The New Marlins Ballpark is seen during a media tour in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Since 1993, the National League has included a team known as the Florida Marlins. But on 2012 major league baseball schedules, released on Wednesday, you won't see "Florida" or "FLA" listed. Why is that? Because the Marlins, who will be moving into a new stadium in Miami on the site of the old Orange Bowl next season, will be renamed "Miami Marlins" (which, being more alliterative, sounds better anyway).
So on your favorite team's schedule, look for "Miami" or "MIA", just as NFL and NBA fans have done for many years. The Miami Marlins will open their first regular season schedule in their new ballpark on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals. That will be a one-game series for the two teams; the Cardinals head to Milwaukee to help the Brewers open their season on Friday, April 6, and the Marlins will move on to play the Reds in a three-game series beginning that Friday in Cincinnati.
If your team is headed to the postseason this year, you're probably not all that concerned about 2012, but if your team is headed home for the winter after Sept. 28, 2011, check out where they'll be headed next spring -- starting with a fresh slate. Here are some other interesting highlights and notes about the 2012 MLB schedule.
MLB apparently loved the buzz created by the Cubs' first-ever visit to Fenway Park this year; originally, the Cubs and Red Sox were not scheduled to meet in 2012, but MLB adjusted several schedules and those teams will play at Wrigley Field from June 15-17.
On those same three dates (June 15-17), the Yankees will make an interleague visit to Nationals Park in Washington.
If you are looking for rematches of past World Series, MLB has the following on tap for interleague play: Reds-Yankees and Pirates-Tigers (starting May 18th); Mets-Yankees, Phillies-Orioles, Astros-White Sox, Blue Jays-Braves, Tigers-Reds and Rangers-Giants (starting June 8th). The Tigers met the Pirates in the World Series in 1909. They've been waiting 103 years for revenge! And who knows? They could be doing it as World Champions. They'll get a second shot at the Pirates in June, and will also play the Cubs, who they faced (and lost to) in World Series in 1907 and 1908.
After the April 4 Marlins/Cardinals game -- which will likely be a prime-time affair on ESPN -- there will be six openers on Thursday, April 5, and ten games on Friday, April 6, meaning the first full slate won't happen until Saturday, April 7.
The Astros will make four trips to Chicago, three to play their division-rival Cubs, and a fourth to meet the White Sox from June 8-10.
The Rays will have a rare Sunday off; their Aug. 26 off day after a three-game Thursday/Friday/Saturday series with the Athletics is being scheduled to accomodate a Republican National Convention event at the Trop.
The MLB regular season schedule will end in 2012 on Wednesday, Oct. 3. That's five calendar days later than this season; MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince says that may make it difficult to avoid November baseball next year; we're almost there this year, as Game 7 of the 2011 World Series is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27 (and that's assuming no rainouts). The alternative would have been to start the season on March 28 -- which no one wanted to do.
Finally, this schedule release means that there won't be any realignment of leagues or divisions for 2012, but don't assume that MLB couldn't still add a second wild card team, as has been proposed, for next season. This MLB.com link has day-by-day schedules for all teams, beginning with April 4; check it out for your team, or go here for individual team schedules (click through on the calendars to April 2012 for next season's games).