will be able to effectively compete for the number of players they desire. But it looks like these guys are having fun either way. They have great videos and a site that looks better each time I visit it.
4. Washburn Wiffleball League (Caledonia, NY)
This league fought for attention in a state that is experiencing what cannot be called anything else but a ‘wiffleball renaissance’. Yet they gained many followers with their great highlights videos throughout their 2011 season. They posted a fantastic Sports Illustrated themed 2012 season preview that gave in-depth commentary to what the league will be like in 2012. Add that to the fact that they also broke away from leaguelineup.com and the likelihood that they will post videos as frequently as they did in 2011 – and you have a recipe for greatness.
5. National Wiffle Ball League (Woodland Park, NJ)
The NWBL continue to be on of the most in-depth leagues I have ever followed. They post articles on their website all the time, even in the off-season, and broke their bonds with leaguelineup to build a new and very organized website. They always play a lot of regular season games and seem to always have a lot going on. I only wish that they would take video of more of their games. They have a video surface every now and then but I want to see more. Even if they don’t pick up a video camera that much this year they still will impress in 2012 and if you follow them enough you will soon find out that I am right.