“We’re goin’ to the ‘ship! We’re goin’ to the ‘ship!”
The phrase echoed through Trebes Park Thursday evening as WBEZ’s 16-inch softball team celebrated its 9-5 victory over previously undefeated ChicagoNow to clinch the Mamet Division pennant.
The tense and, at times, heated division championship proved to be a striking showing for the two teams. The drama culminated in a bench clearing, word-exchanging brawl between the two teams in the bottom of the 6th inning.
“Justin, I’m only warning you once,” the umpire could be heard telling WBEZ’s manager, Justin Kaufmann.
The commotion started when ChicagoNow sent the wrong batter to the plate while trailing late in the game. Kaufmann ran over to confront the ChicagoNow dugout, accusing them of foul play.
“I want to say, for the record, as many people were telling me to chill out and calm down, that was cool, but it was the next inning when we flew up – went up three more just to seal the game. So there was actual passion that was ignited on this bench. You know what I’m talking about, Gill?” Kaufmann said after the game, seemingly to co-worker Andrew Gill.
WBEZ (6-1) actually scored two runs in the 7th and final inning, not three.
“Now I know why radio people are on seven-second delays,” Bill Adee, who watched from the sidelines, said in an email after the game. Adee is the Vice President of Digital Development and Operations for Chicago Tribune Media Group and oversees ChicagoNow.
At the beginning of the game, ChicagoNow came out of the gate quickly, with two runs in the first inning. But the team was held scoreless from there until the fifth, when they rallied with another three runs.
Meantime, WBEZ remained consistent, spreading out its runs throughout the game. Pitcher Steve Waranauskas, an IT Help Desk/Support Specialist at WBEZ, walked away with the game ball—or, at least, the practice ball—going 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and a triple. He also threw for two strike outs from the mound.
WBEZ Criminal Justice reporter Robert Wildeboer also had a strong performance at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two runs. Website intern Meg Power went 2-for-4 with a run.
“I'm disappointed in the result, but not the team. I never would have dreamed that ChicagoNow would come this far as a site--or as a softball team,” Adee said of the game.
With the win, WBEZ is set to play the winner of the matchup between CHIRP and Gapers Block in the media league 16-inch softball championship game.
“CHIRP? Is that an acronym? What is that? Is that a bird? What is it, like a ripoff of Twitter? I don’t even know what that is,” Kaufmann said of his next potential opponent.
“Gapers Block? I mean, c’mon. What is that? What is that? Everyone calls it ‘gapers delay’ in Chicago. There’s no gapers block,” he continued.
When asked if he was worried about the championship game, Kaufmann laughed, saying “No. This is a monster squad right here. I’m riding high. Life is good. I predict it’s gonna be close. ‘BEZ, 27. Whoever plays us, three.”
And with that, WBEZ engineer Ronnie Davis, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI, led the team in another chorus of, “We’re going to the ‘ship!”