After their 2020 season was scratched entirely due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Chattanooga Lookouts had games earlier this year accompanied by the familiarity of fireworks shows and used car giveaways.
Yet the experience wasn't the same as before the pandemic.
Lookouts coaches and players were not allowed to sign autographs outside their AT&T Field clubhouse due to guidelines imposed by Major League Baseball officials, nor were they allowed to conduct face-to-face media interviews. With roughly four months remaining until the start of the 2022 season, what can Lookouts fans expect for the spring and summer ahead?
"These things change so fast, as we all know," Lookouts president Rich Mozingo said this week, "but they are thinking and hoping that there is going to be a widely different feeling in and around ballparks for all of us going into the 2022 season. That's their plan right this minute, but they reserve the right to change things if they have to.
"The plan is for things to be substantially more open than they have been, but they're reserving the right to make pivots if they need to."
Mozingo spent Monday through Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, at baseball's winter meetings, which included minor league representatives but did not have representation from MLB because of the ongoing lockout. MLB did announce that the Lookouts and other minor league teams can expect to play a full 2022 season despite the lockout, which also was the case during baseball's last work stoppage in 1994.
This past season began with 40% capacity at AT&T Field and mask requirements within the stadium, but those guidelines were adjusted as the weeks transpired. The atmosphere became more and more familiar, though some limitations remained evident.
"We think this is going to be a standard season for the Chattanooga Lookouts," Mozingo said. "We think we're going to play 138 games, including 69 at home. We don't see any interruptions or any hiccups on the horizon to not make it a great season."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.