As if being back-to-back Atlantic League champions wasn't enough, the York Revolution put on quite an encore in the 2012 regular season.
For the third straight year, the Revs improved their overall record from the season before. This time, their 79 wins was a club record, including a new team-best 43 wins in a half with a 43-27 mark after the All-Star break.
Skipper Andy Etchebarren or his players likely wouldn't admit it, but at least for the fans, it had to have been frustrating this season watching York's cross-river rival Lancaster continue to pick up win after win.
At 88-52 overall in the regular season, the Barnstormers set the league's all-time wins mark this year, breaking the previous mark of 86 wins set by the 2009 Somerset Patriots.
That should make this week's Atlantic League Freedom Division Championship Series even more entertaining, especially considering both clubs split their 20 head-to-head matchups in the regular this season and the first-half and second-half division titles.
On paper, the 'Stormers appear to be the team to beat. But the game of baseball can be very tricky, even in a short series. Plus, we always have history lessons that have taught us as much.
Winners, no championship: Just look at the 2007 New England Patriots. We all remember the first team in NFL history to go 18-0 only to lose to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Or the 2001 Seattle Mariners that won 116 regular season games -- setting the American League record and tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs for most wins in major league history -- but didn't even make it to the World Series.
What's more, only 34 of the 81 big league clubs that have won 100-plus games in the regular season (since 1900) have gone on to win the World Series the same year. The numbers are even more limited since 1980. Just four of the 31 major league teams that won at least 100 regular-season games from 1980 to 2011 went on to become World Series champions.
Expectations: Having already won the first-half division crown, the Barnstormers kept winning in the second half even though it didn't really matter since they were already in the playoffs. Still, winning has kept them sharp, unlike the first-half Liberty Division champion Long Island Ducks, who have the league's worst second-half record and are sputtering into the post-season.
With all of those victories, though, comes more expectations. Like winning a championship. That's kind of how Revs' skipper Andy Etchebarren feels.
"If we get beat by (Barnstormers manager) Butch (Hobson) and Lancaster, we're not the first club to lose to them," Etchebarren said last week. "If we beat them, then they'll feel really bad because of the amount of games they've won."
York is definitely the underdog going into this series. Lancaster, after all, is the team with everything to lose. The Barnstormers are the team that's trying to avoid becoming just another number.
And the Mariners and Patriots know how that feels.
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.