Yesterday, I bought tickets to a minor-league game – Down East vs. Carolina in Kinston – which, weather permitting, will be the first one I’ve attended since this one in 2019. Technically, that’s only a little more than 20 months, but it feels much, much longer.
As noted in the comments, MiLB teams have to comply with the minimum standards set forth by MLB (i.e. surpassing the Texas-Florida standards), which means wearing masks and fans farther back from the field than usual. Some teams (e.g. Syracuse) are taking it a step further, and requiring either full vaccination (14 days after the second shot, or first for J&J) or a negative test.
Baseball America has gone hog-wild this week with stories about the season starting up next week on Star Wars Day. I think most of us are familiar with the changes, but a quick recap:
- All series are six games, with every Monday off except for the Triple-A West
- The schedule is heavily tilted towards the team’s division, if not entirely (Rochester)
- Higher (brighter) lighting standards
- Higher standards for MiLB.tv broadcasts
- No on-field promotions
- No autographs
- Cashless concessions (mostly)
- Fewer teams broadcasting on the road
Three of our four full-season affiliates are opening the season on the road, with Wilmington the sole team with a May 4 Opening Day. As you might have inferred from the lede, I’ll on vacation in North Carolina the second week of May, which takes me out of the first two weekends of the season – the first for which I will not be a season-ticket holder to a Nats affiliate since 2005, which would have been odd since I was living in Lynn, MA at the time.
The hope is to get media credentials for Fredericksburg and to make it to the other three affiliates at least once this summer. Even that may be less than ideal because I do not know what the setup will be. I covered a game in Aberdeen that way in 2012, and what you see in that pic is what I saw – good enough for a gamer, but terrible for scouting the pitcher or hitter.
Credentials or not, the upshot is that I’ll be seeing a whole lot less than in years past, which I knew after the 2019 season ended, but have still yet to experience with games being played.