We are not sure if a picture really says 1,000 words, or if a logo has even half that many in its vocabulary, but a logo should tell you a lot about the team or league using it: character, how they approach and play the game, what they are all about. Sometimes the words here will be gushing over a design we find interesting, amazing, or ridiculous in the best possible way. Sometimes they may be about the design process or evolution, the genesis of an idea and how it came to be, or team history. Other times we may try to look at trends and different nuances from around the Wiffle world.

The Great Wiff North

Wiffle Logos in Words
by Brandon Corbett

The Crofton Wiffleball Association burst onto the scene about one year ago and caught everyone's attention. Foremost, they were Canadian, so it felt exotic. Secondly, they were in the northern lands AND playing "spring training" games throughout the late winter, when most U.S. leagues were huddled under blankets. Thirdly, they put together a nice website, continued to grow, and consistently put out nice videos and updates. That last point comes as no surprise, since (at least one of) the guys who run the league are responsible for Francis Media, a video marketing firm specializing in web promotions. They piggyback the league website off the Francis Media site if you're interested in checking out their day job.

They had four teams when they began playing: Destroyers, North Stars, Rookies, and Skididdlers. The Rookies rebranded as the Rockies before spring league play started, and it is one of the best updates I have seen in Wiffle logos. It is superior to the MLB's Colorado Rockies logo with mountains, the forest, and a river in muted tones in the upper half and Vancouver Island represented in the lower half. The logo also features a unique-to-the-league Wiffleball as the "o" in Rockies, which has also been used by the Smoke Stacks and Wiffers / Sea Monsters franchises.

Those latter two franchises were part of a spring expansion to six teams. The Stacks logo invokes Hexus (I, hereby, promise not to bring up Fern Gully again) with its demonizing portrayal of industry into something Al Gore might consider tattooing on his chest. The Wiffers went with a more simplistic approach, but the arched text mimics the swing-and-miss motion; effectively bringing out the hopelessness in the name "Wiffers". The Smoke Stacks along with the Skididdlers were later contracted during the season to improve quality of play and attendance. What we are left with heading into 2013 are four teams: Destroyers, North Stars, Rockies, and Sea Monsters.

The Destroyers and North Stars have kept their looks since their beginning. The Stars utilize a wonderful kelly green and yellow color scheme, featuring a maple leaf over a star. Is it a simple logo? Yes, but that often makes for the best and longest lasting looks. The Destroyers play to the other end of the spectrum with no less success: a Wiffle-holed skull biting down on crossed bats with flames and "Destroyers" arched above in a custom font. It works so well, because everything you are looking at screams, "DESTROY!"

In addition to the aforementioned, fantastically designed Rockies, the Sea Monsters are the re-branded Wiffers franchise. They keep green in their color scheme, but shift it toward a more aquatic tone. They also keep the league-unique Wiffleball in the design as the 'o' in Monsters, as well as applying the holes to the octopuses head. The purple, green, and black colors are bold and unique, perfectly fitting the team name and livery along the coast of the Pacific Northwest (or Southwest on a map of Canada).

The other three Crofton teams each take their own unique section of the color spectrum, too. The Destroyers are very warm with red, black, and orange; the Rockies are subtly cool with their blue-violet, pale blue, and grey; and the North Stars stand out with their bright green and yellow scheme.

From top to bottom the CWA has their stuff together; including the highly noticeable stuff, such as video of the year or very informative player profiles, and the minutia like team colors. These guys know what they are doing, and are doing a great job at helping expand Wiffleball into Canada. With any luck we will have another fantastic league to follow in the north-country before MLB tries its hand their again (Actually, I really want the Expos back. Maybe these can come simultaneously).

The Devil, Etc.

Wiffle Logos in Words
by Brandon Corbett

Shockingly, no teams from known Wiffle leagues use the English terms "devils" or "demons" in their names; whether red, blue, or sun there are none to be found. This is a fascinating anomaly, and I honestly have no idea why. It could be as simple as there not being much demonic nomenclature used by baseball, in general; I am sure there is a wormhole to slip through and find many reasons why distance is kept between "America's pastime" and dark names. Numerous Wiffle teams use "angels" like MLB, of course, but the only reference ever made in English to the other side was the Fallen Angels from CCWA, who disbanded in 2011.

As soon as you break the language barrier, though, the devils are let loose. Five teams use the Spanish terminology, "Diablos," which we have to admit is a much livelier choice!

KWL's Diablos are probably the most well-known of these teams. Founded as the Indians in 2007, the team would bear their horns in 2009 when they possessed the Detroit Tigers' old-English "D" logo. The horns and tail are a clever play on the letter, and fit perfectly.
A much lesser known team, SSWBL's Diablos, take a much more serpentine approach. The long, pointed tail is the focus here, twisting around and forming the 'D'. Along with the dark tones it certainly conveys "shadowy figures".
As with all Golden Stick logos, GSWL's Diablos is very well done. They are also the only Diablos team to feature a human-faced devil, including everyone's second-favorite devilish characteristic: the pointy goatee.
MWLWI's Diablos use the logo of the Texas League's El Paso Diablos with a few minor color changes. I normally wouldn't write about it, but this logo shows one key anatomy lesson: the difference in muscle structure between humans and demon peppers.
Then we have WSEM's El Diablos who, with the most unique treatment of the name, go all Ricky Bobby on us. "Like... a fighting chicken," they eschew all demonic imagery, instead playing up the mistranslated Spanish with a sombrero-clad, scowling rooster.

Equipment Check

Wiffle Logos in Words
by Brandon Corbett

There is a trend in the NBA that is a joke on par with "that's what she said" at college parties. It almost seems to be mandatory that a team's primary logo feature a basketball, or in some cases be nothing but a basketball. You would think that a team at the pinnacle of the sport would be recognized as a basketball team, and thus render the inclusion of a basketball completely redundant. They keep showing up, though, and it humors design-geeks worldwide.

Now, it may be redundant for the biggest professional basketball league, but how about for a sport as grassroots and "up-and-coming" as Wiffleball? In our case, I think inclusion of a Wiffle ball or bat as a design element can actually be a good service to both the team and sport as a whole. Even with all the success a team like Freaky Franchise had in 2012, nobody outside of a Wiffleball circle will recognize that name as an NWLA Tournament champion. When they see the ball-headed logo, though, they will make the connection. Same for a storied team like the KWL's Industrials: "is that a labor union? Beer-league hockey? Oh, that's that plastic ball we played with in the backyard as kids!" Boom. Connected.

I thought it would be fun to look at exactly where Wiffleball leagues, in general, measure up in relation to the NBA and other sports leagues when it comes to using equipment in their team's primary designs. I included 14 Wiffleball leagues to get a decently varied sample. Also, note that the term "ball" includes the puck for NHL teams.

League # Teams # w/ Ball % w/ Ball # w/ Other Equip* % w/ Any Equip
NBA 30 20 66.67 1 70.00
NFL 32 2 6.25 3 15.63
MLB 30 10 33.33 3 43.33
NHL 30 5 16.67 2 23.33
MLS 19 8 42.11 0 42.11
WIFFLE 160 105 65.63 19 77.50

As should be expected, the NFL takes a stand as a league of teams not needing to identify their sport. Only two teams feature a football: the Buccaneers and Jets. Three teams - Miami, Oakland, and Cleveland (duh) - also showcase a helmet. Still, this makes up only 15.63% of the league: by far the lowest proportion of all the professional leagues. The NHL is the next lowest with just 7 of 30 teams using a puck or stick in their design. The Hurricanes, Avalanche, Islanders, Flyers, and Capitals all have a puck, while the Penguins and Sharks both showcase a stick. This still amounts to only 23.33% of NHL teams does not exist.

MLB, a source of many Wiffle team logos, and MLS jump up a bit and come in at 42.33% and 42.11%, respectively. Very similar overall, but while all of the MLS teams feature a soccer ball only 10 of the 30 (33.33%) MLB teams use a baseball. The Pirates and Cardinals both feature a bat, and the Rays use the infield diamond to add to the total use of equipment, though.

I mentioned "mandatory" earlier in regard to NBA teams using equipment, and now we see just how close to accurate that is. Two-thirds of the league uses a basketball in their primary logo. When you add in the Rockets use of the rim, you end up with 70% of the league. Stout, and sure enough, Wiffleball stands toe-to-toe with the NBA numbers. 65.63% of the 160 teams sampled utilize a Wiffleball as part of their primary mark: just over 1% shy of the NBA. Since Wiffle has more vivid equipment to play with - bat, plate, etc. - we leapfrog the NBA in that category, though, bumping all the way up to 77.5%!

Breaking it down by individual Wiffle leagues, of the leagues sampled, we see that the HRL does the best job mimicking the NBA: two-thirds of their 18 teams feature a ball. Looking at the extremes, three leagues - GSWL, SWBL, and HFWB - have 100% of their teams showing a piece of equipment. SWBL and HFWB both have the Wiffle ball in 100% of their teams' primaries. On the other end, the WWL has the lowest percentage of teams with a ball, of leagues sampled, in their design at 12.5%. However, ORWBL has the least amount of equipment in general, just 25%.

Going to equipment seems extraneous and a bit cliche for professional teams, but in Wiffleball it seems less like a crutch and more like a sign of community and pride. It is true that the popularity of Wiffle has grown immensely over the past five years, however, the sport is still rarely recognized outside our circles. When teams promote the sport along with themselves by using a ball or bat it does not come off as a joke, rather as a vanguard for the game. In thirty years when Wiffle is dominating the programming on ESPN8 we can revisit the issue, but for now, keep flashing those balls!

* i.e. bat, stick, rim, helmet, playing surface. Not counted if ball also included
** roundels or ellipses alone not taken to represent ball or puck