Last September, the York Revolution knew by the third-to-last game of the season that it wouldn't make the playoffs.
This year, York knew by the third-to-last game of the first half of the season that it would make the postseason.
In the wee hours of Friday morning, the Revs clinched the first-half Atlantic League Freedom Division title, assuring themselves a spot in the playoffs for the sixth time in the franchise's 10 years of existence. They became the first Atlantic League team to clinch a playoff spot on the year and it was the earliest in the season that York has ever secured a playoff berth.
It was a significant turnaround for a team that, at this point last year, owned the worst record in the Atlantic League.
What a difference a year can make.
It wasn't just the winning, however, that was noteworthy during a first half that saw the Revs go 40-30, winning the division by five games over the Sugar Land Skeeters. There were several other milestones to go along with it. So, as the champagne-soaked uniforms dry and York embarks on the second half, here's a look back at some of the memorable moments from the Revs' division-winning first half.
Mason becomes all-time wins leader: When current manager Mark Mason first arrived in York before the 2010 season, he served as the team's pitching coach.
Now, seven seasons later, he is the franchise leader in managerial wins. On June 17, courtesy of the Revs' come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Bridgeport Bluefish, Mason recorded his 238th career victory as manager of York, passing his predecessor, Andy Etchebarren, on the all-time wins list.
Mason didn't take over as manager of the Revs until the 2013 season and is now in his fourth year at the helm. This season will be the second time in Mason's tenure as manager that York will play in the postseason.
Perez becomes Revs' home run king: Everything about Andres Perez becoming York's all-time home runs leader was done in dramatic style.
Knowing that Sunday's home game against the rival Lancaster Barnstormers was the team's last home date for more than a week and a half, Perez made sure to send the first half out with a bang in front of the home fans. Needing one home run to tie Chris Nowak's club record of 59 homers and two to break it, Perez did both on Sunday, belting two home runs to become the first Rev to reach the 60 home run mark in team history.
Perez tied the mark with a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth and then broke it during his next at bat with a grand slam into the playground. The mark for Perez adds to his growing list of club records, including hits, extra-base hits, total bases, doubles, RBIs, games and at-bats.
Perez is in his fourth season with York, signing with the organization in 2012, playing in 2012 and 2013, taking a year off to play for Sioux City in 2014, and then rejoining the team in 2015 and this year.
Tejeda and Nash signed by big league organizations: It was starting to become pretty shocking that the Revs made it all the way into mid-June and didn't have any player contracts purchased by major league organizations.
At that point, York was entrenched in first place, had several guys at, or near the top, in a few league statistical categories, and all it had to show for it was Jorge Martinez and Michael Burgess getting signed by Mexican League teams, with Burgess eventually returning after a couple weeks away.
But, in back-to-back days, the league's second-leading hitter, Isaias Tejeda, and the league's home run leader, Telvin Nash, were scooped up and signed by major league clubs. Tejeda was signed by the Atlanta Braves on June 21 and, at the time time of his contract being purchased, was hitting .351.
The very next day, Nash had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox. Nash was destined for an All-Star spot, leading the Atlantic League with 15 home runs, while hitting .275.
Tejeda and Nash became the 35th and 36th players in York history to get signed by MLB organizations.
DeMark nearly flawless in closer role: When Mike DeMark entered games for the Revs in the first half of the year, you could be all but assured that it meant the game was over.
DeMark was the most dominant closer and, really, reliever, in the entire league, saving exactly half of York's 40 wins this season. His 20 saves was tops in the Atlantic League by four, but it was the fashion in which he recorded them that made his first half so impressive.
In 27 innings, DeMark allowed just five runs, two of which were earned. Of Atlantic League relievers with at least 10 innings pitched, his earned-run average of 0.67 was the second best in the league. He didn't allow an earned run until his 19th appearance of the year.
He was, truly, lights out.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.