Moosic, Pa. - A slam dunk, unexpected domination and a wildcard from days of yore. Those are the victorious tales of the three different NCAA-tournament-style brackets after a month of fan voting as Derek Jeter, Dave Miley and Jon Zuber claimed the crowns in their respective fields of SWB RailRiders, Yankees and Red Barons. The contests, run by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees), set to honor the greatest to wear the uniform in each respective era of the franchise. Those winners will now have figurines made in their likenesses as three of the 25 giveaways scheduled for the 2014 campaign which will celebrate 25 years of SWB baseball.
Each field varied in size relative to the length of its respective era. Since 2013 was the first year of the RailRiders identity, it was the smallest field with just four entrants. Jeter, the No. 1 seed, cruised by both fourth-seeded Dellin Betances (73%-27%) and the two-seed, Curtis Granderson (81%-19%), as most expected.
The Yankees bracket consisted of eight names with the top two seeds advancing to the final. But while many might have anticipated a taught affair between arguably the most beloved player of the era, top seed Shelley Duncan, and its only manager, the wildly successful and two-seed Miley, what transpired was far from taught. Miley, who had wider margins in his first two triumphs over seven-seed Kei Igawa (80%-20%) and four-seed Jonathan Albaledejo (81%-19%), still comfortably cruised past his former star player (76.5%-23.5%).
Somewhat predictably, upsets were more common and extreme in the biggest bracket, the 16-name field for the Red Barons era. But what a run it proved to be for Zuber, who clearly is fondly remembered by the fans of yesteryear. As a 14-seed, the power-hitting infielder took out two of the top three seeds on his path to glory. He won by a modest margin over three-seed Ryan Howard (59%-41%) and only picked up steam from there. Zuber's next victim was seven-seed Andy Ashby (67%-33%), who still lives in the region and has his own following. Zuber then dominated top seed Chase Utley (78%-22%) and crushed four-seed Shane Victorino in the final (90%-10%).
Players in each field represented a variety of interests including SWB success, MLB success and fan favoritism. Scranton Times-Tribune writer Donnie Collins aided in the selection and seeding process. More details including the dates of each respective giveaway will come later this off-season.
The RailRiders' 2014 season begins on Thursday, April 3 when the club kicks off a seven-game road trip at Syracuse against the Chiefs (Washington Nationals).The home slate commences a week later on Thursday, April 10 when the Chiefs visit PNC Field for a four-game series and homestand. For season ticket information, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
- SWB RailRiders - All Aboard! -