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White Sox 2018 schedule includes early Opening Day, late Cubs

Second crosstown series set for second-to-last weekend of season

When Major League Baseball releases its schedules in late September, I usually process it in this order:

  1. Opening Day/home opener
  2. September schedule
  3. Interleague schedule
  4. Northeast games
  5. Games near family and friends

This time around, though, we’re certain the White Sox are rebuilding, so you can cross off the stretch drive. Even then, No. 3 takes the place of No. 2 because the Cubs show up on the schedule in late September. In actual autumn.

The Sox and Cubs have never come close to squaring off that late in a season — unless you count 1906, or the City Series, which the White Sox won in most falls before World War II. In the 20 years of interleague play, the White Sox and Cubs have never been scheduled later than Aug. 16 (2015). Back in 2009, the teams concluded a crosstown series on Sept. 3, but that was a makeup game for one originally scheduled in June.

The good news? Between the World Series and City Series, the White Sox have prevailed 20 times in 26 chances, with a record of 99-64 with four ties across those series.

So that’ll be different. What else stands out?

Opening Day is early ... : In Kansas City on Thursday, March 29. Every team will play its first game on the same day.

... but the April schedule ain’t bad: The Sox have two six-game homestands in the first month: April 5-11 (Detroit, Tampa Bay) and April 20-25 (Houston, Seattle). On the road, Minnesota is their only northern/roofless climate.

No Cubs during the summer: With the NL Central being the interleague foe, the White Sox are back to six games against the Cubs, but they’re more spread out than ever. The first series is at Wrigley over Mother’s Day weekend from May 11-13, and the Cubs will visit the South Side on Sept. 21-23, aka the penultimate weekend of the season.

For those of us who get tired of the provinciality of the crosstown series, part of it’s tiresome because it’s a lot of energy on games that don’t have a direct impact on the postseason. that’s not so much the case, at least if the Cubs are as formidable as their long-term outlook suggests. As many noted, it could be an early choice for Eloy Jimenez to forge a legacy.

Interleague Weirdness, Part 1: Any road trips to exotic National League ballparks will have to take place midweek, and before the All-Star break: St. Louis (May 1-2), Pittsburgh (May 15-16) and Cincinnati (July 2-4).

Interleague Weirdness, Part 2: The White Sox will start May with four of their first five series against NL opponents: two against the Cardinals, four against the Twins, two against the Pirates at home, three against the Cubs in Wrigley and two more in Pittsburgh.

The most grueling stretch: June 5 through July 8, when the White Sox play 33 games in 34 days. Nineteen of them come on the road, and that run ends with a 10-game road trip through Texas, Cincinnati and Houston.

Followed by the softest stretch: From July 9-19, they’ll have six off days — two sandwiching a two-game series against the Cardinals, and then the All-Star break a week later.

Free baseball: If you’re in Oakland on April 17, you can get into the Coliseum at no cost. The details:

To celebrate the A’s actual 50th birthday at the Coliseum next year, the team is giving the fans an unprecedented present: The April 17 game will be free.

“We want to celebrate the 50th anniversary and our fan base and the community,” A’s chief operating officer Chris Giles said. “We’d like to give a gift to the community.”

Major League Baseball told the A’s that this will be the first known instance of a team providing free admission to all fans. Season-ticket holders will have priority and are guaranteed access. Online registration for the remaining tickets will begin in January.