Balanced Layout, New Opponent Highlight 2016 Schedule

2016-Schedule-Blog-Story
The calendar may still say that it’s 2015, but already, Ducks (and Atlantic League) fans have 2016 on their minds. This week, the Atlantic League released its schedule for the upcoming season. Everybody will begin their 140-game slate on April 21, which means we are only 174 days away from the start of Opening Day as of Friday. That may seem like a long ways away, but trust us when we say that it’ll be here before you know it.

CLICK HERE to view the 2016 Long Island Ducks schedule

There are many different things that stand out on the schedule from a league-wide and team perspective, but two really seem to stand out. The first is that the league has returned back to having a balanced schedule across the board. Unlike last year where teams did not play the same number of games against each opponent (e.g., the Ducks played Bridgeport 27 times and Camden/Southern Maryland 18 apiece), all eight teams will play 20 games against each other. In addition, those 20 matchups will be evenly divided in terms of location and half of the season. Having a balanced schedule avoids any advantage during the season should certain teams struggle and others be especially good and helps evenly distribute the matchups.

A second item of note is that 2016 will feature the addition of a brand new team to the Atlantic League. New Britain, Connecticut will join the circuit after being awarded a team this year. The club’s nickname has yet to be revealed, but fans were able to cast their vote over the last week as to which of the finalists they liked best. The five choices were the Bees, Stingers, Hornets, Hard Hitters and Hammer. The final choice is expected to be announced on November 5. The team will become the first new addition to the league since the Sugar Land Skeeters joined in 2012. While there is excitement over New Britain’s arrival, there is also some sadness for the departure of another team. The Camden Riversharks officially ceased operations after they were unable to reach a new lease agreement with the Camden County Improvement Authority, who owns the ballpark. Campbell’s Field provided an outstanding setting for baseball, and it will always hold a special place in the hearts of Ducks fans. It was the site of the team’s first championship celebration after winning Game Three of the 2004 Atlantic League Championship Series.

Before we talk about some of the series and dates to circle on your calendar, here’s a month-by-month breakdown of the schedule:

Month

Total Games

Home

Road

Vs. Liberty

Vs. Freedom

April

10 3 7 7 3

May

28 17 11 16

12

June

29 14 15 7

22

July

26 16 10 9

17

August

29 13 16 14

15

September 18 7 11 7

11

Overall, May and July will be big months for the Ducks with six more home games than road contests. In addition, May features an incredible 16 games against the Liberty Division compared to just 12 against the Freedom. That month will be big in determining who could potentially gain some ground in what could be a very tight race. Shockingly though, there are only seven Liberty Division matchups for the Ducks from May 31 through the All-Star break, which begins on July 11. As was the case in 2015, Long Island will start and end the season on the road. Their longest homestand is seven games, which will occur seven different times this year. Their longest road trip is also seven games, taking place seven different times.

In terms of travel, another new wrinkle to the schedule will be three trips to Sugar Land, Texas instead of the usual two. Long Island will head to the Lone Star state for a four-game in three-day series in mid-May, a three-game set in mid-August and another three-game set in September to start the final road trip of the season. Long Island will have a day off before the May trip and after the August trip. While it does result in an extra set of commercial travel to and from Texas, it eliminates the long six-game series that typically is needed when only two visits take place. Aside from the Texas flights, the only other long driving stretches are from York to Bridgeport after a game on June 22 and from Lancaster to New Britain after a game on September 1.

For the most part, the schedule follows a week-home, week-road format, which helps out in terms of planning and keeping a routine of sorts. The only real exceptions are three-game road trips to Bridgeport (May 6-8), Lancaster (May 31-June 2) and Southern Maryland (May 22-24) and a three-game homestand against Sugar Land (June 3-5). In addition, there are three scheduled day/night doubleheaders on the docket (May 18 at Sugar Land, May 28 vs. New Britain and June 18 vs. Lancaster). Some of the special game times aside from the usual start times are on Sunday, July 3 as part of Independence Day celebrations (6:35 p.m.), July 26 for the annual Camp Day (11:05 a.m.) and September 5 for Labor Day (1:35 p.m.).

Here are some of the series and matchups we are keeping our eyes on:

Opening Road Trip – April 21-27

Like in 2015, the Ducks will start their season away from Bethpage Ballpark. April 21 is Opening Day, and the Ducks will begin the year where their most recent one ended. That, of course, is TD Bank Ballpark, the home of the Somerset Patriots. Long Island will be there as the defending Atlantic League champions receive their rings and raise their banner. It will be tough for the Flock too, as they were ousted in the first round of the postseason by the Pats despite holding a two games to one lead at one point. It also marks the second time in three years and third time in five years that Long Island will start their season in Somerset, having done so in 2012 and 2014 as well. Following the four-game set, the Ducks will head up to New Britain for their first meeting with the newest members of the league. It will also be their first visit to New Britain Stadium and the chance to gain a leg-up in a new all-time series.

Home Opener – April 28

The Ducks return home on April 28 for their first home game of the 2016 season. Long Island will host the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, who are the defending Freedom Division champions, in the start of a four-game series.  It will mark the first time the Ducks face the Blue Crabs in a home opener in franchise history. The first home game for any team is always special, and fans of the Flock will surely be counting down the days until they can watch their team at Bethpage Ballpark once again.

Divisional Homestand – May 24-29

This homestand will still be at a fairly early point in the season, but it will feature two firsts for the 2016 season. From Tuesday-Thursday, the Bridgeport Bluefish will make their first visit of the season to Bethpage Ballpark. Last year, Bridgeport claimed the Ferry Cup over Long Island, ending a two-year run by the Ducks. There is no question the Ducks will want to bring the cup back across the Long Island Sound this season. Then, the team from New Britain will make their first visit to the Duck Pond for a four-game set Friday-Sunday. This will be the first chance for Ducks fans who don’t travel to Connecticut to see the newest members of the league.

Fireworks Galore – July 1-3

As has been the case each season, the Ducks will be giving fans three straight days of fireworks extravaganzas to enjoy. With July 4 falling on a Monday this year, the Fourth of July fireworks celebrations will now take place after the games against the Sugar Land Skeeters on Friday, July 1, Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3. In 2015, each of the three consecutive games with fireworks for Independence Day drew over 7,000 fans. This year, those three dates are sure to be among the most popular of the season.

Final Homestand – September 5-11

The Ducks will be home for one week of September before they end the year on the road. The seven-game stretch will start with four against the Bluefish. If both teams are in the thick of things for a half season division title at that point of the year, those four games will be crucial. Then the York Revolution will come to town for three days to close out the home schedule. Fan Appreciation Day will be on Sunday, September 11. While the day is always a solemn remembrance of the terrorist attack on our country, it will also be a day to recognize the fans for their continued support of the team. Each year, fans win some pretty exciting prizes during the home finale!

What do you think of the schedule, Ducks fans? Which games are you most excited about next season? Do you like having the balanced schedule back? Let us know your thoughts by posting in the comments section of this post.

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Posted on October 30, 2015, in Ducks News, Feature Articles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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