The 2011 schedule is released. And there was much rejoicing

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Next year’s entire schedule — sans the still-possible Diamondbacks-Giants series in Taiwan — has been released. Here’s the actual schedule. Here’s some verbiage from MLB.com talking about how glorious it is.  And I suppose it might be glorious in places, but really dudes, it’s just a schedule.

The most notable thing about it is the early start — March 31st — and the early end — September 28th — which was designed to avoid November baseball.  If we can avoid those more frequent late March-early April snow storms it will be just spiffy.  The All-Star Game is July 12th. Which is kind of a drag because that means there are real games that count on my birthday — July 14th — and rather than hosting some self-centered bacchanalia, I’ll be reading box scores and writing snarky And That Happened entries. Sigh.

I do very much like the Thursday afternoon start, though.  It’s way better to knock off the end of the week than the beginning, so we can all treat Opening Day (and The Day After Opening Day) as a national holiday and go have beers and watch baseball in downtown bars as God and Nature intended.

Final question: is it bad that, after writing that, I’m more excited for Opening Day 2011 right now than I am for today’s games and the remainder of the pennant race?

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.