Triple-A National Championship Game

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Triple-A National Championship Game
Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game logo.png
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)Varies (see prose)
InauguratedSeptember 19, 2006
(AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States)
Most recentSeptember 17, 2019
(AutoZone Park, Memphis, Tennessee, United States)
Next eventOctober 2, 2022
(Las Vegas Ballpark, Summerlin, Nevada, United States)
ParticipantsLeague champions of the two Triple-A baseball leagues
Organized by Minor League Baseball
Website Official website (archived)

The Triple-A National Championship Game, previously known as the Bricktown Showdown, is a single championship game held annually between the league champions of the International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL) affiliated Triple-A leagues of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) to determine an overall champion of the classification. With the exceptions of 2020 and 2021, the game has been held at the end of each season since 2006.

Contents

In 2022, the game will be the culmination of a three-day event called the Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend in which league champions of the IL and PCL are determined on the first two days, and the Triple-A National Champion is crowned on the third.

From 2006 to 2010, the championship game was held annually at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thereafter, the game has been hosted in a different Triple-A city each year. The Durham Bulls and Columbus Clippers have each made four appearances in the championship game, the most of any team. The Sacramento River Cats have won three championships, more than any other team. Durham, Columbus, and the Omaha Storm Chasers have each won two. Five other teams have won one championship each. Nine titles have been won by PCL teams, while the IL has won five titles.

History

AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, site of the first five Triple-A National Championship Games (2006-2010) Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.jpg
AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, site of the first five Triple-A National Championship Games (2006–2010)

Between 1904 and 1975, the league champions of the three highest-classification Minor League Baseball leagues periodically met in the postseason to determine a classification champion. The Little World Series (1904–1931) and Junior World Series (1932–1975) usually consisted of a best-of-seven (or eight) series modeled on the World Series of Major League Baseball. Most often it was held between the champions of the International League and the American Association (AA), leaving the Pacific Coast League out of the championship. [1] A one-time Triple-A World Series was held in 1983 as a round-robin tournament featuring the champions of all three Triple-A leagues. [1] The IL and AA champions met in the Triple-A Classic, a best-of-seven series, from 1988 to 1991. [1] From 1998 to 2000, the Las Vegas Triple-A World Series pitted the IL and PCL champs (as the American Association had folded in 1997) in a best-of-five championship series. [1]

In 2006, Triple-A Baseball announced the creation of a single championship game between the league champions of the International League and the Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of the classification. The game, called the Bricktown Showdown, was to be played at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In addition to serving as the pinnacle of the Triple-A and MiLB season, the leagues sought for the championship game to develop and prosper like the Triple-A All-Star Game did since its creation in 1988. [2]

The first Bricktown Showdown was played on September 19, 2006. The PCL's Tucson Sidewinders defeated the IL's Toledo Mud Hens, 5–2, in front of an announced paid attendance of 12,572 and a national television audience watching on ESPN2. [3] The initial Showdown was approved only as a one-time meeting by Major League Baseball, [4] but subsequent meetings were planned following the event's success. [4]

The game was rebranded as the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game in 2009, and later to simply the Triple-A National Championship Game. This was done to increase the event's national appeal and to emphasize its significance as a championship game. [5]

The championship continued to be held in Oklahoma City through 2010. Since 2011, the game has been held in a different Triple-A city each year. [6] The first city to host under this new format was Albuquerque, New Mexico, home of the Albuquerque Isotopes of the PCL. Games have since been held in other Triple-A cities. No host city's team has ever participated in the championship game.

From 2006 to 2016, the league that won the Triple-A All-Star Game earned the distinction of having its team designated as the home team. [2] This changed in 2017, when home team status began being awarded to the team from the hosting league. [7]

The event has been televised nationally every year. It aired on ESPN2 from 2006 to 2009 and on NBC Sports Network (formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network and Versus) from 2010 to 2018. [8] Fox Sports became the broadcaster in 2019. [9]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30. [10] [11] This resulted in the cancellation of the game, which had been slated for Las Vegas Ballpark in Las Vegas, Nevada. [12]

In conjunction with Major League Baseball's restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the IL and PCL disbanded, and Triple-A teams were reorganized into the Triple-A East and Triple-A West. [13] Due to travel restrictions in place in the 2021 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams played limited opponents. [14] The 2021 schedule did not include a scheduled postseason for league championship playoffs or the Triple-A National Championship Game. [15] Instead, each Triple-A league's champion was crowned based on regular-season records. [16] The regular season was followed by the Triple-A Final Stretch, a 10-game postseason tournament in which all 30 Triple-A clubs competed for the highest winning percentage over that stretch. [16]

In 2022, the game will be the culmination of a three-day event called the Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend in which league champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League will be determined on the first two days, and the Triple-A National Champion will be crowned on the last. On September 30, the two division winners from the PCL will compete for their league championship. The two IL division winners will do the same on October 1. The league champions determined on those days will compete for the Triple-A National Championship on October 2. [17]

Structure

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders celebrate winning the 2016 Triple-A Championship. RailRiders celebrate championship game 2016.jpg
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders celebrate winning the 2016 Triple-A Championship.

The Triple-A National Championship Game consists of a single nine-inning game to determine a champion. The only championship game to ever go beyond the prescribed nine innings was the 2009 contest which went to eleven innings. [18] The host league's team serves as the home team. [7] (Prior to 2017, the league that won the Triple-A All-Star Game was designated as the home team. [2] ) Designated hitters bat in place of the pitchers.

Most recently, the game was umpired by a four-man crew with one umpire behind home plate and the others covering each base. Two of the umpires worked in the IL, while two worked in the PCL. Assignments rotated each year such that PCL umpires were assigned to home plate and second base in even years, and IL umpires manned those positions in odd years. [19]

Results

Dagger-14-plain.pngIndicates home team
DateWinning team (MLB affiliation)LeagueScoreLosing team (MLB affiliation)LeagueBallpark (league)AttendanceRef.
September 19, 2006 Tucson Sidewinders (ARI)PCL5–2 Toledo Mud Hens Dagger-14-plain.png (DET)IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL)12,572 [3]
September 18, 2007 Sacramento River Cats (OAK)PCL7–1 Richmond Braves Dagger-14-plain.png (ATL)IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL)11,124 [20]
September 16, 2008 Sacramento River Cats Dagger-14-plain.png (OAK)PCL4–1 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (NYY)IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL)8,213 [21]
September 22, 2009 Durham Bulls Dagger-14-plain.png (TB)IL5–4 Memphis Redbirds (STL)PCL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL)6,777 [18]
September 21, 2010 Columbus Clippers Dagger-14-plain.png (CLE)IL12–6 Tacoma Rainiers (SEA)PCL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL)7,525 [22]
September 20, 2011 Columbus Clippers Dagger-14-plain.png (CLE)IL8–3 Omaha Storm Chasers (KC)PCL Isotopes Park (PCL)9,569 [23]
September 18, 2012 Reno Aces Dagger-14-plain.png (ARI)PCL10–3 Pawtucket Red Sox (BOS)IL Durham Bulls Athletic Park (IL)8,601 [24]
September 17, 2013 Omaha Storm Chasers (KC)PCL2–1 Durham Bulls Dagger-14-plain.png (TB)IL Coca-Cola Park (IL)9,602 [25]
September 16, 2014 Omaha Storm Chasers (KC)PCL4–2 Pawtucket Red Sox Dagger-14-plain.png (BOS)IL BB&T Ballpark (IL)8,886 [26]
September 22, 2015 Fresno Grizzlies (HOU)PCL7–0 Columbus Clippers Dagger-14-plain.png (CLE)IL Southwest University Park (PCL)9,332 [27]
September 20, 2016 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Dagger-14-plain.png (NYY)IL3–1 El Paso Chihuahuas (SD)PCL AutoZone Park (PCL)9,471 [28]
September 19, 2017 Durham Bulls Dagger-14-plain.png (TB)IL5–3 Memphis Redbirds (STL)PCL PNC Field (IL)9,383 [29]
September 18, 2018 Memphis Redbirds (STL)PCL14–4 Durham Bulls Dagger-14-plain.png (TB)IL Huntington Park (IL)9,183 [30]
September 17, 2019 Sacramento River Cats Dagger-14-plain.png (SFG)PCL4–0 Columbus Clippers (CLE)IL AutoZone Park (PCL)9,123 [31]
September 22, 2020Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic [11] Las Vegas Ballpark (PCL) [32]
2021Not held [17]

Future games

DateCityBallparkHost team (league)Ref.
October 2, 2022 Summerlin, Nevada Las Vegas Ballpark Las Vegas Aviators (PCL) [17]

Most Valuable Player Award

Center fielder A. J. Pollock of the Reno Aces was selected as the game's MVP in 2012. A. J. Pollock on September 15, 2012.jpg
Center fielder A. J. Pollock of the Reno Aces was selected as the game's MVP in 2012.

One player is recognized for their outstanding play in the game and is awarded the Triple-A Championship Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. [8]

YearPlayerTeamLeaguePositionRef.
2006 Scott Hairston Tucson Sidewinders PCL Left fielder [3]
2007 Lou Merloni Sacramento River Cats PCL Third baseman [20]
2008 Chris Gissell Sacramento River Cats PCL Relief pitcher [21]
2009 Jeremy Hellickson Durham Bulls IL Starting pitcher [18]
2010 Jerad Head Columbus Clippers IL Left fielder [22]
2011 Joe Martinez Columbus Clippers IL Starting pitcher [23]
2012 A. J. Pollock Reno Aces PCL Center fielder [24]
2013 Chris Dwyer Omaha Storm Chasers PCL Starting pitcher [25]
2014 Brett Hayes Omaha Storm Chasers PCL Catcher [26]
2015 Chris Devenski Fresno Grizzlies PCL Starting pitcher [27]
2016 Chris Parmelee Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders IL First baseman [28]
2017 Kean Wong Durham Bulls IL Second baseman [33]
2018 Alex Mejia Memphis Redbirds PCL First baseman [34]
2019 Caleb Baragar Sacramento River Cats PCL Starting pitcher [35]
2020None selected (Game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) [11]
2021None selected (Game not held) [17]

Appearances by team

Defunct Triple-A teams appear in italics.

AppearancesTeamLeagueWinsLossesWin %Most recent
win
Most recent
appearance
4 Durham Bulls IL22.50020172018
4 Columbus Clippers IL22.50020112019
3 Omaha Storm Chasers PCL21.66720142014
3 Memphis Redbirds PCL12.33320182018
3 Sacramento River Cats PCL301.00020192019
2 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders/Yankees IL11.50020162016
2 Pawtucket Red Sox IL02.0002014
1 Fresno Grizzlies PCL101.00020152015
1 Reno Aces PCL101.00020122012
1 Tucson Sidewinders PCL101.00020062006
1 El Paso Chihuahuas PCL01.0002016
1 Richmond Braves IL01.0002007
1 Tacoma Rainiers PCL01.0002010
1 Toledo Mud Hens IL01.0002006

See also

Related Research Articles

Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball team

The Columbus Clippers are a Minor League Baseball team of the International League (IL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians. They are located in Columbus, Ohio, and are named for speedy merchant sailing vessels known as clippers. The team has played their home games at Huntington Park since 2009. They previously played at Cooper Stadium from 1977 to 2008.

Tacoma Rainiers Minor League Baseball team

The Tacoma Rainiers are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. They are located in Tacoma, Washington, and play their home games at Cheney Stadium, which opened in 1960. Tacoma has competed in the PCL since 1960, including the 2021 season when it was known as the Triple-A West. The team operated under several monikers before becoming the Rainiers in 1995.

Louisville Bats Minor League Baseball team

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Memphis Redbirds Minor League Baseball team

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Charlotte Knights Minor League Baseball team

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Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball team

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Oklahoma City Dodgers Minor League Baseball team

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Sacramento River Cats Minor League Baseball team

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International League US professional baseball league

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Triple-A (baseball) Highest level of competition in Minor League Baseball

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Double-A (baseball) Second-highest level of competition in Minor League Baseball

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Minor League Baseball Hierarchy of professional baseball leagues affiliated with Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) refers to professional baseball below Major League Baseball (MLB), including teams affiliated with MLB clubs and independent baseball leagues consisting of teams with no affiliation.

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