The Wacky Outlook of Baseball

Less than a month ago spring training was in full swing as fans and teams alike were getting geared up for a thrilling season of baseball. Then, suddenly, it all came screeching to a halt. As concerns over the spread of COVID-19 grew the nation, and the world, went into a state of lockdown, cancelling all large public gatherings for the foreseeable future. Some of the most optimistic estimates have everything being back to ‘normal’ by June, but that is only if drastic measures are taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Other, more realistic estimates have public gatherings not happening again until 2021.

Until we are allowed back outside and to continue our everyday lives as we once did people are stuck in their homes trying to kill time, looking forward to that first day of life post quarantine and thinking about what it may look like. As much fun as it would be to try and predict when life will return to normal lets just try and figure out what things could look like this year for baseball.

If everything works ideally, and that’s a big if, we might be able to play baseball as soon as July. Lets say baseball can have opening day on July 1, this would give the MLB 3 months to squeeze in as many games as possible, all while taking into account the increased workload on players. Commissioner Rob Manfred said that “Nothing is off the table” for the 2020 season, including scheduled doubleheaders, and possibly shortening some games.

At first glance it is obviously not ideal for the MLB and its minor leagues to have a shortened season, but perhaps there are some ways that positives can come from the possibility of playing an abbreviated year. Many ideas have been tossed into the ring. As more data about the virus is gained and we come closer to getting out of quarantine more and more are starting to come out.

On Monday, Jeff Passon reported the possibility of the MLB returning to spring training in May, with regular season games starting soon after that.

The teams would all stay in hotels in Phoenix, not leaving except to go to and from the ballpark each day. The games would be played in front of no fans, at Chase Field and the many spring training facilities in the area, as the league tries to play as much of a season as they can without risking a massive outbreak within the league.

Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins threw out the idea of playing 7 inning doubleheaders, saving four innings on players bodies, while creating more games.  This seems like one of the most reasonable solutions for an abbreviated season.  If the league were able to start by mid-summer, allowing for more than 100 games to be played. It also is not that outside of the box as this is a scheduling tactic that has been used by the minor leagues to make up rained out games.

But, lets step back for a second and think about what else can be done with an already abnormal season. The MLB has talked about implementing pitch clocks in recent years as a way to decrease game time. Why not break that out this year and see if it works? It has been used in AA and AAA since 2015, so players have seen it before. This season is already so out of the ordinary, it is the perfect opportunity to try new ideas and see if they will work in the future for the sport.

Sports being gone effects more than just the leagues, having bearing on the communities they are in. In a call with all the major sports league commissioners Saturday President Trump Stressed the importance of sports when this is all over. Rochester Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason said that when baseball returns “It could be that people are wearing masks in baseball stadiums, if not all over the country”. In a time where we are not allowed to gather, sports will be there afterwards to link communities once again. Sports, like music, is one of those things that brings people of all walks of life together. It transcends race, age and gender.

“The things about baseball is that there are games every single day”, said Mason, “so it gets woven into peoples routines, for the rabid fans it becomes a huge chunk of their life, all the way from April to October.”  Sports are an integral part of our lives, giving endless hours of entertainment, and in these times we come to appreciate the impact that it has on the world around us and the people it brings together.


Posted in MLB