In the run up to the 2021 minor league schedule release, we covered a few of the differences–and raised some questions–about how this unique season will play out. (HERE)
Now that the schedules have been released, we have some answers:
- The IronPigs will start Tuesday, April 6. The AA Schedule, Reading included, will begin Tuesday, May 4.
- The AAA schedule will be for 142 games, while the AA schedule will be for 120 games. The seasons will end on September 19. The status of minor league playoffs is unknown; however, I would doubt that they would be played due to the late-ending season, continued travel limitations and the proximity to the end of the MLB season.
- AA and AAA will play six-game series to minimize travel, Tuesdays through Sundays. With a day game on Sunday, teams can then travel to their next destination and have Monday off each week. In certain circumstances, it will make for long home-stands and long road-trips.
- In the division formerly known as the IL-North, we will play only within our “pod.” So, get used to seeing plenty of Scranton, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Worcester (ne’ P’tucket). This also means we don’t get to see any of the “new” AAA “Eastern” teams, like St. Paul, Jacksonville, and the like. Perhaps next season, though, or on some kind of rotating basis so that we get to see them eventually. (i.e. perhaps in 2022 we play four games against Jacksonville, but only in Jacksonville. Then, in 2023 we play the four games only at Coca Cola Park. Just a thought, I have no inside information.) Worcester and Scranton are the two teams we’ll see the most at Coca Cola Park this season.
- Of course, we still don’t have any clarity on fan attendance, as we’ll have to look at the pandemic status and comply with state and local regulations. But the case numbers are falling even as testing is at an all-time high. Vaccines are progressing even despite some hiccups. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be coming. The games are played outside. I’m hopeful (although, concerned for the status of my beloved Club Level Bar.) It appears the IronPigs will begin in April using a Season Ticket Holder lottery to assign “pods” of seats and deduct the cost from paid accounts originally for 2020. If things return to “normal” and full capacity is allowed, we’ll be back in our own seats. No word yet about club level or front row or any of that, for tickets that are more expensive and may or may not be available as ‘pods.’ No word on a lottery or limits from Reading just yet–they don’t start until May so there is some time.
- I would think a promotional schedule would be tough to publish at this juncture. I imagine they’ll be preparing one behind the scenes, so that it’s ready to go as soon as they have some clarity on attendance and ticket sales.
- I think Reading is going to owe me money, as they took the liberty of charging out the balance of the money I paid for the 2020 season, without checking with me first. I might have suggested that they wait until the schedule is published and also have some guidance on attendance. But we’ll have to await attendance limits as well.
The Good: For 120 games, 60 at home, 10 series of six, there are no repeats of home opponents! The Somerset Yankees appear for a whole set. There are two away back-to-backs and two home double-dips.
The Bad: No Altoona? Ehh, probably no on-field cocktail parties either. Curses.
The Good: Only Scranton and Worcester appear three times. However, all Worcester all July might end up being a bit of a drag. The six-game series for both teams might start to wear on me, but look at it this way: We get to see all the pitchers. If there’s a lottery, you’ll get to see at least one of the games, I’d think.
The Bad: The first five Reading series, May through early July, all overlap exactly with IronPigs. However, lotteries and other limits perhaps it will all work out OK. We’ll have to continue to monitor attendance at other parks, but there could be some opportunity for away games to visit as well.
The Unknown: Weather, covid outbreaks, and other oddities could impact all of this. Strap in for a bumpy ride.
See you at one of the parks, I hope,