By Garrett Hinchey
Originally published in The Yellowknifer June 29, 2012
The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the first tournament of the season in the rearview mirror, I’ll continue to introduce the teams in this year’s YK Men’s Fastball League. Up this week: the Sub Arctic Surveyors.
One of the league’s two “legacy franchises,” the Surveyors, as one could guess, are sponsored by Sub Arctic Surveys Ltd. The Surveyors were last league champions in 2008, and although just four short years have passed since their triumph, very few familiar faces remain. The last few years have seen Sub Arctic gain notoriety for both consistent middle of the pack finish in league standings as well as their exploits in the beer gardens – but make no mistake this is a constantly improving squad that believes that this could very well be the year they put it all together.
For years, the pitching of workhorse Mardie Graham, as well as the contributions of the immortal Al Cardinal – pushing the tender age of 65 – have carried Sub Arctic on the mound. However, much to the relief of Mardie’s arm, a mid-season trade with the Pirates as well as a savvy free agent signing has resulted in out of town transplants Glen Tingmiak and Josh Campbell arriving to bolster the Surveyors’ rotation as they gear up for a playoff push. Sub Arctic’s downfall in years past has largely been due to leaning on either Mardie or Al for numerous games over playoff weekends, and the additions of Tingmiak and Campbell should put an end to their pitching woes for the foreseeable future.
Fueling the Surveyors’ offense are a quartet of “young bucks” – outfielders Brandyn “Primetime” McNeil (lovingly nicknamed by his mother) and Matt Kennedy, as well as third baseman Rick Morrison and first baseman and last year’s league home run leader Jon Whitford. These four first made their marks on YK Fastball as beer garden terrors but years spent at the ballpark have crafted them into bona-fide franchise cornerstones – as well as given them the ability to play better “hang over ball” on Sunday than any team in the league.
With such an enviable group of talent, Sub Arctic management is optimistic that this may finally be the year they break back through to tournament glory, and an extra-innings elimination win over the league powerhouse Slades Expos in last weekend’s Pirates Invitational Tournament is a step in the right direction. However, in order for this team to finally make “The Leap” the Surveyors will need to cut down on the fielding and baserunning errors that have plagued them in the past. With a bit more baseball know-how, though, Sub Arctic could find their latest beer garden escapades taking place with an unfamiliar accessory: the championship trophy.