Many times last season, the off days for Atlantic League teams just couldn't be avoided.
With the Newark Bears having departed for the Can-Am League, the Atlantic League welcomed back the all-travel Road Warriors.
The changes for the Atlantic League meant the 140-game schedule for each team had to be reduced to 126 games. As a result, more off days were added between games to make sure the Atlantic League season would still start and stop around the same time.
Most of the off days were pumped into the first couple months of the season, usually on Mondays and Tuesdays. As pointed out in this space roughly a year ago, the off days early in the year may have had a negative effect on what fans were watching out on the field.
The York Revolution and the expansion Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters kick off the Atlantic League season on April 26. With the addition of the Skeeters, who replaced the Road Warriors, the schedule has gone back to 140 games for every Atlantic League squad this season.
As far as scheduling is concerned, that's good news all around.
More off days were likely scheduled earlier in the season because the early-season games aren't as well attended as those later in the year, when the weather is better and kids are out of school.
Attendance numbers provided by the York Revolution back up this notion. Last season, York had a lot more fans come to games in each of the months of June (66,715 fans, 18 openings), July (54,538 fans, 13 openings) and August (60,512 fans, 15 openings) than in April and May combined (48,354 fans, 13 openings).
While it makes sense financially, having early-season off days can negatively impact the product on the field. Starting pitchers are unable to get into the natural rhythm of starting every fifth day. Position players have to settle for batting practice in cages, as opposed to getting used to live pitching. And relief pitchers have to settle for practice sessions instead of facing live hitting.
Through the first 17 days of the 2011 season, York had five off days. This year, the Revs will have just two off days in the first 17 days. As its scheduled now, York won't get to its fifth off day this season until June 21. By that time, the Revs will have played 53 games -- more than a third of its schedule.
After a long offseason, hopefully this means players will have an easier time getting adjusted to the game. And the sooner players get adjusted, the sooner some could get picked up by big-league clubs. Plus, the fans attending the games early in the season will get a better product to watch on the field.
Again, good news all around.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @JohnKWalk.