2011 MLB TV Schedule: 10 Best early season MLB matchups on national TV

We are roughly 48 hours from another intense, unpredictable and enjoyable Major League Baseball season.

This year, the Boys of Summer are beginning earlier than ever (the regular season will end mid-week instead of on a Sunday for the first time in eons, so who says baseball cannot adjust? They actually do moreso than any other sport), on Thursday the 31st with half a dozen games —  before we’re presented with a full weekend slate.

Here are ten nationally-televised matchups to keep an eye on prior to the July All-Star Break in Phoenix:

Giants-Dodgers (Thurs, 3/31): There are just two small things I miss about living in Los Angeles: In-N-Out Burger and Dodger Stadium. A 5pm battle in the late afternoon sun between historic rivals on Opening Day– one now being the defending champs — is simply delicious.

Padres-Cardinals (Sat, 4/2):  Many believe these teams will be down in 2011, but baseball is too hard to forecast like that. An inter-divisional matchup of two strong second place clubs from last year on this season’s first weekend is very enticing — especially since I will be in attendance!

Yankees-Red Sox (Sat, 4/9): The Yankees may struggle this season, while the Red Sox are considered the best team in baseball; but even though we midwesterners love to poke fun at this overhyped matchup, it’s still ‘special,’ particularly the first series each season.

Rangers-Yankees (Sun, 4/17): While the Rangers’ pennant-winning club of 2010 exorcised 40 seasons of frustration, it was extra awesome that they knocked off the hated Yankees along the way (since New York ended Texas’s season three times in the late 90s). This game will conclude the teams’ first matchup since the 4-2 ALCS win for Texas last October.

White Sox-Tigers (Sat, 4/23): Many expect the Twins to take a step back in 2011, and if they do, these two upper midwest rivals will duke it out for AL Central supremacy. Chicago and Detroit compete in six head-to-head series this season, but this will be the first round.

mlb-tv-schedule-best-matchupsPadres-Cardinals Reds-Cardinals (Sun, 4/24): Though the Reds pulled away in September to win the NL Central with ease, Saint Louis still dominated the head-to-head series in 2010, including a huge sweep in August before the Cardinals fell apart down the stretch. And I don’t need to remind you about the unique brawl in Cincy during that key series, beginning with Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina, ending with Chris Carpenter pinned against the backstop. No love here between these two rivals. This series will also be their first meeting of 2011.

Braves-Phillies (Sun, 5/8): The Braves first visit to Philly of 2011 culminates with a Sunday night telecast. (We can all be thankful to ESPN for finally putting the annoying Jon Miller/Joe Morgan broadcast team out to pasture last November.) These are arguably the two top teams in the NL East, and with the Phillies’ celebrated rotation, you have an 80 percent chance of seeing a top-tier pitcher in this one too.

Rangers-Phillies (Sat, 5/21): Interleague play returns with this unique matchup that was nearly your 2010 World Series. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers have fared through seven weeks at this juncture, as well as whether Philly’s Fabulous Four have lived up the hype, or floundered a bit like Miami’s “Heatles” so far.

Reds-Giants (Sat, 6/11): If the Reds perform to expectations, this could be a midseason matchup of two of the NL’s best, as Cincy embarks upon a west coast swing.

Yankees-Cubs (Sat, 6/18): Ten weeks in, one or both of these squads could be buried in 3rd or 4th place, but this is why Interleague Play exists: Yankees at Wrigley. If you want proof of baseball’s popularity, stop by Wrigley Field on Father’s Day Weekend.

*White Sox-Cubs (honorable mention,Sat, 7/2): A late Saturday afternoon start on 4th of July weekend at Wrigley for the cross-town showdown. Surely an epic scene, even if the game is often secondary.

Full season national broadcast lineup here.

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. Jack Mehoff says:

    i Had to stop after I saw the author wrote about the dodgers/giants "many people believe these teams will be down on 2011" and then claimed they are 2nd place teams from a year ago…I hate when people talk about something they have no clue about. the giants are defending champs, and are still going to make a strong run towards one of the best records in the league with Pablo looking like his 2009 form and Posey being on the roster for a full year.

    I've heard people say the chances of winning a WS again are slim, but no one saying they are going to be worse this year

    • Oh, I think there are plenty of people who think they could be worse. The Giants have dealt with injuries this spring, and they taxed their pitchers a lot during the playoffs last year. Look what happened to the White Sox in 2006. The year after winning the World Series we jumped out to the best record in baseball at the break, then our pitching fell apart in the 2nd half of the season because all of our pitchers had thrown 20-30 more innings than usual en route to the World Series. The Giants got hot and caught lightning in a bottle last year. That is hard to duplicate. They'll be good, but I don't think it would shock anyone other than the most ardent Giants fans if they fall short of another title or even short of another playoff berth.

    • I didn't say that. It was a typo. That game I'm referring to is SD-STL. I have edited it in. SF/LA are both very good and not down. You should have noticed the 4/2 date and realized it was a different game.

      You're therefore excused for your rant, I suppose.

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