Day-By-Day 2011 MLB Schedule Viewing Guide

They say the baseball season is too long. And, for a lot of fans, it is - especially when you're a fan of a team going nowhere. Who wants to watch 162 games with the 2010 Baltimore Orioles? The 2010 Seattle Mariners? The 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates? When your season's over in May, the last thing you want to hear is that there are still another four months to go before you come to the sweet, merciful end.

The baseball season, though, can only be too long if you spend it following the wrong team, or teams. What we want out of sports is drama, and there's drama during the baseball season every single day if you know where to look. So! Presented below is a too-soon 2011 MLB daily viewing guide, identifying what right now looks to be the most compelling game of the day, for every day of the 2011 regular season. If you think your team's going to be a pile of crap next year, consider this something of a tentative planner. This is a difficult exercise, since there's an awful lot we don't know about how teams are going to look in 2011, but we know the Pirates are going to be terrible, so it's not like we're coming from a position of zero knowledge.

Join me. Join me for a voyage into the future.

MARCH 31

Padres vs. Cardinals

2010's greatest surprise against one of 2010's greatest disappointments. Probable matchup: Mat Latos against one of Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright. That's good baseball.

APRIL 1 - APRIL 4

Dodgers vs. Giants

One of the league's greatest rivalries gets the season started in LA. That's a heck of a lot better than, say, the Rays opening with the Orioles.

APRIL 5 - APRIL 7

Yankees vs. Twins

This has been a one-sided showdown for as long as I can remember, but the Twins should once again be among baseball's elite, and they'll have an early opportunity to prove themselves on a big stage.

APRIL 8 - APRIL 10

Braves vs. Phillies

I hope you like watching divisional rivalry series, because there are going to be a lot of them in here. In fairness, divisional rivalry series between good teams are awesome.

APRIL 11 - APRIL 13

Giants vs. Dodgers

Let's do it again, at the other guy's house!

APRIL 14 - APRIL 17

Rays vs. Twins

Minnesota has three April series against two of the beats of the East. This is the second of them, and the second on the road.

APRIL 18 - APRIL 20

Rangers vs. Angels

2010 has been a major disappointment for an Angels team that goes into every year with title hopes. This'll be their first chance to show the frontrunners they mean business once again.

APRIL 21 - APRIL 24

Mariners vs. Athletics

Here is a boring, terrible series that, if you're able to sit through all four games, will renew your appreciation for good baseball on the other end.

APRIL 25 - APRIL 28

Rangers vs. Blue Jays

What do you like? Dingers! Who hits dingers? Toronto and Texas! Where do they get hit more often than normal? In Texas! There'll be good pitching talent in this series, but the great challenge about pitching in Texas is trying to make it through the sixth inning. I'm predicting two blown saves.

APRIL 29 - MAY 1

Dodgers vs. Padres

This is a lesser rivalry than Dodgers/Giants, but no matter how the Padres finish their 2010, they'll be met with skepticism in 2011, so this series'll provide a chance for them to prove their mettle on hostile ground.

MAY 2

Athletics vs. Rangers

Here, the two teams will be finishing off a four-game series that should in part reveal how much of a distance there is between the two enemies. Follow along and see how the series wraps up.

MAY 3 - MAY 5

Rays vs. Blue Jays

Remember how the Blue Jays were kind of hanging in the race for a little while in 2010? This'll be their fifth series of the year against one of New York, Boston, or Tampa Bay. They could do themselves a lot of good, or a lot of hurt.

MAY 6 - MAY 8

Rangers vs. Yankees

I'm beginning to wonder how necessary it is for me to include these little blurbs, considering who the hell knows what the baseball landscape is going to look like next season?

MAY 9

Red Sox vs. Twins

Are you even reading these blurbs?

MAY 10 - MAY 12

Cubs vs. Cardinals

When the pioneers' covered wagons lumbered over the dry sagebrush plains of eastern Oregon on their way to the Willamette Valley, the travelers' first sight of Mt. Hood's glittering white spire promised a land of fresh, snow-fed waters, cool evergreen forests, and a long-hoped-for respite from the arid deserts which stretched between the Rockies and the Cascades.

(Harris, Stephen. Fire & Ice: The Cascade Volcanoes. Rev. ed. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers, 1980. 145. Print.)

MAY 13 - MAY 15

Yankees vs. Red Sox

The Cascade barrier had yet to be crossed, either via the Columbia River or Barlow Pass, which skirts Hood's southern base, but at last the end was in sight.

(Ibid.)

MAY 16 - MAY 17

Rays vs. Yankees

Although perhaps not greeted so fervently today, the mountain is a delightful sight to the descendants of those hardy people.

(Ibid.)

MAY 18 - 19

Dodgers vs. Giants

Viewed from Portland, Mt. Hood seems a classically symmetrical cone terminating in a sharp peak. Seen from other directions, however, the volcano is highly asymmetrical.

(Ibid.)

MAY 20 - MAY 22

Red Sox vs. Cubs

The Cubs, in Fenway Park, for three games. I don't know if this is why baseball exists, but this is why a bunch of old-timey sportswriters are going to tell us baseball exists.

MAY 23 - MAY 26

Phillies vs. Reds

Have to give the Reds some love somewhere. They're probably going to be okay.

MAY 27 - MAY 29

Mets vs. Phillies

Also known as The Weekend That Sucks For Baseball.

MAY 30 - JUNE 1

Red Sox vs. White Sox

Hopefully they don't use the same washing machine.

JUNE 2

Cardinals vs. Giants

These two teams go way back, as will at least one home run hit in the game. I guarantee it!

JUNE 3 - JUNE 5

Cardinals vs. Cubs

These games are always intense before the Cubs fall out of the race.

JUNE 6 

Padres vs. Rockies

In my head, next year's races look just like this year's races. Science!

JUNE 7 - JUNE 9

Yankees vs. Red Sox

SO IMPORTANT

JUNE 10 - JUNE 12

Twins vs. Rangers

Another series between two teams I expect to be in first place. Do you really need these explanations? Just pay attention to what I tell you to pay attention to. I won't steer you wrong.

JUNE 13

Mariners vs. Angels

This should be about the time of year that the Mariners fall out of contention. Stay tuned for a divisional snuff film.

JUNE 14 - JUNE 16

Rays vs. Red Sox

You'll notice that the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are showing up a lot in here. Know why? I should hope you know why. If you don't know why, then I haven't the foggiest why you're reading this.

JUNE 17 - JUNE 18

Cubs vs. Yankees

Storied franchises. Such storied franchises. I cannot believe how many stories there are about these franchises.

JUNE 19

Athletics vs. Giants

Hopefully this is a matinee. Good rivalry, ideally in front of a good crowd on a good day.

JUNE 20 - JUNE 22

White Sox vs. Cubs

Rivalry week...days

JUNE 23

Giants vs. Twins

I like to think that the Giants are the NL's version of the Twins, even though that isn't even the least bit correct.

JUNE 24 - JUNE 26

Dodgers vs. Angels

I don't actually like to think that the Giants are the NL's version of the Twins. I just made that up. I don't know why. I guess I was trying to impress you.

JUNE 27

Rays vs. Reds

Two good teams that you should watch, because somebody has to.

JUNE 28 - JUNE 30

Phillies vs. Red Sox

These teams look too similar sometimes. I don't even know how a viewer could keep them straight. All that red and white.

JULY 1 - JULY 3

Blue Jays vs. Phillies

That's right - Blue Jays home games against the Phillies, to actually be played in Toronto this time. Up yours, G20 Summit.

JULY 4

Dodgers vs. Mets
Giants vs. Padres
Twins vs. Rays
Cardinals vs. Reds

It's a holiday. Like you won't have the time.

JULY 5 - JULY 6

Cardinals vs. Reds

What will Brandon Phillips say this time? Nothing? Will he say nothing? I'm sure he'll say something. Who doesn't say anything for a whole few days?

JULY 7

Yankees vs. Rays

Here, get your obligatory AL East rivalry game. That should whet your appetite for a weekend of:

JULY 8 - JULY 10

Dodgers vs. Padres

It's summer. Finish the first half watching summer baseball in a summer city. Bonus points if you attend these games in person on a trip.

JULY 11

Nothing

OH GOD WHAT DO WE DO THE HOME RUN DERBY IS UNWATCHABLE

JULY 12

American League vs. National League All-Star Game

I hear Omar Infante will serve as manager, for both teams.

JULY 13

Nothing

kill me

JULY 14 - JULY 17

Padres vs. Giants

Didn't we just watch this? What would possess a man to watch four Padres home games in a row? You're the one who said you like pitcher's duels. Here, have some pitcher's duels. Ungrateful son of a bitch.

JULY 18 - JULY 20

Angels vs. Rangers

The Rangers should once again be the best team in the AL West, but the Angels hate to lose, and by this point, they shouldn't yet have dropped out of the race. So this should be an important series as the Angels consider their plan at the trade deadline.

JULY 21

Rays vs. Yankees

If you take it one game at a time, the AL East isn't so bad.

JULY 22 - JULY 24

Twins vs. Tigers

In the same vein as the Angels/Rangers series above, we've got a probable favorite, and an aggressive competitor that always wants to win. Could be lots of implications for this one with the deadline a week away.

JULY 25 - JULY 27

Rockies vs. Dodgers

TRADE DEADLINE IMPLICATIONS

JULY 28

Phillies vs. Giants

I'm a sucker for this matchup for some reason. Spend a few hours with it.

JULY 29 - JULY 31

Cardinals vs. Cubs

Something to have up in Gameday while you watch the MLB Network and keep refreshing Twitter to look for new rumors.

AUGUST 1 - AUGUST 3

Mariners vs. Athletics

The trade deadline is always really stressful, so here's a chance to relax and really put your mind at ease. Watch these games and abandon all sense of context and meaning. Just watch them, and recognize that it's professional baseball, and that you're able to watch professional baseball from the comfort of your own home, smile, and drink a beer. Life could be worse.

AUGUST 4

Rays vs. Blue Jays

Toronto still in the race? I hope Toronto's still in the race. If not, you can opt for Giants vs. Phillies. There's that matchup again!

AUGUST 5 - AUGUST 7

Red Sox vs. Yankees

I'm just assuming you're all crazy about the Red Sox and the Yankees. Who could ever get tired of the Red Sox and the Yankees?

AUGUST 8 - AUGUST 10

Twins vs. Red Sox

It's laughable how far in the future this is.

AUGUST 11

Yankees vs. Angels

This is 11 months into the future.

AUGUST 12 - AUGUST 14

Cardinals vs. Rockies

I can't even predict what I'm having for dinner tonight.

AUGUST 15 - AUGUST 18

Braves vs. Giants

I mean, I'm trying, here, and I think I'm doing pretty well, but if the Braves come in with 90 losses and the Giants blow up on the freeway, can I really be blamed? I'm just playing the odds. Odds fail.

AUGUST 19 - AUGUST 21

Twins vs. Yankees

When you're the Yankees, your slate of opponents outside your own division looks pretty easy. This isn't one of the easy ones.

AUGUST 22 - AUGUST 24

Phillies vs. Mets

I don't know if the Mets are going to be any good, but these games are usually good for some drama and histrionics.

AUGUST 25

Rangers vs. Red Sox

And here we take a trip to see how a big four-game series against Boston turns out for Texas. Like it or not, series against Boston and New York are usually treated as indicators of whether or not a team is ready for the playoffs.

AUGUST 26 - AUGUST 28

Mets vs. Braves

Might it be New York's last gasp? I can see this as Atlanta's opportunity to really bury a rival.

AUGUST 29 - AUGUST 31

Dodgers vs. Padres

And now we're into the divisional home stretch. No blurbs necessary.

SEPTEMBER 1

Red Sox vs. Yankees

SEPTEMBER 2 - SEPTEMBER 4

Cardinals vs. Reds

SEPTEMBER 5 - SEPTEMBER7

Twins vs. White Sox

SEPTEMBER 8

Blue Jays vs. Red Sox

Yeah...

SEPTEMBER 9 - SEPTEMBER 11

Rays vs. Red Sox

SEPTEMBER 12 - SEPTEMBER 14

Giants vs. Padres

SEPTEMBER 15 - SEPTEMBER 18

Red Sox vs. Rays

SEPTEMBER 19

Rockies vs. Padres

SEPTEMBER 20 - SEPTEMBER 21

Yankees vs. Rays

SEPTEMBER 22

Dodgers vs. Giants

SEPTEMBER 23 - SEPTEMBER 25

Yankees vs. Red Sox

SEPTEMBER 26 - SEPTEMBER 28

Giants vs. Rockies
Rays vs. Yankees
Braves vs. Phillies

I'm cheating. You'll manage.

Satisfied? God knows I'm worn out. Come next March, print this out, tape it to your fridge, and consult it whenever you feel like watching a baseball game deemed important by someone several months before. Feel free to make changes as necessary if and when the Pirates end up with the best record in the league.

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