news 6 days ago

MLB schedule news and notes: March start means chilly baseball in northern cities

Sporting News — (Ryan Fagan)

The most important thing to know about the 2020 MLB schedule, released Monday, is this: All 30 teams are scheduled to play on Opening Day, which is wonderful. Opening Day should be a celebration around the league with every team participating, not a day where a handful of teams play, as was the case for too many misguided years. 

Here’s a little-known fun fact: For years, “Opening Day” was capitalized in The Sporting News official stylebook, but when MLB started diluting what should have been a special celebrated occasion, we dropped the capitalization. If baseball didn’t see it as one special day, well, we didn’t, either. Now, all is right in the world again (well, that little part of the world).

BERNSTEIN: MLB fans should appreciate Francisco Lindor a lot more

The season opens March 26, which is early, yes, and the final day of the regular season is set for Sept. 27, which means the wild card game will happen before October. 

Here are a few thoughts about the 2020 schedule:

Wear SmartWool layers, folks

The powers-that-be in baseball want to do everything possible to avoid November baseball, which is understandable, and the easiest way to make that happen is to start the season earlier. But if baseball is going to regularly schedule games in March, it would be best to play those games in cities with domes or in cities in the southern half of the country. 

That’s not the case this year, though. The schedule includes season-opening series (March 26-29) in Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati and New York. 

That one in Cleveland, especially, could be trouble. The average high temperature on March 26 in the city by the lake is only 50 degrees, with an average low of 33. Oh, and Cleveland averages nearly 13 inches of snow in March, so that’s fun. But here’s the thing: The Indians’ schedule doesn’t get any warmer until mid May. 

Seriously, check this out …

— March 26 through April 1 in Cleveland
— April 2-6 in Detroit and Minneapolis (both open-air)
— April 9-16 in Cleveland
— April 17-20 in Boston (open-air)
— April 21-23 in Cleveland
— April 24-26 in New York

Finally, mercifully, the Indians play three games to end April in Tampa Bay. 

The Rockies, by the way, open their season with series on the road in San Diego and Los Angeles, which is good, but that first series at Coors Field starts April 3, and it still regularly snows in early April in Denver. Fingers crossed for a dusting, not a blizzard. 

The stage is yours, Marlins

On days without afternoon baseball, or when the early noon-ish starts have already ended, the wait for 7:05 pm ET games can be excruciating. 

The Marlins have a solution, it seems. 

For at least 25 minutes on those nights, the Marlins will have the baseball world’s full attention. We’ll see whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

Seeing the cost up-close

The 2016 Cubs were desperate. They had a World Series-caliber team, it seemed, everywhere except for the bullpen. They needed a closer, and they didn’t care what the cost would be to acquire one. So they traded for Aroldis Chapman, and they wound up winning the World Series. Mission accomplished.

The cost, however worth it, was high. Gleyber Torres, the main piece that went to the Yankees in the Chapman deal, has looked very much like a budding superstar in his time with the Yankees. In 229 big-league games, he’s popped 47 homers and has an .832 OPS, and he doesn’t even turn 23 until this offseason. 

In 2020, he’ll get his first in-person opportunity to show the Cubs what they’re missing.

At least it’s not in Wrigley, eh? 

From the MLB release …