It’s been a long, long time since opening day was actually opening day for everyone. In the past, there’s been a national game the night before the big slate, and usually some teams that don’t get going until the day after most everyone else’s opening day, for some reason, and sometimes even an international series in Australia or Japan a week before the rest of the league takes the field. Baseball doesn’t need a slow rollout; it’s a long season with a lot of games, and it’s much more fun when every team and every fanbase gets to partake in the acute excitement of opening day on the same day–a real opening day.
Well, good news. MLB’s tentative 2018 schedule is out (many game times are still TBD, but the dates are set). And next season, for the first time since 1968, every single team will play its first game on a single opening day, Thursday, March 29. Fifteen games, all 30 teams. No more qualifiers, like with this catchy number. No more of this:
Just: a full day of baseball, and everyone is invited.
2018 opening day will be unique for a couple of other reasons. It’s only the 12th Thursday opening day in MLB history, just the second since the 1970s. It’s also the earliest opening day ever, excluding international series—that’s a function of the new CBA, which mandates an earlier start in order to give teams three or four additional off-days over the season (which is itself a very good thing.) The early start also ensures the World Series will end in October.
One more wrinkle, upon which I’m agnostic. The Thursday after the all-star game there will be a single, nationally televised day game—Cardinals-Cubs—before everyone else gets back to work on Friday. That’s fine, more baseball is good, but I’d really prefer that everyone come back on Thursday, the way it used to be. Those two full days without any baseball or all-star events are killer, even if the players undoubtedly value the time off.