Major League Baseball announced its master schedule for the 2018 season. Opening Day will be Thursday, March 29. It’s the earliest Opening Day in baseball history, with the exception of special international openers like the ones in Japan and Australia. Until now, the earliest opening date for a season at traditional Major League ballparks was March 30, which was the opener in 2003, 2008 and 2014.
It will also mark the first time since 1968 when all teams begin on the same day. In recent years we’ve seen a Sunday night opener for ESPN and, before that, we’d see a lot of split openers, with roughly half of the teams beginning on one day, half the next.
The differences in schedule are attributable to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that runs through 2021. Under its terms, a weekend of play is added at the beginning of the season in order to allow teams to get three or four additional days off during the course of the season.
The final day of the 2018 regular season is scheduled for Sunday, September 30, which is a little earlier than most seasons have ended in recent years, allowing the playoffs to conclude in October rather than bleed into November as they have, or at least have potentially, in the past few seasons.
I suspect some people will complain about the early start, particularly if there is bad weather. But overall the extra days off and the playoffs getting underway earlier should be a net benefit. I like it.