Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An Outsiders Inside View of Hunter

Dateline: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

As we begin the ninth season of Hunter world it seems appropriate to gather our thoughts and reflect on its storied history and perhaps discuss why this world establishes the HBD ideal of establishing true dynasties. Because this league has so many successful franchises, owners of "ordinary" teams have had a difficult time achieving long term success in this league. I am reminded of the movie "The Sandlot" where a group of baseball loving kids are menaced by the dog on the other side of the fence. If you are a member of Hunter, the attack dog on the other side of the fence is real. And if you are going to succeed  you will have to tame the savage beast.

Hunter was founded 8 seasons ago. By my count, twelve of the original founders are still with us. Four owners joined after the first season; so sixteen owners have been in this league at least seven seasons. Imagine that. A small group of owners have enjoyed remarkable success through these eight seasons dominating both their divisions and the playoffs yearly. For example, the AL East and NL North have both been dominated by a single team winning all 8 seasons. Washington DC has never lost a division championship and neither has Augusta. The AL North, AL South, AL West, and NL West have been won by a single franchise seven of the eight years : Pawtucket, Louisville, San Francisco, and Colorado all have seven division titles. New York has six division tiles in the NL East. Only the NL South has not been clearly dominated by a single team as all four franchises have at least one division title;  however San Juan does have four. Think of it, eight divisions for eight years means that sixty four separate titles have been won, but by only sixteen different franchises. That's dynasty building!!

The playoffs show a similar pattern. Four franchises have never missed the playoffs (Washington DC, Louisville, Augusta, San Francisco) and three teams have made the playoffs seven years (Burlington, Pawtucket, Colorado). When you stop and realize that only twelve teams enter the playoffs yearly, most of the years had those seven teams playing. Only five other teams (on average) could earn one of the remaining playoff spots. And indeed, six franchises have never been in the playoffs. (Rochester among them.) The World Series has also been dominated by these teams with Washington DC winning three, Colorado and San Francisco winning two apiece and last year Scottsdale won "The Ring". 

Which brings us to the final point of this musing. Our wall of dynasties can be cracked. Scottsdale proved last year that new blood can climb the fence and tame the mongrel.  In only his second playoff appearance, Oli35 came away a winner. And a chink in some of these franchises armor has got to start showing sometime soon. I mean, how long can Elvis Ogea, Felipe Bournigal, and Juan Gonzalez continue to play, although their pictures never seem to age? 

But in the meantime Hunter World can bask in its knowledge that it is truly one of the premiere leagues in HBD. Some owners might find the challenge of Hunter too difficult. Those owners don't stay long. Good. This is a league for hardcore HBD lovers who wish to test their skills in developing true dynasties. The bar has been set high for all who dare to enter. 

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