Good news if you're a Tigers, Orioles, Mariners or Royals fan: You can start prepping for 2020! MLB released its 2020 schedule and here are some key dates to know.
Opening Day, March 26: All 30 teams will open up on a Thursday in late March. At least MLB did a better job of avoiding most of the northern cold-weather cities, but bring your gloves and parkas if you're in Cleveland, Baltimore or New York. Top games to watch:
• Giants at Dodgers: Will Madison Bumgarner take the mound for the Giants?
• Angels at Astros: Yordan Alvarez begins his quest for 74 home runs.
• Cubs at Brewers: Will Joe Maddon be back as Cubs manager?
• Nationals at Mets: The Mets begin defense of their World Series title.
Angels at Rangers, March 31: The Rangers will debut new Globe Life Field against Mike Trout and company.
Opening road trips: Last year in this space I mentioned the Red Sox starting the season with an 11-game road trip, something you don't usually see. That proved to be a big deal as the Red Sox started 3-8 and have spent all season trying to recover from that bad start. No team is stuck with an 11-game trip this year to start the year, but there are several seven-game trips to begin the season: Red Sox (at Blue Jays, Orioles); Angels (at Astros, Rangers); Twins (at A's, Mariners); Rockies (at Padres, Dodgers); Braves (at Diamondbacks, Padres); Phillies (at Marlins, Mets).
Interleague play: The primary cross-league series in 2020 will feature the NL West versus the AL Central (good for the NL West), NL East versus AL West, and NL Central versus AL East. So that's 'good' news for the Mariners -- even more miles to travel than normal!
Puerto Rico series, April 28-30 (Mets versus Marlins): The three-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium will be the first in Puerto Rico since the Indians and Twins played two games there in 2018. That series brought Francisco Lindor and Jose Berrios back to their home island, while this one will bring Edwin Diaz, one of 23 players born in Puerto Rico who have played in the majors so far in 2019.
Red Sox at Yankees, May 8-10: The first meeting of 19 games between the AL East rivals. The teams will play their final series against each other at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 8-10.
Yankees at Astros, May 15-17: This could be a rematch of the 2019 ALCS. Will Gerrit Cole be in the Astros rotation or will the free agent sign a big contract with another team in the offseason?
"I'd like a warm beer and some bangers and mash, please": We're back in jolly old England for the second year in a row as the Cardinals and Cubs head to London for two games on June 13 and 14. By all accounts, the two-game Red Sox-Yankees series this year was a huge success (unless you were a pitcher for the Red Sox or Yankees). Once again, the games will be played at the former Olympic Stadium, now home to the West Ham football club.