- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
With the offseason just three weeks old and players for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs still transitioning back to their hometowns following a 2013 campaign that ended in the first round of the playoffs, the 2014 season seems to be a long ways off.
Not for the Blue Crabs front office, whose offseason focus is all about gearing up for the club’s seventh year of existence in 2014.
On the first day of this month, the Blue Crabs released the 2014 schedule so fans could start gearing up for the 70 home games at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium next year.
As customary in the recent seasons, the Blue Crabs will play a 140-game schedule in 2014 as they will be bidding to extend their Atlantic League record to six straight years of clinching playoff berths.
Among the 70 contests the Blue Crabs are hosting in 2014 are a bevy of marquee games beginning with the season opener at 7:05 p.m. April 24 against Liberty Division rival Bridgeport. The Blue Crabs have the luxury of having their first seven games at home, including the opening series of four contests with Bridgeport.
Two-time defending league champion and archrival Long Island, which has ended the Blue Crabs’ playoff hopes the last three postseasons, then comes to town for a three-game series April 29 to May 1 to complete the homestand kicking off 2014.
As if that’s not enough baseball for Blue Crabs fans to feast on at Regency Furniture Stadium to start the season, the team will host 10 of its first 14 games and 16 of its initial 23 contests, which include series against visiting Camden, Sugar Land and Lancaster.
Independence Day baseball will also be at the Blue Crabs’ house in 2014.
The historically well-attended Fourth of July game has the Blue Crabs welcoming in Sugar Land, the only non-East Coast-based team in the league from a Houston, Texas, suburb, to begin a three-game series.
Sugar Land boasted the league’s all-time best regular season record in 2013 with a 95-45 tab, but its playoff run was went no longer than the Blue Crabs’. Somerset knocked Sugar Land out of the playoffs last month in the first round.
Next year’s Fourth of July affair, which lands on a Friday, is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. If Southern Marylanders are unable to make it out for the patriotic-themed game, the next day features a day-night doubleheader between the Blue Crabs and Sugar Land with 1 p.m. and 6:35 p.m. scheduled games.
The Independence Day weekend winds down with the Blue Crabs hosting Sugar Land in the series finale on July 6, a Sunday, at 2:05 p.m.
“We are very pleased with our 2014 schedule,” Blue Crabs general manager Patrick Day said via a team press release on Oct. 1. He is set to return for a second year in his role. “Of course, we will plan a huge celebration for opening day and a great fireworks show will follow our game on the Fourth of July in the spirit of Independence Day.”
“The 2014 schedule provides countless opportunities for fans to make memories with us in the 2014 season,” added Courtney Knichel in the same press release. She began her new role as the Blue Crabs assistant general manager of marketing and special events this month after spending the last six years in the team’s front office as its marketing manager. “We broke a franchise record during the 2013 Independence Day game so that means we have a challenge on our hands to make the 2014 Independence Day game even bigger and better than before.”
Almost half of the Blue Crabs home games in 2014, 33 to be exact, will occur on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The organization is thrilled about this, realizing that such game days make it most convenient for families to arrive to the ballpark.
The 33 weekend games also promises a plethora of the highly anticipated postgame fireworks to take place immediately following the final pitch.
Day added in the press release, “This schedule offers many opportunities for fans to stay right here for vacation during the 2014 season. We will offer nine innings of vacation each night of the week.”
The actual breakdown of Blue Crabs home games per month in 2014 has six games in April, 15 in May, 13 in June, 14 in July, 15 in August and seven in September.
The final 2014 home game is on Sept. 18, a Thursday, against Somerset at 7:05 p.m. The Blue Crabs then hit the road to Long Island, Sept. 19 to 21, to complete their 2014 regular season before the playoffs are slated to start the last full week of September.
The Blue Crabs’ proven track record, making the postseason the last five years, means they should continue playing baseball come late September.
Winning their division in the first or second half of the regular season guarantees the Blue Crabs of another playoff berth in 2014.
The team is still looking to win its first league crown.