Saturday, June 21, 2008



(Phoenix, AZ) Another season, another Championship for Colonel Colson and his Thunder Chicken Empire. After dispatching the Louisville Flame Throwers in six games to secure an unprecedented 'three-peat' and fourth Camp title in six seasons, one would think the fans and media in this desert oasis would take a moment to bask in their team's success and revel at their complete domination over these last few seasons.

Well you thought wrong.

Questions about age, contract disputes and tell-all exposes' have been this city's focus since the final out of the Season Eight Series. Local media types seem to be anxious to (finally) write-off this dynasty, as a constant barrage of articles and opinion pieces exclaiming the demise of this franchise has saturated the presses and airwaves from Winslow to Yuma.

Those closest to the situation have concerns, do they know something the rest of the league has yet to appreciate?

Age is certainly a question with more than half of Arizona's ML roster over the age of 34 with the pitching staff especially long in the tooth.

There is no secret about clubhouse grumblings from some Arizona players about low-ball contract offers and hardline re-negotiation tactics. The gravy train they had been used to is certainly over. Colonel Colson, after years of Steinbrenner-esque spending, has put a clamp on salaries going forward. The state of the franchise's budget (a whopping $118 million entering this season) and their salary-cap inflexibility is a serious concern for the entire front office. They are clearly hamstrung by their long-term deals and any serious injury this coming season could prove disasterous.

Throw into this volitle mix scathing tell-all "autobiographies" from the team leaders, Earl "Satchel Page" Gabriel and Felipe "The Bat" Abreu and what the Thunder Chickens have entering Season 9 is nothing short of a circus-like atmosphere.

Whether all this factors into the collapse of Camp's first bona fide dynasty, or just proves to be fuel for their collective fire is anyone's guess. You can count on this however; Thunder Chicken baseball will be as interesting as ever this season. The proverbial head that wears the crown may rest uneasy, yet the fact remains it has been three full seasons since any team has been able to solve what rival media outlets have labeled 'Colonel Colson and his Evil Chicken Empire' and thirty-one franchises are still looking for the answer.

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