Friday, April 15, 2022

Durham Bulls Basics — Part I

The Bulls are 9 games into the season and doing OK (3-4). More about that in another post. But first: 

The Durham Bulls are the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. 

What is Triple-A?

Every major league baseball team (there are 30) has 4 "affiliates" arranged in levels ranging from Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Single-A.

During the pandemic year Major League Baseball blew up the minor leagues, and the outcome was 120 teams scattered all around the country (10 of them in North Carolina, by the way). Triple-A accounts for 30 of those teams.

Triple-A baseball is organized into two leagues: 20 teams in the International League and 10 in the Pacific Coast League. There used to be a more even division of teams between the Pacific Coast League and the International League, but that's another (and not very interesting) story.

The Durham Bulls are in the International League's East Division and play most, but not all, of their games against the 10 teams in that division. In general, the teams play 6 games, take a day off for rest or travel, and play 6 games. 

Teams in the East division the Bulls will play this year are:

Jacksonville (Fla) Jumbo Shrimp (Miami Marlins): 12 Home, 12 Away 

Charlotte (NC) Knights (Chicago White Sox): 6 Home, 15 Away

Worcester (Mass) Red Sox (Boston Red Sox): 6 Away

Buffalo (New York) Bisons (Toronto Blue Jays): 6 Away

Norfolk (Virginia) Tides (Baltimore Orioles): 9 Home, 12 Away

Lehigh Valley (Penn) Iron Pigs (Philadelphia Phillies): 6

Rochester (New York) Red Wings (Washington Nationals): 0

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Penn) RailRiders (New York Yankees): 6 Home

Syracuse (New York) Mets (New York Mets): 0

Teams played outside the division are:

Memphis (Tenn) Redbirds (St Louis Cardinals): 12 Home, 6 Away

Louisville (Kentucky) Bats (Cincinnati Reds): 6 home

Nashville (Tenn) Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers): 12 Home, 6 Away

Gwinnett (Georgia) Stripers (Atlanta Braves): 6 Home, 12 Away


75 home games, 75 away games

Nothing has been announced yet about the post-season, assuming that there will be one. No surprise since the International League website doesn't even have the updated division breakout.

How do the Bulls stack up?

Triple-A is the peak of minor league baseball and their players are all in the second tier of their team's rosters. That means that the quality of baseball at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is superb. Every player on the field wants to play his next game in the major leagues.

The Durham Bulls are the most successful team in recent International League history. Since 2002, the Bulls have won the championship 7 times and came in 2nd place 5 times. The only other team in the league to even come close are the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Guardians) with 4 wins. 

4/15/22 10:58: edits to schedule — 6 games added since I did the numbers. 

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