Early look at 2014
NEW CARLISLE- The Commissioner's Office has confirmed that the Old Republic Wiffle Ball
League will return for an eighth season in 2014. The league has always operated on a year-by-year basis, but all indications point toward 2014 being the final season for the nation's top slow-pitch league. Uncertainty surrounds the league's future, but more importantly, many questions remain unanswered regarding the action on the field in the upcoming season. For the New Carlisle Newts, will 2014 be a title defense or victory lap? Most people in New Carlisle would have been perfectly content with the ORWBL's final chapter being written on August 18, 2013. The scene at Migley Field as the Newts hoisted the World Series trophy was not like any other in league history. Normally a major player each offseason, the Newts have not made a single move or any announcement regarding personnel. This team will need Matt Serge to return if they want a shot at another championship. Will 2014 be "the year" for the Maple City Magic? As it is currently constructed, the Magic are an overwhelming favorite to repeat as American League Champions and return to the World Series. Alex Friedman's team ran off with the best record in wiffleball during the 2013 regular season. However, the league has had somewhat of a trend with teams losing consecutive World Series. Does anybody want to play for Cult West on Wednesdays? Scott Soos had difficulties putting a lineup together for weeknight games, an issue which almost forced the Warriors to pack it up. Despite the struggles fielding a team, the Warriors didn't see much of a drop-off in performance, as they rolled to National League Division title in 2013. Can the Soggy Bottom Boys take another step forward and become legitimate contenders? Spicer Lake flipped its record from 20-22 in 2012 to 22-20 in 2013. Although they finished 12 games out of first place, they solidified themselves as the American League's second best team. Derrick Brewer continues to invest resources into improving his franchise. Right now, they seem to be the only potential challenger to the Magic in the AL. Is it possible for Eric Johnson to be on the hot seat in Rolling Prairie? Johnson has been at the helm of Emery's Army since 2010 and led EA to a division crown in 2011. However, the subpar results of the last two seasons have dropped his career record to an even .500. It's hard to imagine anyone other than the two-time NL Manager of the Year leading this club, but the team did tweet "changes coming next year" immediately after their postseason elimination. Are the Pterodactyls coming back? If so, which team is going to show up? No word has come out of The Palace regarding the Bourissa Hills franchise's status for 2014. They are the only team to give no indication of their future plans since the 2013 season ended in August, and they remain the league's biggest variable. If they do return, Nick Dobkins will have to find consistency with a ballclub that started an ORWBL best 10-2 only to stumble the rest of the way to 17-25. Are the Rebels committed to finish another season? Toll Road was historically bad in their first season, going 1-41. Their only win came in the last series of the regular season. Despite playing all 42 regular season games, they failed to show up for their Division Series with Magic. If this team is going to return, they'll have to make some improvements. It will be really difficult to find a group of players that stay interested if beat-downs continue in 2014. What newcomers will join the league in 2014? Make no mistake about it, nobody in the league is heartbroken the Federalists left. Teams with leadership that take slow-pitch wiffleball too seriously don't last very long in the ORWBL. However, their departure does leave a hole that needs to be filled. Given the annual interest of new franchises wanting in the league, replacing WTF should not be an issue. Potential replacement and expansions teams could cause the league to consider some re-alignment.