MLB quickly moves on from 2020 fixtures release, announces 2021 schedule
North America's Major League Baseball has released its 2021 season schedule, featuring a 1 April start with all 30 sides opening their campaigns on the same day, in the same week that it finally confirmed its fixture list for this year.
As opposed to the upcoming 2020 campaign - set to finally start on 23 July after a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic - full interleague games will resume next year, with teams playing opponents from other regions, not just those from the same conference.
The release of fixtures for the 2021 campaign comes only a few days after a similar announcement for this year’s season, which was meant to start on 26 March but has been delayed ever since because of the virus’ spread.
The MLB 2021 All-Star Game will take place on 13 July in Atlanta, Georgia, and next year’s regular season will finish on 3 October.
This year’s campaign will now be a shortened 60-game affair, with clubs only playing games against opponents from the same division, but 2021 will see a return to a full schedule.
If all sides manage to play on the opening day next year, this will mark the first time since 1968 that this has been possible - despite it being scheduled for 2018, 2019 and this year.
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 New York terrorist attacks next year, the city’s two teams, the Yankees and the Mets, will take part in the so-called Subway Series, the first time that encounter has taken place on 11 September.
The season schedule for 2020 meanwhile will feature just two games on the opening day, with last year’s champions, the Washington Nationals, taking on the Mets in the in the season’s curtain-raiser.
The other 26 sides will play their first matches on 24 July, with the regular season finishing on 27 September.
For the sixth season in a row, all games on the final day will begin at the same time.
MLB had been at loggerheads with its players’ union over this season’s scheduling, but after three months of fruitless negotiations, it opted to use the right given to it by the parties' 26 March agreement to impose a 60-game regular season.
The players had proposed a longer campaign, but Rob Manfred, the league's commissioner, said owners were never going to sign off on more than 60 games for health reasons.
Manfred has told media however that the league will be “lucky” if it is able to fit all those games in.
He told USA Today: “As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play… The reality is that we are going to be lucky if we get 60 games now given the course of the virus.”