Here we are again, another critical week in terms of baseball resuming for a 2020 season. The MLB owners sent their non-starter of a proposal to the players, and the players have responded with what ownership describes identically. We need to bridge that gap, and quickly, but if we do what is it all going to look like?
There’s a couple of assumed certainties already in play that, regardless of where all of the chips fall, these thing should take place in some form or fashion.
While it’s long been suggested that the National League brings about a higher level of strategy in having to deal with an incapable batter, the universal DH makes too much sense. It creates 15 more jobs, a better market in free agency for the position, and relieves fans from having to watch a pitcher flail away before becoming an assumed automatic out.
The Twins are well positioned here with Nelson Cruz, and they’ve got a host of other candidates that could cycle through for reps as well. This is going to happen in 2020 if there’s baseball, and it’s likely to be adopted by the new CBA as well.
The most economical strategy would be to play more games. However, owners get relief from player salaries should the season be shortened. Ownership proposed an 80-game schedule while the players went with a more aggressive 114 game approach. The former allows for somewhat of a resumption situation while the latter would have teams playing into October with a later Postseason.
At this point it’s expected we see teams play in their home stadiums. There won’t be any fans and the schedules will likely be shuffled to include a significantly higher portion of regional contests. At this point, I don’t believe we’ll see any division re-alignment.
This has been proposed by both sides, and the players took it a step further to suggest doing so in each of the next two seasons. The Postseason is where owners rake in the largest revenues, and this would allow more teams and longer coverage. Players are also talking about competing in these games during November, which would likely mean more neutral site contests in warm weather cities.
Baseball’s schedule being 162 games allows for it to be the ultimate marathon prior to the Postseason. Although the one-game Wild Card is a point of contention, it places a premium on winning your Division. In more of a sprint schedule, it makes sense to open things up a bit and allow the cream of the crop to rise up.
Large Taxi Squads
There’s little reason to expect anything but minor league baseball to be banged this season. The logistics alone are cumbersome, and then there’s the reality that Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to downsize. Teams are going to have expanded rosters, and then there will be some sort of ready-and-waiting guys capable of taking over.
Organizations could run intrasquad contests at their Spring Training sites, and there may be an opportunity to have a group of players travel near the team. Minnesota’s closest affiliate is Cedar Rapids, but who knows if that will have a factor on future decisions.
At the end of the day I think what we’ll have to remember about Major League Baseball in 2020 is that you still have to catch and hit the ball. The logistics and optics of the game will likely be drastically altered. In a sport tied so tightly to its record book, we’ll have questions about how they all stack up for years to come. Should a World Series happen, and a winner be crowned however, they’ll have taken the trophy on the same uncertain playing field everyone else is dealing with.
Let’s just hope we’ve got a season to worry about. Buckle up.