Falcone's team, the Alibi Demons (sponsored by the famous Wilton Manors gay bar Georgie's Alibi), was competing in the B division last year when the protest committee composed of league representatives decided that several of the Demon players who supposedly sucked were actually ringers. Skeptical competitors called it intentional deception, but Falcone has a perfectly good explanation for the talent discrepancy.
"Some love the limelight and rise to the occasion," he said of his teammates' airborne catches and unlikely whacks into the outfield.
But Falcone turned in his pitcher's mitt for a chairman's visor this year. The Demons deemed it "selling out" to the national organization that unfairly disqualified them. The bitterness continues, Falcone says. Out of such contretemps are sports legends woven. The Alibi Demons are in the race again this year. At Level B, damn it.
So American lexicographers are having to play catchup in listing new words derived from Yankee slang. Two years ago, the hefty Oxford English Dictionary recognized ollie as a skateboard technique invented by Hollywood resident Alan "Ollie" Gelfand. Now, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary has finally gotten onboard, including the term in its Eleventh Edition along with a bunch of other long-familiar words (like supersize, wave pool, unibrow, drama queen, and ringtone.)
There's a reason for the Brits' being somewhat ahead of the curve here, says Merriam-Webster's associate editor, Kory Stamper.
"Because of the nature of their dictionary, they're more global," she says. "The Oxford English Dictionary is a huge unabridged dictionary. They don't have quite the space constraints that we have. A 20-volume unabridged dictionary can spare a few more lines."
Stamper says ollie first made it into print in 1979, a few years after the Hollywood glide jockey first started lifting his skateboard off the ground with a light kick to the tail of the board. Since then, there have been citations in, among a lot of others, Time, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, and Vogue.
Ollie the man, 43 now, is still bounding through the air, at his own skateboard venue, Olliewood Skate Park in Hollywood. OK, Ollie, you've been tailpiped (take note, you Merriam-Webster laggards).
ol lie n ('ä-lE)
1. a maneuver in skateboarding in which the skater kicks the tail of the board down while jumping in order to make the board pop into the air.
2. a maneuver in snowboarding in which the rider transfers weight from the front to the back foot to snap the board up off the ground
Hang Up Your Spikes, Schlub
Speaking of vastly significant sporting events, what's the world coming to when kickball, the dippy love child of soccer's tryst with softball, turns into a sport for Charlie Hustle? Two weekends ago, a dozen teams converged on Bicentennial Park in Miami to determine the champion of the World Adult Kickball Association, and the results were eye-opening to beer-guzzling, laid-back, local kickballers.
"It seems like they've perfected the game in ways I hadn't even thought of," said Jon Wickham, captain of a team called UVL, out of the Boca Raton league.
The day was a reminder that, while kickball is still mostly the domain of quasi-athletic schlubs in South Florida, it can reach a level of absurd seriousness. For instance, in a game between a pair of out-of-town teams, two players collided with such force that both were taken to the hospital, one with a broken leg. After the game, the pitcher from a South Carolina team called Good Times sat on a cooler and contemplated a strained knee.
"I can't ice it, because then it will lock up," he said. "My wife is going to kill me if I can't dance later. We brought a nanny all the way here just so we could go clubbing tonight in South Beach. If I can't go, it'll be a long drive back to Charleston."
Heck, it would be a long drive back to Fort Lauderdale. The only Broward team in the tournament, Drinkers With a Kicking Problem, had run through Fort Lauderdale's largest league nearly undefeated for two straight seasons; one kickball website ranked them the 16th best team in the country. They had a legitimate reason to be, in the words of team captain Adam Fell, "pumped." And they got crushed. A Virginia team named the Crunk Kickers took advantage of the Drinkers' fielding mistakes to win 3-1; then the eventual second-place team, Off in Public, overhand-sidearm pitched them right out of the park. "You can understand my disappointment," Fell said. "We were last in the tournament. Out of 16 teams, we were the worst."