Boys of summer? How about babes of summer. If you’re looking for a brief respite from the agonizing stress of following your favorite squad’s scramble to make the baseball post-season, might we suggest watching this week’s National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Championship? And if you equate softball with big soft bellies and kegs being drained in the dugout, this mighty brand of the game will blow one right by you.
Here are five reasons why you should be enjoying the National Pro Fastpitch Championship this weekend…
1. Location, Location, Location
Have you ever heard of a major sports championship being held in a place like Sulphur, Louisiana? It would be like holding the Super Bowl in Death Valley. According to NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf, “It is our intention to show Southwest Louisiana to the world on ESPN2.” Spring Break 2012 in Sulphur! And seriously, where else but a place like Louisiana would a major sporting event also include a scavenger hunt to track down Charley the Championship Crawfish?
2. Batter Up? Batter Down!
Pitchers in the bigs can hurl it to home plate at close to or above 100 mph. So when you know that elite women’s fastpitch balls only approach speeds of 70 mph, it seems a bit of a letdown. But that’s not the whole story. The NPF mound is only 43 feet from home plate, which is about 17 feet closer than in the majors. That makes the reaction time for an NPF fastball actually less than what Major Leaguers have. Oh, and an NPF ball is bigger and heavier, both while flying at and striking your head.
3. Two Words: Jennie Finch
Talk about a total package. Olympic gold medal-winning talent wrapped up in a made for Hollywood golden blonde bombshell bod. Finch has been on countless sexiest athletes lists, but she retired last year and won’t be pitching in the 2011 NPF Championships. No matter, she’ll be holding a camp in Sulphur if you want to get down there for a meet and greet. And she’ll be there to broadcast the finals on Sunday. That’s good enough for us. Almost.
4. Total Equality
What’s the only way to ensure that all fans are 100% satisfied come post season? Well, all teams would have to make the playoffs. Many people think the NHL is coming close to this idea, but no one does it like the NPF Championship. There are four teams in the league – Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Tennessee’s NPF Diamonds and Florida’s USSSA Pride (not a typo) – and they are all going to Sulphur! The NPF definitely wants to expand, and they have a section on their site for folks who want to own a team. Can you say NFL team ownership stepping stone?
5. Loco for the Logo
You want to know who has the worst logo in all of sports? Major League Baseball. Just look at it – that stiff moron is about to get the crap knocked out of him by the ball and he’s not even trying to move out of the way (BTW, the model was actually Harmon Killebrew). **Editor’s Note: That’s debatable, apparently.
Now let’s check out the NPF logo:
So nice. It’s elegant like the NBA’s, it depicts a pitcher in the league’s signature whipping windmill windup. And seriously, how can you go wrong with a pro sports logo that features a ponytail?
Former Playboy.com editor John D. Thomas is author of the novel Karaoke of Blood.