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 The Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics kicked off the 2008 season by splitting two games in Tokyo. Now get ready for the start of a new era in Washington and the end of one in New York, milestones and spirited rivalries. Here are several important dates:
Sunday, March 30
Atlanta at Washington: The Nationals host the Braves in the first regular-season game at Nationals Park, a 41,888-seat riverside ballpark with cherry trees beyond the left-field wall and a view of the Capitol from the upper deck.
Friday, April 4
Arizona at Colorado: The Diamondbacks travel to Denver for the Rockies' first game at Coors Field since they were swept by Boston in the World Series. Colorado swept NL West champion Arizona in the championship series and both teams are strong contenders again this year.
Tuesday, April 8
Detroit at Boston: The Red Sox started the season in Japan and are scheduled for Oakland's and Toronto's home openers before they even make it to Fenway Park. Their first homestand starts with three games against Miguel Cabrera and the revamped Tigers and concludes with a weekend series against the New York Yankees.
Philadelphia at New York Mets: The Phillies ran down the Mets late last season to win the NL East title and send New York into an uncertain winter. Philadelphia carries an eight-game winning streak in the series into their first matchup this year - the last home opener at Shea Stadium.
Monday, May 5
Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati: Ken Griffey Jr. and the Reds host the NL Central favorite Cubs in the opener of a three-game set. Griffey is just seven home runs shy of 600 heading into the season.
Monday, June 2
Los Angeles Angels at Seattle: The AL West rivals featuring two of the deepest rotations in the majors meet in the opener of a three-game set. Los Angeles has won three of the past four division titles.
Friday, June 27
New York Yankees at New York Mets: Joe Girardi makes his first and last trip to Shea as Yankees manager unless the Big Apple rivals meet again in the postseason. The Mets and Yankees split six games last year.
Tuesday, July 15
All-Star game: Yankee Stadium hosts its fourth All-Star game and first since 1977. It also becomes the first ballpark to host the Midsummer Classic during the final year it will be open. The AL won 5-4 last year in San Francisco to improve to 5-0 since the winner received home-field advantage in the World Series.
Friday, July 18
Boston at Los Angeles Angels: So much for easing back after the All-Star break. These two American League powers kick off the second half with a weekend series and July doesn't get much easier from there. The Red Sox travel north to Seattle after playing the Angels, who welcome in the Indians after the set against Boston.
Sunday, July 27
Hall of Fame inductions: Goose Gossage, a nine-time All-Star known for his fiery demeanor, takes his 310 saves to Cooperstown. He'll be joined by five men elected by the revamped Veterans Committee: former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth, and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss.
Tuesday, July 31
Trade deadline: The last chance for teams to make deals without having to pass players through waivers first.
Monday, Aug. 25
Cleveland at Detroit: This is the opener of the penultimate series between the two AL Central rivals expected to battle all summer for the division title. After this three-game series, the Indians host the Tigers in September for a weekend set in their final regular-season meeting.
Sunday, Sept. 21
Baltimore at New York Yankees: The final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium.
Friday, Sept. 26
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee: The Brewers prevented San Diego from clinching a postseason spot in the final series last year at Miller Park. This season Milwaukee's final home series could be for the NL Central title.
Sunday, Sept. 28
Florida at New York Mets: The final regular-season game at Shea Stadium.
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