It was not the follow-up act to the 2020 American Association Finals Run the Sioux Falls Canaries were hoping nor planning.
Still, manager Mike Meyer found bright spots from the Birds’ 35-65 season when asked to reflect on it just minutes after it ended.
In an interview with Dakota News Now following the season-closing 3-2 win over Sioux City in The Birdcage on Monday, Meyer explained why things headed south after an 18-18 start.
“We had a lot of struggles, especially in the second half of the season,” Meyer told DNN’s Jacob Cersosimo.
“But there’s some silver linings. It’s always tough doing this job, especially when you lose some of your key pieces in the middle of your lineup.”
Slugger Clint Coulter — one of the American Association’s Top 10 hitters of 2020 — signed a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals the day before the Birds’ season opener, and played most of the season in Triple-A Memphis.
Outfielder Logan Landon — one of the elite hitters and fielders in AAPB — was plucked from his hometown after 26 games. He spent most of his season in the Philadelphia Phillies’ Double-A club in Reading, Penn.
And three of the Canaries’ best players missed at least a month thanks to their travels to Japan for the Olympics. Catcher Charlie Valerio helped lead the Dominican Republic to the bronze medal, then never returned to Sioux Falls.
Infielder and outfielder Mitch Glasser – the Birds’ bench coach – earned All-Olympics team honors by batting .412 for Team Israel. He was joined on that squad by Birds relief pitcher D.J. Sharabi.
“It’s hard to replace those guys in-season, but we were able to bring in some younger guys,” Meyer said, adding the experience for those replacement players will pay dividends should they return to Sioux Falls next season.
Meyer completed his fifth season managing the club and has forged a reputation of fostering a family culture within the clubhouse, which he hopes continues to attract the kind of rosters he built for the 2020 playoff run and early in 2021. The former University of Arizona and St. Paul Saints pitcher was a Canaries assistant coach for their only American Association title in 2008 and their winningest season in team history back in 2010.