Has the tide fully turned for the former “lovable losers?”The Lehigh Valley IronPigs wake up this morning as IL North Champions. They are also 783-784 all-time. The franchise that began with an epic losing streak has now made the Governor’s Cup playoff tournament for three straight years, and a one time this season was .500 all-time.
I like to think they’ve come all the way back. In a league with 14 teams, 4 of them make the post-season each year. It’s not an “above average” kinda deal–only the good teams make it. I think IronPigs fans, the league and all concerned need to consider the ‘Pigs a league powerhouse in the coming years. Win or not. The reputation is being forged right now. Coca Cola Park has been a tough place for visitors to win, going back even further than the past three post-season years. The Pigs are 414-372 all-time within the The Coke–the “Steel Sty” if you will.
Now we await the playoffs. In the coming days, we’ll first start to learn which players will stick around for the post-season run. Some will get called to Philadelphia, of course, and some replacements may arrive from Reading or elsewhere. As we begin to learn who the opponent will be (Scranton is still in it. Toledo, Columbus and Indy are all vying for maybe 2 spots from the West. Norfolk and–What??–Gwinett have a chance.) the double-A season will conclude and we may get an additional player from the Fightin Phils in Reading.
By now, we’re familiar with how these playoffs work. First, the basics:
- Tickets will be easy to get. It’s tough to pre-sell these games when you don’t know the dates exactly and cannot be sure if they’ll really take place. (Aside: That said, I was looking for extra seats yesterday and was surprised at the number of tickets that have been sold already. The third straight year thing along with the early clinch and the weekend series to start will help the team sell seats. So you won’t likely get shut out of getting seats, but if you want good ones you might want to act now rather than waiting.)
- Some of the concessions and amenities of the park may be a bit stripped down–staff have returned to their schools and their off-season jobs in many cases. Supplies are running low.
- The fans in the seats will be really into it. With the exception of a dud game by our team, the fans have come out in full voice for these games in the past.
- The schedule: The Pigs will open on the road at whichever opponent gets the wild card. They’ll play two games there, Wednesday and Thursday following Labor Day. Then, the series moves to Coca Cola Park for the final three games (as needed) in the best-of-five format. The only other exception is if rain postpones one of the away games–then the whole thing could get pushed back. There’s an off-day Monday September 10, built in to help accommodate that. Should we be so fortunate to advance, the next series will begin in Allentown–it’s been pre-determined. Games 1 and 2 of the Championship would be at Coca Cola Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 11 and 12, with the final three at the other advancee’s stadium. Games will be 7:05PM I believe, with the exception of the Sunday game which would be at 5:35PM and the Saturday game which would be at our usual 6:35PM. There will be rally towels for Friday’s game, and fireworks the following two nights, if needed.
One more thing.
I think we need a banner.
I don’t think this applies to hockey so much: So many teams make the playoffs, and the Phantoms franchise has already won championships which have been hung in our new arena. I don’t think the Phantoms should be hanging up Division or Conference banners–not if the real goal is a Calder Cup. Yes it’s still a grueling season, and yes the division is difficult.
But this is different. In minor league baseball–at AAA especially–the team in the playoffs is often quite different from the team in the regular season. The regular season team deserves recognition. JP Crawford brought us home last night, and it’s very doubtful he’ll be around past September 1. But you could see it on his face last night–he wanted the win as much as anyone! This division title is significant. It should be recognized.
Not right away, maybe. Let’s see how these playoffs shake out and see if there’s something more to recognize. Then, let’s find a place for a banner, whatever it may say.
See you at the park,
PS: And if we win today and tomorrow, we get the IronRail. Some would say that’s just as important! 😉