Is sun setting on age-old A’s?

Posted July 12, 2010

Is sun setting on age-old A’s?

They ended an assumed curse. They won two league titles in three years. But is the sun beginning to set on the Bardo franchise?

For the past decade and more, Bardo has fought off the naysayers each year by putting a team together despite any town, or much of a community in Bardo left.

In the past four years, they grabbed talent from Ryley and Tofield to produce winners with veteran-laden talent.

But last season we started to see the aging squad falter. Commitment is beginning to wane this year. Their counterparts in the league outdueling them with solid rotations of young, hard-throwing hurlers each night.

But somehow, some way, they have eked their way into the playoffs. The only non-playoff years coming in 2002 and 2004. Of course, 2002 being the now-infamous unconfirmed “handshake-tie fiasco” between Ryley and the The Brewers on the final day of the season.

So success in the form of a championship took a while to find, but last year and this year being any indicator, it can leave them in an instant.

They remarkably came back from a 9-2 deficit in their final game of the season to qualify for the final playoff spot last year. This year, the team’s inability to a get a committed lineup and quality hitting against the top teams has made it challenging at times.

Despite a successful spring fundraiser, a team sponsor and a new backstop, some off-the-record grumbling has seemed to come out of the Bardo camp.

Bardo Day looked good from an outsider’s point of view, but a short-staffed team, unfilled umpire slots and some late-field maintenance issues had some inside the organization wondering how much longer the team can hold itself together.

Add in the occasional night with just nine or 10 guys (sometimes an emergency old-timer dressed in the lineup) and it’s made for an entertaining first year for player-coaches Pete and Craig Neufeld, who have taken over after long-time organizers Ray Lehman and Mike LeClaire are trying to step back due to family reasons.

Are the Bardo Athletics the 2010 version of the 2002 Brewers? That comparison might make some people in Bardo very angry. And I don’t think it’s quite the same since you have several guys in their late 20s who dot the diamond.

But if commitment continues to be an issue, and they don’t add some young pitching depth, the two championships might be a memory they’ll want to hold on to. This league, in a wood-bat era, is too difficult to win without some speed and at least one ace on the hill.

As long as they have a team they’ll make playoffs most years, and continue to compete hard with their good athletes and passion. But winning against the likes of Ryley, Holden and of course Leduc in three-game series, could prove to be too much.

Posted on July 12, 2010 by Jason Buzzell

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