Almost every day now we are getting bits and pieces of information, from credible and questionable sources, about what, where, and when baseball will take place in 2020. For my money, the only reliable source is my good friend over at CubsHQ.com, Ken Allison.
Ken has said repeatedly that baseball will happen in 2020, and he is so damned sure of it that he has stopped crossing his fingers, and no longer makes it his final wish each night before ending his prayers. "Star light, star bright..."
Here is what we know for sure as of May 2nd.
MLB is starting to whittle down their plans to holding a new spring training, in the home ballparks of each team, that will last about five weeks or so. They would like to begin the season sometime between mid June and early July.
The season will last between 82 and 110 games, depending on their start date. The union and MLB are still negotiating salary structure which could make this whole thing come crashing down. Players want to be paid for games played prorated and owners want to only pay a portion of their salary. (Exact details are unclear)
MLB has come to an agreement with the umpires on pay, roles, etc., and they would like to limit the number of staff involved because they plan on testing often and the cost, and number of people around the players, is a concern.
Fans would likely not be present for at least the first thirty days of the season and then it would be open to them based on each markets rules on socializing. Originally the thought was to hold games in three markets only, Phoenix, Arlington, TX, and either Miami or Tampa, FL. It is now looking like teams, and players, are pushing back on this, so expect to see all stadiums being used.
What does look like a sure thing, is a revised league structure. Expect three divisions. An East, West, and Central divisions with ten teams in each division. Playoffs are yet to be determined, but I can see them going with the top four finishers in each division, seeded 1-12, and reseeded after each round so that you would end up with the best possible World Series matchup.
If you haven't seen the proposed division teams, here you go.
East: Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, and Marlins.
Central: Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Cardinals, Royals, Reds, Indians, Twins, Braves, and Tigers.
West: Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Athletics, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Rangers, Astros, and Mariners.
I'm not sure why they have the Braves in the central and the Pirates in the East, but maybe that will change.
Look for some unusual things for 2020 also as this will be MLB's opportunity to introduce changes to the game under cover of, "it's not really a season". Rumors include, electronic balls and strikes, 7 inning double headers, after ten innings and the game is still tied, put a runner on 2nd base, and everybody will be using the DH, or nobody will be using the DH.
Without a doubt it is going to be a whacky season, if they actually play. I'm still only 40% convinced there will be games in 2020, but that is up from 5% a month ago. The biggest issues for me are, can they effectively test players and what happens if a superstar catches the virus? Is it fair to have, say, the Dodgers lose Cody Bellinger or the Angels to Mike Trout while the rest of the West has all their stars?
Also, even if the states give the OK to open parks, will fans actually want to sit shoulder to shoulder for three hours without a vaccine available yet? If MLB does not allow fans into the games, how can the teams generate enough revenue to pay players and staff? Will hotels even be open for teams to stay when they travel and will they have places to eat?
There are still so many social issues up in the air that it just seems unlikely that a case can be made to have a season. As much as I miss the game, I don't want to see an abomination taking place that really ruins the game going forward. It might just be better to sit this year out and try to start fresh next spring.
UPDATE ON THE MONSTERS
For those of you that have called, written, or texted regarding the life status of our two monsters, rest assured that life is still golden for them.
Their annual "Christmas in May" party yesterday.