A Chattanooga Lookouts season that began with COVID-19 guidelines including 40% capacity at AT&T Field ended with rain.
Lots and lots of rain.
The Lookouts' unique year ended abruptly, as weather wiped away Saturday night's showdown against Mississippi and Sunday's finale. The Lookouts played 112 of a possible 120 games, winding up with a 58-54 record.
"It's crazy how much rain this has been," Lookouts president Rich Mozingo said Sunday afternoon. "My biggest fear has always been calling a game and then the sun comes out, but these last two have been no-doubters. We've had more than three inches of rain at the ballpark in the last 24 hours."
The Lookouts opened this season allowing a maximum of roughly 2,500 spectators and without entertainment acts. Capacity restrictions then eased to 70% and were eventually lifted altogether, and the Lookouts scheduled the popular Zooperstars for a late August series against the Tennessee Smokies. COVID-19 protocols among the Smokies, however, resulted in the cancellation of the Zooperstars and the final four games of that series.
Even these last two rainouts led to Saturday's scratching double whammy of two used cars being given away and postgame fireworks. Of 60 home dates, the Lookouts had six rainouts — including opening night — and four COVID-19 cancellations.
"We did what we were supposed to do and backloaded everything in the schedule, and it just came back to beat us," Mozingo said. "With that being said, we had an unbelievably great year given the circumstances. We sold out 16 of our first 18 games. We had tremendous crowds out here, and people were excited to be here.
"It's a shame we couldn't have these last two games, because we had a fun team here at the end of the year. They were playing good baseball."
Friday night's 5-4 loss to Mississippi eliminated the Lookouts from the Double-A South playoff picture, as there was no way they could slip past Birmingham and Montgomery and into the second postseason spot because the Barons and Biscuits were playing each other.
Chattanooga had one player from opening day, middle infielder Jose Barrero, promoted to the parent Cincinnati Reds, but Barrero played 24 games for the Reds last season. The Lookouts started this season with the top two prospects in the Reds organization, pitchers Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, and each excelled before getting promoted to Triple-A Louisville.
Greene went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in seven starts before his promotion, while Lodolo went 2-1 with a 1.84 in 10 starts. Lodolo pitched only 44 innings in his starts and hasn't pitched much in Louisville due to fatigue in his left shoulder.
This 2021 season marked Mozingo's 29th in professional baseball management and his 20th with the Lookouts in two separate stints.
"It's been the wackiest season by far on so many different levels," he said. "The weather has been wild, and there was all the COVID stuff and the constant moving of the target. Things would change overnight with the protocols, and we didn't even get into the office until March 1.
"We hit the ground running and had to sprint through it. It's easily the craziest season I've ever had."