On March 11th, the NBA suspended their season because of the Coronavirus. MLB suspended spring training on March 13th because of the Coronavirus. The NHL suspended their season on March 12th because of the Coronovirus. Many other sports were forced to cancel or suspend their seasons as well and this ranged from professional sports through youth sports. It was a hard pill to swallow but it was the right thing to do based on the uncertainty of the virus. Not only was sports effected but every American has been effected in one way or another. Many people have lost jobs, have lost wages, or have unfortunately lost loved ones. It has been a rough few months with many more ahead. However, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. The NBA and NHL are close to re-starting their season and MLB re-started last night with the fearsome Yankees knocking off the defending champion Nationals. Let’s take a look at the details of the MLB re-start. The season will be shortened and some of the rules have changed to accommodate the swiftness of the games. One thing that won’t change, at the end of the year there will be a World Series champion. What teams have a shot to win it all?
Let’s look at some of the changes that we will not be used to. The season will only be 60 regular games before the playoffs start. These games will be mostly regional games to limit travel and chances to contract the virus. There will be no fans in the stands! That will be weird to get used to and it will certainly be a reminder of the times we are living. Some players and managers will be wearing masks. There will be a legitimate attempt at social distancing and eliminating sunflower seeds, spitting, high fives, etc. A couple of rule changes will be that the NL will have a designated hitter now and extra inning games will have a runner start at 2nd base. This will be interesting to see play out because certain strategies will be more important than ever before. Finally, the Blue Jays will not be allowed to play in Canada because of Coronavirus rules, so this will cause a Canadian team to play their home games in Buffalo this season.
The biggest change could be that the playoffs have expanded this year. There will be 16 teams that advance rather than the usual 8-10. The shortened season will create some drama during the regular season as teams that get hot might be able to sneak into the playoffs where in a normal 162 game season they would be weeded out. The same will work in reverse, a really talented team could start slow and not make it or barely sneak in. As we know, anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. If your pitchers get hot they could carry you all the way to the title. Who is favored to win the title? In the National League the Dodgers, Braves, and Nationals seem to be at the top of the class. However, there are some talented teams that could make a run as darkhorses. They would be the Reds, Mets, Cardinals, and Cubs to name a few. In the loaded American League the Yankees, Rays, Astros, Twins, and Indians should be the favorites. However, the White Sox, A’s, and Angels could make some noise with their very talented rosters.
This season will certainly be different than anything we are used to, but that is par for the course because the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives dramatically. Some people may have never watched much baseball, but this year could be different. People might find themselves with more free time, they could be starving for some entertainment of any sort, and they might just want to watch to have a sense of normalcy in their lives even if it is just for a couple hours. I know I will watch and hopefully at the end of the year, the Yankees will be holding the trophy!