America’s National Pastime, at long last, is finally back!
When the Washington Nationals recorded the last out of the 2019 season on October 30th to secure the team’s first World Series title in a 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros, no one could have predicted that there would not be another regular season game until July 23.
No one could have predicted that one of Major League Baseball’s most egregious cheating scandals would come to light thanks to a tip from Mike Fiers of all people. That tip would result in the firings of Jeff Lunhow, AJ Hinch, the departure of Alex Cora from the Red Sox, and Carlos Beltran leaving his managerial position with the Mets before every managing a game.
No one could have predicted that a global pandemic would put all sporting events and the rest of the World to a halt for months on end.
No one could have predicted that the 2020 season would consist of 60 games and fans would be eliminated from the equation.
In light of everything that has taken place over the last few months around the world, unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. The 2020 Major League season will be unlike anything we have ever seen.
The MLB Season will commence with Dr. Anthony Fauci throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday, July 23rd, before the reigning World Champion Washington Nationals face off against the New York Yankees in Washington. A few hours later, the rivalry continues between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants who will face off in their first match of the season. On Friday, every other MLB team will play their first game of the shortened season.
Here is everything you need to know about this historic season before it commences:
On account of the COVID-19 outbreak, many new rules will be implemented in order to insure the safety of the players for the shortened season. These rules will insure that no games will be played with fans in attendance. To combat the empty seats, many teams will place cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands. As far as television broadcasts of the games are concerned, the lack of fans will cause broadcasts to utilize artificial crowd noise.
All players are prohibited from spitting and the players have been asked to keep high fives and contact with other players to a minimum. Additionally, the National League will be adopting the Designated Hitter for the season.
This upcoming season, if the events that have taken place in Spring Training carry over to the regular season, we may be seeing a surplus of players kneeling for the National Anthem in protest of Police Brutality after members of the Giants and Cincinnati Reds participated in this means of peaceful protest. Giants Manager Gabe Kapler is believed to be the first head coach or manager in the four major North American sports to protest in this way.
As far as news north of the border is concerned, the Blue Jays are currently in some hot water regarding where they will call home this season.
The Toronto Blue Jays remain homeless after initially intending on playing in Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that the Blue Jays would not be playing in Pittsburgh. While some sources have pointed to Baltimore potentially being a home for the team this season, if that doesn’t work, Toronto will be in search of a place to play their home games this season. With five days left before the Blue Jays are set to “host” an opener, they remain without a venue to call home.
With the shortened season there have also been players that have opted out of playing in 2020. Thus far there have been 14 players to opt out. Those 14 are: Mike Leake, Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross, Ian Desmond, David Price, Tyson Ross, Felix Hernandez, Nick Markakis, Buster Posey, Michael Kopech, Jordan Hicks, Wellington Castillo, Hector Noesi, and Colin McHugh.
The shortened season will also come along with many questions attached. Will the World Series title hold as much weight as in a 162-game season? What if someone hits .400? How will this effect certain player’s careers in the long term? Where will this season stand in Major League History from a historical standpoint?
Much like this season in general. The answer to the questions are impossible to answer before the fact. The reality of this whole season and the time and social climate that surrounds it goes to show just how little we truly know about the future of the game, society, and everything else in between.
Despite this season carrying so much doubt and skepticism around it, it remains a glimmer of hope. The light at the end of the tunnel for the baseball world. No, we won’t get a full season, but at the end of the day, baseball is baseball. In times that have been anything but normal, it is going to be a great thing to finally have the National Pastime back in action. In a time of such decisiveness in the country, baseball gives everyone something to get behind and escape the constant controversy this country has found itself entrenched in, and that is why this game will always be the greatest ever invented.
Here’s to another season of Major League Baseball!