Baseball is finally happening.
The owners and MLBPA had it taken out of their hands on Monday 22nd June. A 60-game season is planned to go ahead (assuming the players agree to the health and safety arrangements). The regular season will begin in late July.
It’s been a long, ugly slog for a league that could’ve done without the atrocious PR.
The damage, as highlighted by Buster Olney, has only really been delayed. That’s a topic we’ve covered here before, though. This is a period of comparative celebration, an opportunity to look forward to some baseball in a few weeks’ time.
If baseball is back, it will be a season like no other. Players will likely sit out, and there’s a randomness thrown into the equation that 162 games does not allow for. There will be a cloud of frustration – players like Trevor Bauer will continue to make the ridiculousness of the situation clear.
While fans of the league’s (to put it kindly) least competitive teams, dreamt of a shock run to a World Series and others postured about an asterisk, Mike Petriello provided a voice of reason.
Best teams after 60 in 19:
LAD, HOU, MIN, NY
BAL, KC, TOR, DET
The middle will be an absolute mess, but 60 should at least get the great teams up and the bad teams down.
(But the 19 Nats! I know. Historic outlier in any year. 162 is arbitrary, too.)
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) June 23, 2020
Maybe it won’t be a Marlins and Tigers World Series after all.
The best should still be the best over 60 games. They are, of course, more vulnerable to injuries derailing their season. As Petriello highlights, the middling teams could fall into any order. The prospect of a player hitting .400 or a reliever leading the league in wins is very real.
Baseball is a meritocratic sport in the regular season. The 2020 campaign will be different. There’s randomness, there’s chaos, all the things that a smaller sample size brings. Hot streaks become not just a helpful run, they could change a team’s whole year. What would have been an injury that saw a starter miss a handful of starts suddenly rules them out for most of the year.
It’s going to be different. It’s going to be weird.
It’s not a long-term, or maybe even short-term, fix. Baseball’s problems remain, and this could be the first in a lengthy series of labour disputes.
For now, though, it will just be good to have baseball back, however funky it ends up being.