If you’re like me, then today’s release of the HarbourCats 2016 schedule is the first piece of getting your summer plans in order. The 27 regular season games on the schedule, plus some non-league action, all point to a busy couple of months sitting around a ballpark enjoying local brews and food.
The schedule has some great features this year. Two fireworks nights, a Canada Day game, and some key match-ups down the stretch. The longest home stand is six games (two series) fairly early in the season, while the team doesn’t spend an extended time on the road until mid-July. If you remember last year, it was an extended 6-game road trip that really brought the team together and elevated them to nearly unbeatable status during the last half of the season. This year’s schedule duplicates that trip almost to the day.
There are 4 non-league exhibition games on the schedule as well, including a tilt up in Nanaimo against the Pirates. I like the distribution of the home schedule, with 5 Friday nights, 5 Saturday nights, and 4 Sunday afternoons. There are also 5 Thursday games, but only 4 Wednesdays, 3 Tuesdays, and just a single Monday. That’s 14 prime-time weekend games (which is actually one less than last year), but four fewer Monday-Wednesday games. The Thursday games will be the swing night this year on attendance, and will be the deciding factor in helping the ‘Cats set another attendance record.
Of course if you’re a more casual fan, catching all 27 might not be possible, and you need to be a bit more selective with your nights at the park… Well the blog comes to the rescue, and we outline for you the 10 must-attend games of the HarbourCat’s 2016 season! Here they are, in order…
Tuesday June 7, Wenatchee AppleSox. Of course this one – it’s the home opener! Nothing like that first game of the season. Everyone is in first place, expectations are high, the park has been readied to perfection… It’s like getting a shiny new penny, (or nickel since the penny is no more), in your change.
This year will have a different feel to it with many familiar faces returning alongside some hot new talent. Also look for some significant changes made to the park over the winter as well, making it a much more comfortable place to be. Not to mention that the AppleSox are a perennial powerhouse in the WCL, and this early-season meeting be a good test for Coach Graig Merritt’s staff.
Tuesday June 14, Gresham “Generals”. (I’m going with that until they name them otherwise). Always exciting to see a team you haven’t seen before, and Gresham makes their first ever trip to Victoria early in the season.
Sunday June 19, Cowlitz Black Bears. A no-brainer as well – it’s father’s day. If you’re a dad, or have a dad, this is an excellent opportunity to share the magic of baseball with the old guy. A 1:00pm start allows you to take in the game and still have time to shower him with gifts and affection later in the evening.
Friday June 24, Kitsap BlueJackets. A significant game because it comes after the HarbourCats 4-day break in the schedule. Over that time, the team would have been hitting the field for some serious practice time, and ironing out any kinks that may have been found over the first quarter of the season. It’s also about the time we should see our full roster of NCAA Div 1 players in town, so the team that comes out of the break will likely look and play much different than the team that goes in.
Thursday June 30, Kelowna Falcons. It’s a fireworks night, so that says it all right there. Get your tickets early for this one as there are only 2 fireworks nights on the schedule this year.
Friday July 1, Kelowna Falcons. A Canada Day game, which we missed out on last year due to league scheduling. And a true Canadian day, with only a single national anthem needed before the game! Kelowna was also a hot team in 2015, no reason to expect they won’t be again. Expect some fabulous fan events in the park this day, making an afternoon at RAP an excellent stop on your way downtown to celebrate our Country!
Wednesday July 20, Bellingham Bells. Apart from having the best uniforms in the League, the Bells are always a tough opponent. As the season reaches the end of its third quarter, this game (and series) has the potential to have huge playoff implications. Like last year, the games against the Bells will be crucial down the stretch.
Thursday July 28, Walla Walla Sweets. Last year’s mid-week 1:00pm start game was one of the nicest days at the park all year. Nothing like skipping out of work to sit in the sun and enjoy a ballgame, it’s therapeutic really. And building on the Bells theme, this late in the season all of the games have potential playoff impacts and the team will be firing on all cylinders.
And I’m not losing sight of my 2016 goal either – getting WW’s mascot Sweet Lou up for a game. Could it be this one?
Saturday August 6, Yakima Valley Pippens. The second fireworks night of the year, is also the second-to-last game of the year, and the last night game. Everything could be on the line on this one, against another North division opponent. Expect a huge crowd, and a fired up HarbourCats team.
Sunday August 7, Yakima Valley Pippens. And just like that, the season comes to a close. This 1:00 game bids a fond farewell to the season, and is always a special day with player awards, fan appreciation events, and other moments that make baseball a special sport. While we expect to be in the playoffs starting the following week, this game gives us a chance to send off our new and old friends in style.
Bonus game – Tuesday July 5, Tentative game. Keep your eye on this date. Nothing firm as of yet, but GM Jim Swanson is cooking up something with an “International Flavour” on this day. Maybe it will just be Taco night at Jim’s house, but with all of the world baseball experience on Jims resume, there’s potential here for an interesting event. Stay tuned…
And here’s the full 27-game regular season home schedule for your planning. All games are 6:35pm start time unless otherwise noted:
- Game 1 — Tuesday, June 7, vs Wenatchee AppleSox
- Game 2 — Wednesday, June 8, vs. Wenatchee AppleSox
- Game 3 — Thursday, June 9, vs. Wenatchee AppleSox
- Game 4 — Tuesday, June 14, vs. Gresham
- Game 5 — Wednesday, June 15, vs. Gresham
- Game 6 — Thursday, June 16, vs Gresham
- Game 7 — Friday, June 17, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears
- Game 8 — Saturday, June 18, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears
- Game 9 — Sunday, June 19, vs. Cowlitz Black Bears(1pm, FATHER’S DAY)
- Game 10 — Friday, June 24, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets
- Game 11 — Saturday, June 25, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets
- Game 12 — Sunday, June 26, vs. Kitsap BlueJackets(1pm)
- Game 13 — Thursday, June 30, vs. Kelowna Falcons (FIREWORKS GAME)
- Game 14 — Friday, July 1, vs. Kelowna Falcons(1pm, CANADA DAY)
- Game 15 — Saturday, July 2, vs. Kelowna Falcons
- Game 16 — Saturday, July 9, vs. Bend Elks
- Game 17 — Sunday, July 10, vs. Bend Elks (1pm)
- Game 18 — Monday, July 11, vs. Bend Elks
- Game 19 — Wednesday, July 20, vs. Bellingham Bells
- Game 20 — Thursday, July 21, vs. Bellingham Bells
- Game 21 — Friday, July 22, vs. Bellingham Bells
- Game 22 — Tuesday, July 26, vs. Walla Walla Sweets
- Game 23 — Wednesday, July 27, vs. Walla Walla Sweets
- Game 24 — Thursday, July 28, vs. Walla Walla Sweets (1pm)
- Game 25 — Friday, August 5, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins
- Game 26 — Saturday, August 6, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins (FIREWORKS GAME)
- Game 27 — Sunday, August 7, vs. Yakima Valley Pippins (1pm)