This is the fourth part of a six part series highlighting each team in the OCWA and their season. In this installment, we cover the fourth place team in the OCWA, the Tampa Bay Turtles.
Two years ago, James Draveck took on a task that few managers would. He started a team from scratch, and was told that he had to play twenty games over the course of three weeks. He accomplished this goal, going 2-18, and was named Manager of the Year for that’s season. He showed his determination and heart, and sent a message to the rest of the OCWA: James Draveck would be here to stay.
Draveck, fresh off winning Manager of the Year, was named a manager again for the 2012 season. He was given the first overall pick, and he selected Doug Bush #1 overall. He then selected a group consisting of mostly rookies and former substitutes, like Mitch Rupp and Joe Simmons. His team was projected to finish near the back in almost every preseason ranking, but Draveck and his team kept their confidence.
With the Opening Day Tourney approaching fast, Draveck prepared his team. He had named the team the Tampa Bay Turtles, and they received a first-round bye in the Tournament. In the semis, they faced off against Chris Sacheli and Take A Wiff Of This. Despite Sacheli’s best efforts, the Turtles pitched very well, and showed off their hitting prowess in an extra-inning victory. Unfortunately, their momentum hit a wall as they were crushed by the Freaky Franchise in the championship. Still, Draveck found out a lot about his team, and he put this knowledge to use in the regular season.
The Turtles entered the regular season with three rookies, but a solid core. Joe Simmons was a beast at the plate, Doug Bush lit up the mound, and James was the guy with the heart. Rookie Mitch Rupp adjusted quickly to wiffleball, as he had one of the best rookie season at the dish in OCWA history. The Turtles had a roller coaster season. They started well, dropping their first two to the Franchise, but then, sweeping No Your Other Left. After that, they hit a surprising slump, dropping four straight to the Franchise and Take A Wiff Of This, and then, they picked up three straight wins, including a sweep of the Hairy Hoodlums. Sitting at 5-6, they looked to be in prime position for a good seed in the playoffs, but then, they dropped off the table, dropping seven straight before picking up two forfeit wins at the end of the season. Mitch Rupp was the surprise of the year, as the dark-horse rookie picked up Rookie of the Year.
Heading into the playoffs, the Turtles 7-13 record was good enough to get them the #4 seed. In the first round, they faced off against Ben Brown and No Your Other Left. The Turtles dropped their first game, their eighth loss in a row. Just when hope seemed lost, Simmons and Rupp went off in game two, putting up 22 runs in a landslide victory. They kept up the pressure in game three, only allowing one run, and gaining the victory. But once again, their victory in a tournament led to a matchup with the undefeated Freaky Franchise. The Turtles showed good fight in game one, putting up six against the Franchise’s stellar pitching, but they could not pull out the win. In game two, the Franchise overpowered them, taking an 18-0 win, ending the Turtles season.
The Turtles were a talented team in 2012, and the draft demonstrated this. Draveck lost Rupp and Simmons to other teams during the offseason, but don’t worry. Even with a career 9-31 record as a manager, Draveck always finds talent somewhere. Will he produce another Rookie of the Year in Tommy Wagner? Only time will tell.