Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald
Decade of Dominance - Second Place is the Only Place
The Sioux Falls Corn Cleats are one of eight original teams remaining from the inaugural season in Cobb World. They won the NL North in season 1, and were summarily dispatched by Louisville in the playoffs, starting a run of good but not good enough performances by the Cleats, who have never finished higher than second place in the division since. The team has been the home of several future hall of famers including Vance Weaver, Marino Sierra, and Vernon Jones, and has only had one losing season in franchise history. Yet despite all the talent and success, the team has never made it out of the opening round of the playoffs, and fans in Sioux Falls generally spend most of the year looking forward to their owners (mis)management of the official league blog, the Cobb Times Herald.
#14 - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
Franchise Power Ranking: 42.5
Best Year: 109-53, s6 - Worst Year: 77-85, s8
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Championship, 4 Wildcard Berths
Best Player: Marino Sierra - Perhaps the best leadoff man in Cobb history, Sierra leads the team in hits with 1,638, SB's with 388, has more doubles than anyone in Cobb with 420, and has a career OPS of .906.
Best Pitcher: Vance Weaver - A Cy Young winner in season 4, Weaver is the Cleats career leader in wins, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched.
Best International Prospect: Benny Pineda
Best Draft Pick: Lyle Crudale
Franchise Theme Song: A Dying Wish by Anthema - "I would die now... for one last wish," in this case, that wish is to win the NL North and fulfill the promise that the team has never been able to fully capitalize on.
Franchise Highlights: Franchise won the NL North in season 1. Franchise earned Wildcard berths in seasons 4, 5, 6, and 7. Franchise set a team record with 109 wins in season 6. Franchise acquired Vernon Jones for Lonnie Shumpert and Russell Pall in season 3 from the Fargo Fug Nuts. Vance Weaver won the Cy Young in season 4. Franchise has drafted stars such as Benito Rodriguez, Ben Harris, Mickey Corino, and Crudale. Franchise has a solid history of signing international prospects.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise has never finished higher than second since season 2. Franchise failed to sign first round draft pick Benji Eckensthaler in season 1, who was then part of the "Great Midnight Raid" by the Fug Nuts in season 2. Franchise suffered the only losing season in team history with a 77-85 season 8. Franchise finished 3rd for the first time in team history in season 9. Franchise traded Angel Vazquez and Matt Reese to Jackson for R. J. Winn and Benny Andujar. Winn was a total bust for the Cleats, while Reese and Vazquez went on to be solid performers at the ML level. Franchise finished second by one game in the NL North in season 6, despite winning 109 games.
Franchise Outlook: Things are looking good for the Cleats, but not so good that they will beat out Fargo for the division championship. Like Ahab chasing his great white whale, the Cleats are sailing rough waters attempting to land the ever elusive NL North championship. That being said, the Cleats farm system is deep, there is good talent on the ML team, and the payroll is reasonable. There is no reason to think that they won't be chasing second place for several more seasons at least, with hope that one of those years Fargo will somehow suffer a misstep and allow the Cleats division title glory.