When I Came to America: A Kickball Tale
By Wiss Associate
Walking into the Indoor Sports Pavilion in Randolph, you could just tell there was a different atmosphere. The air was crisper, water fountain water was colder, and the staff was more indifferent than I’ve ever seen them in my 5 year history with the building. Sporting our overused-yet-still-trendy “Keep Calm and Kick Balls” slogan t-shirts, Wiss was loose and in high spirits. Some of us reminisced on years previous and fallen teammates, others went out to practice some kicking on the fields adjacent to our bird’s nest hang out, while even more partook in the literal spirits and libations generously provided to us by the Young CPAs of NJ. We were all on board the careening train in the beverage car with belts buckled.
Despite drawing the 1 seed we were not given the first round buy, so we were instead slated to play one of the big boys – we’ll call them “Team One”. I don’t mean to editorialize, but they seemed to be the literal big boys of the tournament. Legs pasty and withered from hours behind a desk and what I can only imagine is the same southwest chicken salad from the Chili’s down the block from their client in Omaha, Nebraska for 70 hours a week during the months of February and March of this year, they weren’t looking too athletic.
Pre-game, our very own Jackson Zheng had a story to tell. The moment his mouth opened I realized this was an important moment and went into a trance. It went “When my family came to America, my mother told me I was destined for big things. ‘Kickball’, she said. ‘Big things’ she continued. ‘You,’ she exclaimed while she pointed at me. She had quite a way with words, my mother. But I vowed from that day on I would lead a rag-tag group of champions to an indoor soccer arena and win the trophy that’s mine by birthright. Let’s do this!” Jackson collapsed on the ground, stuck to the floor by the sheer emotional weight of the speech just given. We, as a team newly united, picked him up and continued onto the first game.
Team One was not quite the game we expected. The game was a comedy (tragedy) of errors. Team One, like the good accountants they are, had a CPE on the rules and exploited them dutifully – launching burners to 3rd base for the easy singles at every bat. Wiss had a case of the butterfingers and approached the ball like excited puppies – not really knowing what to do when they got a hold of it. Team One scored on the back of some poor fielding and intelligent batting and we were all tied up as time ran out. There was no contingency plan for if a team was tied at the end of regulation so as a result, we went into extra innings. 14 minutes of extra innings on a 30 minute game, to be exact. During these 14 minutes Wiss squandered opportunity after opportunity due to poor base running and a vicious single track focus on getting to second base. In the end, we fumbled our way into a run during one of the extra innings and, much to the chagrin of the angry crowd of onlookers, were awarded the victory.
Wiss did not celebrate the victory. We reflected on what should have, in 98% of cases, been a loss and continued forward. More Miller Lights were had, untapped check-ins were posted, Snapchats were taken, Instagram was checked, Vine was ridiculed. It was literally everything you’d expect at a Young CPA event.
We go to our second game against Team Two on the same field we had the first game. Team Two is not an accounting firm. Team Two got the buy first round after picking the 15th seed from the hat. Team Two does not have busy season (author’s note: I don’t know if they have a busy season). Team Two was born with silver spoons in their mouths and it was continuing on to this tournament. I quote the venerable John Fogerty, public audit advocate, when he said “Some folks are born silver spoon in hand. Lord, don’t they help themselves, no. But when the taxman comes to the door. Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yeah.” I don’t want to spell this one out, but I think the metaphor speaks for itself. Although it went to overtime again, Wiss cleaned house and put Team Two in its place. We sent them a couple of Cash Confirms at the end to throw salt in the wound.
Wiss returned to the birds nest and were informed that the pizza had come and gone. The other teams had committed the mortal sins of greed and gluttony and had hoarded the pizza to themselves while we toiled in overtime. Wiss also succumbed to one of the seven deadly sins when we learned this information – wrath. And we’d bring it to the next game.
Team Three was our next opponent. As a perennial contender for the coveted John Andrew Koskinen Memorial Trophy, Wiss played their best game of the tournament. Base running and fielding improved while batting reached an all-time best-average. With the game tied late, the tournament’s defining moment came at the hands of Wiss’ own Supervisor extraordinaire, John Dutcher. Running home with the ball coming hot from the pitcher’s mound, John jumped over the ball aimed to peg him in the legs and continued to score the go-ahead run. Now Ladies and Gentlemen, I made a claim earlier that all events transcribed within would be the whole truth and nothing but. So when I say that John Dutcher’s jump could have cleared the top of my head, 6’2 as I stand, without grazing the wiliest of hairs you must believe that I tell the truth. When he landed, delicately as a leaf on a crisp fall day, he WALKED to home plate. No, that doesn’t do it justice. He sauntered, strutting with the brash swagger reserved for some mix of James Dean, Elvis, and Kanye West to score the last point. Needless to say, we won.
From here, readers, the story isn’t quite as happy. Our winner’s bracket final against Team Four pried us from our celebrated home field advantage and threw us to some long forgotten back court. The ceilings were low and springy, leading to wild bounces and unpredictable fielding. Team Four was loose and talkative, something that we warmly welcomed at face but secretly resented them for. WE were the loose talkative team. That was our thing. Don’t take it from us. Team Four’s pitcher continued to sling fast, bouncy pitches that didn’t bode well with us. The refs, as always, weren’t on our side when the time to have the guts to make the right call came. Wiss lost the game to a good team on some unlucky play. We won’t lose again.
We won’t lose to them again, I mean. We lost the next game too. This time to Team Five. Like Puff Daddy before them they decided that they were too cool for the full name and went by the abbreviated moniker seen on their colored t-shirt pockets. Headaches in swing from the lack of continued alcohol flow and spirits lagging as it approached 7pm, Wiss played an o-k game but fell to Team Five at the end – unable to convert on runs as we should have.
In the end, we arrived at a 3rd place finished in the field of 15 – the best Wiss has ever faired in the tournament. Wiss sports continues to thrive in this new renaissance of athleticism and firm spirit. We’ve showed that we’re not to be messed with in the next year and fully expect to continue our improvement to the trophy next year. Expect us.