Friday, February 22, 2008

How's the view from the top, guys?

I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Dave Berks (East Lyme), Mike Swanson (Duluth-Superior), Bob Lord (Green Bay), Robert Smith (Great Kills), Jason South (Phoenix) and Henry Vance (Southtown) for showing us all how to climb from the valleys to the mountaintop.

Any of these six teams will be my sentimental favorite to take the 18th BRASS crown this year and bring the coveted Old BRASS Bucket back to their respective homes. Why? All of these gentlemen are keeping the league strong and competitive by doing just what we hoped when we welcomed them into our enterprise: working to build a competitive franchise.

For those of you who have recently joined BRASS and are building your own squads in your image, new colleagues like Kai Neizman, Dave Silverberg, Sean Crawford, Rob Hamilton, Dave Dick and whomever is lucky enough to become our 24th owner, do yourself a favor and contact one of these guys and ask them how they did it because they are each very good at it!

How good?

Let's take a look...

Dave Berks inherited a team that averaged 107 losses per season in the two years before he took over. The squad continued to struggle on the field as Dave was building, losing an average of 103 per season in the first two years Dave had the team. This year? A fifty game improvement and the first division title in five years for the franchise!

Mike Swanson's squad averaged 98 losses for the three seasons prior to his acceptance into BRASS and the squad he inherited struggled even more during his first two seasons at the helm. As Mike tried to dig out of the mess, he had two seasons in a row where he lost 119 games and then 120. Ouch! But then Mike authored a 69 game turnaround last season and a division title. He followed up his 112-win season last year with a 106-win season and a repeat division crown.

Bob Lord inherited the one franchise in BRASS that had not been in the post-season in its history. Bob inherited a squad that posted a 104-loss season the year before he joined and as he tried to deal with the mess, posted another 104-loss campaign in his first year. Bob improved the record to 69 wins the next season, then 71 wins before breaking through this season with a division title, a franchise record 93 wins and the first post-season berth in the history of the franchise.

Robert Smith took over a team in mid-season that had bottomed out and had gone through 3 owners already in that year. Robert guided the squad in that season to a 68-94 record and then paid a 111-loss price for the ownership chaos the next season, his first full season, as he was rebuilding. Robert vaulted from the 111-loss season to the playoffs this year with a 37-game improvement. The playoff berth Robert engineered was the first in ten seasons for the squad.

Jason South took over a franchise that hadn't made the post-season in 15 seasons, when they were a division winner with a modest .500 record. This was the only post-season appearance for the franchise in its history. The five seasons prior to Jason's tenure this year were especially bad. The squad averaged 97 losses per season for the five years prior to Jason arriving on the scene. In just one season, the team landed itself in the playoffs, breaking the fifteen season drought!

Henry Vance's team, like Mike Swanson's actually broke through last season and is building on its success. Henry broke a fourteen season playoff drought last year and surfaced the franchise from years of losing with an incredible 75-game improvement from 2005-06 to 2006-07. In the eight seasons prior to last year's breakthrough, the franchise averaged a miserable 103 losses per year. Now, they are back in the post-season for consecutive years for the first time in 15 years!

Each of these gentleman has showed us all exactly how it is done and I salute them. We've had some struggling franchises in BRASS history and it is very clear that some of the league's least-heard-from franchises are now in great hands. BRASS is as strong as it has ever been, thanks in part to a great influx of high caliber new owners in the 2003-06 era.

Of course winning seasons and playoff berths are not the only want to measure how good an owner you are. Not by a long shot. But it sure helps make the experience more fun, eh guys!?

Thanks for being an inspiration to all and here's hoping Dave S. and Dave D. and Sean and Rob and Kai all have similar success when they finish putting their own personal stamps on their own inherited franchises!

0 Swings of the bat: