By Mike Harrington
Baseball released its tentative 2014 master schedule Tuesday, beginning with the previously announced two-game series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks March 22-23 in Sydney, Australia. The annual Sunday night opener will be played March 30 with the teams yet to be determined (my guess might be Red Sox at Orioles unless the Tigers win the World Series, which could make Royals-Tigers the ESPN target. Or it could be the Cubs at Pirates).
Here's a look at how things open up and other notes on the teams I hear the most about from WNY fans:
Yankees: They begin next season just as this one will end -- with a series in Houston, a three-gamer that opens April 1. They play in Toronto April 4-5-6, June 23-24-25, and Aug. 29-30-31, and in Cleveland on July 7-8-9-10. The season ends with a three-gamer in Fenway Park (Sept. 26-27-28)
Blue Jays: They open on the road March 31 at Tampa Bay, part of a four-game series. The home opener will be a big one on Friday, April 4 against the Yankees. The interleague visitors to Toronto next season will be the Phillies (May 7-8), the Cardinals (June 6-7-8), Brewers (June 1-2) and Cubs (Sept. 8-9-10). Bad for stretch-drive drama: Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox come to Toronto in September.
Red Sox: the Fenway opener is April 4 against the Brewers. In the spirit of 1975, the Reds come to town for an interleague visit May 6-7.
Mets: They open at home March 31 against the Nationals. The games against the Yankees are May 12-13 in the Bronx and May 14-15 in Citi Field.
Indians: They open March 31 in Oakland, which is an easy trip from their spring base in Arizona and cuts off one long jaunt to the West. The home opener is Friday, April 4 against the Twins. The Red Sox visit June 2-3-4 while the Yankees have the aforementioned July 7-10 series. Interleague visitors are the Rockies, Reds and Diamondbacks.
Pirates: Will they be raising a banner of some sort for that home opener? We'll see. The Blue Jays come in May 2-3-4, while the Mets are in June 26-27-28-29, and the Tigers visit Aug. 11-12. The biggest interleague series is (a potential World Series rematch?) with the Red Sox at PNC Park on Sept. 16-17-18.