With a second wave of the corona virus hitting the southern United States, people are beginning to wonder how this pandemic will affect our return to former pastimes and entertainment, including sports. As we come closer to the MLB's opening days on July 23 and 24, a spike in corona virus cases across much of the South potentially puts players’ health in jeopardy. With this in mind, I came up with three things that could question the legitimacy of a 60 game season: The Short Season, Players opting out, and Infection.
Under normal circumstances, the MLB's 162-game marathon of a season would slowly show which teams have the endurance and depth to make it through into October. This has now been turned into a 100-yard dash. Instead of teams moving players around and trying to get a feel for their team in the start of the season, they get thrown into the playoff race right off the get-go. This can allow for some surprising teams, like the Blue Jays or Angels, to sneak in if they start off great and ride that out in the two-month span of the season. If these teams sneak into the playoffs over a team like the Athletics or the Rays, what would people think of it? While the Angels and Blue Jays have some good talent, neither of them would have the depth to make it into the playoffs if this was a 162-game season. This could lead to many people seeing this season as a fluke, especially if an underdog like the Giants or Pirates makes it to the playoffs.
Players Opting Out:
When players like Buster Posey, Nick Markakis, and Ryan Zimmerman opt out of the season, it makes people wonder who's going to opt out next. As we near opening day, the time for players to opt out is closing in. While baseball is a team sport and you need everyone on your team to do their part to be successful, having good players to lead your team on and off the field is important. Ryan Zimmerman was the captain of the Nationals team coming off of a World Series title when he opted out. While he doesn't have much of an impact in the field only playing 52 games last year and hitting .257, he had a significant impact in the clubhouse. Keeping a team together and ready to play in a 60-game season with high level stress games right off the bat is important. With the loss of Zimmerman, it will be harder for the team to navigate the challenging season ahead. Then there are players like Buster Posey who have a big on-field impact. Though Posey is on a Giants team that isn't looking to put up much this year, he still makes an impact for the Giants. Without Buster Posey, the Giants have only one real option, catcher and prospect Joey Bart. With free agency market not looking great and the Minor Leagues cancelled, Joey Bart is the most tempting choice for a Giants team that is in a rebuild phase. He is most likely going to start at catcher. This could cause a whole slew of problems for his growth and development but along with the Minors being cancelled, it is the real, only option for the Giants. Overall, if the Nationals implode or Joey Bart's development gets stunted, it's going to be the result of key players opting out because of COVID-19.
With a one-week incubation period and the virus's ability to spread quickly, teams could have many players out for long periods of time. When you add potential recovery periods and quarantines to the short season, it could be detrimental to the teams’ success. Upon diagnosis, players have to sit out for two weeks before being allowed to return, which, with the short season, means missing one fourth of it. Also, if you take into consideration that it spreads quickly, a team could be without many of their starters for up to a month or possibly more Which if you think about it is one half of the season and can practically knock out any team in the short season. Further, if a virus spreads within a team, will they be able to play against other teams?This can affect some of the best teams, allowing for other teams to sneak into the playoffs. In the world of baseball, getting injured is part of the game, and it is something that teams have to react to and rebound from every season. But COVID-19 is something that doesn't happen on the field, it happens off of it and is mostly out of the players’ control. As a result, despite the greatest of precautions, with teams’ demanding travel schedules and potential exposures, certain teams could be hit really hard.
Overall, the MLB's 60 game season is going to be an interesting one to see play out with the Virus in 2020. It won't be surprising to see some weaker teams sneak into the playoffs while other stronger teams get knocked out. Though the reaction to the way it plays out is still up in the air. How teams and fans react to this shortened season is going to be a result of what happens in the next three months. All we can do is sit and watch.https://sc.ws/1bqukd.0