The Harwich Mariners are the 2008 Cape Cod Baseball League champions. They are number 1, with their first playoff appearance in 11 years, and their first championship in 21 years. I think that it is safe to say that no one predicted this.
This morning on WCAI-FM (Cape and Island NPR), CodBall's Greg Shaw mentioned that if there is one team you always forget when naming the 10 teams of the CCBL, it's Harwich. It's hard to disagree with that. Fittingly, the team won the championship with a modest record in the standings (24-20). The winning runs in Game 2 were driven in by a player with a batting average below the team's .257 average (Mark Fleury, UNC, .238). The Co-Playoff MVP batted .155 on the season (Jason Stidham, Florida State). If you look at regular season attendance reports, you'll also notice (or not notice) Harwich right in the middle.
Fleury, an All-Star, probably deserves a separate award for Top Clutch Performer, with his walk-off hit and game-winning All-Star Game home run. He's made a name for himself.
It's hard to believe the Mariners have waited this long to strike Cape League gold again. Many future MLB players have come and gone since Harwich last earned a spot in the playoffs:
- Jason Bartlett (Tampa Bay) '00
- Tim Lincecum (San Francisco) '05
- Mitch Maier (Kansas City) '02
- Shaun Marcum (Toronto) '02
- Joe Saunders (Los Angeles-Anaheim) '01
- Kelly Shoppach (Cleveland) '00
- Adam Stern (currently a free agent, but playing for Team Canada in the Olympics) '00
- and many others who are working their way up the ranks...
Congratulations, Harwich. You finally did it.
(Photo courtesy of CapeHomepage.com)