Thursday, April 1, 2021

Remembering Sidd Finch

 Once each year Watching Durham Bulls Baseball invites our readers to take a moment to recall the all-too-brief career of an exceptional baseball player, and horn player of some note, Sidd Finch.


Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated

For those among you who were witness to those unforgettable events back in 1985, this is a chance to bring that gentle young man back from his undeserved obscurity, if only for a brief stay among us. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Finch’s contributions to the game, we commend to you the brilliant essay by George Plimpton in Sports Illustrated that first brought this gentle soul to our attention. 

Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated.


Update for: Mr. Finch's fame has now extended even into the realm of Wikipedia.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Updated Schedule Released

 First home game is May 11 against Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

https://img.mlbstatic.com/milb-images/image/upload/milb/urvaxtuv0fhucskvc1zb.pdf



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Season Start Delayed

 


Here's some background on today's one-month delay. 

However, underneath it all is the reality that MLB delayed AAA because they can, but with the big leaguers in a union, they could not.

Baseball America's J.L. Cooper: "The decision to delay the start of the Triple-A season largely came about because of the difficulties of blending Triple-A travel with the reality that players frequently move back and forth from Triple-A to the majors and vice versa....At the MLB level, teams travel entirely by charter. At the Triple-A level, bus trips are by charter, but all flights are commercial. MLB’s Covid-19 protocols are quite strict in ensuring that MLB players do not cross paths with the general public to reduce risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

But those protocols cannot apply to a Triple-A player brought up from the minors—in many cases those players will have flown commercially in the past week.

By switching to alternate sites, teams will be able to keep their pool of potential call-ups under similar coronavirus protocols to the MLB team."

ESPN's Jeff Passan:

"Some executives told ESPN they believe the alternate sites could last longer into the season. The reason for rekindling sites -- which serve as training facilities for players who are likeliest to be called up to the major leagues -- is the proximity to teams' home stadiums and easier oversight of testing and coronavirus protocols, according to sources. Further, Triple-A teams travel via commercial airline, whereas major league teams can go from hotel to stadium to private flights on getaway days....Still, MLB's belief that April is likely to be the most difficult month for COVID-19 concerns has not wavered since it tried to get the MLB Players Association to agree on a one-month delay to the season. The union rejected the idea. MLB's control of the minor leagues allows unilateral implementation of policies."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Taking a Look at the Durham Bulls' 2021 Schedule

 


The schedule just published by the Durham Bulls is going to be very different. It shows a lot of changes, driven by a combination of deep-sixing the International League, Covid, and economics. 

The Bulls are in the new Triple-A East, Southeast Division, which has seven teams. Some are long-time opponents — we've been watching the Gwinnett Stripers (née Braves), Norfolk Tides, and Charlotte Knights for as long as the Bulls have been in AAA. And they are the teams who the Bulls will play (along with Jacksonville) most of their games this season. They will play Charlotte 36 times, Norfolk 36 times, and Gwinnett 18 times. But one of the new teams, Miami franchise the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (give me a break — Jumbo Shrimp??!!) will play the Bulls 34 times. The other two teams in the division account for 18 more games, Nashville just 6 games, and Memphis 12.

Another big change is that we will see 6-game (Tuesday-Sunday) home stands instead of the previous years' 4-game norms. 

The break out is this:

Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox) — 36 games, 18 home, 18 away

Norfolk Tides (Baltimore) — 36 games, 18 home, 18 away

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Miami) — 34 games, 16 home, 18 away

Gwinnett Stripers (Atlanta) — 18 games, 12 home, 6 away

Memphis Redbirds (St Louis) — 12 games, 6 home, 6 away

Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee) — 6 games, away

Looks like there will also be changes in how we go about getting tickets, but more on that later.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

International League, RIP

A flurry of info is being dumped on minor league baseball fans, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. 

For Durham Bulls fans, what jumps out is that the only "league" the Bulls have ever known has been pushed off the ledge.

The clue was right there on the Wikipedia page (thanks to whomever is keeping that up): "The International League (IL) WAS a Minor League Baseball League ..."

The Durham Bulls joined the International League their very first season, 1998, and went on to win the championship, the Governors' Cup, six times, most recently in 2018. 

Along with a couple of other teams, the League is now entirely gobbled up by Major League Baseball's new Triple-A East organization.

For an organization whose history reaches back into the 1800s, kinda sad to see it go.

Requiescat in Pacem International League. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

2021????

 Can't find out anything about the minor leagues, but here's part of what's going on.


A five-day quarantine before reporting to spring training. Shorter spring training games. No indoor dining. 


And then there's this piece which sounds very confusing to me, something about mixing up "Alternative Training Sites" and Triple-A"

Not sure what's going on.