Thursday, March 9, 2017

Durham Bulls Basics — 2017 — Part 2

The Schedule

The International League schedules 142 games for each of its teams (down from 144 in 2016). Half of those games are played at home. So, unless you are truly a Durham Bulls fanatic, you will only have 71 chances to see your Bulls during the regular season. Although, Charlotte or Norfolk isn’t all that far away ...

In 2017 the Bulls have an exhibition game against Duke (née Trinity College) at 6 pm on April 4th. But their regular season starts April 6th down in Lawrenceville, Georgia against the Gwinnett Braves. The first home game is April 10th against the Chicago White Sox affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. The last home game of the season is a Sunday game against the Norfolk Tides on August 27. The Bulls' season ends September 4th back in Lawrenceville.

An important feature of the IL schedule is that the Bulls only play a few home games against teams outside the South Division.  That means that if you are a Boston fan the only chance you’ll get to see Red Sox prospects will be the three games the first weekend of June (2-4). That’s it. They won’t be back unless both teams are in the playoffs in September. The same is true if you’re a Yankees fan (four games against the RailRiders, August 10-13). Detroit  fans, in an exception to the rule, will see their team, the Toledo Mud Hens, come to town twice (May 12-14 and July 7-9). Said another way, the Bulls only play 36 games at home against the teams from outside the South Division.

On the other hand, if you’re a Braves (Gwinnett - 11) or White Sox (Charlotte - 13) or Orioles (Norfolk - 11) fan, you’re in luck. (Well, it’s a bit difficult to call an Orioles fan as being in any sort of luck, but you get the idea.) Those teams will be here a lot this year.

Triple-A ballplayers have a much more relentless schedule than major leaguers. They play more games with fewer days off than the big league guys, 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 12, well past mid-season, and will be played up in Tacoma, Washington at the home field of the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle AAA affiliate). Exactly how the players are selected for the game is something of a mystery. Fans do get a vote; however, usually the IL doesn’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” is to be played on September 19, 2017 in Moosic, Pennsylvania, home field of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

The Durham Bulls, as all readers of this blog must know, won the Governors’ Cup and the AAA Championship in 2009, the Governors’ Cup in 2013, and has won the Southern Division championship seven of the last ten years.

This year’s schedule is at the Bulls web site here. If you want to download a calendar file of the home games to your computer or smartphone the file is here. Lastly, for a full schedule of all the teams in the International League, a schedule is here.

Part 1 of Bulls Basics is here. Part 3 is here.

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