About this time of year, the thoughts of some -- at the very least, the thoughts of those whose teams are out of playoff contention -- turn to the following season and their team's future. Part of those thoughts, of course, include team schedules.
For 2013, this is even more interesting than usual because of the impending move of the Houston Astros to the American League and the resulting odd-numbered 15-team leagues, necessitating year-round interleague play and adjustments to team schedules.
We received an intriguing hint about at least one team's 2013 schedule during the announcement by the Dodgers Sunday that Vin Scully will return next year:
Scully wants to make the trip to New York when the Dodgers will play the Yankees in interleague play, on one condition.
"There is a temptation, and if (my wife) Sandy promises to go with me, I really would like to see Yankee Stadium, and the Dodgers and the Yankees," Scully said. "That really gets my imagination stirring."
The Dodgers have played the Yankees twice so far in interleague competition, in 2004 and 2010, both in Los Angeles, so this will be a first-ever regular-season trip for the Dodgers to Yankee Stadium.
I've been able to locate some schedule hints for a couple of other teams, including the Red Sox, and guess where they're opening next season?
The Red Sox are expected to open the 2013 season exactly where they will end the 2012 season -- in New York.
The Sox are expected to open the year with a three-game set April 2-4 in Yankee Stadium. Their season opener is set to be on Tuesday, April 2, though it's conceivable that MLB will push back the first game of that series to Sunday March 31 to open the season on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.
The Red Sox and Yankees? On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball? Unpossible! Who ever heard of such a thing?
But here's another note from the article about the Boston schedule which indicates a change in interleague thinking:
In interleague play, the Sox will host four teams: San Diego (July 2-4); Philadelphia (May 27-28); Colorado (June 25-26) and Arizona at an unknown date.
On the road, the Red Sox will travel to AT&T Park in San Francisco from Aug. 19-21 and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles from Aug 23-25. The Sox will also travel to Colorado for a two-game series as part of their final road trip of the season.
That's interesting for a number of reasons. The article has specific dates for several series, but "an unknown date" for a Red Sox/Diamondbacks matchup. Also, Boston will be facing the Rockies twice, home-and-home, and play 18 interleague games. That's about the same number as the maximum any team has played to date in a single season, and the number appears to be confirmed in this article about the Phillies' 2013 schedule:
The National League East will pair with the American League Central in 2013. In addition to Kansas City, the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians are scheduled to play in Philadelphia.
The Phillies are scheduled to make American League trips to Minnesota, Cleveland and Detroit.
Like the Red Sox, the Phillies are going to have home-and-home series with a team not considered a "natural" interleague rival -- the Indians. The six series would also likely add up to 18 games, and then there's this for the Phils:
They will also play a four-game home-and-home series vs. the Boston Red Sox with each city hosting two games. Boston serves as the Phillies' "natural rival" in 2013.
This setup had been rumored for "natural rivals" (Mets/Yankees, Cubs/White Sox/, Angels/Dodgers, etc.) -- a four-game series with two in each team's home park. The Phillies' scheduling appears to confirm this. Also, because of the odd number of teams in each league beginning next year, it was obvious that at least one pair of teams would have a season opener or home opener against a team from the other league. The Phillies will have the latter:
The 2013 season will begin with a three-game series in Atlanta on April 2 followed by the April 5 opener at Citizens Bank Park against the Kansas City Royals.
To summarize the above points, here's what we know so far:
- Many, if not all, teams will play 18 interleague games
- Teams will play home-and-home interleague series with a non-natural rival
- Teams will play four-game, two-in-each-park home-and-home interleague series with natural rivals
The complete 2013 MLB schedule will be released sometime in mid-September.