The Western Canadian Baseball League released their 2020 schedule recently, with the 56-game campaign featuring a jam-packed slate of contests beginning at the end of May and running through the first week of August.
The concerns with so many games in such a short amount of time continue to be felt by teams with regards to finding the right personnel and dealing with any kind of weather issues.
“I think it’s just too many, personally, we were pretty good back when it was 48,” said Miller Express general manager Cory Olafson. “It’s a lot of baseball, they’re nine-inning games and guys just aren’t used to this kind of schedule. You have guys getting banged up all the time and injuries, it’s a lot.
“And then we worry about rainouts every year, it’s always been a tight schedule, but the last couple years have even been tighter. If it’s Moose Jaw to Regina and there’s an open day, then it’s not a real problem, but Moose Jaw and Fort Mac, no one is driving that sort of distance if it’s just one game. It’s just not economically feasible to do those sorts of things. So it’s a huge concern.”
Things kick off on Wednesday, May 27 when the Express host the Swift Current 57’s. That’ll kick off a five-game stretch and mark their longest run until an eight-game-in-eight-night span from June 17 to 24. Along the way, they’ll have one three-day rest in early June and two days off a week later. Single-day breaks are sprinkled in through the early part of each week.
The Express will have home games every Saturday through the first month, and will have one four-game homestand from June 13 to 18.
Things pick up in July, beginning with a five-game homestand to open the month. Over the next two weeks, the Express will have only two days off, with eight of those games on the road.
The All-Star break will run from July 18 to 20, with the Express playing 14 games in 15 days following. The regular season comes to an end on Thursday, Aug. 9 at home against Regina, with the playoffs beginning the following weekend.
A lot of games and little time off mean finding quality arms is going to once again be priority.
“Every year it’s getting harder to find pitchers,’ Olafson said. “Coaches are super happy to send their position players, get them some extra at bats, for sure. But we need some quality pitchers to have quality at bats and they don’t want to send their guys up here because of innings pitched and all that. So it’s kind of a double-edged sword, with a lot of innings to play in a short summer.”
Two-way players will almost certainly become a hot commodity, with the likes Michael Borst – the hard-hitting Express hurler who claimed the team MVP honour last season – becoming more and more important.
“With a 30-man roster, you probably need 14 or 15 pitchers to get through,” Olafson said. “Or what I’ve noticed are the guys who can play the two-way thing, pitch and play position, they’re valuable assets now. The kids who are like that are going to get run ragged in our league.”
All game times from Monday to Saturday are at 7 p.m., with Sunday contests starting at 2 p.m.
Season tickets are now available and can purchased by calling Olafson at 306-631-8893 or Darryl Pisio at 306-630-8108.