For the last two years the Yorkton Yankees have been the juggernauts of the South East Senior Baseball League (SESBL), amassing a 25-1-2 regular season record and a 10-2 playoff record for a total record of 35-3-2 en route to back-to-back SESBL titles in 2012 and 2013.
This year, however, the Yankees are just 4-2 while the Swan River Reds, the whipping boys for the majority of their SESBL franchise life, are 4-3 and are one win away from tying a franchise record of five.
The Russell Bulls, meanwhile, are a sparkling 4-1 in just their second SESBL season after a 5-9 finish last year.
The only two teams that could be deemed dominant and a push over are the first place Canora Supers (6-1) and last place West Parkland Stars (0-8 in their SESBL maiden voyage).
However the Supers haven’t been crushing teams. They’ve been winning on pitching and defensive efforts, minus one 16-0 win over Melville in which they scored nearly half of their total runs so far.
West Parkland, on the other hand, started off slow but have since had close games against both Yorkton (6-3 loss) and Langenburg (9-8 defeat).
And while many would believe that managers and coaches of previously dominant teams would rather see their opposition stay par or even get weaker, that’s actually not the case. “It’s good to see. You never know what’s going to happen in a game until you get to the field and play the seven innings now,” offered Yorkton Yankees player/coach Mark Jacobs. “Before there used to be a couple of teams that you could count on to bring a weaker squad that you’d be able to beat fairly easily, but now there is nothing like that.”
Canora Supers player/assistant manager Greg Andreychuk echoed Jacobs’ statement. “In years past you’d play some teams, Swan River for example, and you knew you were going to have your way with them,” suggested Andreychuk, continuing, “But they’ve gotten younger, improved every year and they actually beat us this year for the first time and ended a five game winning streak.
“This is their fifth or sixth year in the league so they’re a good example as to the parity in the league now.”
Andreychuk also touched on how he believes this season is the most competitive in recent SESBL memory. “The Yankees lost both games against Langenburg,” said Andreychuk. “But the Indians lost to Russell (4-3) and the Yorkton Orioles (3-1 to a 35+ senior team) so really, anyone can beat anyone at any given time.”
Jacobs, meanwhile, believes that, with every team being fairly even, it might encourage other communities in the area to think about forming their own team and that the parity, right now, could actually be a tool for expansion, luring teams into the SESBL from elsewhere. “Seeing that the league is pretty competitive and there isn’t one team that gets beat every night badly and one team that isn’t running away with it, it gives hope to other teams that maybe want to come in,” offered the Yorkton Yankees first baseman/coach. “A team like Swan River, who is battling every game and getting better and winning their fair share of games now, gives hope to other little cities and town around the area and makes them think that maybe they can give it a go in the SESBL.”
1. Canora Supers (6-1)
2. Langen. Indians (6-3)
3. Russell Bulls (4-1)
4. S. River Reds (4-3)
5.Yktn Yankees (4-2)
6. W. Brook Royals (2-2)
7. Yktn Orioles (2-3)*
8. P. Land Padres (1-2)*
9. Melville Bison (0-4)
10. W.P. Stars (0-8)
* Note: The Orioles and Padres play each team once in preparation for 35+ senior Provincials and are not official SESBL members.