W.I.L. Report : Maulers get their long-awaited title

Updated: January 2, 2017

Manchester wins inaugural Paul Moots Cup

Evan Waltham, World Sports Media
October 11th, 2024

The Manchester Maulers always felt they were given the short end of the straw.

Over a long existance in PEBA, the Maulers were a solid team, but never seemed to get over that final hurdle. They recorded 85+ win seasons five times in PEBA (including twice in their last three seasons), yet glory always seemed to elude them.

In fact, those last two successful campaigns, which garnered 87 and 85 wins, did not even qualify them for the PEBA post-season. The frustration at a lack of a championship continued to build for team owner Arturo Bruto. When the W.I.L. was announced last year, Mr. Bruto made the shocking decision to switch his team to the new league in search of a championship.

However, the switch came at a price. In order to join the new league, PEBA stipulated that each team could pick two players (52 total) from the six castaway teams, and offer to honor their current contracts. This could have serious consequences for the teams, but, in the Maulers’ case, several of the team’s young players were tied to expensive long-term deals which made them less desirible in the special PEBA contraction draft. While other teams were essentially gutted, Manchester was able to retain much of it’s talent.

Thanks to this (at least from a non-financial perspective), they were able to keep their top players such as Xavier Gonzalez, Gabriel Gutierrez, Ed Stanley and Michael Lee. Whether they saw it as a blessing or a curse, the team had to deal with a very hefty 150 million dollar payroll. It was now or never. The team was now aiming to realize their dream once and for all : win a pro baseball championship.

Over the winter, they added to their team by signing former San Antonio outfielder Robert Johnson to a 7-year, 117.6 million dollar contract. Backed by the offense generated by both Johnson and Lee, the Maulers qualified for the Paul Moots Cup Finals by finishing 81-63 and winning the East Division title.

Their opponents in the Paul Moots Cup Finals was the Long Beach Oilers; formerly known as the Tempe Knights. Last season, the team was handed a blow by Tempe city officials by jeopardizing their home field in favor of a new soccer team, and this left the team in a precarious position. Over the winter, instead of cannibalizing their baseball schedule around the city’s demands, they left Tempe and settled in Long Beach, California. To give themselves a completely fresh start, they also decided to switch to the WIL. Other than the players picked in the special off-season PEBA draft, the rest of the team remained intact.

Paul Moots Cup finalsts, the Long Beach Oilers and Manchester Maulers
Rather than taking the Maulers’ more offense-first approach, the Long Beach Oilers scoured the countryside (and the globe) looking to augment their pitching staff. To compliment their top starter Raymond Wilson, they signed former Yuma starter Avery Parkinson, and two players from Japan : Kawanari Masuda and Akira Endo. They were able to get these three pitchers for 9 million dollars per season combined. During the season, these four pitchers (if we add Wilson to the calculations) combined for a 53-26 record, and a WAR of 11.

The Oilers certainly wasted no time bobbing to the top of the West Division, and finished the year with a league-best 92-52 record. At the end of the season, the Oilers manager Juan Flores, who had spent over a decade as manager and coach in various minor leagues, was named WIL Manager of the Year.

In the Paul Moots Cup Finals, the Long Beach Oilers fell behind 3 games to 1, but roared back to win games five and six in convincing fashion, 7-1 and 8-1. Finally, in game 7, Manchester was able to recover and hold on to claim the victory 7-6, and finally win that elusive title.

Covered in champagne, Maulers team owner Arturo Bruto could not hide his emotion “We knew it! We knew it! We got it! We are the champs! Oh man, this feels so good!”

He then ran off to hug more players. That was the extent of the interview, but it is apparent that a lot of bottled up emotion for Maulers officials, fans and players finally got to be released.
The final regular season standings for the 2024 World Independant League season