The Philadelphia Zoo softball team plays in the Center City Softball League (CCSL) : a ten-team, co-ed, slow-pitch league where every team must have at least two female fielders. Teams can field up to 10 players (4 in the outfield) total while 12 can bat. Our games have seven innings, no stolen bases (or leading off) and no umpires; umps are regularly used in the playoffs (captains from teams not in the post-season), though. The batting team fields 1st and 3rd base coaches who call foul lines and outs. We use pitching mats that facilitate called strikes (if the ball lands on the mat placed behind the plate); you can also (naturally) strike out swinging, and new this year is an OPTIONAL base on balls if you get pitched six straight balls. That will be interesting. We have ten teams but, also new this year, we play a 14-game season in which every team's schedule is slightly different and weighted on a sliding scale according to their place in the previous year's standings. This means last year's 1st place team plays the "toughest" schedule while the last place team plays the "easiest", and every team does NOT play every team twice. Yet... we're all in the same, single division. Yeah. Also new this year, every team gets a "post-season" game, with the lowest 4 seeds playing themselves into the last two spots of an 8-team playoff, with the top 2 teams advancing to a best-of-three 'world series'. We play in lovely Fairmount Park in northwest Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Zoo - this is our team.
The Franklin Institute - some really nice folks! And at least they actually work there. They had a rough year last year, but made some serious strides toward the end (first game we won big, second we barely won). They have fun, for sure.
Catahoula - these "refugees" (what?) are former members of Franklin who are now their own team (since 2012), and apparently most/all of them never did work at Franklin Institute. Won the league in their first official year and again last season (while winning every game, going a perfect 21-0!) and they're also the real reason Franklin won 5 straight titles before that.
Team Green Tambourine - first season in the league was last year, formerly the Please Touch Museum (for a few years) and now with some added punch from the Barnes Foundation, and others? - They struggled a bit and we swept them but it wasn't easy. Pretty good natured, though.
Philadelphia Art Museum - a slow burner team that joined in 2005, took a while to get good and then made the playoffs 4 straight years while threatening for the best record in the regular season. A couple years ago they lost some key players and didn't play so well and haven't gotten back to the upper echelon. Sometimes we play them tight and sometimes very much not. Some seriously over-macho dudes. Cute chicks, though. My goal is to beat them by 50 every time we play.
Pen & Pencil Club - the former Daily News (P&P is a press club/bar). We used to split games with them most of the time, except for lately as they've improved a lot, and we have also finished directly behind them for the last playoff spot two times, as well. Last year they finished in 2nd and we lost both of our games with them by a combined three fucking runs. Mostly really nice people.
South Philly Tap Room - in the playoffs every year, league champs for three years straight from 2002-2004, runners-up 3 of the following 5 years and finally champs again in 2011. They don't always kill us, but they're the only team we've never beaten. Last year we came really close, again!!
Bishop's Collar - the former PBJ is consistently a good team. We've only beaten them twice, ever, including last year when they seemed to take a small step back but still finished in 4th. We've almost beaten them a dozen other times and seem to play them tight even when we're having a bad year. Probably the nicest folks in the league.
South Philly Nomads - the former Fleisher is somewhat of an offshoot of the Art Museum and back for their 4th year in the league. We've had some repetitive, shady safe/fair calls from their base coaches and they have a couple of dudes who don't really understand the meaning of "sportsmanship". Just saying. A few of them, I really like! But I want to destroy them in softball games.
National Constitution Center - a couple years ago they were called Old City and we were told they were some kind of conglomeration of National Constitution Center people with Alfreth's Alley and some other old city touristy/historical places... last year they were back to just NCC again. New in 2012 after being in the league before (and ousting themselves), they played a lot of inexperienced people and only managed one win, though last year they improved quite a bit. We beat them pretty handily in 2012 and they complained that *we* actually beat them, so I was glad we did it again, twice, in 2013. And I hope we do, again.
We keep making significant strides offensively year to year, after some key additions to the lineup and a mostly stable roster, but we still need to be more consistent defensively. I still think we have the ability to be a top 5 team and regularly go over .500. Of course, everyone else is getting better, too. We did lose a few people in the off-season, but I think we've made enough additions that we hopefully won't lose much in terms of skill. We're still in one division this year, but everybody makes the play-offs (sort of) and it's a weird, weighted (shortened) schedule, which I don't like at all. But at least we won't be having 6 double-header weeks like last year. Should be interesting!