Major League Baseball released its 2018 schedule Tuesday and normally that’s not super exciting unless you’re planning a summer road trip or eager to see which interleague games are heading your way. But schedule-announcement day was interesting this time, because baseball is in for one big change next season that ought to have fans talking.
Opening Day is moving to a Thursday and it’s earlier in the season than ever before — March 29.
Gone is the season starting with a Sunday night game on ESPN. Gone is Monday being opening day for most teams. And gone is baseball starting in April. This season the first game was on April 2 and most teams started on April 3. In recent years, the season has started as late as April 6.
This change, as MLB announced, is part of the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the player’s union, which will ultimately give players more off days throughout the season:
The 2018 season will mark the first under the new scheduling format agreed to as part of the 2017-2021 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). The new format extends the length of the season by adding an additional weekend of play at the beginning of the season. Each Club will receive three to four additional off days spread throughout the season to provide additional rest and opportunities for rescheduling. As a result, the March 29th start date to the regular season will mark the earliest Opening Day in Major League history, excluding special season-openers at international venues. The earliest opening date for a season at traditional Major League ballparks was previously March 30th, when the 2003, 2008 and 2014 seasons began.
Another change for 2018: All 30 teams are playing on opening day. That seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually not common at all. The last time every MLB team played on Opening Day is 1968. And there were only 20 teams at that point.
The season begins the Thursday before Easter, and six teams will have Easter Sunday off, which is an odd baseball occurrence. Twelve teams will have Friday, March 30 off, which isn’t common either. The season will wind down at its usual time. The last day of regular season play is scheduled for Sept. 30.
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