More than 500 days removed since the last professional pitch was thrown (and the last beer batter strikeout) at PK Park, Thursday marked a major milestone towards the return of Emeralds baseball as Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced the 2021 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) schedule in its totality, including
More than 500 days removed since the last professional pitch was thrown (and the last beer batter strikeout) at PK Park, Thursday marked a major milestone towards the return of Emeralds baseball as Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced the 2021 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) schedule in its totality, including the upcoming 120-game Emeralds season that will see the team transition up to the High-A level.
With the return of Emeralds baseball also comes two major changes to what the upcoming Emeralds season will look like from season’s past.
For starters, after spending the previous six seasons (2015-20) as an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the Ems will start 2021 as the High-A affiliate of the eight-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
The new affiliation marks a return to the Emeralds’ roots, so to speak, as the Giants were the very first Major League franchise that the Emeralds ever affiliated with (1959-62). As the National League team that is geographically closest to Eugene, the Ems’ alignment with the Giants also helps solidify Major League Baseball’s stated goal of affiliating Major League teams with Minor League franchises in markets that help reduce the travel of players moving both up and down the Minor League ladder.
Additionally, 2021 will see the regular season schedule nearly double in length compared to previous years, moving from the short-season format that saw the team play approximately 70+ games annually to a full-season format that will see the schedule expand to 120 regular season games. After spending nearly four decades as a member of the short-season Low-A Northwest League, the Emeralds – along with five other former NWL franchises – will transition to what will be branded as the High-A West.
The long-season format will also see a unique twist in terms of the game schedule itself. The High-A West will see teams play a ‘six-on, one-off’ format with teams playing a six-game series every Tuesday-Sunday with off days every Monday. In other words, the Emeralds will face one High-A West team each week (Tuesday-Sunday) for a six-game series. The new game format aims to reduce travel for players and staff while also increasing off days. Monday will serve as a travel day across the entire league while Tuesday-Sunday will see all six teams in action.
With the longer season also comes a higher brand of baseball. Under MiLB’s recent realignment, the Emeralds will transition to the High-A level of Minor League Baseball, the highest level of professional baseball that the franchise has operated at since it fielded a Triple-A team from 1969-74.
“The day that the schedule officially drops is obviously a big, big day for every MiLB franchise across the country,” said Emeralds GM Allan Benavides. “However, with our move to a higher level of play and with nearly double the games to plan for – and not to mention a new Major League affiliation with a team like the Giants that has such a passionate and vibrant fan base throughout the area – it all certainly carries an extra significance this year, and we’re so excited for the upcoming season of Emeralds baseball.”
While the schedule has been solidified in terms of games and dates, game times still have yet to be determined and tickets are not yet on sale as the Emeralds continue to work with the state of Oregon in the hopes of fans being able to safely return to PK Park.
The schedule is subject to change, so stay tuned to EmeraldsBaseball.com for future information regarding schedule changes and potential ticket sales, and remember to do all you can do take preventative measures that hopefully allow for fans to safely return to the PK Park stands for the 2021 MiLB season. Those steps include:
- Wearing a mask.
- Practicing social distancing.
- Adhering to fact-based science.
- Following preventative measures and regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19.