Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Major League Baseball schedule

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The Major League Baseball (MLB) season schedule consists of 162 games for each of the 30 teams in the American League (AL) and National League (NL), played over approximately six months—a total of 2,430 games, plus the postseason. The regular season typically runs from early April to late September, followed by the postseason in October. The season begins with the official Opening Day and runs 26 weeks through the last Sunday of September or first Sunday of October. One or more International Opener games may be scheduled outside the United States before the official Opening Day. It is possible for a given team to play a maximum of 20 games in the postseason in a given year, provided the team is a wild card and advances to each of the Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series with each series going the distance (5 games in the Division Series, 7 games in the League Championship Series/World Series).


The regular season is constructed from series. Due to travel concerns and the sheer number of games, pairs of teams are never scheduled to play single games against each other (except in the instance of making up a postponed game); instead they play games on several consecutive days in the same ballpark. Most often the series are of three or four games, but two-game series are also scheduled. With only one exception, teams play one mid-week series and one weekend series per week for a total of 52 series per year (24 divisional series, 20 inter-divisional series, 8 inter-league series). Depending on the length of the series, mid-week series games are usually scheduled between Monday and Thursday, while weekend games are scheduled between Thursday and Monday. Due to the mid-week all-star break in July, teams are scheduled to play two two-game series between Monday and Thursday of another week, called a four-game "split" series, with two games in one team's ballpark, then two games in the other's to complete the 52-series schedule. A team's road games are usually grouped into a multi-series road trip; home series are grouped into homestands.

Until the early 20th century, Sunday games were not played. Since then, each week each team is typically scheduled to play a series over the weekend (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) and a series during the week. Not every team plays every day—Mondays and Thursdays sometimes serve as off-days for particular teams—but there are some games every day, except during the All-Star break.

Note that rainouts and other cancellations are often rescheduled in an ad hoc way during the season—sometimes as doubleheaders—and occasionally not made up at all. In the latter instance, two teams are scheduled to meet for the final time in the season and it is the 2nd to last week. However, there is a rainstorm and the game is simply cancelled if it doesn't affect the divisional or wild card races. For example, the September 22 game between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers is cancelled due to rain because the teams can't reschedule a make-up date before the end of the season on October 2, 2016 and it doesn't affect the divisional race between Kansas City and Chicago. In contrast, a 2008 AL Central division game between Chicago and Detroit needed to be made up following the last day of the regular season because it affected a division race vs Minnesota.

Historical season schedules

This account gives the length of the major league "championship season" schedule by league and year. It does not cover the curtailment of play by war (1918) or by strikes and lockouts (1972, 1981, 1994). The schedules for 1995 were revised and shortened from 162 to 144 games, after late resolution of the strike that had begun in 1994 required a delay in the season to accommodate limited spring training.

The listed years are those in which the league revised its schedule. For example, the National League (NL) scheduled 84 games during 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1882 – that is, four seasons from 1879, ending before 1883, the next listing. 1876 is listed here for convenience although the NL did not schedule games (see 1871 to 1876, below).

American Association

1882 – 1891

1882: 80 games – 16 games × 5 opponents 1883: 98 games – 14 games × 7 opponents 1884: 112 games – 16 games × 7 opponents 1886: 140 games – 20 games × 7 opponents

Thus the AA expanded its schedule to 140 games two years before the National League did so. After 1891 four AA clubs joined the NL and four were bought out, nominally creating one big league, the "National League and American Association" of 12 clubs.

Union Association


1884: 112 games – 16 games × 7 opponents

Players' League


1890: 140 games – 20 games × 7 opponents

Federal League

1914: 1915

1914 – 154 games – 22 games x 7 opponents

National Association of Professional Base Ball Players

The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (1871–1875) did not schedule games, nor did it control the number of teams, a major reason for its demise after the 1875 season. Clubs paid a $10 entry fee, later $20, to enter the Association for one season and thereby declare for that year's national championship. Without continuing membership or heavy investment there was little to deter a team from breaking a commitment, and though it happened it was mainly due to clubs going out of business.

The National League organized for 1876 on a different basis, granting exclusive memberships to eight clubs that would continue from year to year — it was generally expected, if only because membership would be profitable. But the new league followed its predecessor in merely agreeing that each club would play a certain number of matches to a decision (excluding ties) by a certain date. Boston played 70 games with its quota of ten decisions against every rival. The others achieved 56 to 68 decisions, 64 to 66 for the four western teams as the teams from New York and Philadelphia (eastern) abandoned their schedule-concluding road trips.

For all six early seasons, prior to the first league schedule in 1877, member clubs scheduled their own matches by mutual arrangement, including championship games necessarily with member clubs, other games with members, and games with non-member clubs. Some may have practically dictated their arrangements with some others, but there was no central control or coordination.

This listing gives the greatest number of games played by any club for each season. Naturally, the leader by games played was always a strong club fielding one of the better gate attractions.

1871: 33 games (Mutual, New York) 1872: 58 games (Lord Baltimore) 1873: 60 games (Boston) 1874: 71 games (Boston) 1875: 86 games (Hartford) 1876: 70 games (Boston) – the first National League season (see text)

The leading numbers of games played to a decision were 33, 54, 59, 71, 82, and 70 decisions; by the listed teams except the Mutuals in 1872.

1998 to 2012

Since 1998, there have been 30 major league teams with a single advance schedule for every season that comprises 2430 games. Each team plays 162 games, 81 as the "home" team, 81 as the "visitor". (This is true even on the rare occasion when a game is played at a ballpark not home to either team.) Occasionally, the advance schedule is subsequently altered due to a game postponement or a one-game tie-breaker to determine which team will play in the postseason.

Before 2013 the schedule included 252 "interleague games" that matched one team from the American League and one from the National League; the other 2178 games matched a pair from within one league. About half of the latter matched teams from within one division and about half matched teams from different divisions in one league. In the Central Division of the National League, which alone had six teams, every pair of division rivals played 15 or 16 games. Within the other, smaller divisions every pair of teams played 18 or 19 games.

Division games (1091). There are 61 pairs of teams from within one division.

  • 25 pairings will play 19 games each (475 games)
  • 21 pairings will play 18 games each (378 games)
  • 13 pairings will play 16 games each (208 games) – most NL Central pairings
  • 2 pairings will play 15 games each (30 games) – two NL Central pairings
  • Total: 1091 games.
  • Other intraleague games (1087). There are 150 pairs of teams from two different divisions within one league.

  • 23 pairings will play 10 games each (230 games)
  • 15 pairings will play 9 games each (135 games)
  • 8 pairings will play 8 games each (64 games)
  • 34 pairings will play 7 games each (238 games)
  • 70 pairings will play 6 games each (420 games)
  • Total: 1087 games.
  • Interleague play

    The schedule for interleague play comprised 84 three-game series in each season from 1998 to 2012, divided as six series (18 games) for each of fourteen AL teams and as many as six for each of sixteen NL teams.

    Among the 224 interleague pairs of teams, 11 played six games every year, which were scheduled in two three-game series "home and home", or one at each home ballpark. Five of these 11 special arrangements matched two teams in the same city or in neighboring cities, where they wholly or partly share territorial rights. Six were regional matches at greater distance, four of which were in the same state.

  • Baltimore vs. Washington
  • Chicago Cubs (North Side) vs. Chicago White Sox (South Side)
  • Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
  • Miami vs. Tampa Bay (Tampa/St. Petersburg)
  • Houston vs. Texas (Arlington)
  • Kansas City vs. St. Louis
  • Anaheim Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Milwaukee vs. Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
  • New York Mets (Queens) vs. New York Yankees (Bronx)
  • Oakland vs. San Francisco
  • San Diego and Seattle
  • These special local and regional series accounted for 66 interleague games annually from 1998-2012, and the other 186 games were determined by rotation.

    9/11 rescheduling

    The 2001 season was suspended for one week due to the September 11 terrorist attacks and resulting disruptions in travel, resulting in games scheduled for September 11–16 being rescheduled to the first week of October and the playoffs and World Series being rescheduled one week later than their originally planned dates, which resulted in the World Series continuing into early November.


    Schedule changes for 2013, precipitated by realignment that created two equal-sized leagues of 15 teams each, gave every team 20 interleague games. Sixteen of which were determined by a match of divisions, one from each league; all teams in a given division play all teams in a given division from the other league. (Each plays a three-game series against four teams from the designated division and two two-game series against the remaining team.)

    The matched divisions rotate annually:

  • AL East vs. NL West (2013), vs. NL Central (2014)
  • AL Central vs. NL East (2013), vs. NL West (2014)
  • AL West vs. NL Central (2013), vs. NL East (2014)
  • Each team played its four other interleague games against a designated "natural rival", with two games in each club's city. Thus all 30 teams, rather than 22 of 30 as previously, were deemed to have a natural rival in the other league. In 2013 the natural rivalry games were all scheduled for May 27 to May 30 (Memorial Day weekend) but in 2014 their scheduled dates range from May to August.

    Ten of the natural rivalries from 2012 and earlier continued, while the Houston–Texas "Lone Star" rivalry had been transformed into an intra-division one with 19 games played. Five of the special arrangements were new in 2013 , including one each for Houston and Texas.

  • Baltimore vs. Washington
  • Boston vs. Philadelphia
  • New York Mets (Queens) vs. New York Yankees (Bronx)
  • Miami vs. Tampa Bay (Tampa/St. Petersburg)
  • Toronto vs. Atlanta
  • Chicago Cubs (North Side) vs. Chicago White Sox (South Side)
  • Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
  • Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
  • Kansas City vs. St. Louis
  • Milwaukee vs. Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
  • Houston vs. Colorado
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Oakland vs. San Francisco
  • San Diego vs. Seattle
  • Texas vs. Arizona
  • For 2014, four (4) of the five (5) new rivalries have been revised (‡), all except Detroit and Pittsburgh.

  • Baltimore and Washington
  • Boston vs. Atlanta (until 1952, both teams were based in Fenway–Kenmore)
  • New York Mets (Queens) vs. New York Yankees (Bronx)
  • Miami vs. Tampa Bay (Tampa/St. Petersburg)
  • Toronto vs. Philadelphia
  • Chicago Cubs (North Side) vs. Chicago White Sox (South Side)
  • Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
  • Detroit vs. Pittsburgh
  • Kansas City vs. St. Louis
  • Milwaukee vs. Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
  • Houston vs. Arizona
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Oakland vs. San Francisco
  • San Diego vs. Seattle
  • Texas vs. Colorado
  • Every team now plays 19 games against each of 4 opponents within its division (76 games), and 6 or 7 games against each of 10 opponents from other divisions within its own league (66 games).

    When corresponding divisions (i.e. NL East vs. AL East) play each other, a slight adjustment was made to the interleague games. Teams now play 6 games against their rival and 4 games (home and home) against two opponents plus one home and one away 3 game series (14 total) against the other four teams in the opposing division. This was done in 2015, and will next occur in 2018.

    Time of first pitch

    Start of Major League Baseball games depends on days of the week, game number in series, holidays, and other factors. Most games start at 7pm in the local time zone, so there are more night games than day games even though baseball is traditionally played during the day. The reason why there are more night baseball games is to attract more fans to ballparks as well as viewers from home because most fans would be at work or school during the day. On Mondays (excluding Opening Day and holidays), Tuesdays, and Fridays, games are almost exclusively played at night except for Cubs home games. Getaway days are days that teams play their last game of the series before departing for another series in another city the next day are usually day games, mainly Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Sundays, usually all but one were day games with night games being broadcast on ESPN. Sunday day games usually start at 1pm local time while Sunday night baseball begins at 8pm ET regardless of city they play in. About half of Saturday games are day games (1, 2 or 4pm ET). In some markets, Saturday night start an hour earlier than usual night start times, but other cities start Saturday night games at the same time as weeknight games. In conclusion, weekday games are only played at night except for getaway days while many weekend games are played during the day.

    On Opening Day, games tend to start at 1pm local time, while Opening Night start at 8pm ET on ESPN the night before traditional Opening Day.


    Major League Baseball schedule Wikipedia

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