Baseball Is Back! Cape League Starts June 20 with COVID Precautions in Place
A Cape Cod tradition will be returning this summer, although it will look a little different than it has in the past.
The Cape Cod Baseball League season starts June 20th, with 10 teams from around the region showcasing some of the country's top baseball talent, including players who may become make it to the major league.
CAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Wareham Gatemen General Manager Andrew Lang about what to expect in this upcoming unique, pandemic-influenced season.
Eident League play was canceled last year, but it's not this year. There will be a season this year, and we'll get into some of the details. But, has it been any tougher, or any different, recruiting players for you with the Wareham Gatemen?
Lang I think every year is different, at least for us in Wareham. Now, not having a season last year certainly threw a wrench into some things. But, the way that we handled it was, we knew some guys definitely wouldn't be interested in playing this year. So, we kind of crossed them off the list. But then, we honored most of the agreements that we had from last year. So, we do have a few players who are coming back from our roster from last year. And, we have a lot of new guys.
Eident How will this season be different than seasons played before the pandemic? There are some new guidelines in place for all of the teams.
Lang You know, I thought the executive committee did a great job. At first, they weren't going to require vaccinations, but then they got more information and they decided to make it mandatory for all the players to be vaccinated unless they have one of the exemptions. And, I think that was a great thing. I felt like they needed to do that.
And really, I've made phone calls to all the players. They've already been vaccinated even before we made a requirement. So, I do give them credit for being able to be flexible throughout the summer.
But, I'm hopeful that by the time we play, 90 percent of the stuff we could pull back on, and maybe keep some stuff. I personally will still be wearing a mask. I'm vaccinated, but I've continued to wear mask and I will continue to wear a mask until I feel that things have lightened up to a point where I don't need to. I just feel more comfortable.
And, I think the only difference really, is going to be the condensed nature of our schedule. We're playing a lot of games in eight weeks and there's not a lot of days. The kids can handle it. The coaches, I know, can handle it. It's just going to be a lot in a short time period.
Eident It is a lot, even though there won't be things like double headers and they won't be rescheduling rainouts and things like that.
Lang Right. So, double headers are on one year, and we'll have double headers. The next year, the executive committee will decide they don't want to have double headers. So, it's really—I think it's just pick your poison on a year. I wish we would play a double header on every Sunday throughout the entire season. But, it's tough.
I understand not making up games, but that's going to be tough. Hopefully we don't have any weather issues, but we always have some. We want every team to play 40 games.
It's a limited playoff this year, too. So, you know, I just hope that it doesn't come back to bite us in the butt that we decided not to have makeups.
We're not having an all-star game this year. I don't know if that will change. We usually go up to Fenway Park and we'll do a workout, a pro-style workout. It's certainly not easy trying to put this all together when things are fluid.
Eident You know, you mentioned that with the shortened season, the playoffs are going to look different than in the past. And, certainly there are some drawbacks to that. But, I was wondering if it would be also a motivator for teams, you know, because it kind of ups the ante with the competition because there's going to be fewer teams in the playoffs.
Lang I think you're exactly right. I like how we got back to a traditional top two, top two, they play and then the top two from that play in the final. I think you'll get—not that you'll get better baseball—but you'll get the better team to have proved it over the course of the season.
Eident Local families are an important part of the Cape Cod Baseball League because they host players who come from all around the country. How has it been getting families to agree to host players this year with the uncertainty of the pandemic?
Lang As far as the Gatemen go, for this summer only, our players are going to be staying at apartments at UMass Dartmouth. But, we're still going to keep the traditional host family feel. They'll help them with whatever they need, if they need cleaning supplies or kitchenware, bedding if they need it, or any or any other type of support to host families will provide that. But, the player just won't be residing inside the house.
Eident A creative way to get around this issue and still connect families who, I know some of them have long traditions of hosting kids, and it's such a nice experience for both sides.
Lang For sure. We have some host families who have been host to players for a few decades.
Eident I want to talk about fans. They're such an important part of the Cape Cod Baseball League. But this year, they won't be able to interact with the players like they have in the past, getting autographs and things like that.
Lang The League put out the policies, and that's not going to happen. We can pre-sign things and give them to people, but that traditional fan experience might not exist. But that might change.
The 50-50 [raffle] is going to be different. We're going to try to adjust as best as we can, but we've got to keep the players safe. We've got to keep the fans safe.
Eident I think a lot of people are going to be thrilled, even with the changes this year, to come out and catch a Wareham Gateman game or any of the games in the Cape Cod Baseball League on the schedule.
Lang Yeah, right. Come out. It's a nice family atmosphere. No matter what field you go to. It's baseball probably at its purest.
Eident Andrew Lang, general manager of the Wareham Gatemen, good luck. We've got just under a month left until the season starts.
Lang Thank you very much. I appreciate you giving me this opportunity.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.