Looking Ahead to the 2013 Schedule
By Craig Gifford
In a lost season for the Indians, the only thing left for Tribe fans to hope for in the final weeks is that the Tribe wins two of its final 14 games to avoid losing 100 contests on the season. In a year that has featured a number of extended losing streaks for Cleveland, it will be worth watching.
To that end, the Tribe faithful can be thankful Major League Baseball gave them something else to look forward to. Late last week, the league announced the schedule for the 2013 season. Next year’s slate of games provides a good deal of interesting quirks.
The oddities begin as soon as the Indians hit Progressive Field for the first time. After a road trip to start the year, Cleveland will open its home slate April 8 against the hated New York Yankees. It seems weird to think the Indians will open the home park with the Yankees, who are usually a mid-summer visit. Same goes for the Boston Red Sox. A usually high draw, Boston comes to town April 16-18.
It is a bit disappointing to see Boston and New York come to Cleveland so early in the year. When the two AL East powers visit Progressive Field in the summer, warm months, the series with those squads are usually good for a few sell outs. Naturally, the home opener will sell out. However, with the potential cold that April evenings bring, the other five games with that pair of clubs may not draw nearly as well. It is as if MLB is ignoring Cleveland’s poor attendance situation and trying to make it worse.
Of course, new AL East contenders Baltimore and Tampa will be in Cleveland when the calendar brings warmer weather. Still, those two teams do not pack the star power of Boston and New York.
On April 19, the schedule will bring about something really unique. The Indians will visit the Houston Astros and the designated hitter will be used. That is because the Houston Astros are going from the National League to the American League, starting in the 2013 season. It will be the first time ever a Tribe DH has played in Houston.
Due to the Astros jumping from the NL to the AL, the two leagues will both be at an odd number of 15 teams. This means there will be at least on inter-league game on the MLB schedule every night. That is a first since the inception of inter-league play in 1997. Typically, the majority of the NL vs. AL slate has been bunched up at one time, save for outlying regional rivalries.
The Indians open inter-league play, welcoming the Phillies to town for two games on April 30. It is the earliest in a season the Tribe will have played a team from the NL and one of the few times an IL series has ever been two games. Two weeks later, Cleveland goes to Philadelphia for two more affairs.
The home-and-home idea continues with another twist at the end of May as the Indians and Reds will play two in Cincinnati on May 27 and 28. They will then take the drive up I-71 for two in Cleveland on the 29th and 30th. Back-to-back series with the same team in different cities is a rarity in MLB. Such will be life in the new world of even leagues and even divisions – all six divisions will finally have an equal six teams.
The Indians will play at least one IL series in each month, except for July. They host the Nationals in June and Mets in September. They go to Atlanta and Miami in August.
The new set-up should be a good thing. Gone will be the days of six NL Central teams vying for a division title while only four AL West teams duke it out. With Houston’s league swap, the teams in both leagues and all divisions will have the same percentage of a change to reach postseason play. That is important for a sports league that already puts team at a competitive disadvantage thanks to no salary cap.
While Cleveland will see a lot of new foes in different places and different times next season, the Tribe will close the 2013 campaign with a pair of familiar teams. The home schedule concludes with the Chicago White Sox on September 24 and 25. The Indians will wrap up the regular season the 26th-29th in Minnesota. The season will not extend into October, as it does this year.
However, when all is said and done in 2013, the Indians and their fans will be hoping to still have games to play in October. Of course, that requires a good deal of roster changes in the offseason. Barring a change in financial strategy, a great deal of offseason moves is unlike. At least Tribe followers have a unique schedule now to look forward to.
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