This being Halloween week, the Pittsfield Suns and the Futures League saw fit to share some treats with fans on Monday. In conjunction with the Futures League, the Suns released the team’s schedule for the 2020 season.
Next season’s schedule will again be 56 games, split evenly between home games at Wahconah Park and road contests at six other venues. The Suns will open the season Thursday, May 28, when they host the Brockton Rox at Wahconah Park. The regular season will conclude on Sunday, August 2, when the Westfield Starfires visit Pittsfield.
Along the way, the Suns have a bevy of interesting dates. The schedule includes five Friday home games, four more on Saturday, and five Sunday dates, putting half of the home games on weekends. The season starts fast at home, with six of the Suns’ first eight games at historic Wahconah Park.
The Suns will again host the team’s traditional July 4 game, this time on a Saturday. Annually the biggest date on the Suns’ schedule, nearly 5,500 fans enjoyed a game and postgame fireworks this season on July 4.
Click here to view the 2020 Suns schedule on the website, or click here to download a copy of the 2020 schedule.
But there was a lot more than that to the announcement.
The New Britain Bees have joined the Futures League and will begin play in the summer collegiate circuit next summer. The Bees played the last four seasons in the independent Atlantic League after succeeding the New Britain Rock Cats, who moved down the road in 2016 to become the Hartford Yard Goats. The city hosted affiliated baseball in the Double-A Eastern League for 43 years, including relationships with the Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, and Boston Red Sox.
The Bees will continue to play at New Britain Stadium, a 6,146-capacity ballpark opened in 1996. The club drew more than 725,000 fans in their four years in the Atlantic League. Futures League fans will quickly grow accustomed to the Bees and New Britain Stadium, as the club will host the 2020 Futures League All-Star Game on July 14.
“New Britain and the Bees make for a fantastic addition to the Futures League,” said Suns general manager Michael Lieberman. “The Bees are a top-notch organization and New Britain Stadium is a wonderful facility. The immediately make the Futures League better for both players and fans.”
The Bees replace the Bristol Blues, who have departed the Futures League.
The treats kept coming, though, as the Suns announced a new split-season schedule and revised playoff format for the Futures League in 2020.
With the new split-season schedule, the first half of the season will conclude on June 30, when all teams are scheduled to have played 30 games. The first-place team after games on June 30 will be declared the first-half champion and secure a spot in the playoffs and home-field advantage in the first round.
When the second half of the season begins on July 1, the records for all teams will reset to 0-0. The club that finishes first in the second half also earns a berth in the playoffs and home-field advantage for the opening round of the playoffs.
“The split schedule makes for an even more competitive and balanced summer for all teams,” said Suns general manager Michael Lieberman. “Come July 1, we reward the team in first place, then erase the board and effectively play a brand-new season!”
Split seasons are common in minor league baseball. In affiliated baseball, nine out of 10 Single-A and Double-A leagues, and 11 out of 14 domestic leagues below Triple-A, all employ a split schedule similar to the new Futures League format. Had the split season format been in place in 2019, the Suns would have likely won the first-half division championship and enjoyed home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Finally, the Futures League announced changes to the playoff format. Four teams will qualify for the postseason, down from six teams in years past. The first-half and second-half division winners will be joined by the two teams with the next best full-season records.
The playoffs will begin with the semifinal round, pitting a division winner against a wild card team in each series. The two series winners will then battle in the Futures League Championship Series. Both rounds will be best-of-three series.
The new postseason format eliminates the play-in games, which were played in previous years the day after the end of the regular season.
Season tickets for the 2020 season will go on sale this week. Check back for more information and to secure your tickets for the 2020 campaign! For more information on season tickets, call the Suns office at (413) 445-7867 or email [email protected].
The team also offers a number of picnic, birthday, and group options, ranging from discounted tickets to fully-catered, exclusive hospitality opportunities that are perfect for businesses and organizations. For more information, please contact the Suns office at (413) 445-7867 or [email protected].
Follow all of the offseason developments and get ready for the 2020 season by visiting the Suns official website at www.pittsfieldsuns.com. Join the conversation with the team and other fans by connecting with the Suns on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.