Well, baseball never started this season—so is it really back?—but, regardless, it’s here folks: Major League Baseball will be playing games on fields without fans with social distancing in the dugouts and no spitting allowed.
If you read that sentence at this time last year, you’d probably be really confused.
I sure am.
With all of the bickering that went on between the owners and players association, I had thrown in the towel on the idea of a season even happening this year. I don’t buy into the “but we need sports as a distraction!!!” thing. Because, guess what, those players aren’t immune to COVID just because you want to forget about the fact we’re in a pandemic. Sorry. I think you can live without baseball for a season.
So here’s where we’re at:
- A shortened season of 60 games, starting today and tomorrow.
- The players reported to “Summer Camp” on July 1 and have been working out in their own stadiums.
- The schedule includes “10 games for each team against its four divisional opponents, along with 20 games against the opposite league’s corresponding geographical division (for example, the AL East will play the NL East, and so on).” (MLB)
- Players are being paid a full prorated portion of their 2020 salary based on games played, which is approximately 37 percent for the full season. (So instead of Mike Trout making $37.67 million this season, he’ll make $13.95 million. Again, I’d be happy getting the league minimum.)
- Universal DH in both leagues (!!!)
- Again, no spitting (!!!)
There is an official COVID-19 option on the IL for those who test positive. As of July 17, 80 players had tested positive. Here’s a fun info graphic article from ESPN that outlines MLB’s protocols for players. Now this is a rule I can get behind:
Home Clubs may have their mascot in the ballpark if they choose, however under no circumstances are mascots permitted on the field of play or in any other restricted area on game days.League Protocol (ESPN)
However, I do think that the mascot is probably the safest person at the park because of the costume’s head. You don’t have to worry about a mask. (But folks wear your masks!!!!)
As I’m writing this Thursday afternoon, Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals has tested positive. He’s been around his team all this week, so what happens now? He quarantines but what about the rest of the team? I’m not shocked that this has happened—someone was bound to test positive—but like did MLB not think this was going to happen? And if they keep on playing, the numbers could go up as the teams travel more.
At least the NBA is playing in a bubble and no one is allowed to leave Disney. But MLB is letting these teams just travel around the country like we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic? Granted they purposely modified the schedules to reduce travel, but still: they’re getting on planes and going into different ball parks after each series.
Speaking of travel, can we talk about the poor Toronto Blue Jays for a second? It’s pretty much like MLB forgot they had a Canadian team in the league, but, oh, that’s right, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that hasn’t happened since 1917. (The Blue Jays have been around since 1977.) Canada said “Uh, thanks but no thanks” and aren’t letting the Blue Jays play at the Rogers Centre because of the dramatic increase of COVID cases in the states and that the Blue Jays and opponents would be in and out of the country. Hey, I don’t blame our neighbors to the north.
So that technically leaves the Blue Jays homeless. Some options where they could play included PNC Park, their triple A stadium in Buffalo, or their training facility in Florida. I can tell you right now: DON’T GO TO FLORIDA. Baltimore is also floating around, as well as Dunkin’ Donuts Park (home of the double A Hartford Yard Goats) but regardless, the Blue Jays have their first “home” game scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, so they have to figure it out soon.
I’d like to give some space to my fellow blogging buddy, Blue Jays super fan, and resident Canadian, Paul, to share his thoughts on the Jays lack of a home:
Thank you, Becky, for allowing me to interrupt your blog post with a special edition of, Where In The World Are The Toronto Blue Jays Playing? I can’t decide which analogy is more appropriate: are the Blue Jays playing a never-ending game of musical chairs, where it’s rigged for them to lose every time, or are they sitting in the back of a car, asking the driver, “Are we there yet?” every 30 seconds. Either way, there will be a resolution to this and the team will tell us they will try to “make the most out of it.” Here’s hoping they win the World Series.
MLB and the MLBPA also approved today to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16. At that point, WHY NOT JUST LET EVERYONE INTO THE POSTSEASON? That’s assuming we even make it that far.
So yeah. I’m now taking bets for when the season will shut down completely. I’m placing the over/under at two weeks. Please leave your bets, concerns, questions, and thoughts about the creepy virtual fans FOX Sports are putting in the stands down in the comments.