It finally happened.
Major League Baseball will have a season.
After close to three months of negotiations that went nowhere, the league implemented a 60-game season that will begin on either July 23 or 24, and the players will report to training camp on Wednesday.
The news broke early Tuesday night, and the players’ union sent a tweet confirming there will be a season.
“All remaining issues have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps,” the tweet stated.
They will play a 60-game season that will end on Sept. 27. The same 10-team playoff structure will remain. There is a universal DH rule for the first time and will include the postseason. The National League will not have pitchers hit for the first time in history.
All extra innings games will have a runner start the inning on second base in hopes of those extra innings games ending sooner. This rule only applies for the regular season.
The 60-game schedule includes 40 games played against teams in their own division. Every team gets 10 games apiece against each of the other four teams in the division. The other 20 games will be played against teams in their interleague divisions. For example, American League East will play teams in the National League East.
It appears at this time that all teams will play the regular season games in their home parks. Playing the division games and interleague with corresponding divisions eliminates cross-country travel and keeps teams relatively close to home.
Now the specifics are out of the way, how did we reach this deal?
Well, according to the March 26 agreement between the owners and players, the commissioner would impose a season if the two sides could not make an agreement. As that was the case, commissioner Rob Manfred implemented the 60-game season along with the guarantee players would get their full prorated salaries, which was a major part of the players’ deal. The owners didn’t want to give the players that money in several offers, and in the others, they wanted to shorten the season so the prorated salaries didn’t give them enough money.
Next comes the coronavirus and how they will handle positive tests and other issues. I recently wrote about an outbreak just last week in Phillies camp. According to the health and safety protocol, players will be tested every other day even if they are asymptomatic. For anyone who tests positive, the requirements to come back are to test negative twice at least 24-hours apart, have no fever in last 72 hours and take an antibody test.
Here is something else to ponder as we head into the 60-game season, there are normally 162 games in a regular MLB season. More than half of the season remains after teams hit the 60-game threshold. In years past, teams that were doing well after 60 games fell off and didn’t make the playoffs. The same can be said for teams that were playing poorly but turned things around and made the playoffs.
The biggest example of that would be last year’s Washington Nationals. After 60 games, the Nationals were not in playoff contention, and therefore the World Series champions from last year wouldn’t have even had a chance to compete for the title if they played the shortened season like this year.
It takes teams a while to gel, especially teams that did major restructuring after last season or lost key players to injury. New players have to learn the ways of their new team, and the veterans have to work with rookies or other young players they may have never worked with. Sometimes it takes time to get on the same page with them.
Time is one thing teams do not have. Sixthy games in 66 days is a tight window to get things together and put together a run to the playoffs. Teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros don’t need a lot of time. They have the talent and experience to roll from day one, but other teams aren’t so lucky.
It should be a lot of fun to see how things play out as the season gets going in a month. I know I railed against the leagues, owners and players multiple times over the last months, but baseball is back and that is what matters.
America’s national pastime seemed days away from damaging its image beyond repair but was able to salvage the game at the last second. I am excited everyone got at least a little bit of what they wanted, but mainly I am glad the game we all know and love will be played this year because baseball is more than a game to so many.