A few days ago, Major League Baseball announced its 2010 schedules.
For fans of the NFL, a schedule announcement is a pretty big deal. There's 16 games. Each of them seem infinitely valuable.
But a 162-game baseball schedule? Eh, not so much. Your league schedule doesn't change much year-to-year.
So you check to see where you open the season, when your home opener is set, and what team will be in town for it. You look for an easy stretch. You look for a hard stretch. You look for an extra-long stay at home, and you look for the long nights on the road. You check the final week of the schedule to see what teams may try to be spoilers in a pennant race.
Then you check your interleague schedule. Who is the opponent you face inexplicably in May? Which teams and superstars do you get to see in June? And is there any possible road trips to schedule for the two series on the road?
And finally you realize by a month into the season, everything you thought the previous autumn could be wrong.
So, until recently, I don't think baseball fans really paid a lot of attention to the schedule announcement. I don't think it's particularly exciting.
But with the 24/7 sports media market, this is what we do.
So allow me to answer all those questions.
- Season opener: Monday, April 5, at Kansas City
- Home opener: Friday, April 9, vs. Cleveland
- Really long stretch without a day off: 20 days. April 16 at Seattle through May 5 at Minnesota. After a day off, they play 17 consecutive games. There are two additional stretches of 17 games without an off day, one in July and one in August.
- Difficult stretch of schedule: Late July through mid-August sees the Tigers at Rays, at Red Sox, vs White Sox, vs. Angels, vs. Rays, at White Sox, then finally at Yankees. Just based on personal projections, all of those teams look to be pretty tough in 2010, and the Tigers spend about three weeks in a row without a break. Bonus stretch: In May, the Tigers host the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox, before heading west to face the A's, Dodgers, and Mariners.
- Easiest stretch of schedule: Interleague in June.
- Longest home stay: Nine games in both May and June.
- Red-eye swings: Trips to Seattle and Anaheim in April, and visits to Oakland, Seattle, and Chavez Ravine (Dodgers) in May. May 26 is the final west coast game, May 25 the final 10 p.m. start.
- Strange quirk: Only two games at Oakland (May 19-20). Only six games vs. the A's, yet 10 against Angels, nine against Rangers, and eight against Mariners. It tends to be nine or 10 for the season series vs. AL West teams.
- Longest road trip: 11 games in April traveling to the AL West,
- The final two weeks of the season: Host Royals then Twins, visit Indians and Orioles. So, actually, it looks tolerable. Though you'd rather close the year at home.
- Interleague road trips: LA Dodgers in May, NY Mets and Atlanta Braves in June
- Interleague visitors: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks
So there you have it. The schedule seems to have more challenges than easy periods, but you never know until you see what the teams look like when they take the field for the series.
All of that we can worry about in 2010.