The Chicago Tribune
Fans of the national pastime, there is good news: The baseball gods have answered your prayers. The summer of 2020 will not be a total loss. The Major League Baseball season will be drastically abbreviated, short on spectators and diﬀerent in ways that may cause purists to pound the ground with a Louisville Slugger. But ﬁnally, there is joy in Mudville.
After months of tedious bickering between players and owners, the latter exercised their prerogative to impose a solution. It features a 60-game season, with the season beginning July 23 or 24.
A warning, folks: It’s gonna be a little weird, even aside from scheduling opening day well after the usual All-Star break. Speaking of which, there presumably won’t be an All-Star break. At the outset, at least, the stands will be empty — which, granted, won’t be an entirely new sight in Chicago. After all, this city’s ballclubs have experienced a losing season or two.
National League pitchers will no longer endure the humiliation of trying to make use of a bat. Forty of each team’s games will be against division rivals, and the rest will be against teams in the corresponding division of the other league, to reduce travel. Games may be moved to neutral stadiums to protect health and safety.
In extra innings, each team will start its half of the inning with a runner on second. Such traditions as spitting and high-ﬁving are forbidden. (Scratching, protective cup adjustments and weird batter tics will go on as before.)
“Non-playing personnel will wear masks in the dugout and bullpen at all times,” says MLB, and no, not catcher’s masks. Players and coaches will be tested for COVID-19 every other day, and anyone who tests positive will be quarantined.
We should all keep our expectations low. A mass outbreak of the virus could derail everything. But then, every baseball fan knows that the high hopes at the start of the season may end in tears.
Baseball in 2020 won’t be quite what we’d all prefer. There is an upside, though, as former Yankees pitcher Mike Stanton pointed out: “This will be a year that everyone remembers. Everyone.”