At times this season, the Rebels looked like a top team in the league. When they were able to field a whole squad, their hitting, fielding, and pitching came together beautifully. But, as Cubs fans know, it's easy to look back at the season and think "What if?" Just like Cubs fans though, next year is looking good!
The Rebels will return nearly their full squad from this year for the 2015 campaign. With some young talent, strong arms, and veteran leadership, 2015 could be a year to remember.
Genesee will however be without a few key pieces from the last few years, or decades.
Keith McFarlane will no longer be a "regular" for the Rebels. He will still make his presence felt for some of the games throughout the season, but his days of playing 18 regular season games are over. McFarlane helped anchor the Rebels infield, playing all four positions throughout his stint and bringing some much needed power to the lineup. When he doesn't have a bachelor party the night before a game, he is a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully the Rebels see him more often than not next year, but they'll take whatever they can get.
Jimmy Szajna will also be "retiring" as they say. Szajna has been a regular sight in the Rebels outfield and on the mound. Never fleet of foot, Szajna always found a way to get the job done. A crafty veteran on the mound, Jim kept batters off balance with his change of speeds and location. Other than Wershay, Szajna was the longest tenured Rebel and will be missed.
The Rebels also say goodbye to longtime veteran Mark Wershay. Wershay just finished his 25th season in the league, and decided that a quarter of a century is enough. Wersh played 22 seasons for the Rebels, the last 9 of them spent as a player / manager / coach. Mark has been the face of the franchise for the last decade and has brought much to the SouthWest division. A former LOL player may have summed up Wershay's retirement with the perfect sentiment. "Wersh, you were the epitome of what the league stands for. It was a pleasure playing with you. Good luck with your future plans and all of your new summer free-time." Another former player remarked, "Every year when I heard u were still part of the game, u made me smile with pure enjoyment!"
It will definitely take some getting used to, but the Rebels appear to be in good hands as Matt DeMarais will be taking over as manager. DeMarais has seven years of LOL baseball under his belt, 6 of them with the Rebels, and has coached at Waukesha West High School and Carroll College in the past. It will be a tough act to follow, but Aaron Rodgers has done ok for himself after Favre left, so, it just might turn out ok!
The Rebels will hold their annual Home Run Derby on Thursday night at Genesee Town Park. The early favorite would have to be Chris Elliott, however, Keith Koehn looks poised to dethrone the reigning champ. Who knows, we might even see a fist pump or two from Heckenkamp.