2019 was the definition of a jackal and hyde season for the boys up north. 9 of their 10 wins came via series sweeps, as the Godfathers broke the brooms out against the Wildcards, Leps, and Goon Squad. In the rest of their series however, Great Lakes managed just one win. That inconsistency came back to bite them in the playoffs with the short-handed Godfathers dropping the Wildcard to the Wildcards (that was a mouthful). Matador Smith and Mark Haase were selected as All-Stars yet again for their efforts leading Great Lakes.
1. Dynamic Duo.
There isn't much to write about these two guys that everyone doesn't already know, but Mark Haase and Matador Smith enter the season once again as the core of Niles' wiffle franchise. The two compliment each other's strengths in a way matched by few duos in the game, today. Between Matador's nasty on the mound, Haase sure hands in the field, and both studs' prowess at the plate, the Godfathers go as far as these two will take them. What these guys have done over the last five season is especially impressive considering their age. I'm not trying to call them old (anyone who has seen Matador fly off the mound to make a play wouldn't peg him a day over twenty), but taking into account the age difference between these guys and some of the other teams in the league and its a wonder they're able to consistently compete year-in-year-out. That is a testament to the top-notch skill these two posses.
Among President of Wiffleball Operations Matador Smith's pick-ups this off-season was the bulk of the Warsaw Whitecats roster... including the meowculate Whit Huffer. Although they have had less tournament success in recent years, the addition of this group of experienced wifflers will do wonders for Great Lakes' depth in 2020. Let's just hope they keep the cat-noises to a minimum... for everyone's sake.
3. Do the tourney stars turn out?
While Whit and the Warsaw gang will be great for Great Lakes' floor, it is the additions of John Premetz and Andy Sieradzki which will have the greatest impact on their ceiling. Prem is a World Wiffleball legend, as the WWBC Hall of Famer has won the second best tournament in wiffle four times with Club Ripped. The sure-handed Premetz brings a big bat to the plate which could prove essential for this big-swinging Godfathers team. Sieradzki, too, is a WWBC champion with his Clutch Players. Once the most hated tourney team in the land, recent additions to the tournament landscape have moved Clutch into more favorable position among fans. Sieradzki is a bonafide star but hasn't appeared in ORWBL since his 2018 post-season run with Granger was cut short by a hamstring injury. Whether or not these two are able to be consistent faces in the Godfathers lineup will be a deciding factor in their 2020 success.
OF Haase | .446 AVG, 20 HR, 30 RBI
P Matador | .267 AVG, 13 HR, 22 RBI | 10-12, 11 SO, 8.75 ERA
OF O'Hara | .398 AVG, 24 HR, 33 RBI
OF Shembarger | .310 AVG, 12 HR, 14 RBI
TBD Misc. Whitecats Players
Great Lakes' roster will look pretty different this season for the third year in a row. Their off-season additions are easily the biggest story for Niles fans heading into 2020, as Whit, Prem, and Sieradzki will largely dictate how far the 'Fathers are able to go in the playoffs. Make no mistake, however. This team lives and dies at the hands of Matador and Haase. The two workhorses are the engine behind this wiffle train and regardless of how much the new guys show up they've proven capable of carrying Great Lakes'.
8-16 (5th in the NL)