Load up your Google Calendar, start gathering your hotel loyalty points, fire up those frequent flier miles: The 2023 MLB schedule is out. And this year is very different than any previous year.
For the first time, every team in baseball will play every other team in baseball at least once. Frustrated that you’ve never seen your team play against Mike Trout? This year, it’s going to happen. And, moving forward, it’s going to happen every year.
This will mean fewer games against divisional opponents, but it also leads to some terrific matchups … many of which we haven’t seen in quite some time.
What are the best parts of the new schedule format? What do we get to see because of it? Here are some fun takeaways.
1. The stars will all get to play each other
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will always be connected. They spent most of their time in the Minors being compared to each other; they both broke into the Majors in 2012; they both won Rookie of the Year honors; they both have won multiple MVPs; they both are likely ticketed to the Hall of Fame. But they’ve only played each other seven times in their entire careers. That’ll change right before Labor Day 2023 in Philadelphia when the Angels come to town. (Trout can even see the stadium of his beloved Eagles just down the street.) We’ll see Paul Goldschmidt vs. Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. Juan Soto, Pete Alonso vs. Julio Rodríguez. Every matchup you can imagine, you get to see at least once … and maybe more.
2. You’ll get a far more balanced Wild Card race
We’ve always baked in certain inequalities in our Wild Card races. The Orioles and Rays, for example, are usually going to have a harder time getting a Wild Card spot than the Twins or the Guardians because the AL East is generally deeper than the Central. But that issue will soon be mitigated. Every team will play 24 fewer games against their divisional opponents than they did previously, 52 rather than 76. Before, teams played more games against their divisional opponents (76) than they did the rest of their league (66). Now they’ll play 64 against the rest of the league and 52 against their division. The Cardinals and Brewers can’t get fat off the Pirates, Reds and Cubs anymore. Everybody’s a lot closer to playing the same schedule now.
3. You can now schedule a different road trip every year and not repeat one for a while
If you’re a fan who gets together with your friends to see your team play at a ballpark you haven’t been to before, you were at the mercy of which division happened to be the crossover for your team’s schedule. (This was why it took Albert Pujols eight years to visit Busch Stadium for the first time as an Angel.) That’s not a problem anymore. If the White Sox don’t make a trip to, say, Miami this year, don’t sweat it: They’ll be there next year. No matter what, at least every two years, your team will visit every ballpark in baseball.
4. The resumption of old-time rivalries … and surely the beginning of new ones
Can you believe the Giants -- famously one of the Yankees’ most hated World Series rivals when the two teams shared the same town -- haven’t been to Yankee Stadium since 2016? Well, they will return there this year … on Opening Day, no less.
5. We get annual World Series rematches!
The Braves and Astros were fortunate enough to play this year, but that doesn’t always happen: In the past, it actually only happened every three years. Whatever the matchup is this October, you will see those teams play each other again in 2023. One suspects the memories will be long. This goes for all past World Series as well too. Did you love that Dodgers-Rays series in 2020? That Mets-Red Sox series in 1986? Tigers-Cardinals in 1968? Every single one of those matchups will happen at least once.
6. No one gets left out on Opening Day and July 4
You know that sinking feeling you would get when you realized that your team wasn’t playing on Opening Day, or that you would have to listen to another team’s game while grilling out on Independence Day? That won’t be a problem anymore. For the first time since 1968 -- weather permitting -- every team will play on Opening Day, and all 30 clubs are also set to take the field on July 4. Sounds like a national holiday to us.
7. League-wide pennant chases that go down to the very last day, with some absorbing matchups
Looking specifically at next year’s schedule, some of the usual suspects will meet in the season’s final week. Dodgers-Giants. Mets-Phillies. Cardinals-Cubs. Yankees-Blue Jays. But the added Interleague series makes for some deeply compelling matchups, like White Sox-Padres, Twins-Rockies, Astros-D-backs. And because of the three Wild Cards in each league, all of these races now feel global, with every game affecting every other game in a way they haven’t quite before. Every team has every common opponent now. Every team sees everybody. All the way until the very end. We’ve never seen it before. It will be absolutely fascinating.