In what team president Derek Schiller calls a “scheduling quirk” and a “weird anomaly,” the Braves will be off on Memorial Day.
Monday’s open date marks the first time in 34 years, according to the Braves, that the MLB schedule doesn’t have them playing on that holiday.
The last time it happened, in 1985, the Braves apparently couldn’t fathom the idea of not having a Memorial Day game. So they bused to Greenville, S.C., and played an exhibition against their Double-A farm team. (The big-league team lost, as the 1985 Braves often did.)
This time, the Braves plan a baseball-free holiday before opening a five-game homestand with a Tuesday night game against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said that to his recollection this will be the first time in his 43-year baseball career that he has Memorial Day off.
When he realized that, Snitker said with a laugh, “I was, like, wow, you can go to the swimming pool or whatever.”
He even made the 1985 trip to Greenville. He was Atlanta’s bullpen coach at the time.
From a business standpoint, Braves executives would have preferred the next homestand to open Monday instead of Tuesday. Memorial Day home games traditionally draw well. Schiller was surprised when he first saw the Braves’ 2019 schedule with no game, home or away, on that holiday.
“For sure, obviously, your preference is to try to play on Memorial Day,” Schiller said. “But there are other considerations. ... The scheduling was dictated by where Washington was and whether the Nationals could play us on Monday.”
The Nationals will be completing a four-game holiday-weekend series in Washington against the Miami Marlins on Monday afternoon before coming to Atlanta.
The Braves’ three-game series in St. Louis this weekend concluded with a Sunday night game, the last scheduled game this season between the Braves and Cardinals.
A Monday afternoon game at SunTrust Park would have been problematic, in any case, because of the quick turnaround from the Braves’ “Sunday Night Baseball” game in St. Louis. But a Monday evening game at SunTrust Park could have worked if there had been a scheduling fit.
Four MLB teams, out of 30, have no game Monday: the Braves, Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.
Adding to the oddity of the Braves not having a Memorial Day game is that they also are off next Thursday following a two-game series against the Nationals on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Entering the homestand, which also includes three games against the Detroit Tigers next weekend, the Braves’ attendance is almost flat with the same point last season. Their average attendance (defined by MLB as tickets sold) through 26 home games is 30,102 per game, compared with an average of 30,476 through the same number of games last year.
“I think we’re pacing real nicely, especially having had so many home games in April this year (18),” Schiller said.
The Braves reached their 26th home game May 19, compared with June 1 last year.
“One of the things we look at is how crowds build during the summer,” Schiller said. “The key fence-post for that is Memorial Day. We’re going to start to see attendance build because we are now in that part of the year where school is not in session. About 55 percent of our crowds are people coming to the game with their kids.”
The Braves have home games on two holidays later this season: the Fourth of July (vs. the Phillies) and Labor Day (vs. the Blue Jays).
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