2017 Marks First “Normal” Season for RubberDucks
Last season, the Akron RubberDucks had another tremendous year in attendance, saw numerous highly touted prospects play ball at Canal Park, and captured the 2016 Eastern League Championship. Quite the year for any Minor-League Baseball team. As for 2017? Well, it’ll be the RubberDucks most challenging season yet.
I don’t mean that strictly from a baseball or talent point of view. Believe me, Akron will have plenty of talent out there on the diamond, particularly on the offensive side of things. Francisco Mejia, the Indians’ top prospect according to minorleaguebaseball.com, will start at catcher for the RubberDucks and rightfully so after putting together a 60-game hit streak last year in A level ball. The other 3 biggest names to look out for are Greg Allen, Bobby Bradley, and Tyler Krieger. Allen was a sixth-pick in 2014 with great speed and a knack for getting on base. Bradley, the youngest of the group at just 20 years of age, adds a lot of pop to the lineup, as he accounted for 29 home runs and 102 RBI’s last season in A ball. Krieger, a stellar defensive second basemen who is oh-so-reliable on the infield, also has a solid bat with decent power and looks to be a great two-way player for Akron this year.
So, what makes this season so challenging for Akron? Well, I had a chance to sit down with Akron RubberDucks Director of Public and Media Relations Adam Liberman who gave me a rundown on what to look ahead to for this year. According to Liberman, this will be the first “normal” season the organization has faced since its name change to “RubberDucks” from “Aeros” back in October of 2013. “We don’t have an All-Star game, we don’t have new parts of the stadium, we don’t have an identity change”. For those who don’t know, the RubberDucks had tons of renovations done to Canal Park including, a Tiki Terrace in right field to replace the bleachers and Duck Row out in “Fowl Territory” that features waiter/waitress service for fans in the first few rows in the left field corner. Last summer the stadium also hosted the 2016 Eastern League All-Star game which was a huge success.
This year, the RubberDucks will have to do a little bit more to continually get sellouts and high attendance rates that they were accustomed to last year. So far, they’re off to a great start promotionally. Nightly promotions will once again return to the ballpark including my personal favorite, “Giveaway Saturday’s”, where the first 1000 fans receive an awesome bobble-head or some sort of baseball-oriented giveaway. Some new promotions will also be featured, including a post-game rock concert later in the year.
Of course, what is some RubberDucks baseball without some crazy food!? Extreme Food Menu items will be back again and better than ever. Classics such as “The Screamer” and the “Nice 2 Meat You Burger” will once again be back, along with some new originals. The “Notorious P.I.G.” is Akron’s new stacked-to-the-top pulled pork sandwich that is guaranteed to leave fans NOT wanting more (get it?). The “Yardbird” is the other new extreme item this year and is a sandwich featuring apple fritters as the buns, with cream cheese, turkey, bacon, and more stuffed inside! The Game Grill + Bar, attached to the stadium out behind right field, will once again be open and offering new dining options for fans. The most delectable looking are the new Mega Fries, featuring Cajun fries and BBQ brisket. Of course, for those not looking to enter a food coma, the standard hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, hamburgers, etc. will all be available.
There really is something for everyone at the ballpark this summer. “Thirsty Thursday’s” are great for those of us college kids on a budget, featuring $1 and $2 beers every Thursday. “Family FUNday” is also a great chance for parents to play catch on the field before the game with their kids and get autographs in front of the team shop every Sunday. Those days also allow kids to run the bases after the game! Even for those non-humans out there looking to enjoy some baseball, a couple “Bark in the Park” nights allow fans to bring their canine companions to the game!
While 2017 looks to be the first “normal” season the RubberDucks have faced since their identity change, they will be looking to make it very special for every fan at Canal Park this summer. “Quakron” has packed Canal Park all season the past three summers and this year looks to be no different. Check out my interview with Adam Liberman below for more on this year’s upcoming Akron RubberDuck’s season!