The Vancouver Canadians will take on the Eugene Emeralds to open the 2020 Northwest League season on Wednesday, June 17 at 7:05 pm at Nat Bailey Stadium. The home opener is the first of a five-game series to begin the Canadians’ 76-game schedule.
After a division-heavy 2019 slate that saw Vancouver play Everett 18 times while splitting the other 30 North Division games against Spokane and Tri-City, the Northwest League has opted to go back to its previous scheduling format. That means the C’s will face their North Division rival AquaSox, Indians and Dust-Devils just 12 times apiece in 2020 and will split the remaining 40 games evenly among the four South Division squads. The latter figure is an increase of 12 games from last year’s total when Vancouver faced Boise, Eugene, Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer just seven times apiece.
The best-of-three Divisional playoffs are set for September 8-10 with the best-of-five league championship series September 11-15. The North Division winner will have home field for the first two games with the final three being played at the home of the South Division champions.
Highlights of the C’s home schedule includes a Canada Day match-up against the Spokane Indians to open a three-game series and the Northwest League champion Hillsboro Hops will be at the Nat July 18-22.
The defending North Division champion Tri-City Dust Devils will arrive in Vancouver for a three-game set beginning July 23. That marks the first of six straight games against the Double-D’s with the first four games marking the end of the first-half of the season. After the first three games in Vancouver, the latter three games will be played in Gesa Stadium with the first game of that set concluding the season’s first 38-game half.
The second and third games of that series in Tri-City mark the beginning of the season’s second half that will see Monty’s Mounties wrap up an eight-game road trip with five games in Boise. That will bring the Canadians to the All-Star Break August 3-5 in which the best of the Northwest League will visit the best of the Pioneer League.
Seattle Mariners fans in Vancouver will have to wait until August to see the AquaSox in town but they will be here August 9-11 and August 15-18. The C’s first road games of 2020 are in Everett June 22-24 and their last regular season road contests will also be played at Everett Memorial Stadium on the Labour Day weekend September 5-7.
The schedule has five home games in June, 16 in July and 17 in August but zero in September as the C’s final regular season game goes Monday, August 31 against Tri-City. The only way the Canadians can play a home game in September is by clinching a playoff spot in either the first or second half of the season.
Canadians Director of Communications & Broadcaster Rob Fai is hinting some surprises will be in store for the fans next season.
“We’ve been amazingly successful opening the season since joining the Blue Jays (7-2) since 2011 and this season we hope to get things going quickly with five straight at home. We’ve been told to strip this right down (speaking of the game experience) and build it back up fresh, engaging and something all fans will appreciate.”
Baseball America dropped a major bombshell recently about the future partnership of Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, specifically the number of minor league franchises being reduced by 42 for the 2021 season. The end of the 2020 campaign marks the end of the current partnership agreement between MLB and MiLB. The story by J.J. Cooper indicates that MLB officials want a significant overhaul of the minor league operation.
It appears that most of the 42 teams facing the chopping block in two years time are the short-season teams. Even more worrisome is Cooper followed up his story with this tweet.
However, the story goes on to say the Northwest League would become a full-season league. With the C’s having led the NWL in attendance for five straight seasons, one would think there would be a future beyond 2020 for the club. Fans in the city clamouring for a return to the old days of Triple-A baseball would get part of their wish granted by having baseball again in April and May. However, more games would mean more operating costs for the club and likely more doubleheaders given the inclement weather at the start of the season. Right now, nothing is certain past next season.
The proposed MLB/MiLB deal also calls for ballpark upgrades and the creation of an independent “Dream League” that would consist of the newly unaffiliated pro teams that are able to continue operating.
The dream here is that the Vancouver Canadians baseball club will be around for many more years to come, ideally as an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.