With Derek Jeter retiring, Major League Baseball will be in the market for a new Mr. November. The 2015 schedule released by MLB on Monday guarantees that the season will continue into the traditionally turkey-minded month for the first time since 2010 and just the third time in history (2001 and 2009 being the other two).
That's one upshot of the regular season opening on Sunday, Apr. 5 between a pair of as-yet-to-be-determined opponents, with a 14-game slate involving the remaining 28 teams to follow on Monday, Apr. 6 — a welcome response to criticism over the way the league has drawn out Opening Day in recent years. The 2014 season, for example, opened with a pair of games between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23, resumed stateside with one Sunday night game between the Dodgers and Padres on March 30, featured a slate of 13 games on March 31, and left a pair of teams — the Astros and Yankees — as the final ones to open on Apr. 1.
In exchange for potentially trickling into November, next year will feature no March games for the first time since 2010. The regular season will end on Sunday, Oct. 4, the first time it's bled into October since, you guessed it, 2010; such is the push-pull nature of the six-month schedule. That leaves Monday open for Game 163 tiebreakers, and if last year's form holds — the 2014 postseason schedule hasn't officially been announced — each league's Wild Card game will have the day to itself before the Division Series open on Thursday, Oct. 8.
In turn, unless the schedule of postseason off days has changed, Game 4 of the World Series would fall on Sunday, Nov. 1, which means that a potential Game 7 would fall on Nov. 5 — the latest date in MLB history, surpassing Game 6 of the 2009 World Series on Nov. 4. The tradeoff is clear; at its extremes, MLB would rather have one potentially frigid late-season date than 15 early-season ones. Mother Nature could not be reached for comment.
Other take-home points:
• Because there will again be 15 teams in each league, interleague play will be a year-round facet of the schedule for the third straight season. Teams will play 20 interleague games (10 home, 10 road) plus 19 games against division opponents (76 total games), leaving each team 66 games to be played against opponents outside their division but within the same league. The first interleague series of the season takes the Red Sox to Philadelphia, while the last one sends the Astros to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks. In addition to the "rivalry games" (Yankees vs. Mets, Athletics vs. Giants, Angels vs. Dodgers, and so on), each division will play interleague series against their geographic counterparts in the other league (AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central, AL West vs. NL West).
• The Yankees will open the season hosting the Blue Jays in the Bronx, meaning that it's the first time since 2013 that they'll have an Opening Day shortstop besides Jeter. I kid, but only because some have already forgotten that we've recently gotten a good look at such a void and discovered that life does indeed go on.
• At that, here's the full slate of season-opening pairings. Note that only three of them are interdivisional (shown in bold), including the aforementioned interleague series:
• Here are the season-ending pairings, again with the interdivisional ones (including interleague) in bold:
• The Dodgers will be at home on Apr. 15 for Jackie Robinson Day after spending that date on the road this year for the first time since 2004; at Dodger Stadium, the team instead hosted community events to commemorate the anniversary of Robinson’s 1947 debut. Playing the date at home means that Vin Scully will be able to continue his annual tradition of thematically appropriate Robinson stories, including the time he ice skated with the barrier-breaking ballplayer in the Catskills.
• The All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 14 in Cincinnati, which means that the All-Star break runs from July 13-16, with the Futures Game presumably on Sunday, July 12 and the Home Run Derby the next day.
• The amateur draft will take place on Monday, June 8.