The Oakland A’s released their 2018 schedule on Tuesday, so let’s have a look through to find anything of note. They will play, hold on let me count ... 162 games, with exactly half coming at home in the Coliseum.
Some more observations below. The full schedule is posted at the bottom.
1. Opening Day, during the day
For the first time since 1994, the A’s will open their season with an afternoon home game, as opposed to a night and/or road date. It’ll be 1:05 p.m. on a Thursday, specifically March 29, so start thinking as early as possible about getting the day off work.
Oakland’s first opponent will be the Angels. In fact, nine of the first 13 games will come against teams claiming to be from L.A., including some interleague play against the Dodgers. The first night game will be the next evening, Friday March 30, at 7:05 p.m.
Opening Day will also earn its literal name in another way — every MLB team will open on the same day, for the first time since 1968. Furthermore, it will be the earliest start date ever to a regular season (excluding special international series, like when the A’s played in Japan).
2. Free game April 17
This is clearly the most interesting part of the schedule. On April 17 against the White Sox, the game will be free for anyone who wants to come watch. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the A’s first game at the Coliseum back in 1968, a 4-1 loss to the Orioles.
Ready for an uncanny fact about that game? The first MLB home run in the stadium’s history was hit that day in the 2nd inning, by an opposing player: Baltimore slugger Boog Powell, whose (biologically unrelated) namesake now mans center field today. Spooky!
(Trivia: Who hit the solo homer for the A’s only run, Oakland’s first home dinger? Click here for the answer.)
According to the team’s press release, this is “thought to be one of the first completely free standalone games in MLB history.” That’s awesome, and truly an impressive gesture to a fan base that’s put up with a lot over the years. In exchange, I think we have an obligation to fill all the seats for this one or else the jokes might get pretty intense. (“They can’t even sell out when they don’t charge admission!”)
3. Interleague: NL West
Interleague play this year will take the A’s through the NL West. There will be a two-game set both home and away against the Dodgers and Padres, a three-game home series against the D’Backs, and a three-game roadie to Coors for the Rockies. Obviously they were going to play the Giants no matter what, but we’ll get to that later.
The years against the NL West are always extra nice because they mean less travel. Rather than taking extra trips to the Midwest, or to New England, or the bowels of Florida, they’ll just take a couple quick flights down the coast.
They take care of L.A. while they were already there playing the Angels, they hit Colorado on the way home from Texas, and they swing through San Diego before a trip to the Midwest (this one actually adds miles to the route, but it still subtracts from the time spent in another time zone). There’s no trip to Arizona, which is fine because seriously who wants to go there after March.
4. Only 2 East Coast trips
Following up from that last point, here’s an illustration of the difference a division makes in interleague. The A’s will make only two trips to the East Coast in 2018 — once in May to play New York, Boston, and Toronto; and then not again until mid-September to visit Baltimore and Tampa Bay. This year they went five times, since they had to tour the NL East as well.
Granted, there are still some other long trips. Cleveland is nearly as far, and it and Detroit are still in the Eastern Time Zone. There’s a trip that goes Oak-Cle-Hou-SF, and another from Oak-Min-Hou-Oak. But every little bit must help, right? The season has also been stretched out a bit, so there will be 3-4 extra off-days than normal.
5. Giants in July, around ASB
The A’s play the Giants in July this year. Specifically, they’ll go to AT&T for the final three games before the All-Star break (13th-15th), and then open the second half with the corresponding three dates in Oakland (20th-22nd). My immediate first thought is that this is a great way to snap everyone back to attention after the midsummer intermission.
6. The usual schedule quirks
Every year there will be some oddities, as the league must balance the schedules of 30 teams who all must play each other a certain number of times in a certain ratio of home/away all while staying within various travel and off-day rules. Here are a few of this year’s quirks:
- We’re done with the Red Sox in May. Three here in April, and three there ending May 16. Then they’re someone else’s problem. Good riddance.
- We won’t see the Twins until August 23, with four in Minnesota. They’ll come here in late September for our third-to-last series of the regular season. If they happen to fall out of contention and become sellers at the deadline then that would be swell for us.
- The entire schedule against the Royals will be taken care of in 10 days. Three in Kansas City to begin June, a brief stop in Arlington, and then four here beginning June 7. That means for five-and-a-half glorious months we won’t have to see them, though hopefully they’ll be awful and unrecognizable anyway once they get gutted in free agency this winter.
- The same happens with the Indians. Three here starting June 29, then a quick pair against the Padres, and then off to Cleveland for three more. Hopefully they aren’t on another stupid winning streak at that moment.
- Also, there’s that thing I mentioned earlier about 9-of-13 against L.A.-ish teams to start the year. There will be another stretch of 9-of-13 against Texas teams in August, heavier on the Astros than the Rangers. Also a stretch of six straight games against butthead teams when we play the Giants.
7. 4 holidays, 7 fireworks
Oakland will host four holidays this year:
- Memorial Day
- Father’s Day
- July 4
- Labor Day
OK, one of those isn’t a national holiday like the others, but if there’s anywhere in life where Father’s Day would be appreciated you’d think baseball would be high on the list. (Same goes for Mother’s Day. Go parents!)
There are also seven fireworks dates, which you can see denoted on the schedule below (the ones with the little red firework icon in the upper-right corner). First one is May 26 against the D’Backs, and there’s also one for a Giants game on July 20.
The A’s 2018 postseason schedule won’t be released until early October, so stay tuned. But the World Series should be done before November starts.
P.S. Here’s the schedule in dance form for some reason. This is how all team announcements should be made from now on.