I-Cubs Schedule Play Dates With New Playmates
So the Iowa Cub schedule released this week and it’s, well, different. Different opponents, different format, different duration. But the difference that matters most is that there will be a season this season.
No more Pacific Coast League for the ultra landlocked I-Cubs. As charter members of the newly conceived Triple A East League/Midwest Division, they’re slated to play 142 games, all of them against intradivisional foes Louisville Bats (Cincy), St. Paul Saints (Twins), Columbus Clippers (MLB team to be renamed later that’s at home in Cleveland), Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit), Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh’s partners; team, city and state to be renamed later?) and the same old, same old Omaha Storm Chasers, née Royals, longtime cousins of the big club in Kansas City.
Get this: 42 games with Omaha and 36 versus St. Paul, Iowa's next door neighbors in the comparatively close knit divisional cul de sac, make up more than half of the schedule. All series will be Tuesday through Sunday, six-game arrangements. Everybody gets Mondays off and all travel between cities will be by bus to reduce both possible COVID exposure in airports and on commercial flights and operating expenses. The far flung PCL consortium required lots of flying time. This first year of the reorganized MiLB with the pandemic still a major factor throughout the minors will present an opportunity for new rivalries to spring up quickly as teams get sick of seeing each other six days in a row. Iowa’s first two series, on the road at Louisville and at home facing Toledo, will be like blind dates arranged by the MLB matchmakers who orchestrated the fruit basket upset of the bush leagues that lopped off 40 town teams on the lowest rungs.
Also, a season that’s traditionally ended on Labor Day will extend through September 19 this year, thereby curtailing next winter by a couple of weeks.
I’m curious about the new league’s new ball. In 2019, for the first time, Triple A used the exact same ball as MLB, only with a different monogram. The big leagues announced they’re tweaking their model (again) in ‘21 and I suppose the ones they ship here will be stamped what, Triple A East? No ring to it, but I’m sure there’ll be the proverbial “CRACK!” when a bat hits it. I can almost hear it now.