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 fielders. Teams can field up to 10 players (4 in the outfield) total while 12 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 (naturally) 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 five-time defending champs. Someone needs to beat them. 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.
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 5 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, though probably generally the least-liked team in the league.
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 were back in the series, but lost after barely making the playoffs. 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.
Please Touch Museum - new to the league in 2009, 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. We don't know them very well, but they've got a few people who take it way too seriously and it's funny watching them implode. We've yet to beat them until this year.
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 and repeating in '10, 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 few seasons (though not blow outs). Like P&P, we have no chance of the playoffs if we can't beat them.
Fleisher Art Memorial - the baby of the bunch, the FAM is somewhat of an offshoot of the Art Museum and now they have a full squad of their own for their rookie season in 2011 after the Academy team sadly folded up shop. It was sad to see them go, and not just because lately they were the only team we could beat. I hope this new team sucks. Just keeping it real.
The last couple of years were rough for our beloved Team Zoo, our two wins each season being the worst we've done since our inception to the league in 2001 (when we were winless) and all 4 wins were against the same team (who didn't beat anybody). We knew we had improved in 2010 over the previous year, but the record didn't show it as we lost 4 games by 3 runs or less. I say we get back to kicking some ass.