MLB announces master 2010 schedule
Opening of Twins' new Target Field one of many highlights
Major League Baseball announced its master 2010 regular-season schedule for all 30 clubs on Tuesday, meaning you can start dreaming ahead now.
You just might see Stephen Strasburg on the mound for the Nationals, Alex Rodriguez's 600th home run, Manny Ramirez playing for the Dodgers at Fenway Park or Roy Oswalt start another six-pitcher, June 11 no-hitter at Yankee Stadium for the Astros.
You just might see the Twins' first outdoor home game since 1981, thanks to new Target Field; the rival Yankees and Red Sox start and finish a regular season against each other at Fenway Park for the first time since 1950; or one of those American or National League parks you've always wanted to cross off your list but haven't made yet.
You just might see a no-hitter, a perfect game, a walk-off homer, a clinching celebration, an inside-the-park homer, a magical milestone, a slugfest, a foul ball hit your way, your favorite player sign your baseball, a day or night to remember.
Best of all, you just might see a World Series parade. While the drama of this season plays out, let's take a month-by-month look at highlights on the tentative 2010 calendar:
This month begins with a census in the U.S. -- a vital procedure that happens at the start of every decade. A few days later, our favorite statistical compiling officially begins with the first national broadcast of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball -- formally opening the season. That is the only matchup on the master schedule listed as TBA at this point.
Traditional Opening Day games in 2010 will be on Monday, April 5. Wherever you go, there will be pageantry and the anticipation of that One Dream Season. There also will be new players in new uniforms, all depending on how the Hot Stove season shakes out. Some of the eligible free agents after this season include Hank Blalock, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, Vlad Guerrero, Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Carlos Delgado, Mark DeRosa, Bengie Molina, John Lackey, Andy Pettitte, Rich Harden and Trevor Hoffman.
The last season of Twins outdoor baseball was back in 1981, in the first year of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the last year of old Metropolitan Stadium. Now, almost three decades later, it will happen again. Beautiful Target Field will officially open on April 12, when the Twins host the Red Sox. The Twins are accepting season-ticket deposits at just $100 per deposit -- a way to guarantee that you can see some history in the making in Minnesota. Or plan to start a long road trip with some extra meaning there.
On the 21st of this month, the popular tradition of Interleague Play begins its first stretch. On that day, you could see series openers for Tigers at Dodgers, Red Sox at Phillies or Angels at Cardinals. Who knows? Any of those three could be a rematch of the 2009 World Series. It also is the beginning of those delicious regional rivalry series including Yankees at Mets or Reds at Indians.
The 2010 rotation for Interleague Play is NL East vs. AL Central, NL Central vs. AL West, and NL West vs. AL East. If that Dodgers-Yankees '09 World Series doesn't materialize as so many of those teams' fans have hoped aloud this season, then hold that thought, because the Bronx Bombers are at Dodger Stadium next June 25-27.
PETCO Park ranks high on the lists of many fans' favorite new ballparks, and May 28-30 could be an especially desirable window of opportunity to be there. Washington is at San Diego for that series, and it could mean Stephen Strasburg starting in front of his hometown people. The former San Diego State pitcher was drafted No. 1 overall in June by the Nationals, and he is seen as a major figure in the future direction of that franchise.
This month means lots of weddings, the First-Year Player Draft (June 7-9), the second Interleague stretch (June 11-27), heavy All-Star voting and kids everywhere getting out of school. For many fans, that summer vacation will mean ballpark road trips.
Now that the master schedule has been announced, start planning those trips way ahead of time. For example, you might be planning a Southeast swing built around a trip to Disney World. Consider starting with a date from the Royals-Braves series June 18-20 at Turner Field, where you might see 2009 AL Cy Young Award contender Zack Greinke start. There are only three games scheduled on the first official day of summer, June 21, so maybe Orlando's amusement parks beckon a visit that day. Then head downstate to see the Padres at Florida on June 25, and go over to Tampa Bay and see the Rays host to the D-backs a night later.
Here are just a few more of the many Interleague matchups we can't wait to see:
June 11 marks the seventh anniversary of the night when six Astros pitchers combined to no-hit the Yankees in The Bronx. Houston opens a series at new Yankee Stadium on this same day. Roy Oswalt is the one who started that game (throwing one scoreless inning!), and don't be surprised to see him start in New York again.
Indians at Phillies on June 22-24. Cleveland might be facing its former Cy Young-winning ace, Cliff Lee.
If you are in Chicago this month, pick a side and watch White Sox at Cubs on June 11-13 or Cubs at White Sox on June 25-27.
The Dodgers visit the Red Sox on June 18-20 -- their first appearance at Fenway since 2004. It will be a particularly intriguing matchup if Manny Ramirez is still with the Dodgers. The star slugger hasn't been back to Fenway since his unceremonious exit from the team on July 31, 2008.
How are you going to spend the Fourth of July? Here are the 15 clubs that have home games that day -- usually meaning fireworks on the field and then overhead: D-backs; Braves; Red Sox; Cubs; Indians; Rockies; Tigers; Cardinals; Angels; Twins; Yankees; Pirates; Padres; Rangers and Nationals.
On that date in 1900, about 1,000 people in the crowd of 10,000 fans attending the game at West Side grounds in Chicago celebrated Independence Day by firing pistols into the air. Chicago beat Philadelphia in 12 innings, 5-4.
The last games of the first half will be on Sunday, July 11 -- and then baseball heads for Anaheim. The 81st All-Star Game is scheduled for July 13 at Angel Stadium. Will that be the end of a winless streak dating back to 1996 for the NL?
The bigger question is how fans can join in those festivities, and it's never too early to start thinking about it. Ticket information, availability and prices for the 2010 All-Star Week events, including FanFest, All-Star Sunday, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, has not yet been released.
The month of August begins with the finale of Dodgers at Giants, and no matter what, that will be a meaningful series because of its stature as one of the game's two most-storied rivalries. But having said that, here's the best thing about looking ahead at the next year's matchups: It doesn't really matter. It's Major League Baseball.
The pennant races will be serious by this point, and there also is a good chance you will be watching live with your yearly or monthly subscription to MLB.TV over the computer or on a mobile device. Given the advances in baseball technology in 2009, one only can wonder what August 2010 will bring. It was in August 2002 that MLB pioneered the first use of live streaming video for its regular-season games, the invention of MLB.TV. We not only look forward to what games will be played on the upcoming schedule, but we also look forward to how we will consume them.
Haven't been to the Twins' new park yet? This is a good month to do just that, and schedule a visit to Miller Park in Milwaukee as part of the trip. Pending this offseason's free-agent signings and trades, those are two clubs that should each be contending at this point.
For the first time since 1950, the rival Yankees and Red Sox will start and finish the regular season playing each other at Fenway Park. The closeout is on Oct. 1-3 -- the weekend after they face each other at Yankee Stadium -- and one only can wonder if they both will play on after that, as they have been wont to do so often lately.
Anything is possible next fall, as it is with this one. Consider this from Braves reporter Mark Bowman: "The final week of the 2010 regular season could prove to be interesting. The Braves will host the Marlins Sept. 27-29 and then welcome the Phillies for a season-ending three-game set (Oct. 1-3)." Could be. Or all three of those teams could finish at the bottom of the NL East, and it could be a showdown between a healthier Mets club and those Strasburg-led Nationals.
There certainly have been worst-to-first finishes before. Just ask fans of the 2008 Rays. Maybe Strasburg will be a tad more ordinary than the stratospheric buzz about him, but maybe he will be as special as advertised, capable of injecting new blood into the club in America's capitol.
What will it be like for that final regular-season series at Houston's Minute Maid Park? The Cubs are at the Astros from Oct. 1-3, and Lou Piniella has intimated that 2010 might be his last season as Chicago's manager. Will that be a critical NL Central showdown at that point? Will the Cubs have bounced back from a drop-off '09 season, and will next year be "the year" after waiting 102 years for another World Series title?
Eight teams will survive that long chase, and then we're into the 2010 postseason. It is a chase we are in now, as eight clinching celebrations loom just up ahead. You can watch it all unfold, and now you also can be dreaming ahead to '10.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.