the philadelphia zoo softball team plays in the center city softball league (ccsl) : an eight-team, co-ed, slow-pitch league where every team must have at least two female players. teams can field up to 10 players (4 in the outfield) total while 11 can bat - a team does not need to forfeit at game time if it has at least 8 players (the opposing team would field a catcher as the 9th player who cannot make plays on the ball) with one of them being female, with the team taking an automatic out at every top of the batting order as long as they only have one woman in the field. our games have seven innings, no walks, no stolen bases (or leading off) and no umpires; umps are now regularly used in the playoffs (captains from teams not in the post-season). the batting team fields 1st and 3rd base coaches who call foul lines and outs. we have pitching mats that facilitate called strikes (if the ball lands on the mat placed behind the plate); you can also strike out swinging. we play a fourteen-game season in which every team plays each other twice, with one game each being home and away. the top four teams advance to a single game playoff round where the winners meet in a best-of-three 'world series'. we play in lovely fairmount park in northwest philadelphia.
this year's teams:
the franklin institute - now four-time defending champs. We're not their biggest fans, and that's not because they beat the snot out of us the last several years. we've certainly taken it to them back when they were not a strong team. some of their players are outrageously obnoxious.
the academy of natural sciences - they joined the league the same year as us and have never been a great team (like us) but they did make the playoffs the first 2 years. we usually play them closely, though the last few years have been pretty down for them (going winless laat year for the first time since we did in 2001) and we've beaten them rather handily most of the time. some really nice folks, though.
pen & pencil club - the former daily news (p&p is a press club/bar of some sort), they won the tourney in our first year and reached the finals the next, but have just been ok since then. we split games with them most of the time and have finished directly behind them for the last playoff spot two times as well. we must beat them if we are to have a chance of making the post-season. mostly really nice people, also.
south philly tap room - the former "x-commerce" team is always good. in the playoffs every year, and league champs for three years straight from 2002-2004, and runners-up 3 of the past 4 years. they don't always kill us, but they're the only team we've never beaten. they're sometimes kinda asshole-ish and hyper-competitive, but seemed to have calmed down a bit in recent years.
bishop's collar - the former pbj is consistently a good team. they ran away with the league in our first year but lost in the series, always make the playoffs but have only one championship, in 2005. last year they even dabbled with mediocrity. we've only beaten them once, by one, in extra innings in 2006 (after 12 straight losses to them in 6 years). probably the nicest folks in the league, though.
please touch museum - new to the league last season, and they came out swinging (a lot), won a lot of games and made the playoffs in their first year. we played them somewhat tough. they've got a few people who take it way too seriously but it's funny watching them implode.
philadelphia art museum - another newer team that joined in 2005, lost big in their league debut game but steadily improved and got pretty good, making their first post-season in 2009, with twice as many players as most teams and honestly - a couple who were kinda dick-ish. most of our games are tight and we've never swept the season series, and in fact they swept us the last two seasons (though not blow outs). like p&p, we have no chance of the playoffs if we can't beat them.
last year was a rough year for team zoo, our two wins being the worst we've done since our inception to the league in 2001 (when we were winless). what was most frustrating is that it was essentially the same team that battled for the last playoff spot during the last week of the season the previous year. we had some nagging injuries from a few key players and we're all getting older... but we'll need to step it up at the plate if we are to have any chance of contending. it looks like we're losing some members but hopefully we can fill in the blanks with some new recruits & fresh blood and get back to kicking ass.
prior to joining the ccsl, we regularly played the academy and franklin institute, as well as the daily news in our annual "vet stadium game" (which the zoo's president would arrange). the vet is long gone, but those were good times. to be honest, most teams in this league play with the bare minimum of female players and some make a point to only do just that; we used to have a much more even ratio, and even though we've had more men than women recently we still try to make sure everybody gets their share of playing time regardless of their gender. we're an equal opportunity recreational softball team.