Vote now: Round Two
Posted October 11, 2012
Round Two features one old mysterious matchup and another that features the legendary scrappiness of two Ray Lehman-led franchises that found a way to win against all odds.
Series 1: No. 10 Tofield Lakers (91,94) vs. No. 7 Camrose Roadrunners (Early 1980s)
Following the relatively easy defeat of their rivals in Holden in Round 1, the Tofield Lakers of the late 80s and early 90s are matched up against the Camrose Roadrunners of the early 1980s.
The Roadrunners captured a league title in 1983 over the upstart Armena Royals. All three games were rumoured to have been decided by one run (2-1, 3-2 and 2-1). The two teams had players on both sides who had played many years together and captured a couple wins from 80-82 making the 1983 final an intense affair.
The Tofield Lakers won two titles. The 1994 title team comprised of Laker legends Rob Gillrie and Kenny Parent were later defeated in three straight final appearances by the Ryley Rebels. But the team stayed strong into the mid- and late-90s.
Seeing these two teams now meet would be an absolute treat as the Camrose team was dominant on defence and pitching, while the Lakers had a bevy of offensive dynamos in the heart of the metal bat era. Gillrie, even in the late 90s would stand off the plate as far as he could and dive into a pitch launching a few off me in my day.
Series 2: No. 8 Bardo A’s (06, 08) vs. No. 9 Ryley Rebels (99-00)
This is my first taste of seeing two teams I legitimately played against and can compare with my own memories.
I honestly don’t know how either of these two teams won a combined four championships. In the regular season, they were similar to today’s teams – quite average depending on who showed up on any given night. But come playoffs, there was something about the teams and their players that turned them into a formidable foe with force.
I’ve likely oversimplified and pegged Ray Lehman as the catalyst. But he was on all four of these winners. In an era where double-digit games were the norm, both these teams could smash the ball – especially the Bardo Athletics. The Bardo A’s won the regular season title three out of four years from 1998-2001. But they couldn’t get over the hump until several years later.
In my rankings I had to put the mid-2000 A’s a spot ahead of the 99-00 Rebels. With the A’s overcoming a 29-year curse, a more solid regular season and a little higher calibre overall talent, I think they would have defeated the Rebels who were coming to the end of their incredible run.
This doesn’t take anything away from the late-Rebels. As Ray noted, the (99-00) edition had been depleted by the start-up of the over-30-year-old Brewers team that won in 1998 and 2001. Woops, I left them off the rankings!? Although it was sad to see the Rebel franchise end, it was a magnificent playoff run those two years after barely squeaking into the playoffs. In 2000, they beat the Camrose Roadrunners who had gone 13-4.
Two similar yet very different teams led by Lehman clash in the second round of this PBL bracket. How do you vote? Which team’s championship was more remarkable?