I never would have believed it would happen, and it still might not start, or make it to the projected end of season, but for today, baseball will start on Thursday with the New York Yankees facing the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals, followed by the San Francisco Giants battling long time rival the Los Angeles Dodgers. Everybody else begins on Friday.
The Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging our country, testing has been off to a shaky start, and as of this morning twelve major leaguers have opted out of this season because of concerns about this virus. (You can find the list on about 73 websites) There are several more on the fence, that may join them before the season starts this weekend, including the best player in the game, Mike Trout, along with Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant, and others. All along I have maintained that it will be the testing that does the season in and I still think that.
However, on a glass half full note, let's take a look at what we can expect for this season and get you ready for the start on Thursday.
New Rules Recap
2020 will see several new rules instituted, some just for this season, and some going forward. Just for this season, at this time, will be a biggie, the National League will be using the DH for all games. I hate it but at least everybody has the same rules finally. The other two rules for 2020, of note are, that if the game is still tied after the 10th inning, a runner will start on second base at the start of each half inning, also rosters, which normally have 25 players and grow to about 60 by September, will be the reverse this year. Teams will start with 30, get reduced to 28 after two weeks, 26 after two more weeks, but teams will be able to add a 27th player for double headers. There is a whole other set of rules for any Covid infections but it would take an hour to write it out so if you are craving this information go find a web site.
The one big rule change going forward will be when teams bring in a relief pitcher, he must face at least three batters, or end an inning. This will be significant for managers because they won't be able to switch pitchers for lefty/righty batters anymore. Some others that were scheduled for starting in 2020 have been pushed back to 2021.
If you like your baseball to be like a sprint, you are going to love this year. Only 60 games will be played to set up the postseason. 40 games against your division foes, and 20 games against teams from the opposite league, same division. So the Cubs and Sox will be facing their division and the Cubs will face the American League central while the Sox face the National League central. This was done to reduce travel because as we all know the Covid virus only moves outside of your own division and region of the country. A stupid rule change but whatever.
This weekend, one major new issue came up, and that is that Canada will not allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play in Toronto. Actually they will let them play, they just won't let them play any teams from America because we have no plan for stopping the spread of this virus. They are now scrambling to find a stadium to call home. Today Pittsburgh was mentioned as a possibility. I think they should play in Buffalo where there is a wonderful triple-A stadium and they would be only a short drive away from home.
American League Winners
East Central West
Rays Twins A's
Yankees White Sox Astros
Jays Indians Angels
Red Sox Tigers Rangers
Orioles Royals Mariners
National League Winners
East Central West
Braves Reds Dodgers
Phillies Brewers Padres
Nationals Cubs Diamondbacks
Mets Cardinals Rockies
Marlins Pirates Giants
ALWC - Yankees def. Astros
ALDS - Twins def. A's; Rays def. Yankees
ALCS - Rays def. Twins
NLWC - Phillies def. Brewers
NLDS - Braves def. Reds; Dodgers def. Phillies
NLCS - Dodgers def. Braves
World Series - Dodgers def. Rays
MVP - Mike Trout- Angels (if he plays all season)
Cy Young - Lucas Giolito - White Sox
Rookie of the Year - Wander Franco - Rays
MVP - Freddie Freeman - Braves
Cy Young - Kyle Hendricks - Cubs
Rookie of the Year - Gavin Lux - Dodgers
There you have my predictions for this season, if it makes it to the finish line. Teams have already started flouting the rules. If you've seen any games on TV, you have seen spitting, hugging, high fives, and many more things they are not supposed to be doing, including not social distancing on the bench. It will be miraculous if they finish the season.