2012 CHAMPIONS CROWNED!!
December 2011- Michael Anderson acquires the Indiana Zephyrs, a team in shambles, without direction and without an owner.
The 2011 Zephyrs finished 32-87 under Jordan Marcell and 10th in the league. Awarded the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft following the lottery, it would be the beginning of the rebuild for the new ownership.
"At first, we were slated to be an expansion team for 2013," Anderson explains. "But the replacement owner fell through and the 2012 job opened up. It gave me a chance to get into the ACBA right away and as it turned out, I'm glad it went that way."
With their first pick, Green Bay selected Ryan Braun and immediately the change was in motion. In fact, it had already been in motion for some time.
"This became Michael's team almost the second he took it over," an ACBA Spokesperson said. "Within days of being named the new owner, he had moved the team to Green Bay, renamed them, and completed a multi-player trade with Jacksonville. This was all before Christmas. The draft--and the Ryan Braun pick--was still 3 months away. The clubhouse was ablaze. Players realized that both the shake up was in order, but also that they had an owner who wanted his team to make some noise---NOW.
Any player that survived the transformation and remained on the roster was ready for the new direction.
It wasn't a bang-bang start in the spring, but the way they finished was all that mattered. Going into the playoffs with a .500 record and a sure hold on second place in the division, they hosted the opening round against 3rd seeded Washington. After the Wolves stole home field advantage in Game 2, Washington went up 2-1, putting Green Bay on the brink. Following a near elimination in Game 4 (58-57 win), the Title Company forced the series back to Green Bay for Game 5, but by then the momentum had shifted and Washington was done.
"We were that close to being ousted," Braun recalls. "A one point win in that elimination game, out there in Washington. That game was back and forth all night. It could have been over at any point and this championship run would never have happened."
Then it was time for the September-seasoned Solomon's Dominion. Florida, fresh off an upset victory over bitter rival Portsmouth showed up flat in the NECS.
"You never want to make excuses, "Mitch Smith noted after the series wrapped up, "but there may have been something to that. Our guys got up big for Portsmouth and probably lost a little edge after that series. It was an emotional win. We have a history with Portsmouth and then you go into a series with the new guys and sometimes you just don't play the same. You don't have the same intensity and lose focus."
The NEDS against Portsmouth was a see-saw series with every game going back and forth. Florida then became the first victim to lose a 7 game series in 5 games or less, dropping 4 out of 5 games to Green Bay.
Next it was on to the World Series to face the Midwest Maniacs, another seasoned team. Though Michigan was still in search of their first World Series title, they were a veteran club, appearing in their 9th postseason.
The series was no push over, though it started out slow, almost boring... anti-climatic. But then the Maniacs found their stride and clawed their way back from an 0-2 hole.
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EXPANSION DRAFT WRAPS UP
The Warren Warriors and the Mid-Michigan Mud Hens have begun piecing together their rosters as the 2013 expansion draft concluded late last month.
Both teams selected seven players from seven different teams, half starting pitchers and half fielders. Dustin Pedroia and Mark Teixeira were the 2 big aquisitions, but they also both came with hefty price tags. This, the silver lining for existing teams looking for a free way to dump salary costs.
Senhollow, Austin and Green Bay were drawn from the maximum amount, three times, while Flint, Jacksonville, Cooperstown and Florida also made sacrifices from their own rosters.
No word to this point of any contract extensions by either team, but both will be allowed to negotiate with their players through the contracts deadline in the spring.
Following the opt out deadline on December 1, all teams payrolls will be updated and posted on the affiliate site, giving owners a chance to begin mapping out their 2013 rosters.
OFFSEASON OPENS WITH EARLIEST TRADE IN HISTORY
Three days into free agency, Senhollow and Austin wrapped up trade talks, completeing a deal that sent OF Jay Bruce to Austin in what turned out to be the earliest trade in league history.
"We just wanted to get it done," Cheslock said. "We'd been talking for a couple days and trying to figure out what was going to work and I think this was a truly great trade for both sides."
The move helps to open up a bit of a log jam in the outfield for Senhollow though trading away Bruce was not especially appealing.
"It was a necessary evil," Senhollow owner Sam Siegel said when talking to reporters. "Jay has been family here for the last several years and we really do hate to see him go. But it's a business move. He'd be riding the pine all season next year if he was still with us and he's just too good for that. If anything, this deal probably helps him the most because now he can get regular playing. He'll get those 500 or 550 at bats like he deserves."
As part of the trade, Austin also acquired 2 draft picks in the 2015 draft while sending SP Matt Moore and blue chip prospect Will Myers to Senhollow.
"That's why we draft those guys. They can improve your team or be a valuable trade asset," Cheslock added, "We have a budding star anchoring our outfield right now and I could not be happier with that."
Austin and Senhollow held the previous record for the earliest trade with a 2010 deal on October 15.
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Michigan tied the series at 3 games apiece after winning Games 3, 5 & 6 and Green Bay suddenly found themselves in an elimination situation
again--the first time since the Washington series.
But Game 7 was over quickly and the series ended the way it started, with less "Pow" and more "Wow". Wow-- because a rookie owner had just knocked off 3 teams with loads more experience--at least in the ACBA. Wow-- because nobody ever saw this coming. Wow-- because Anderson took his team from worst to first in less than a full calendar year.
So now we enter another off season and Green Bay is crowned the ACBA Champions. What does this winter hold in store for his roster as they head into the second year of the Anderson era? I guess we'll just have wait and see.