New year, same routine. Dust off the glove. Chip off last year's dirt from cleats. Grip the seams of a baseball for the first time in months. Re-wrap the bat. Shake off the rust. And share in the excitement for another season of Veto League Baseball.
Veto League opened its 24th season with a weekend of success, featuring four games, two fields, 36 players, four debuts, fancy glovework, some stellar stats and a lot of laughs.
Many consider 2020 as Veto League's most successful season in history. The league played a record 79 games, including a record 107 players and the fourth most debuts of all time (47). This year's schedule is starting a full four weeks ahead of last year's 79-game schedule - which was delayed due to COVID concerns. Time will tell if last season's record numbers will be matched, but early indications is that the VLB is in for another promising season.
Some notable events include LaVanti Wright's captain debut of the Vipers. Wright took on Josh Paul's Goonies in Sunday's second game. The score was neck-and-neck throughout, tied at 10-10 going into the 6th inning when the Goonies batted around (several times) for a 22-10 victory. As a personal feat, the veteran Wright crushed two balls - one over the fence to left-center and another a triple to right-center. Wright finished the weekend with four runs and seven RBI to go along the extra-base hits.
After a few year layoff, Mitch Dietrich is back in the Captain spotlight. His former team, the "Gems", were bought out by PETA and have been renamed the Sea Otters. The Otters had a rough debut against Mason Overmire's Heavy Hitters - who may as well have been called the Poachers in this one - as they bait and hooked the Otters 23-6 in a five-inning mercy rule shortened game.
Last year saw the emergence of two players who were late to join but rarely missed a game -- Dylan Hart and Dalton Nolan. The latter had one of VLB's best opening day stat lines with three homeruns. Nolan finished the weekend with seven runs scored and nine RBI. Nolan had zero homeruns in his first 19 career games in 2020. Overmire, the Director of Player Operations, is awaiting a urine test back from the lab.
Despite not debuting until June 17th, 2020, Hart played so many games to put him as 5th most all-time in rookie games played. Hart won the consensus Player of the Weekend over Opening Weekend, going a perfect 14-for-14 at the plate and leading all players in runs score (9) and RBI (10). President Paul couldn't recall another player starting as red hot as Hart and called it, "Impressive."
Four debut appearances were made over the weekend, which is down from most seasons. However, Veto League welcomes Xander Anselmi, Andrew Morris, Jordan Bank and Logan Nissen to the all-time roster. There are now 821 players who have played Veto League in the 2.5-decade history. Nissen starts his career with a perfect seven-for-seven with five runs scored, but perhaps most impressive was his glove. With the score knotted at 10-to-10 late in the game, Carey Padron attempted to score on a single from second base. Nissen relayed a laser beam from right field to Tori Frantz at catcher. The throw beat Padron, who was tagged out by Frantz in a run down for the third out of the inning.
Veto League's season plan has them renting Northwest Park on Saturdays (11:00 game time) and likely playing Tuesday nights at Dickson Park in Milan.