So, it’s out. For us, we’ve already been working on what 2018 is going to look like from so many different angles. For you, having the schedule makes next year all the more real.
From the surface, next year already looks different: 10 fewer home games (no more Salina, and hello Chicago), no 16- and 13-game homestands, and a pair of home-and-home series with the Texas AirHogs.
If you look at it a little deeper, the schedule really does look much more like an American Association slate, and that’s got everything to do with the end of Salina’s one-year stay in the league.
Let’s dive a little deeper into 2018, huh?
For those who were with us all of last year, the first thing that’ll pop out to you about 2018 is the new scheduling balance that two six-team divisions creates.
If you didn’t catch it, the American Association will look collectively different next season: instead of three four-team divisions, a pair of six-team divisions divides the league in half. In the south, you’ve got Cleburne (duh), Texas, Wichita, Kansas City, Lincoln and Sioux City. Up north, you’ve got Winnipeg, St. Paul, Fargo-Moorhead, Gary, Sioux Falls and the expansion Chicago Dogs.
Good news? Every club makes at least one trip to every ballpark. You play your five divisional opponents four times -- two here and two there -- and you’ll play two series against the interdivisional foes -- one at home and one on the road.
So while Cleburne saw every team at least once last season, the Railroaders will make their first-ever trips to Sioux City, Winnipeg and Chicago. That also means that fans get to see teams that haven’t yet come to The Depot (we’re looking at you, Chicago and Gary SouthShore).
It’s just nice to see everyone in the league you’re in at least once.
Another thing the die-hards will notice is how similar the schedule looks -- especially in May -- to that of last year.
The season-opening series in 2017? The defending-champion Winnipeg Goldeyes.
The season-opening series in 2018? The defending-champion Winnipeg Goldeyes.
The second series last year? Three games with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
The second series this year? Three games with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
There’s also an early-June visit from the St. Paul Saints this year, and the Saints played four in Cleburne in late-May and early-June last year.
If you’re curious why, look at weather patterns. It’s simple.
The average high in May in Winnipeg is 55 degrees. Brr. Let the northerners vacation for a few weeks to begin the year before it really starts to warm up in June. You can expect a similar structure to the schedule every year.
By the numbers
So you’re bored of reading words and everyone loves numbers. Let’s throw out some facts about 2018.
15,184 - (Unofficially) the amount of miles the Railroaders will travel over the course of the summer. Working-class folk between the ages of 35-54 drive an average of 15,281 per year. Per year! Now consider that the season is only four months long. And then consider that the Railroaders only travel for half the season. It adds up quickly.
10,691 - (Unofficially) the amount of miles the Railroaders traveled in 2017. Only 40 away games helps. And nearly 50 percent more miles this year than last.
1,322 - The length of Cleburne’s longest single bus ride in 2018. It’s a trek from Winnipeg (the one in Canada) back home after the series on Aug. 6-8. Unofficially, that’s 19 hours and 24 minutes.
50/50 - You knew this already. Half of the games are at The Depot, and half aren’t.
100 - The sum of 50 and 50. Coincidentally the number of games Cleburne will play this year.
18 - The number of home games Cleburne has in June -- more than any other in 2018 -- so that month will be pivotal for the club should it have any intentions on making the playoffs this year. Build a cushion. Position yourself well.
18 - The number of road games Cleburne has in August. Now you know why it’s important to win in June.
16 - The number of games Cleburne has the Wichita Wingnuts in 2018. The Railroaders will see that club more often than any other (all four series are four-gamers). Wichita’s won the division crown every year since 2011. Cleburne has no shortage of chances to compete with them.
110 - Percent chance you’ll have a blast with us this year. Buy tickets, come out and support professional baseball, and enjoy your experience at The Depot in 2018. We can’t wait to see you.
Play-by-play broadcaster/media relations