MLB released the 2019 schedules this morning and you can see the Giants’ 162 right here:
You’ll notice that says tentative right there at the very top. You can join me in wondering just what might be subject to change over the next few months. One of those might not actually be the scheduled doubleheader on June 29th at home against the Diamondbacks.
Yes, that’s right, a straight up doubleheader. If you’re a baseball junkie like me, then you’ve no doubt heard national broadcasters and people on MLB Network Radio talk about the players’ general desire to compress the season as much as possible. Some players want to handle that by only playing 10-12 games a year (I’m paraphrasing Anthony Rizzo; I think he said he only wanted to play 10-12 games a year. Don’t fact check this) and others wouldn’t mind a doubleheader or two thrown into the mix so long as they didn’t affect the increased in scheduled off days. The holdup has always been the owners — two games in a day hurts the gate.
Well, it would seem the Giants have looked at 18 years’ worth of attendance data and concluded that at least one scheduled doubleheader wouldn’t crater their attendance or bankrupt the franchise. Maybe they became trycurious after 2017 and considered the halo effect an historically awful season might have on attendance going forward, no matter how many Evans Longoria they acquire to staunch the bleeding.
The Giants have always been willing to try different strategies to stoke the attendance and revenue flames. They introduced the anti-mascot, swapped their schedule to have more day games to avoid the Candlestick winds, were one of the early adopters of flex pricing, and now, they might be leading the charge on bringing back an old tradition.
Or the attendance data indicated that fans don’t want to come out to the yard to watch the Diamondbacks over four nights and late June might be a sweet spot between “Hey, school’s out!” and “Nah, my family’s on vacation” where they could effectively save a day’s worth of cost to maximize what would only be 1.5 game’s worth of revenue (assuming the Thursday opener of a 4-game series is only a half draw).
If you scrutinize it a bit more, you see that without that doubleheader, the Giants would’ve played 20 days in a row between days off. The doubleheader prevents that. So, it’s really a win-win-win for the league, ownership, and the players. A very rare thing indeed.
The rest of the schedule also changes what we’ve come to expect, which is a lot of NL West games right up front and then a lot more down the stretch. In the first two months of the season, the Giants play 15 games at home against the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Reds, and Braves and 18 on the road against the Nationals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Reds, Marlins, and Orioles. That’s right. The Giants knock out all their Reds nightmare games in the first two months of the season.
To put it another way, through the season’s first 62 games (March 28-June 6), the Giants play only 20 against the NL West. The other teams mentioned have either been recently hard on the Giants or they’re from the AL East. I’m including the Orioles because, again, they’re an AL East team and even the manager of an AL East team can hit 20 home runs.
As for the rest of the schedule...
- The Giants last opened a season in San Diego back in 2006. The time before that was 2003.
- They’re off on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and a random Friday — August 23rd — before playing two games in Oakland which could very well decide the fate of the Bay Bridge Trophy.
- They’ll be in Philadelphia around the trade deadline before heading into August, when teams start to get loopy. But then, nine games in a row at home before heading off to play four in Arizona and three against the Cubs (that’s a sweep) and then heading back home to finish out the month for seven more games (though, to be fair, two are at Oakland). That’s a fairly decent August schedule for a team looking to get back into a playoff race.
And that’s the thing about this tentative schedule: the Giants will find out what kind of team they are and where they stand against the league and in the playoff chase pretty quickly. “You can’t win the pennant in April, but you can lose it” feels pretty apt in this case. But we probably say that every season about every Giants team, regardless of their perceived state.
Suffice it to say, they’ll be playing a lot of teams in the first two months of the season that know how to score lots of runs. The 2019 Giants will need to figure out how to do the same. And you should start making plans to buy your tickets*...