The Patriots’ season ended in devastating fashion for Somerset. The five-time league champions lost 1-0 to the York Revolution in the fifth game of the five-game Freedom Division Championship Series. The winning run scored on a fly ball hit into foul territory in the outfield, a ball that probably should have not been played. And unfortunately the series included an outburst by a player’s father sitting in the stands, causing York fans to serenade the Pats’ Josh Pressley with chants of “Who’s your daddy?” in Game 5.
And while it may seem the Big Three of Matt Hagen (pictured above at third), Jeff Nettles and Josh Pressley has been entrenched in New Jersey far too long, that’s probably because they keep beating teams. Nobody likes losing to the same team year after year.
So it will be interesting to see what will happen in Bridgewater this offseason. The Big Three — if they elect to return — will all be 31 or older this season. That’s not old. But it’s around the age where most veteran players in the Atlantic League start to wonder if they will ever earn another shot in affiliated baseball. If they can’t see themselves earning another contract, they might start looking at other careers. Each member of the Big Three missed time last season with injuries, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see one or two of them retire. But remember, the oldest of the three, Nettles, will only turn 33 in August.
A popular argument by writers and reporters from around the league is pushing for teams to go younger. The league was not founded with the idea of fielding the same players for five or six years. New players help raise the profile of the league.
But at the same time, it would be good to see a player like Pressley return. The former MVP was a shadow of himself for portions of the 2010 season. Playing with a bad back, he needed to walk out singles at times last season. In obvious pain, he still wanted to play. Somerset opted to pinch-run for Pressley in Game 5, something that never would have happened if he was healthy. And to be honest, he deserves a better sendoff than visiting fans mocking an incident in the stands. He did nothing wrong. He can’t control what his father did. Then again, he probably couldn’t last an entire season if he has a bad back.
If healthy the Big Three could push for another title.
If they’re not healthy, or if one or all of them opt to retire, the onetime league juggernaut will need to rebuild. What happens then? The Freedom Division could turn into a showdown between York and Lancaster — something we haven’t seen yet.