The underdogs Player Curse
The underdogs are known in the JAL for being the league's cursed team. To back up that claim several things could be pointed to... One of which is the fact that through the seasons the u-dogs have amazingly had their hands on so much talent. The names you'll soon see below have all at one point been u-dogs, but shockingly the worst seasons in their careers have all been while on the team. Let's take a look...
Players that started their career with u-dogs, but played their best after leaving
Before infamously creating the Bay Area Fog franchise, Darren Ayoub got his start in the league with the underdogs. In his 1 season with the team he won one game and no individual awards. Since then he morphed into a 3-time Fielding Crown winner and All-Star, and won a championship. The u-dogs sure could have used some of that while he was there.
Mason Klingberg was probably a top 10 most hyped up player when he first came into the league. In his 2-season JAL start with underdogs though, he played so bad that when his contract was up after JAL 11 he was totally written off and out of the league until the Waves took a chance on him in JAL 14...... The rest is obviously history as he is now considered one of the most valuable 2-way players in the game.
After playing a decent rookie season with the underdogs the team let Bryce DesArmo walk and he ended up with the Bison. The very next season with them he became the league MVP and won a title and also racked up the Fielding Crown and an All-Star selection. What's most crushing though is that after doing that, the u-dogs were somehow able to convince him to come back to the team the next season... In which he bombed and won no awards... Ouch!
Tierney Uhlenkott was on the very first underdogs team and was a member of the JAL 4 squad that made the WWCD Cup. The last two seasons of her 8-season career were also spent on the u-dogs, meaning 50% of her time playing in the JAL was with them. With that in mind it's a bit crazy that actually 66% of her career wins were with the teams in between.
Star players the u-dogs acquired in the market, but were a let downs for them
Before getting him, Kleine had established himself as a player who (back then) could lead a team to a championship on his own. Despite that the u-dogs even had him playing alongside DesArmo who was coming off an MVP season and Ty Johnson who had won MVP before as well. Though he win a Batting Crown while with them Kleine became notorious during those two seasons for being a "choke artist" in the playoffs, which ultimatly stuck with him until JAL 12 when he played clutch in the JAL 12 AC Finals and won a title with the Express.
Like was just mentioned above, Ty Johnson was a former MVP and at least a top 5 player in the game when the u-dogs got him for 1 season. In it, he and Kleine failed to beat a team over .500 in the regular season nor managed to win a playoff game.... But of course, the very next season Ty stepped back out on the field (JAL 10 with Rapids) he took home MVP and the championship.
Yes, believe it or not back in JAL 9 Kyle Koopman was consider a star player. Maybe he still has it in him, but that's an article for another time. In this instance Koopman became an underdog with a championship and an All-Star to his name after just one season in the league. On the underdogs for two seasons he won nothing for himself or the team.
Next in line?
Clark could fit into the above column too, being that in his rookie season with the Cobras he was named an all-star but didn't win any awards with the Cobras. Still, Clark is an all-star arm and the Waves are feeling good about a successful JAL 15 season on the horizon. Clark could easily be the next former u-dog that eventually becomes something special with someone else.
Hamilton so far has been the ultimate JAL bust and when he someday makes his way back to the United States and plays in the league again everyone will be waiting for his untapped talent to finally show, similar to what happened with Klingberg. The u-dogs have already said whenever it is he comes back they will not pursue re-signing him, which means if a breakout does finally happen (and based on all this history you just know it will) it will be in a different uniform.