Chatham Anglers manager John Schiffner is a legend. He has been associated with the ballclub for 31 years, 21 of which as the skipper. Players and fans alike will attest to the passion and commitment he puts into his work with the team each and every year.
The one thing lacking in Schiffner’s tenure has been an abundance of postseason success. After taking home the hardware in two of his first five seasons as manager, 1995 and 1998, he has been faced with a 14-year championship drought, the longest in the Eastern Division. Since 2002, the Anglers have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs and have failed to reach the postseason on seven occasions.
While this fact is certainly something die-hard Chatham fans take note of, they are more than willing to let the veteran manage the team for as long as he wishes. “They keep asking me back and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Schiffner said, knowing that winning is not everything on the Cape. “It’s a bonus to win. What we’re here for is to develop these kids. I think the most important thing for me is not a championship as much as when the majority of kids leave and say it was the greatest summer of their lives.”
At the start to the 2013 season, it appeared as if things may be different this time around. After 14 years of intrinsic victories, Schiffner and this summer's Chatham squad looked set to deliver their fair share of actual wins. The Anglers went 6-0 to start the season and had a stranglehold on the East Division through the early going. But after a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the rival Orleans Firebirds on Sunday night, Chatham has suffered four straight losses and is now 6-4. The starter in Sunday's loss was Andrew Chin (Boston College), who was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA before giving up four runs in his third outing.
Chin is among several players with the potential to take the Anglers far. He and Andrew McGee (Monmouth) – who also has yet to allow a run this season as he heads into a Tuesday night start against Cotuit – are a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Jimmy Pickens (Michigan St.) and Mitchell Gunsolus (Gonzaga) provide a pop at the plate as well. “They’re all good kids,” Schiffner said. "They all work hard, and they’ve all bought into the system."
The question remains: Can this group get it done in 2013? After erasing a promising start, the Anglers find themselves at second place in the East, a mere half-game behind the Harwich Mariners, and in the middle of the pack in all major team offensive and pitching categories.
As we approach the first-quarter mark of the season, it is still unclear whether this year’s Chatham Anglers can give fans a long playoff run they’ve waited so long to enjoy. Only time will tell.