Yankees & Bulls battle in IL Championship
The 2008 Governors’ Cup Finals get underway in eastern Pennsylvania in a best-of-five
matchup for the International League Championship. The finalists each won their first round series 3 games to 1, setting up a Finals series that has been a long time coming.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees won the IL North Championship this season with an IL-best 88-56 record. They will meet the Durham Bulls, winners of the IL South Division by a comfortable 9.0-game margin. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Durham have never met in the playoffs, an astonishing fact when considering that one of these teams has played in seven of the last ten Governors’ Cup Finals. Five times in the last ten years the IL playoffs have included both clubs, but they have never met in the postseason until now. The Yankees took seven out of eight against Durham this year, but the teams have not been together on the field since early May.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has never won a Governors’ Cup title. They previously reached the Finals in 1992, 2000, and 2001, coming up short each time. Durham, a member of the IL since 1998, is playing in the franchise’s sixth Governors’ Cup Finals and looking for its third championship. The Bulls lost in the Finals in 1998 and 1999 before winning back-to-back crowns in 2002 and 2003. Durham lost 3 games to 2 in last year’s championship series against Richmond.
The Durham Bulls are in the Governors’ Cup Finals for the sixth time in the last 11 years. The Bulls are looking to win the Cup for the third time, following back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003. The 2002 Durham club is one of just five teams in League history to win the Governors’ Cup without losing a single postseason game. The 2003 Bulls swept Pawtucket in the Finals after the Red Sox posted the League’s best regular season record, the last time the best regular season club lost in the Finals. When Durham lost in last year’s Finals to Richmond, it broke a string of five straight Governors’ Cups for American League affiliates.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise has never won a Governors’ Cup, despite this being their eighth playoff appearance and fourth trip to the Finals since 1992. Each of the team’s three previous Finals losses came by one game, including the 2001 championship which was called in Louisville’s favor after one game due to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Dave Miley is attempting to become just the second skipper to win the Governors’ Cup in the same season he managed the IL team at the Triple-A All-Star Game (Larry Parrish of Toledo, 2006).
A Yankees victory would mark just the second time in the last ten years that a North Division team won the Governors’ Cup (Buffalo, 2004). The South Division, on the other hand, owns three of the last six IL titles. This is the first time in four years that the Wild Card entry has not been part of the Governors’ Cup Finals.