Major League Baseball released its 2020 schedule on Tuesday, and it raised eyebrows.
The Twins will not begin the season at home. They aren’t going to New York, or Cleveland, or Detroit for their opener either.
They are opening the season with a four-game series in Oakland, then they will head to Seattle for three games.
At least through the first week of the season, the Twins won’t be in a park where there could be a fashion show of snowmobile suits in the stands. It could rain in Oakland, but the average high temperature for late March is 62 degrees. Seattle’s T-Mobile Park has a retractable roof, and the average high is 57 that time of year.
“Yes, the Twins requested opening in a warmer weather location,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. “Playing the season’s first [seven] games on the West Coast provides an opportunity to ensure weather isn’t a factor. That’s helpful for our team and especially our pitchers. In addition, it helps us spread out our three West Coast trips in 2020.”
The Twins might not have been the only team requesting early weather relief.
“We took weather into consideration and incorporated various factors into the 2020 schedule for the first two series of the year,” said Michael Teevan, MLB vice president of communication. “Those factors included emphasizing many Western Division teams and clubs with a retractable roof being at home. We also scheduled many divisional games early in part because those are the easiest to make up later in the season, given the frequency that those teams meet throughout the season.”
It’s always going to be a challenge for teams to avoid wintry weather during the early weeks of the season. And notice that the opener is scheduled for March 26, as the league ensures that the season ends before the Nov. 3 presidential elections. The early start will put most teams in danger of rough early weather as winter slowly crawls into spring.
Despite spending the first week of the season on the West Coast, the Twins open at home April 2 against Oakland. The high was 50 and the low 30 on April 2 this year.
And the league can go only so far to help teams like the Twins avoid cold weather.
“It is not possible to create a so-called ‘warm weather’ schedule for a variety of reasons, including shared market considerations, our need for divisional games early and the fact that we have just 12, 13 teams that are warm-weather [depending on one’s definition] teams or dome teams,” Teevan said. “We need to create balance throughout the entire schedule for competitive reasons.”
The Twins’ second road trip is to Chicago (brrr) and Toronto. Then they finish April with a 10-game homestand. The Twins will get a little relief during the first week of the season, but those balaclava masks still might be needed before April ends.