Now that the Major League baseball and probably all non-fall/winter leagues have completed their 2018 campaigns, we can turn the page to next season.
Rutgers baseball announced the 2019 schedule last week. The schedule as of today features 53 contests with 19 of them at Bainton Field. As has been the case for several years, 24 Big Ten games will determine the top eight teams that qualify for the conference tournament in Omaha. Despite the team’s .500 overall record last year, they did not qualify for the conference gala and that will be a primary goal again in 2019.
The first home game is February 26 against Wagner, but perhaps fans would rather take in a game in a warmer climate. The team begins the campaign in Miami, FL and travels to a number of early season destinations, so get your calendar out if you now live in one of the areas or plan to take a nice vacation.
Miami, FL: Feb 15-17. Opponent(s): Miami (FL)
Rutgers opens the season for the 10th time in 11 years in Coral Gables. A season ago, Rutgers took one of three from the #9 Hurricanes.
While visiting, definitely take a stroll down South Beach and notice many of the Art Deco buildings that were updated to get screen time on the original Miami Vice. The first time I walked on South Beach it reminded me of Las Vegas mixed with San Diego. Seeing a guy dressed like Mr. T with a python on his shoulders was quite the sight. Miami is pricey, but there is a ton to do from Palm Beach all the way down to the Florida Keys and it’s a great time to go before most spring break traffic begins.
New Orleans, LA: Feb 22-24. Opponent(s): Butler, UNO, Chicago State
The Scarlet Knights will participate in a round robin tournament with the Butler Bulldogs, University of New Orleans Privateers, and Chicago State Cougars.
The “Big Easy” is a great town and I’d put it on my top 5 places to visit in the U.S, even though Mardi Gras does not begin until March 5. Beware no matter what time of year, people are not in a hurry, even with “fast food”. Even though much of NOLA is below Sea Level, the original city is in fact above (the French Quarter), so it is less impacted by flooding. The suggestions are Toulouse Dive Bar or Boondack Saint. Also a special bonus, on Saturday the NBA’s Pelicans take on the Los Angeles Lakers if seeing Anthony Davis (the basketball player) or LeBron James is on your bucket list.
Norfolk, VA: Mar 1-3. Opponent(s): Old Dominion
Rutgers took two of three from the Monarchs in 2018.
Norfolk is a naval town that is about six hours from New Brunswick. If you have never been, ensure to drive on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel which is part bridge and part tunnel, literally and definitely an experience. If you do go by car, be mindful of the regular speed trap in Pocomoke, MD even if they are friendly. In nearby Virginia Beach keep in mind that many of the establishments are seasonal and may not be open in early March. Of course for you who can still party and are ok with a real dive, check out Peabody’s.
Spartanburg, SC: Mar 8-10. Opponent(s): USC Upstate
The Scarlet Knights did not play the Spartans in 2018, but RU swept the three game set in 2017.
The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport is a short flight from Newark and a super easy airport to get in and out of. Once down there, the Greenville-Greer-Spartanburg area does not have as much to do as the previous two cities and a lot of the outdoor activities are weather dependent. The BMW Performance Driving School is an attraction that draws visitors. (But no, I do not have a beamer you can borrow.)
Ft. Myers, FL: Mar 15-24. (Port Charlotte, FL: Mar 20) Opponent(s): FGCU, Harvard, Indiana State
Rutgers took two of three games from Florida Gulf Coast last season and gets them in three more contests March 15-17. Then a single Wednesday game in Port Charlotte against new assistant coach Tom Conley’s former squad, Harvard. The week concludes with three games against the Indiana State Sycamores.
For those over 21, Peace River Brewing has an underrated tasting room. If you can’t make it onsite, look for their offerings in the tri-county area. Three teams play their home spring training games in the area. The now World Champion Boston Red Sox (sorry not sorry Yankee fans) play spring training “home games” March 16, 17 (ss), 19, 21, and 23. The Minnesota Twins have home dates March 15, 18, 20, 22, and a match up with the Yankees March 24. The Tampa Bay Rays train in Port Charlotte with home games March 15, 16, 18, 21, and 22. It’s a two and a half hour drive to Port St. Lucie and two hour to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa from Ft. Myers.
Big Ten road trips
Iowa - Iowa City, IA: April 5-7.
The two teams did not face one another in 2018, but in 2017 RU took two of three in Iowa City. The diamond used for the movie “Field of Dreams” is about an hour and a half away in Dyersville.
Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI: April 26-28.
Michigan won the Big Ten title in 2018 and RU took one of three from the #13 Wolverines. Krazy Jim’s is legit, though there is plenty of good dining in Ann Arbor generally.
Penn State - University Park, PA: May 3-5.
Last year, Rutgers opened the Big Ten slate by taking two of three from the Nittany Lions. It’s about a four hour drive from New Brunswick. If you really want a cultural experience, take the Saturday morning hangover bus from Philly. On second thought, you probably don’t want that much of an experience.
Indiana - Bloomington, IN: May 17-19.
Last year, Rutgers only played the Hoosiers once and it was officially a non-conference game in Port Charlotte. In a back and forth affair, RU tallied two in the 8th to tie the game at 6, but Indiana scored in the bottom half and escaped with a 7-6 victory. Bloomington is an hour from Indianapolis, two hours from Louisville, or two and a half from Cincinnati if you want to cross Great American ballpark off your list. The Reds play the Cubs May 14-16 and the NL Champion Dodgers May 17-19.
Check out the official Rutgers baseball website for the full 2019 schedule. To the administrators who helped build this schedule, you get an A+.
Expect more baseball content here at OTB as we get closer to the season.
Plus if you missed it ...
We are back with episode #20 of the On The Banks Podcast. Host @Lance_G11 is joined by @RutgersBaseball legend and current New York Mets third baseman @FlavaFraz21. They touch on his career as well as his love for Rutgers and thoughts on the World Series. https://t.co/cF51PauDXB— On the Banks (@OTB_SBNation) October 26, 2018