Softball League Invites Players to Talk Smack

Posted May 18, 2010 at 4:48pm

Like many Members of Congress, the House Softball League uses its website as a tool to stay in touch with constituents.

But unlike Congressional websites, the league invites its constituents to trash talk.

The league softball site carries regularly updated standings and other administrative information, but the fun stuff is under “Smack Talk.”

“As we put the league together, we wanted to make it as much a community experience as anything else, so having a way for players to interact on the website was an important feature to add,” Commissioner Anthony Reed said.

According to Reed, Smack Talk is by far the most popular area on the site. “While most of the people who actually post are few, we have about 300 registered message board users in the league, so a lot of people read them,” he said.

Smack Talk provides an outlet for teams and players to compare records and brag about gaudy statistics. Like many areas of anonymous Web banter, the discussion at times turns crude.

“The smack talk is fun, but it holds almost no substance. Nothing important ever goes on there,” said Graig Mansfield, who plays for Scared Hitless.

The chatter at times can cross lines of propriety. “There are a couple guys that use the anonymity to act like total losers,” Mansfield continued. “Some guys think they’re being funny, but it’s really just embarrassing.”

The primary topics appear to be the advancing ages of various players, the consumption of alcohol and the general “so’s your momma” chatter of every good playground face-off.

While the smack talk does have drawbacks, generally the comments are taken tongue-in-cheek and foster rivalries among the teams. Reed added, “It’s fun to see at games, at the bars or at league events when people meet others they only know from the message boards.”

The site also hosts a free-agent message board that has successfully matched players and teams. In 2008, Mansfield was looking to join a team that would make the tournament. “I got picked up by the Resolutionaries,” Mansfield wrote in an e-mail. “It was a great opportunity to make some new friends and play some good softball.”

Not every free-agent attempt is a success. Cyndy Hernandez moved to D.C. last September looking forward to playing softball this spring. “The message board was my last-ditch effort in finding a team to join,” said Hernandez, who works for Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.).

On April 9, Hernandez posted: “Hi! My name is Cyndy, I’m looking to join a fun team, serious about playing but not crazy about winning. I’d like to join a CA team (gotta rep my state) but I’m more so looking to an opportunity to get playing time.”

The only reply came back April 14 from a nameless poster: “You hot?”

Though Hernandez did not succeed on the message board, she did find a team. She has signed on with WAM, the bipartisan team from the House Ways and Means Committee that is in third place in the House league.