In many past seasons, the release of next year’s schedule would be a fun topic for the Cincinnati Reds manager to address.
In those years, when an X had already been placed next to the Reds’ name in the standings, signifying their elimination from playoff contention, looking ahead to next season would have been a pleasant diversion.
In 2012, with the Reds’ magic number dwindling by the day, Dusty Baker couldn’t care less that Major League Baseball released the 2013 schedule Wednesday or that it featured a surprise, an Opening Day in Cincinnati on April 1 against an American League team, the Angels.
“I ain’t worried about next year,” Baker said. “I’m concerned about finishing strong this year.”
In Baker’s mind, the eliminated teams can start thinking of next year.
“There’s nothing more fun this time of year when you’re putting Xes on other people’s names,” Baker said. “A lot of times in the past, there have been Xes on this team already. You know what I’m talking about? That X? It’s a bad feeling.”
Baker had heard enough about the new schedule to know the Reds open at home against the Angels. That’s a first. There has never been an interleague game on opening day.
But with the Astros moving to the American League next season, there will be an interleague game every day somewhere in the big leagues. Each team will play 20 of them, spread over four home series and four away series.
Other highlights of the 2013 Reds schedule:
• The Reds play two two-game series against the Indians, home and away, back to back. The Indians visit Cincinnati on May 27-28, and then the Reds go to Cleveland on May 29-30.
• The Reds also play interleague games at Oakland (June 25-26) and Texas (June 28-30) and host the Mariners (July 5-7) and Athletics (Aug. 6-7).
• The Reds play 19 games each against the four remaining National League Central Division clubs: Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
• Seven games against the Nationals in April — and none after that. The teams played seven games this season, all in April and May.
“Seven times?” asked Baker, when informed of that schedule quirk. “We’re through with them in April?”
• Just like this season, the Reds close the regular season against the Pirates (at home, Sept. 27-29).