BOSTON — The 2019 Red Sox schedule features landmark games in London, some travel headaches, plus an oddity for season-ticket holders: two fewer home games than normal.
Instead of the standard 81 games at Fenway Park, the Sox are scheduled to play 79 games on Jersey Street in 2019. Both the games in London, to be played against the Yankees at London Stadium on June 29-30 as part of MLB's push into Europe, count as home games for the Sox.
The London experience is run by Major League Baseball. The Red Sox and Yankees get reimbursed for their expenses. In the case of the Sox, that reimbursement includes gate receipts for the two games they’re not hosting at their park.
Beyond the dollars, though, there is a potential competitive angle. That's two fewer games the Sox play in front of their home fans and two fewer nights the Sox get to sleep in their own bed prior to a game. In the end, that's probably the kind of thing that will matter only if the Sox miss the playoffs or a division title in 2019 by a game or two.
“You can talk to other people about that,” Cora said, referring to Sox management. “But I think, I honestly feel that for the game it’s great. I’ve been part of going to Japan, doing the WBC, and you know, we saw what happened in Puerto Rico this year with the Twins and the Indians [when they played there in the regular season]. There’s a lot of people that are planning on going to London because it’s us two that makes it that big a deal.
“I understand that part. We’re going to play 79 games here. But I think for the game, it’s something great.”
Could the Yankees have given up one home game, so the Sox and Yanks both lost one? Yes. But, a baseball source said the league preferred to negotiate with one team, leading to both games counting as Sox home games.
The Sox get two “off-days” prior to the London Series — at least one of which will undoubtedly involve a lot of pomp and tourism — and then one day off after the series. Their travel does not stop there. They then head to Toronto and Detroit going into the All-Star break.
"For the families, it sucks, because I think everybody was planning on going to London,” Cora said of the travel surrounding it. “I know [my young twins], they probably were going to go. I don't know. We'll see. We'll see. It's a tough one. I went through the, what was it? Japan, L.A., Oakland, Toronto [trip to begin the 2007 season, as a player with the Red Sox]. That was tough."
The Fenway home opener is April 9 vs. Toronto. The Sox play their first game of the season on March 28 in Seattle, the start of a three-city, 11-game road trip with stops in Oakland (four games) and Arizona (three).
(The Mariners will not be playing their first game of the season on the day the Sox do. The M’s and A’s are to play the first games of the 2019 season in Japan.)
Fans can pre-register for tickets for the London Series here.