(GAME DATE — Sep. 18, 2020) — They still have a way to go to catch the Ohio Oxen in terms of number of LL West titles, but the Minneapolis Ravens have managed to clinch their 3rd consecutive LL West title, and are now vying for the top playoff seed with the Boston Brawlers.
With an offense powered by 40-plus home run hitters Evandro Cerigo (pictured) and Chris Zahn, and Sandy Koufax Award contender Takahide Higuchi starring in their rotation, the Ravens were almost guaranteed a playoff appearance through most of this season, but now it’s official.
Their closest competition are the Chicago Pit Bulls, who sit 12 games behind them, but with 10 games left to play the Pit Bulls cannot hope to knock Minneapolis off their perch.
What remains to be seen, though, is who the Ravens will play come the postseason. With Boston also clinching the LL East, three other teams are vying for two wild card spots. New York is currently holding the first wild card, and thus would be seeded #3 and play the Ravens should they hold their #2 seeding. But the seeds are not yet set in stone, and Boston and Minneapolis could trade places, or Toronto could bump New York out of the top wild card as the two teams play a 3-game series this week.
This will be the 17th playoff appearance for the Ravens since 1995. But, the team has faced disappointing results in the postseason since their 1995-1996 back-to-back Bull Cups, with just four league championships since then.
Last year, they won the Lake League Championship Series and faced the St. Petersburg Admirals for the Bull Cup, but fell 4-1 against the Admirals.
Barrett Block, one of the Ravens veteran starters, is possibly looking forward to this year’s playoffs the most. Block has one Bull Cup ring, but it was earned in 2009, in his rookie year with the Ohio Oxen, when he had only pitched in 2 games during the regular season. He had actually been traded to the then Richmond Ravens in a five-player swap just after the Oxen won the cup that year, and despite several playoff appearances with the Ravens as they moved from Richmond, to Jacksonville, and finally into the Lake League in Minneapolis, he has yet to achieve that crowning success again.
The 34-year-old is now up for free agency after this season, and questions swirl as to whether he will sign to an extension, test free agency, or just retire. Close friends of Block’s have suggested that he would like to win another Bull Cup with the Ravens before considering retiring, but baseball is a business and if the Ravens don’t win this year, he may not be on the roster next year to make that dream become a reality down the road.