Each year, Major League Baseball releases its schedule for the coming season in September, while the prior season is still ongoing. For fans of teams still in the playoff race, the new schedule merits a cursory glance before shifting attention back to more urgent matters. But now that 2014 has arrived, it's time to take a closer look at the schedule that, for some of us at least, will be dictating the pace of our day to day lives all summer long.
Opening Day is March 31 at 4:10 pm. The Reds will be facing the Cardinals. Overall, the Reds are 63-68-1 on Opening Day going back to 1882. Interestingly, the Reds and Cardinals have faced off on Opening Day 18 times over their long history together, and are an even 9-9 against each other. 2014 Opening Day will break the tie.
The schedule will be difficult right off the bat. Six of the Reds first nine games are against the Cardinals, including the Cardinals' home opener on Monday, April 7. I'm assuming the Cardinals will have some sort of 2013 National League Championship pennant ceremony before the game, so look forward to that. The Reds also have seven games over two series against the Pirates in April. At the end of April, they start one of their longest stretches of games without a day off of the year. Between April 18 and May 4, they play seventeen games in seventeen days, including a four game series at Pittsburgh and three games at Atlanta.
The season's first home weekend series and first interleague series will take place April 11 – 13 against the Tampa Bay Rays, giving those of us who are having trouble letting go of Ryan Hanigan one more chance to see him play at Great American Ball Park. Also, hopefully we'll get a chance to see Billy Hamilton try to steal on Hanigan, which should be an interesting matchup.
Remember last year there was that week when the Reds had an off day Monday, then a two game series against Oakland, and then another off day on Thursday? Well, that's happening again the week of May 5, except it's two games at Boston. I don't really know what that's about.
The first of the Reds' two west coast trips occurs at the end of May, the week of Memorial Day. One of my favorite series of the year is when the Reds play at the Dodgers, because it gives me the opportunity to listen to Vin Scully provide information about Reds players that the Reds own broadcasters never bother with. That series will be from May 26 – 28, followed by a series at Arizona, before the Reds head home. They then head west again about a month later, playing the Giants and Padres between June 26 and July 2.
The All-Star game will be played on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota. The first series after the break will see the Reds visiting the New York Yankees for three games.
Perhaps the most mystifying aspect of the schedule is the way MLB handles the geographical rivalry interleague series. The Reds will play the Indians for two games in Cleveland on August 4 and 5, a Monday and Tuesday, then two more games in Cincinnati on August 6 and 7, a Wednesday and Thursday. No weekend games at all. It's not just the Reds and Indians, either. All the geographical rivalry series are happening the same way those same four days. As an out-of-state Reds fan who is married to an Indians fan, if these games were played on a weekend, I would make every effort to attend some of them. As it stands, I will almost certainly not be able to go to any of them. I don't understand the logic behind this decision by MLB. If they feel that these rivalry series have lost their novelty, then they should discontinue them. But if they believe fans are still get excited about them, they should make more of an effort to highlight them in the schedule instead of burying them in a weekday series in August.
That series also falls in the middle of another of the Reds' longest stretches of games without a day off of the season. Between July 25 and August 10 the Reds again play seventeen games in seventeen days, including the entire season series against both the Marlins and the Indians.
From September 8 through the end of the season, the Reds play only their fellow National League Central teams. This stretch includes seven games against the Cardinals, six against the Brewers and three against the Cubs. And for the second year in a row, the Reds will end the regular season with a three game series at home against the Pirates. The final regular season game will be played at 1:10 pm on Sunday, September 28.