Saturday, March 27, 2010

Durham Bulls Basics — 3 — The Schedule

We’ve looked briefly at how AAA baseball and the International League. Now let’s take a look at how that boils down into a schedule.

The International League schedules 144 games for each of its teams. Half of those games are played at home. So, unless you are truly a Durham Bulls fanatic, you will only have 72 chances to see your Bulls during the regular season (73 this year since we have the Rays-Bulls game next week).

A very important feature of the schedule is that the Bulls only have one four-day home stand with teams outside the South Division. So, if you are a Boston fan the only chance you’ll get to see Red Sox prospects will be May 22 to May 25. That’s it. They won’t be back unless we are both in the playoffs in September. The same is true if you’re a Yankees fan (May 6 - 9), or a Reds fan (June 29 - July 2), or a fan of any of the other affiliates of teams in the North or West divisions of the International League. Said another way, the Bulls play 40 games at home with the teams from outside the South Division.

On the other hand, if you’re a Braves (Gwinnett) or White Sox (Charlotte) or Orioles (Norfolk) fan, you’re in luck. They will be here about a dozen times each this year. We’ll see a lot of those three teams this year.

As a general rule Bulls home stands lasts eight days and road trips eight days. But not always. In June and August this year the Bulls have eleven day road trips.

Triple-A ballplayers have a much more relentless schedule than the majors. They play more games with fewer days off, at least until September.

The Triple-A All-Star game pitting the International League All-Stars against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars is set for July 14, 2010 and will be played at the ballpark of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Exactly how the players are selected for the game is something of the mystery. Fans do get a vote. However, last year the IL didn’t bother to tell us how the voting went.

The International League Championship (The Governors’ Cup) is decided with two rounds of best of five playoffs in September. A one-game “AAA Championship” game is to be played on September 21, 2010 in Oklahoma City.

The Durham Bulls, as all readers of this blog must know, is the current holder of the Governors’ Cup and won the AAA Championship in 2009.

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