Baseball Officially Back With Plenty Of Changes
Back and forth they went with offers, refusals, media leaks, statements from disgruntled parties but in the end an agreement was reached and baseball is set to return for 2020.
Now that the two sides have reached an accord they have to do battle against the common enemy, the coronavirus. Already several Philadelphia Phillies have tested positive and late last night it was revealed that three Colorado Rockies had also tested positive.
While the two sides have agreed to health and safety protocols the virus will remain as the biggest hurdle to overcome during the abbreviated season. It will be interesting to see the number of positive tests as players and club personnel get tested in mass before reporting to the agreed upon resumption of training on July 1st.
Opening day is set for July 23 or 24th and teams will play an abbreviated 60-game schedule. To avoid travel, teams are going to play against their own division (10 games each) and the corresponding division from the other league (4 games each).
This schedule arrangement means the Tampa Bay Rays will play 10 games against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Baltimore Orioles. The remaining games will be five games against the World Champion Washington Nationals, the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and the Miami Marlins. Currently, the schedule has not been released as it will have to be agreed upon between the players and owners.
There will be several new wrinkles once games begin including the implementation of a universal designated hitter.
Cue the traditionalist’s anger as due to health and safety concerns, extra innings will begin with a runner on second. This rule will only be for the regular season, not the postseason.
Of course, some things that were supposed to be gone in 2020 will be back. Position players pitching was supposed to only be reserved for situations when a players team was either up or down by seven runs or in extra inning games. That will be shelved for 2020.
The rosters will be managed quite differently than normal as well. The roster size, which was to be 26 for the 2020 season, will initially be set at 30 for the first two weeks, then drop to 28 after 15 days, and finally back to 26 two weeks later. There will be no limit on the number of pitchers on the roster based on the shortened spring training.
It should be noted that teams have been under a transaction freeze since terminating spring training, that freeze ends Friday.
There will be no minor league season in 2020, so teams will be permitted to have a 60-players pool. The name of the 60-player pool has to be submitted to the league by Sunday at 3 P.M.