Major League Baseball has made it easier for fans of non-contending teams to think about next season by releasing the 2009 schedule today. It seems like this is being released earlier than usual, but let's consider it a gift.
Your Detroit Tigers will begin the year with a four-game set in Toronto, which provides local fans with an opportunity for a fun season-opening road trip. Opening Day at Comerica Park will be April 10, with the Texas Rangers as the opponent. The New York Yankees also visit Detroit early in the season, closing out April with a three-game series.
Jim Leyland doesn't want to hear his hitters complain about cold weather being responsible for slow starts next year, and the early road schedule gets them out of the midwest for the most part, with trips to Seattle and Anaheim. (Kansas City is hardly tropical, but should be a little bit warmer than Detroit in April.) Leyland also won't get to squawk about playing the Thursday after the All-Star break, as the Tigers will get that day off.
Unfortunately, National League West teams aren't a big part of the Tigers' 2009 schedule, so they won't get to load up wins that way. The Colorado Rockies do visit Detroit in May, but the interleague division of choice next year will be the NL Central. The Tigers will travel to Pittsburgh, St. Louis (finally, Cards fans - your team doesn't have to go to Detroit), and Houston, while hosting the Cubs and Milwaukee, all of which takes place in June.
One road trip we'll probably be hearing about: Going from Houston, then out to Oakland, before coming back to Minnesota in late June/early July. I can't wait to hear Mario and Rod talk about that one.
Finally, it's all AL Central from mid-September to the end of the season on October 4, with six series against division opponents. If the Tigers are in the race, they'll have an opportunity to take care of their own business.
Take a look at the schedule for yourself. Anything else that catches your eye?