Is Bison Management to Blame for Team's Revert Back to Dumpsterfire?
Only 2 seasons ago the Bison franchise was pedaling uphill, full of promise and led by star rookie pitcher Erik Titus. Along the way team owner James French III decided to pick up a few hitchhikers, Jacob Rahn, Isaac Kjose and Luke Rahn and give them hefty chunks of ownership stake in the franchise because, why not? It's not like James French III was the reigning Outstanding Manager award winner at the time or anything and was desperately in need of help running his team — oh wait, yes he was the reigning Outstanding Manager award winner! Huh..
Anyway, under the newly formed "group ownership," Jacob Rahn got named general manager of the team and essentially began taking over day-to-day operations of the team. The last time Rahn was in such a role was with the Fog, a championship franchise he's basically is 50% responsible for running into the ground and eventually having completely dissolved from JAL because league officials had to forcibly remove ownership rights from he and the other owner (Darren Ayoub). Had officials not done so it's likely the Fog wouldn't have even put a team on the field to start JAL 15... Needless to say, this was an interesting decision by French III, but either way the Bison were a playoff team the season prior behind all-star pitcher Erik Titus who was being forecasted as a pre-season JAL 16 MVP candidate. Things should be fine regardless, right?
Fast forward to JAL 16 and things are not fine, in fact they're utterly terrible. The Bison finish 1-7 and Erik Titus isn't even named an all-star much less part of the MVP race. At least McKinley Franklin had a nice season! — oh yeah, forgot to mention he's the guy the Bison traded away before the season and who ended up having the best season of his career with the Storm. By the way, the Bison managers essentially made that trade so they could make room on the roster to sign themselves and a rookie Lucas Brown, who literally never showed up to play for the team... Meanwhile, Franklin played out the entire season even though he had a casted broken hand!
By the end of JAL 16 even Stevie Wonder could see that the wheels of the once promising Bison-mobile have come completely unhinged, but maybe not beyond repair. Followers of the league used an "Erik Titus had a bad season, but he's young and will bounce back" narrative to shine a glimmer of hope on the team, however, Bison managers proceed to flush that down the drain by trading Titus away to the underdogs. It should be noted that prior to the trade Titus publicly said he didn't agree with decisions management was making anymore. Are those comments what lead Bison managers into making the trade? Who knows, but jeez that'd sure be petty if it was! Either way, we know Rahn made the deal virtually by himself because at that point French III apparently wasn't even really in control anymore. French III confirmed to league officials that Rahn makes pretty much every roster move without much, if any, discussion with him.
Following the Erik Titus trade the Bison began enduring heavy scrutinization. Managers were at least able to put out a few PR fires by talking up Yancy Bird, a rookie pitcher they'd signed and said would be better than Erik Titus was. The Bison's promotion of Bird was convincing enough that league followers began to semi-buy in, however, later on it was discovered that Bird never agreed to sign with the team.... Naturally this news sparked multiple days of the Bison logo and word "Scandal" sharing space on headlines. League officials eventually couldn't prove that the Bison maliciously signed Bird without his consent, and called the situation a matter of "miscommunication" between the team and player, however a warning was issued. Did they knowingly do it or was it an accident? Really, who cares, because at this point it only helped solidify an opinion about the Bison most people had already arrived at: "bad management."
So how do the Bison managers dig out of the hole they're in? Signing some players would be a good start. Right now both Rahn's, Kjose and French III are the only players on the roster and based on the results of last season, that's not going to be near good enough in JAL 17. So far this offseason there have been at least 5 free agents and rookies who've tried talking to the Bison about joining the team but all have been turned away. Are the Bison really in a position to turn away players, especially proven veteran players like Jordan Halverson, that want to play for them? As an additional side note the Bison have $210 in Stock Money which is more than any other team. Clearly they have resources.
It seems like only yesterday the JAL 12-14 Bison dumpsterfire (three straight winless seasons) had finally been put out. Here we are again tough, it seems, amid the flames of yet another one.