Throughout our years as one of the longest standing wiffleball leagues in the world, the SWBL has been through changes each and every year. While this coming year won’t have many changes to the rulebook, the landscape of our league is on the brink of major reconstruction.
As the only Commissioner to ever run this league, I alone understand what it truly takes to put on a great season year after year here in St. Louis. The past four seasons as captain of the SWBL Cardinals has had its ups and downs, with only one playoff appearance in those four years. It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement as a captain of the SWBL. My career as an SWBL player is surely not over, but my future of where I will take my remaining talent is unknown. With being Commissioner, comes great responsibility. I am now to the point in my career in which I have been a captain in 12 of the 13 seasons (only season I was not, was the one I did not play in during 2011). As Commissioner I think I should be an unbiased tiebreaker in both the front office and within the captain’s ranks. With a front office of 4 and with 8 captains, that helps remove me from decision-making, unless a tie presents itself.
After much discussion with my co-captain and co-founder of the league, Brett Spencer, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot continue to field a team and agreed that we will officially move on from the Cardinals Franchise. The Cardinals logo will be the first retired logo and the hometown name will only be used for the NWLA Tournament in Ohio each summer. Both Brett and I have agreed to dissolve the team, thus making Matt Patterson, Bryan Benware, Andy Oldenburg, and the two of us, free agents for the 2016 season.
In other news around the league, the 3-time champion, SWBL Rays, have also decided to dissolve after not making the playoffs in 2015. This news also comes after the Rays being chosen for the NWLA Hall of Fame Class of 2015 as the first SWBL Franchise to be inducted. This means that along with Paul Castellano; Chris Meador, Ian Baker, Will Rath, and Derek Thompson (pending arrival) will also be free agents in the 2016 offseason.
With the news of the Cardinals and Rays done after 2015, the league is down to 6 teams. The National League still includes the Brewers, defending Champion Rockies, and as of now, the Expos look to be back with John Leicht taking over as co-captain in the hopes of trying to garner that first win for the “fourth” NL Franchise. In the American League the Royals and A’s will still be there along with the Yankees, who look as strong as ever with the news of Kevin Pohle entering the free agent market.
With only 6 teams, two franchise spots are in need of filling. Former MVP, Chris Meador has expressed interest as a possible captain and last season there were also grumblings of 2015 Rookie of the Year, Chris Costello possibly taking on his own franchise as well. There is no doubt in my mind we will have 8 franchises, it just doesn’t seem very clear who those last 2, maybe 3 franchises will be. If you have any interest in being a captain for one of our two or three franchise spots available, please contact the front office and let us know how you look to be competitive with a franchise plan.
One thing is certain though…this is only September and I have heard more rumors floating around the SWBL offseason than ever before, which should make for a very interesting offseason with a very new look come 2016.
See you at Winter Meeting,
Sam Skibbe, SWBL Commissioner