Baseball is back. Those three words have never sounded sweeter after both the MLB and MLBPA went back and forth numerous times during discussions. The players united with a slogan, “tell us when and where” and earlier this week they received the answer to that question.
Players will report to Spring Training at their respective home ballparks on July 1st with the 60 game season slated to begin on July 24th. A majority of the games will be against divisional opponents with interleague competition coming against teams from the same regional. For example, those in the NL East will square off against those in the AL East, teams in the NL West will complete against their AL West counterparts, and so forth.
What would the season have looked like last year after 60 games?
It’s hard to predict how a 60 game season will affect teams and which teams have an upper hand during this shortened season. Take a look at 2019. The Washington Nationals were below .500 at 27-33 and fourth in the NL East, but would go onto finish 93-69 and World Series Champions. Their World Series opponent the Houston Astros along with the Minnesota Twins, both had identical 40-20 records.
While the postseason format will remain the same, there will be some noticeable differences during the regular season. One of those will come with a universal DH. No longer will we be waiting by boded breath to see what our favorite star pitcher is going to do in the batter’s box.
Also, new to the 2020 regular season only, will be a rule that takes place with bonus baseball. Every half-inning after the ninth will begin with a runner on second base, similar to what they do in the Minor Leagues as well as softball.
Of course, the obvious is no fans in attendance. Will the MLB take a piece out of the KBO marketing handbook and put stuffed animals or cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands? Will they pump in audio of fans? One suggestion to make the game more marketable would be to stagger the start times of games much like the NFL so that baseball is constantly on the tube. We love that idea as you can never get enough of America’s National Pastime.
Due to COVID-19 the safety of players, coaches, and staff is paramount. Routine temperature and symptoms checks will occur twice daily while antibody testing will happen once per month. Players not in the game will be social distancing in the stands six feet apart while those that aren’t playing also must wear masks at all times.
Other notable precautions include:
• No pregame exchange of lineup cards.
• No celebratory contact (high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, etc.).
• No spitting or chewing of tobacco and/or sunflower seeds. Chewing gum is allowed.
• A ball will be thrown out once it has been touched by multiple players.
• Fights are strictly prohibited.
The World Series Champion will be…
With a shortened season, people have questioned if the best team at the end of the year will be a TRUE World Series Champion. To that, we say, absolutely. Divisional contests at a premium and the same postseason format. This year, teams will also need to make sure their players are well-rested, healthy, and depth will be incredibly important.
According to several Las Vegas sportsbooks, the Los Angeles Dodgers with offseason acquisition Mookie Betts and the New York Yankees with new ace Gerrit Cole are the odds on favorites to meet in the World Series. The number one and two television markets in the United States could drive unprecedented ratings. Other teams to look out for include the Astros, Twins, A’s, Braves, Rays, and last year’s champion the Nationals.
The squads with the least likely odds of playing postseason ball in October? Those would be the Orioles, Tigers, and Marlins.
No matter how the season plays out we’re just happy to have baseball back. Now, let’s play ball!