Top 10 most anticipated series of 2018
With the schedule being officially released for the 2018 Old Republic Wiffleball League, it is time to start anticipating what might be. This year the league will operate with 14 teams so there will be plenty of storylines to follow on a weekly basis once the summer rolls around. With five more teams joining the fray, there will certainly be a lot of must see matchups in 2018. While it may be tough to call, we are going to try our best to predict the top ten most anticipated series for next season.
#10 South Shore Silver Sluggers @ Osceola Billy Goats:
While many may argue that two new teams shouldn’t be a “must see” matchup, this series figures to be quite competitive on paper. The Silver Sluggers are basically an unknown coming into the league. They had a solid run at The Wiffleball Championship in July which should give them confidence heading into their inaugural season. Meanwhile, the Billy Goats were a punching bag early on in the grand slam season but vastly improved during the final leg of the tourney swing.
They scored a massive upset at the Friedman & Associates Fall Classic by beating a veteran and proven Clutch Players team. Their late tourney success along with young upside has this team looking to replicate what their friends over in Granger did in their inaugural season.. With these two teams looking to make an impact, this should be an exciting matchup that certainly deserves attention.
#9 Hudson Lake Heat @ South Bend Muffs:
Two teams that are theoretically pretty darn even, this series will be tough to handicap. The Muffs franchise returns to the league with Anthony Rieff back as manager. The return of the Muffs means that South Bend will have a team to cheer on after there were no teams from South Bend in 2017. After signing with the Maple City Magic, Anthony Rieff went on to play a crucial role in helping the Magic capture their first ORWBL World Series Championship.
Rieff took home World Series MVP honors and will now look to lead the Muffs to the promise land. In a massive free agent haul, Rieff picked up reigning NL Most Valuable Player Aidan Cotter and AL Gold Glover Connor VanOverberghe. Rieff also was able to sign Zone 3 Captain Mark Richards to a deal. The Richards signing could prove to be huge as he brings a lot of youth and athleticism.
Meanwhile, the Heat are coming off of a disappointing season by their lofty standards but are always a threat to light up the scoreboard with former MVP Bobby “Bats” Bushman, Manager Jared Monhaut, and proven slugger Ben McDonald. Both of these teams figure to be the favorites at taking down the Maple City Magic in the American League and this series could go a long way in deciding playoff seeding.
#8 Osceola Billy Goats @ Granger Panthers:
What is this? Already two times the Billy Goats have been featured? Believe it. Young talent is at large in this friendly rivalry that should have a backyard style feel to it as high school pals go to battle. The Goats have a few players coming over that helped Granger win the NL pennant so the Panthers will see some familiar faces here.
Osceola surely has this series circled on their schedule, as they will have a chance to topple their “big brother”. There should be a pretty large crowd for this one as Panther Park could be rockin’! Granger will also have a chance to show off their new prized acquisition, reigning AL MVP Tony Koch. There is no doubt that this will be the start of what should be a rivalry game for many years to come.
#7 Rolling Prairie Emery’s Army @ New Carlisle Newts:
In past years this would be near the top of the list but oh how the times have changed. Emery’s Army returned to the league last year without their past success, while the Newts came close to winning a fourth World Series title.
You could argue that this seems like a one sided affair, but hold on there professor, this is THE rivalry in ORWBL. EA always comes prepared to duke it out with the Newts. Judging how close the all time series with New Carlisle leading 31-25, we wouldn’t be shocked to see another closely contested series between these two legendary franchises at historic Migley Field.
#6 Great Lakes Godfathers @ Cabo Yabos:
In a matchup of grizzled veterans, this series should be laid back, fun, but extremely competitive. Both teams are close on and off the field which always makes for a fun day of wiffleball. The Yabos are always cheering on the fan favorite Tim ”Matador” Smith but in this series that may be a bit different as they will try to keep the Matador at bay.
The Yabos are now under new management, led by Cory Kronewitter but should feature many of the legends of the game we have grown accustomed to seeing on the field like Grant Duncan, John Premetz & company.
The Godfathers will look to build off their improvement from 2017 and will feature their new additions Paul O’Hara and Will Smith from Heights Riots who had some nice tourney runs in 2017. O’Hara and Smith figure to be critical acquisitions for the Godfathers as Great Lakes will certainly be a team to watch out for week in and week out.
#5 South Bend Muffs @ Maple City Magic:
The opening day at Magic Park will be a long awaited extravaganza as the Magic will unveil their 2017 World Series banner and have their ring ceremony. The 2017 World Series MVP Anthony Rieff will get his ring and enjoy seeing his old teammates but will no doubt want to spoil the party as his Muffs look to make an early statement that South Bend will be a team that can contend with the best of them. South Bend’s Austin Rieff will also get his well deserved ring prior to the game.
After losing the Rieff brothers in the offseason, the Magic added to their depth by signing back Drew Luther and Shane Anderson in hopes of finally getting the two greats a championship. It came as a surprise to many that Luther and the Magic have reunited after Luther demanded a trade back in the 2016 season, but Manager Alex Friedman and Drew Luther clearly were able to get past some things that led to Luther demanding a trade.
Anderson returns to the Magic after leaving to play for Jet City in 2016. Maple City made the first big splash of the offseason as they signed the 2016 AL Cy Young Nate Arndt who is determined to have a great bounce back season at the plate after battling with a foot injury with Jet City last season. Arndt joins his father, John as Nate is hungry to win championships with his ole’ man.
With so many terrific players, it will interesting to see how Alex Friedman manages this team particularly in this opening series. A championship hangover doesn’t seem likely with all of the talent in Maple City, but this is a tricky opening series for the champs. Friedman and Rieff agreed to move this series to the primetime slot at 6:00pm ET and will be live on Facebook Live!
#4 Hudson Lake Heat @ Saugany Lake Landsharks:
In a matchup of good friends, the Heat will take on a new team to the league as wiffleball returns to Saugany Lake. Led by former White Lightning and Heat player Levi Miller, the Landsharks are counting down the days until they make their ORWBL debut. With Kody Webb, Colton Boren on board, the Landsharks could easily contend with the big boys in their first season as they have a lot of wifflin’ experience already.
Miller made a big time splash by swaying the big slugger Mikey Smith to leave Hudson Lake and join the Landsharks. The Heat as mentioned earlier figure to be on a mission in 2017 to get back to playing how they did in 2016 when they went to the ALCS.
The question is, how much will they miss Miller and Smith? Is the Heat’s depth too depleted to make a run? Mikey Smith was a core part of Hudson Lake’s success over the years and his departure shocked many.
However, it would be foolish to count them out as they still have one of the best hitting trios in the league. Winning against their former teammates could go a long way to kick starting their season. On the flip side, the Landsharks would love to snag a series against an established team to start 2017 on the right foot. Tensions will be high as Hudson Lake Manager Jared Monhaut has stated that his team is out for blood against his former teammates. Something’s gotta give here folks!
#3 Granger Panthers @ Cabo Yabos:
In terms of heated rivalries, this is probably near the top. It’s no secret that there is some serious tension between the young Panthers and veteran Yabos. Constant back and forth smack talk on social media certainly backs this up. But deep down, these two teams have to respect each other’s games.
For Granger, keeping their heads in this one will be huge as the Yabos will undoubtedly attempt to get inside the younger teams’ heads, especially Tony Koch. The addition of the two-time MVP Koch could help with this as the all time ORWBL batting average and hits leader could use his veteran instincts to keep Granger focused.
It will be interesting to see if he can tune out the smack talk as the Yabo players had no remorse for Koch in a 2017 Hometown Days matchup. Because of their championship credentials, the Yabos are always a team to be reckoned with especially when they are doing what they do best, smashing yabos left and right. This series could come down to two things: limiting the long ball and not letting emotions run too wild.
#2 New Carlisle Newts @ Granger Panthers:
This will be a highly anticipated matchup in a rematch of the 2017 National League Championship in which the veteran Newts took down the Panthers in 4 games. Earlier in 2017 the Panthers won two of three at Migley Field in a tightly contested series so the series history is pretty even. Both teams seem primed for a pennant run in the NL so this series will have a lot riding on it.
Granger will look to put an epic NLCS Game 1 collapse behind them and get some revenge on the reigning NL champions. Granger was cruising in Game 1 of the NLCS 9-0 but the veteran Newts battled back to stun the Panthers and set the tone for the rest of the series. With reigning NL Cy Young Griffin Smith leading the way and NL Gold Glove winner Seth Campbell, the “core four” will be back for Granger in 2018 along with the already mentioned Koch who is still seeking his first World Series title.
Where the four-time All-Star will play exactly for Granger is unknown but he also gives Granger another Cy Young winning arm to choose from out of the bullpen. After winning all 25 games on the mound last season, Griffin Smith has mentioned that he will be looking for a lighter workload on the mound in 2018.
The Newts will look to shut the Panthers up and show why they’re still the team to beat in the NL and that they aren’t done winning just yet. Granger had high hopes of taking over the NL in their inaugural season but the Newts showed Granger that they are still the team to beat in the National League.
With the Newts it’s always unknown who is going to show up from that star-studded roster. You have to figure Koby Keck will want the all time ORWBL Home Run king Scott Soos and knuckle ball maestro Jay Ryans for this series. You can also be certain that Keck will have his ringer Noah Shail out there for this highly anticipated matchup. In a series full of future Hall of Famers and All-Stars, this series could very well decide who finishes atop the NL in the regular season.
#1 New Carlisle Newts @ Maple City Magic:
Could it be anything else? The most anticipated series of 2018 will be a rematch of the 2017 World Series that saw Maple City finally win their first World Series Championship. These teams have met up in the World Series in each of the past 2 seasons as both teams have big targets on their backs.
With the Cult West core joining forces with the Newts, New Carlisle has been the team to beat. The Newts and Warriors combined to win 5 straight ORWBL World Series titles, but Maple City finally was able to put an end to that remarkable run. So, who is really the team to beat? The reigning champs in Maple City or the stars from New Carlisle who were atop the mountain first?
Both teams have a claim to top dog, but the Magic are defending Champions. The Magic as previously mentioned added some top-level talent to build off their amazing 2017 season. With former MVP and Cy Young Wes Ellis as well as 2017 Rookie of the year Caleb Jonkman leading the way at the plate, the Magic are poised for another big league summer.
The younger Jonkman also figures to play a larger role in the regular season after only playing in 6 regular season games last year. Jared Jonkman had himself a World Series to remember against the Newts as he showcased his power swing.
However, let’s not forget about these Newts! Keck has been relatively quiet this offseason, but could he have a few late offseason signings up his sleeve? Offseason additions may not be needed however as former MVPs Garrett Curless, Scott Soos, Jay Ryans, and Noah Shail are arguably the best four man rock band at the plate when they are all present.
If all the big names are at this series, it should be extremely close, basically a coin-flip. Let’s hope for viewing-pleasure both managers are able to get their top dogs out for this monumental matchup! While Maple City was finally able to take down the Newts in the World Series, Newts skipper Koby Keck stated: “It is now a rivalry.” Magic Park should be rocking for this one in what is the top ranked anticipated matchup of 2018.