Atlantic League schedule needs work

Editor’s Note: This column originally ran in Monday’s York Dispatch

Despite its billing as the premier pro independent baseball league in the nation, the Atlantic League has its fair share of problems.

For instance, the league has no official record book. Want to know who has the longest on-base streak in league history? Or who is the all-time leader in ejections? Good luck. Because no one can offer a reliable answer.

The league’s transaction page on its Web site also looks like a display of liquored-up old-timers throwing darts at a board filled with the 26 letters in the alphabet. When Lancaster signed Shane Youman in June, the transaction page declared the Barnstormers’ addition of Sean Yeomen. Not exactly your innocent, run-of-the-mill typo.

But maybe the most egregious thing of all is the 2008 Atlantic League schedule. With the league saying goodbye to the travel-only Road Warriors and welcoming in the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this spring, the schedule was lengthened from 126 to 140 games. All eight teams now play seven opponents 20 times and each team has 70 home games. Pretty fair right?

Wrong.

The 2008 schedule is so unbalanced it’s kind of like watching a car crash — it’s absolutely gruesome, but still intriguing enough to get your attention.

For instance, the Newark Bears have not played a home game since June 26 and won’t play in front of their fans again until July 18. Sure, the four-day All-Star break is sprinkled in there. But 14 straight road games? Nearly a month on the road? In an eight-team league? Kind of silly. But it gets worse.

Lancaster plays all 10 of its second-half games with Newark at home. Not exactly the best way to balance a schedule if a Freedom Division playoff berth is on the line in the season’s final month.

And now for the most absurd aspect of the schedule. The All-Star break — usually known as the midway point through a pro baseball season — is actually 76 games into the schedule. That means the York Revolution were forced to start the second half with six road games while running on fumes before crawling to this week’s four-day break.

It all seems unfair. And maybe it’s unfair to all eight teams at one point or another. Still, for a league that prides itself on helping players return to affiliated ball, why not do them a favor by creating a fair schedule?

But maybe the league has bigger priorities — like learning how to use spell check.

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9 Responses

  1. Playing the final game before the All-Star break at night is another unfortunate element to the schedule. The Barnstormers had a two-hour rain delay. Players didn’t get out of the clubhouse until around midnight. If they were driving somewhere to be with their families, they either had to travel overnight or lose part of their first off day. Long Island had to bus overnight back to New York when many of the players had early flights this morning. I’m sure York had these issues as well.

    The quest for yet another fireworks show put unnecessary strain on players who don’t get many off days in the first place.

  2. Loved absolutely every word of this…

  3. I could not agree more — and, giving it more thought in time, I could probably even come up with a few more gripes.

    Getting any accurate historical information, especially with statistics, can be difficult, especially going back to the league’s early years. Sports ticker may produce final “official” stats, but sometimes there are errors in that as well. The league messing up players’ names on its transactions page is no surprise — some players’ yearly stats are sometimes miscredited for whatever reason. Jason Belcher’s 2007 stats with Somerset were credited to a James Belcher who hadn’t played since 1994. This scenario plays out every so often, and it shocks me that neither the league, its teams, or sports ticker does more research to figure it out. Looking for former Barnstormer Chris Van Rossum on SportsTicker? You’re going to find only his ’06 and ’07 stats.

    The scheduling is ridiculous. If you have two divisions, make a team play the other teams in its division more often than those in the other division. That’s what nearly all of the major leagues do, and that is what makes divisional play more worthwhile.

    Now that there are finally eight legitimate teams in the league, maybe this can become the next order of business.

  4. York dealt with a similar rain delay Sunday night and its game with Southern Maryland ended around midnight.

    I really feel bad for the players at times. Sure, they’re playing baseball for a living — albeit a meager one. But having to work a month in a row at times without a day off is absurd.

    Why not start the season a week earlier and sprinkle in a few more off-days?

  5. Wait didn’t you get the memo?
    The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. It’s all about Family Entertainment.

    So scheduling that Sunday game at night so they get in an extra fireworks night makes all the sense in the world.

    The scheduling is a bit ridiculous….this business of ending the first half a week prior to the all star break is stupid. As are the new division names. Liberty….Freedom…who plays in which? Does it matter? Both words me the exact same thing, who can possibly tell them them apart?
    If they wanted a 140 game season, and they wanted the AL all star break to align with the MLB all star break, why not just…oooohhh, here’s a novel idea…..START THE SEASON EARLIER! OH WAIT, THE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT PEOPLE DON’T COME OUT Earlier in teh spring. Ok, screw with the baseball then. It really doesn’t matter.

    As far as the stats go: Remember, having historical stats makes it legitimate baseball. And it’s not about the Baseball. It never was.

    Remember when Jose Offerman went crazy and tried to kill Matt Beech and nearly killed John Nathans? The official scorer screwed up and entered D. Cesar as the batter who was HBP in the 2nd inning. What the???????????

    The biggest pitch of the season and it wasn’t even recorded correctly for the history books.

  6. Being a fan of a relatively new entrant into the league (SOMD Blue Crabs), I never know what to complain about… what’s ludicrous, what’s not. But, looking on the schedule and seeing 1 day of a month except for the all-star break… THAT’S ludicrous.

    There was an incident in the beginning of the season, where the Blue Crabs were scheduled to have a Middle School do the Nat’l Anthem (I believe). Well, after waiting over 2 hrs to go out and do their thing, the manger (M. Viniard) comes up to the music teacher and tells her they double-booked, and wouldn’t allow the kids to play. When the music teacher pleads with MV (“please, let us play, let them play during the 7th inning stretch… let them play, they don’t care when”), he says… “M’aam, we can’t do that. We are a professional organization, and we don’t do that.” If they were so professional, HOW DID THEY DOUBLE-BOOK? Every child had parents and family in attendance… all had paid for a ticket to watch their child play. And THIS was how they were treated. They did receive reimbursements for their tickets.

    That certainly put it all in perspective for me. I do understand that at the end of the day, baseball is second (a distant second) from the almighty dollar.

  7. wow that’s unbelievable. You would think they could have held up the game a lousy 5 minutes and let both acts perform the National Anthem. Really, who would it have hurt?
    So the people in the stands wouold have to hear it twice. so what.
    sure they tried to win goodwill by giving refunds, but better goodwill would have been to admit someone screwed up and just play the anthem twice. Having them both play really doesn’t matter in the big picture, but having the kids not play is very disappointing for the kids.
    That is just plain LOUSY.

  8. Yes, I agree. Then, there is the issue of “outside food and drinks” rule that caused quite a ruckus over in Bridgeport, the league isn’t behaving too professional these days… and it’s the treatment of the kids that is most surprising, since they are the future fans that they want to put in seats. If you make the experience suck today, why would they return in the future?

  9. It was mentioned that Newark will play all ten games at Lancaster in the 2nd half…don’t forget Lancaster played all 10 games at Newark in the 1st half. We didn’t like that either.

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