MLB Network decided to do a schedule release show on Monday, which was a good idea. Unless you happen to be a Giants fan.
The show dedicated segments to divisions, and when it came time to show the schedules for the NL West, they went Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies -- and that's it. The Giants were left out, inexplicably, as the show moved on to one of about six different conversations about how dangerous the Padres are. (Fun fact: The Giants finished seven games ahead of the Padres last season.)
Luckily, within minutes the Giants released their full schedule:
A few minutes later, Gabe Kapler addressed the release in his daily session with reporters.
"It kind of feels like Christmas morning where you open a present and you're not sure if you like it yet," Kapler said. "I think we're all still digesting the schedule."
Same here, but here are three initial observations ...
A Long Wait for Bumgarner
The Giants were originally scheduled to see old friend Madison Bumgarner on their first road trip, with that schedule taking them to Arizona for their second series. They could have faced him on their first homestand, too, and that would have been quite the scene. It's likely the player who got the loudest applause during his at-bats that night at Oracle Park would have been the opposing starter.
Now, the Giants have to wait until game No. 28 to see Bumgarner, and since it's just a three-game series, it's possible they miss him altogether. The Giants and Diamondbacks face off again the next weekend, the final one of August, and then again the first weekend of September. Somewhere in there they figure to finally see Bumgarner digging in on the other side, and it's a matchup guys have been talking about for months.
"Come on, Bum, you're proud of your fastball," Buster Posey said at FanFest. "Challenge me a little bit."
When he reported to Diamondbacks camp, Bumgarner was asked if he had thought much about facing Posey.
"Oh yeah. Oh yeah," he said quickly. "Yes."
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It's Not Fully Fair
There were going to be some imbalances in a 60-game schedule, especially with teams playing their division rivals just 10 times. The Giants are seeing that in a tough way.
They'll face the Dodgers seven times at Dodger Stadium but just three times at home. While there won't be fans this year, homefield advantage might be key in a different way. It's going to be uncomfortable for teams to travel with all the restrictions that are in place.
That's the most glaring quirk in the schedule. Another thing that stands out is how odd road trips and homestands will look. The Giants have a Padres-Rangers homestand and a Padres-Mariners-A's road trip, for instance.
A Tough "First Half"
The first couple of weeks aren't that bad other than the season-opening series against the Dodgers, but the Giants will be tested quite a bit before the August 31 trade deadline. Their pitchers will try to keep from getting banged around in Houston from August 10-12, and that series is at the end of a brutal road trip to start August. The Giants play four at Coors Field (with expanded rosters, at least) and then visit the Dodgers again before going to Houston.
After that it's three against the A's and that four-game home-and-home against the Angels. That's followed by nine more games against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers before the deadline. All in all that's 22 consecutive games against teams that should be contenders, with just two off days as rosters get cut from 30 to 26.
Of the 36 games before the deadline, the Giants have all 10 of their games against the Dodgers, six more against playoff teams, and 10 against the Diamondbacks and Angels, who figure to be improved. Kapler pointed out that four-game stretch against the Angles in particular, noting how deep the heart of their lineup is after the addition of Anthony Rendon.
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"It's a very challenging schedule," he said. "That's the first thing I noticed."
They should have a very good idea of who they are by the deadline, which is good. With a rough start, they could be one of the true few sellers. But if they survive, September is much, much easier.