“People talk about boxing and horse racing [being] the biggest sports 50 or 75 years ago,” he said. “We have to keep having things like this, going outside of the typical cities and continuing to grow the game for the young people and for those outside the diehard fans.”
The 2023 season will prove a unique test-case for the national pastime’s staying power, as the league implements a bevy of new, game-tightening rules. (If you’re plugged in, you’ve probably already seen some bizarre clips from spring training.)
One big change, in the name of league equity and fan interest, is a broad-scale standardization of interleague play. Every team now has to take on every team, and at first, it’s going to make for some truly unfamiliar matchups. Padres in Toronto? Red Sox in San Francisco? The schedule is as wacky and exciting as it’s ever been, which should only help the game.
Plus: while the “Field of Dreams” game is retired for this year, MLB will play multiple international series, and make a return to the mecca of youth baseball. With so many compelling series on the calendar, we thought it was only fair to round up our 10 favorites. Book your tickets and flights now, or plan an old-school road trip. Baseball’s back. Here are the best MLB series this year:
Giants at Yankees
When: March 30-April 2
Why: Once one of the greatest rivalries in American sports, perhaps yearly interleague play could pump some juice back into the original Subway Series. The Giants head to Yankee Stadium for only the third time in the last decade, and for their very first Opening Day. Narratives abound, including the Giants’ dubious distinction of being the team that almost pried Yankee captain Aaron Judge away from The Bronx.
Mariners at Cubs
When: April 10-12
Why: Doesn’t J-Rod’s first trip to Wrigley sound like a lot of fun?
Mexico City Series
When: April 28-29
Why: It’s been four years since the last series in Mexico, though all previous trips have been exhibitions. This time around, the stacked San Diego Padres will face their NL West foe the San Francisco Giants in some tasty regular season action. They’ll play at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú in Mexico City. Fortunately for you, we just published a detailed guide to spending a perfect weekend in the capital…outside of watching dingers 7,200 feet above sea level.
Cardinals at Red Sox
When: May 12-14
Why: Because these are two heritage franchises who don’t play each other nearly enough, yet have some recent-ish beef. (The Sawx triumphed over St. Louis in the 2013 World Series, 4-2.) If you’re a Cardinals fan, this is a a fantastic chance to visit Fenway. Careful about bringing that trademark Busch Stadium bluster along with you, though…Boston bouncers have no qualms refusing entry to the enemy, win or loss.
Will the US Defend Its Title in the World Baseball Classic?The tournament is back in a couple of weeks, believe it or not
Yankees at Dodgers
When: June 2-4
Why: You know why!
Angels at Rockies
When: June 24-25
Why: Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout at altitude…yes, please. Neither team is projected to make too much noise this year, even with the Angels’ deep roster, but we like this matchup nonetheless. Denver will be hot and the mountains on your Coors cans will be blue.
When: June 24-25
Why: Excuse the conspiracy-theorizing, but we’re mildly convinced that the Yankees and Red Sox played with juiced balls at the original London Series, back in the summer of 2019, when the ballclubs combined for 50 runs (?!) in two games. Not that we blame Commissioner Manfred; if you’re marketing the game abroad, might as well give ’em hot dogs and home runs. We’ll have to see how many times the Cardinals and Cubs go yard this year, in a long-awaited make-up of what would’ve been 2020’s sequel series.
Mets at Orioles
When: August 4-6
Why: It’s not like the Amazin’s haven’t been down to Camden Yards before, but rarely have the New York Mets been this worthy of traveling for. This is a weekend series: picture yourself watching Justin Verlander strike out 12 on a Saturday afternoon at what remains one of MLB’s most beautiful ballparks. (Though don’t count Baltimore out in 2023 — fewer games against the buzzsaw that is the AL East should reveal just how good the club is.)
MLB Little League Classic
When: August 20
Why: MLB won’t be hosting a “Field of Dreams” game this year, unfortunately, but it will be heading back to Williamsport for two days during the Little League World Series. Up to the plate this year: the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. They’ll spend some quality time with some ballplayers of the future on August 19, then play each other at Historic Bowman Field the next day.
Padres at Dodgers
When: September 11-13
Why: This was a tough one. There are some fantastic divisional tilts down the stretch in September — Yankees at Blue Jays, Phillies at Braves, Astros at Mariners, Brewers at Cardinals. But the Padres potentially vanquishing their Big Brother up the PCH takes the cake.