SNAKES SUCCESSFUL IN INAUGURAL SEASON

The 2005 season started in disastrous fashion for the expansion Calgary Vipers in the Northern League.  A 3-8 start in the month of May, including a record of 1-5 on their inaugural road trip, didn’t exactly give fans the most optimism about the on-field product.  But after their first series at Foothills Stadium, the Vipers quickly shook off any “growing pains” and put together a stellar month of June.  The team played above .500 ball until mid-month when they took off, going on their longest winning streak at the team, 6 games, rolling over Winnipeg and Edmonton.  Calgary missed the first half pennant by 2 and a half games and looked poised to make some noise in the second half, which is exactly what they did.

While the pennant in frame 2 of the season was out of the question thanks to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and their winning ways, the Vipers were in the hunt for the wildcard spot right till the very end.  A record of 26-22 in the second half, including a 6 game winning streak to end the year, got them to within a half game of the wildcard which was finally won by the Lincoln Saltdogs.  Calgary was hurt by a game that was rained out and never made up, way back in early June against the Kansas City T-Bones.  When the game was called, Calgary was leading 4-1.  The Vipers finished with a season record of 51-44, which is even more impressive taking into account the “expansion” moniker. 

The Vipers had their share of drama and highlights this season.  Carlos Duncan was the offensive leader all season and was able to give Foothills faithful something to cheer about on September 1st when he set a Northern League record with his 56th stolen base of the season.  He finished with a staggering 59 bags in 2005, which is a feat that is made all the more impressive if you take into account his power totals.  The All-Star 3rd baseman belted his 20th homerun of the year on September 4th making him the only 20-20 player in the Northern League.  Duncan was named a starter at the July 19th All-Star Game in Gary, Indiana and also was named to the postseason All Star Team.  He’s also a strong candidate for league MVP after winning team MVP honors (pictured) earlier in the week.  League awards are announced next week.

Duncan wasn’t the only noisemaker in 2005 for the Vipers.  6 of his teammates joined him in Indiana, including 2 fellow infielders.  Pedro Santana and Jason Colson, along with catcher Adam Shorsher and pitchers Doug Johnson, Evan Greusel and Quintin Oldenburg were all selected to the mid-season classic.  Colson and Oldenburg were members of the Gary-Soutshore Railcats at the time.  Santana also joined Duncan on the postseason All Star Team at second base.

J.D. Foust also cracked the Northern League record books, setting a season high with 12 triples.  The right fielder lead the league all year in the category.  Evan Greusel was atop the leaders in both complete games and shutouts, with 5 and 2 respectively, while Quintin Oldenburg finished 5th in the league with 11 wins.

The 2006 edition of the Calgary Vipers should be just as competitive as they try to improve on their 2005 year.  With Duncan, Santana, Oldenburg, Drew Miller and Sam Rosario expected back, the team has a good core of talent to work around.