The Dodgers have already played the regular season's first two game, so Sunday night's opener in San Diego is inessential, but when the rest of the league finally gets to participate in the season on Monday, you have to watch something, and this matchup of NL Central rivals and 2013 playoff teams is the one to pick. The Reds had the best third-order record in the NL last year, just edging out the Cardinals, who look like the best team in baseball heading into the season. Special bonus: Billy Hamilton, baseball's fastest man, leading off for the Reds.
2 of 10Brian Kersey/Getty Images; AP
April 23: Diamondbacks @ Cubs 2:20 p.m. EST
Wrigley Field opened on April 23, 1914. One-hundred years later, the Cubs will don the uniforms of the Federal League's Chicago Federals (for whom the park was built) to celebrate the landmark stadium's 100th birthday in this game against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs plan to celebrate a different decade of the park's history in each of their ten homestands throughout the season with corresponding throwback uniforms and giveaways but this official birthday celebration, which falls, appropriately, on a mid-week day game, should be the highlight.
3 of 10Wilfred Perez Jr./Icon SMI
April 29: Mariners @ Yankees 7:05 p.m. EST
The Yankees aren't accustomed to losing their best player to free agency in the prime of his career. In fact, it has never happened before. Cano is the first player ever to sign with another team the year after leading the Yankees in wins above replacement, and it took the third-richest contract in history, one worth $240 million over ten years, to lure him away. Cano wears his new Mariners duds to the Bronx for the first time with this Tuesday night game.
4 of 10Carlos Osorio/AP
May 22: Rangers @ Tigers <br> 1:08 p.m. EST
Cano received the biggest contract of this past offseason, but the biggest trade of the offseason, at least in terms of the profile and contracts of the players traded, was the deal that sent Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for first baseman Prince Fielder. Perennial contenders who faced off in the 2011 American League Championship Series, the two trade partners meet for the first time this season in a four-game weekend set that opens with this Thursday afternoon contest at Comerica Park.
5 of 10Leon Halip/Getty Images
June 2: Red Sox @ Indians <br> 7:05 p.m. EST
From 2005 to 2008, the Indians' Grady Sizemore was one of the best young players in baseball, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner in center field who averaged 27 home runs and 29 stolen bases over those four seasons and helped lead Cleveland to within a game of the World Series in 2007. However, injuries sapped his ability in the three seasons that followed, kept him off the field for all of 2012, and he was out of baseball entirely in 2013. This year, however, the 31-year-old appears to have finally overcome his injury woes and could start in center field for the Red Sox in this game, thus making a triumphant return to the scene of his prime. If so, it will be one of the year's best stories.
6 of 10Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images
July 15: All-Star Game <br> @ Target Field
It doesn't really count. The World Series just uses the All-Star game as a random-number generator to determine homefield advantage between the leagues. Still, if you're only going to watch ten games this season, make one of them the one with all (okay, most) of the game's best players. The game still has moments worth seeing, such as Price Fielder's triple, dominant outings by Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, and Chris Sale, and Mariano Rivera's ovation last year. This year, Derek Jeter should play the Rivera role, whether he's there as a player, like Rivera, or as an honoree, as Tony Gwynn was in 2001.
7 of 10John Cordes/Icon SMI
July 27: Tigers @ Angels
The last two years, the American League Most Valuable Player race came down to the same two players, the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the winner both years, and the Angels' Mike Trout, who many think was more deserving on each occasion. There's no reason not to expect similar performances from both players this year, and this game marks the final time in the 2014 regular season that they will meet face-to-face on the field, by which time that MVP debate may already be at full volume.
8 of 10David E. Klutho/SI
August 7: Red Sox @ Cardinals 7:15 p.m. EST
This rematch of last year's World Series marks the first match-up of defending league champions since the Phillies took two of three from the Yankees in June 2010. This Thursday night contest is the finale of the three-game set in St. Louis which should have implications for this year's playoff races, as well.
9 of 10Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
September 17: Nationals <br> @ Braves 7:05 pm EST
This Wednesday night tilt is the final regular season matchup between the last two National League East champions, and there's a very good chance that it will impact this year's divisional race as well.
10 of 10Zuma Press/Icon SMI
September 28: A's @ Rangers 3:05 p.m. EST
The last two years, the Rangers' season came down to the final game of the season. In 2012, they lost the division to the A's in game 162. In 2013, they beat the Angels in game 162 to force a wild-card play-in game against the Rays. This year, they'll again play the A's on the final day of the season, in Arlington rather than Oakland, and given the Rangers' early-season injury woes and their chances of a second-half surge behind the expected returns of Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar, and Geovany Soto, not to mention the A's loss of Jarrod Parker to Tommy John surgery, things could come down to the wire for both teams again. Honorable mention here goes to the 1:10 p.m. game between the Pirates and Reds in Cincinnati, and the 1:35 p.m. matchup of the Yankees and Red Sox in Boston, both of which could also have playoff implications for both teams, while the latter could be Derek Jeter's final major league game.
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