The New Jersey-based teams of Camden and Somerset have at least a couple of things in common and one that is anything but similar as they prepare to square off for the Atlantic League championship starting Friday night.
Atop the similarity list, at least to this typist, is the fact they have the greatest number of their former players in the major leagues of any Independent Baseball club. Both have four big-leaguers, which is a pretty heady accomplishment.
Somerset's quartet all are in the heat of postseason consideration, too. The two teams both lay claim to Milwaukee hurler Mark DiFelice. The Patriots also have pitcher Brandon Knight and catcher Robinson Cancel with the New York Mets and backstop Michel Hernandez with Tampa Bay. Camden's contingent includes Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew, whose team is on life support today, reliever Alberto Castillo at Baltimore and we give the RiverSharks credit for Angels pitcher Jered Weaver although he really only trained with but did not play in Camden.
Another similarity is the way the teams dispatched of Long Island, NY (Camden) and York, PA (Somerset) in two quick games apiece in the first round of the playoffs.
Digressing from the subject for a moment, I must say that with a 140-game regular season a mere three-game playoff seems insufficient. If anyone wants to officially debate this issue it could well start at the desk of Atlantic League Founder Frank Boulton, who also owns the quickly-dispatched Long Island Ducks.
For those of you scratching your head over the area where Somerset and Camden are miles apart entering the best-of-five finals which start in Camden it is as simple as this. Somerset has won three of the 10 previous Atlantic League titles, all under current Manager Sparky Lyle, while Camden is trying to get to the throne room for the very first time.