Major League Baseball released its season schedule on Wednesday, and that means that the Minnesota Twins' schedule for 2013 has also been released.
There are many things that will be new in 2013 compared to past years. Mainly, the Twins will play interleague games throughout the season instead of playing them from late-May to mid-June. This is because of the Houston Astros' move from the National League Central to the American League West.
Despite the addition of full-season interleague play, the amount of divisional games (19) will remain the same in 2013, and the Twins will still have the 50/50 interleague split.
Besides that, there are several key dates and interesting tidbits about the 2013 schedule for the Twins as we look forward to their opener April 1 against the Detroit Tigers.
Speaking of that home opener, the April 1 game against the Detroit Tigers will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis.
As natural as it is for Minnesotans to have awkward conversations about the weather, it's just as natural for Twins fans to think about the worst case scenario when it comes to having a season opener at Target Field.
However, for as many snowouts like the one that happened at Progressive Field in Cleveland several seasons ago that forced them to play a series at Miller Park in Milwaukee, there are just as many that go off without a hitch in other cities that endure the same thing.
Major League Baseball decided to play it safe with the Twins in the first three seasons of their new ballpark, but they've decided that the Twins (like every other cold weather team) will have to brave the elements just like everybody else to begin 2013.
Johan Santana could make his return to Minnesota (and his first trip to Target Field) when the Mets visit the Twins April 12-14.
Johan Santana was one of the key figures in reviving the Twins franchise and building interest that eventually made Target Field a reality. Ironically, he's never seen the Twins' new home as he's played in the National League with the New York Mets.
The new season-long interleague play feature will allow Santana his first look at Target Field and his first appearance in Minnesota since the Twins traded him prior to the 2008 season.
Situations like this are always intriguing because nobody knows how the crowd will react. Will fans remember Santana as the ace that the Twins have failed to replace since dealing him for a sack of baseballs and a stick of gum?
Or will Twins fans remember Santana's desire to play in the big lights of New York which forced the trade in the first place?
Whatever happens, it will be good to see Santana back in Minnesota and hopefully pitching in front of Twins fans...even if it is for the opposing team.
The Twins will get to see Stephen Strasburg and the rest of the NL East as part of the revamped schedule in 2013.
There is a method to the overall madness of season-long interleague play. The Twins (and the rest of the American League Central) have been paired up with the National League East to make sure each team plays the same teams from the other league to ensure competitive balance.
This is why the Houston Astros' move to the American League works. Because all the divisions are now five teams a piece, Major League Baseball can pair divisions up and have them go after each other.
It's a system similar to that of the National Football League, and should have interleague play running a lot smoother and with less complaints.
As for the teams the Twins will be facing, they better pack a lunch. While the Twins will be facing the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, they'll also have to face the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and Philadelphia Phillies.
To see the lineup the Twins have been throwing out on a daily basis in 2012 face Stephen Strasburg might get ugly, but it helps fans from one league get to see stars from another league. This just makes sense.
Twins fans who make the yearly trip to Milwaukee will be disappointed with a two-game series in the middle of the week.
In a shred of bad news when it comes to the 2013 schedule, the annual six games between the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers has been downsized to four.
What normally feels like a party in the stands for fans when the two teams get together has become the sacrificial lamb in what is meant to build a friendlier schedule in the name of competitive balance.
What's even worse for the fans who make the trip to Milwaukee (or vice versa) is that the series will be played back-to-back in the middle of the week (May 27-30).
While good things should come out of the new schedule, this has to be a buzzkill for fans of the I-94 rivalry.
It may be unlikely that the Twins will be in contention come September 2013, but for the purposes of this article we can dream it. If this dream becomes a reality, the Twins could be in for a strong finish down the stretch.
The Twins will play 16 of their final 23 games of the 2013 season at the comfy confines of Target Field, and that number could increase if Mother Nature decides to give the Twins a sloppy April.
The bottom line is if the Twins find themselves at the top of the AL Central at the end of the season, they could have a huge advantage especially when the Twins will play the final seven games of that stretch against divisional opponents Cleveland and Detroit.
It may be far fetched, but it could be good news for a potential 2013 playoff run if the team overachieves.
The New York Yankees will come to town earlier in 2013. (They have yet to visit Target Field in 2012.)
April 1: Host Detroit Tigers at Target Field for 2013 season opener.
April 12-14: Host first interleague series of the year at Target Field when the New York Mets visit.
May 27-31: Twins and Brewers play four-game home-and-home series
July 1-4: Twins host New York Yankees
July 15-18: All-Star Break (Game July 17th at City Field in Queens, New York)
August 2-4: Twins play first games against AL newcomers, the Houston Astros
September 29: Home and regular season finale against the Cleveland Indians.