Hello and Happy New Year, White Sox fans! Well, you made it to the new baseball season. We all made it, actually, as 2022, the Year of Our Lord and Savior Jason Benetti, is finally over and we can all finally let the tepid, unpleasant odor that only the most mid of baseball records can produce blow away in the stiff and formidable Midwestern breeze.
And while we all must continue to suffer through weeks of the absolute dreck that is the Bulls and Blackhawks athletic efforts, it means that we are also on the doorstep of the official official start of Spring: Pitchers and Catchers reporting on February 15!
And what better way to segue into a season that can’t be as crushing as 2022 (right? ... right?!?) than by pouring over the newly-refurbished, slightly-more-balanced 2023 White Sox schedule!
“Balanced schedule? What’s that?” is a question that I can only assume that is being asked by the youngest, least cynical Sox fans reading this article. Well, here’s a not-so-brief explainer.
Much like every outdated trend that comes back in style decades later, MLB’s schedule was very much balanced for the [checks notes] entirety of its existence. Whether it was eight or 16 teams, one league or two, 154 games or 162, the schedule was always a balanced rotation of one team playing roughly the same amount of games against everyone else in its league.
That peaceful existence ended in 2000, at the same time that a little-known group of silver and black-clad Kids proved They Could Play and, surprisingly, won a division title. Bud Selig saw this as the blight against baseball that it was and decided that it just would not do (no, don’t fact-check me). So, starting with the 2001 season, the league’s 162-game schedule was rejiggered to increase the number of and heavily emphasize intra-divisional matchups.
Now, every team would play 18 or 19 games against the other teams in their division, and boy I tell you, nothing is better than a beautiful summer night at the G-Rate and watching … uh … Josh Naylor or Salvador Perez visit for the umpteenth time! For the White Sox and their buddies in flyover country, the division enjoyed the safety of fewer games against the best of the AL East and West, and spread the title wealth around, with each team winning at least one division title. But the lack of consistent play against top non-Central opponents led to dismal performances in the playoffs (only two World Series winners, the Twins losing 57 consecutive playoff games, and the Indians-Guardians … sigh… let’s not even go there).
Commissioner Rob Manfred, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to make baseball great again by sending us back to the Baha Men’s heyday and bring back balanced schedules, — only now with the added wrinkles of season-long interleague play and the universal DH!
Here’s how the games are broken down:
- Intradivision games reduced from 76 to 52 (13-game season series against every division rival)
- Intraleague games reduced from 66 to 64 (six games against six teams; seven games vs. the remaining four teams)
- Interleague games increased from 20 to 46 (!) (four games/home-and-home vs the “natural rivals”; 21 home games and 21 road games split with the remaining 14 NL teams)
So, what does this schedule look like for the White Sox? Let’s break it down, shall we?
MARCH/APRIL: Abreu’s Revenge
Nothing says get ready for more frequent matchups with top-tier competition than starting the 2023 season against the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. Man, watching them get their rings and put up their banner is gonna sting (better now than in 2005, right?) but all attention will be on the first baseman who won’t be getting any jewelry, as José Abreu starts his post-Sox career against some familiar foes. Tears will be shed by this author.
The Sox then come home for the G-Rate opener against the Carlos Rodón-less San Francisco Giants in the franchise’s first home opener against an NL opponent.
Unbalanced Tidbits: The years of the Sox and a hapless Tigers team facing off for the sixth time in a month are clearly over, as there is just a sole, three-game, mid-week series against the Twins on the road. The Pennsylvania Boys (Pirates and Bryce Harper’s NL Champion Phillies) make their acquaintances, and blink and you’ll miss the entire season slate vs. the Tampa Bay Rays!
MAY: Gonna party like it’s 2000-22!
Remember all those words I just spent on the balanced schedule? Well the schedule makers just said “F*%k that noise” and carbo-loaded the month with 20 division games, featuring six home tilts vs. the Guardians and Twins, and an octet of roadies with the Royals and Tigers. If there’s going to be a month where the White Sox want to stack up some wins against “inferior” competition, this is the one to likely set your expectations for the rest of the season.
Unbalanced Tidbits: Get your tickets ready for the inevitable José Abreu Concourse Statue & Jersey Number Retirement ceremony when Houston comes to visit. I sure hope they do another slow moving Chevy convertible lap around the stadium for Pito. Oh, and the month finishes with our annual visit from Shohei Ohtani and the Angels. Marvel at how one franchise can utterly waste two of the most dynamic players of our generation! See?! Other organizations can completely disappointment their fan bases, too!
JUNE: East Coast vs. West Coast: WHO YA GOT?
Well, enjoy the first series against Detroit, because it’s all Eastern and Western Division contests for the duration! Enjoy classic battles from the Atlantic (Yankees and Red Sox) and an always-pleasant reminder that the Miami Marlins exist. Or look to the Pacific Coast, with two separate road trips, including a visit to Chavez Ravine to face the Dodgers, then up to visit the Mariners. Then after a homestand to welcome the Multiverse’s Earth 2186.C 2021 White Sox manager Bruce Bochy’s Texas Rangers, it’s back to L.A. to finish up with the Angels and the Las Vegas-Oakland A’s.
Unbalanced Tidbits: Yours truly is happy to announce that he will be making his first visit to a stadium outside of this time zone, as he visits the Big Apple on June 7 to see Andrew Benintendi and (fingers crossed) Carlos Rodón have dueling revenge games! I’ll be in the second row of the left field section, near the comically-close foul pole. I am taking requests on which player jersey to wear!
JULY: Garfield’s Least Favorite Month
Why am I invoking the name of the lasagna-loving, Odie-kicking, orange-furred feline in an article about a baseball schedule? Dear reader, I will save that for the tidbits that follow! That’s called a tease, folks. July’s kind of weird, honestly, and maybe this is an unintended result of the balanced schedule. There’s a grab bag of random opponents (St. Louis and Atlanta), a second trip to New York to meet the Mets, a couple of Twins/Guardians matchups, a two-fer vs. the Cubs, and an All-Star Break thrown in there for good measure! Oh and celebrate ’Murica with a July 4 tilt vs. those Canadian bastards the Toronto Blue Jays.
Unbalanced tidbits: Oh right … the Garfield thing. Well, in a quirky homage to Garfield’s least favorite day of the week, there are zero Monday games for the entire month! Hmm …that sounded more interesting in my head …
AUGUST: José Ramírez can’t hurt us anymore!
Please send thank-you cards to the wonderful schedule-makers, as the first positive-ish consequence of six fewer divisional games comes into play as the Sox finish up their season series with the Guardians on August 6! No more José Ramírez and Josh Naylor grand slams to destroy our title hopes! Let’s hope the Sox can do some bumslaying with “easy” road matchups against the Rockies, Orioles, and Cubs.
Unbalanced Tidbits: In a move that will please plenty an old-school Sox fan, the Milwaukee Brewers will resume annual matchups with their former rivals. Let’s get Bernie Brewer and Southpaw to have a shirtless, bare-knuckled brawl instead of the postgame fireworks, whaddaya say Brooks Boyer?
SEPTEMBER (and one day in OCTOBER): The Leftovers
Now this is a way to start off the playoff push! Sixteen divisional games in 17 days to start September, finishing out the season series with the Royals, Twins, and Tigers (which may be the last chance you get to see future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cabrera lumber up to the plate and somehow have a last gasp of brilliance vs. the Sox). And to finish off the season, the schedule-makers must have acted like me when I’m folding socks (no pun intended) and find four randos that have no matching pair. “Uh … honey? Why do I have one set of Washington Nationals mixed in with my Red Sox? And in another weird quirk (and another likely first in Sox history), the final six-game home stand features two NL West members, our old Spring Training roommates the Arizona Diamondbacks, and closing out with Fernando Tatís Jr. and Adam Engel’s San Diego Padres. Let’s just hope the Sox can’t claim to be playing “October Baseball” on a technicality, agreed?
Unbalanced Tidbits: This is technically the second year in a row the Sox were scheduled to end the season against the Padres, but as you recall The Worst Commissioner In America led a campaign on the behalf of 30 billionaires to throw away last season to extract their pounds of flesh from the players. So the early-season, canceled Twins series was tacked on to the end of 2022 instead!
OK! That’s the 2023 White Sox schedule breakdown! I hope you enjoy this season, for what it’s worth. The fact that we survive each and every winter to get to the point where we can see the next baseball season just over the horizon is a feeling I still get every time the groundhog pops out of his hole to kill Bill Murray over and over and over.
Anyway, let the Championship Season BEGIN!!!