Just six days? Really? Why does it feel like it’s been forever? I guess when things change by the hour, when every morning and afternoon bring some sort of fresh development in the whole coronavirus situation, things like pushing off a season can feel like they were so long ago.
We talked yesterday about baseball being gone from our sight for a lot longer than we were hoping. Still, it does look like it will return sometime. But will it look like what it would have looked like on March 26? That’s a different question.
After the big strike of ’94 was resolved late into spring of ’95, spring training was shortened to try to get as many games that counted as they could played. That year, they allowed the 25 man roster to move to 28 for the first few weeks of the season. Trying to hunt down confirmation of that nugget that was stuck in my head lead me to a 1990 spring training lockout, which I’d forgotten because it was resolved fairly quickly. That year, rosters expanded to 27 for the initial part of the season. (I also feel like it only took four innings to get a win for a starter in one of those years for the early part of the season, but I can’t find anything that verifies that.)
It seems pretty obvious that players are not going to get a full spring training whenever teams are allowed to get back together. If they are off until late May, that’s not that much more than playoff teams are off between their final games and the beginning of camps. It’s a long time and starting pitchers especially will need to ramp up but will probably only get a couple of starts to do so. That means, to me, that it’s almost a lock that they will start with expanded rosters.
Given that September is supposed to be just 28 players this year, could we see 28 all season long? After all, if they start at the beginning of June, it would be strange to have 28, then 26 for July and August, then back to 28. Then again, we could even see as many as 30 be taken north, depending on how much time they want to give to spring–well, almost summer training by then. 30 might be stretching it a bit, but that’s only four spots and we’ve never seen this sort of interruption.
I also wonder if they’ll postpone the three-batter minimum rule for another year. They probably won’t, given that teams tended to construct their teams with that idea in mind, but I also know the managers were supposed to get practice with the last spring training games to get an idea of how this would work. With everything else so chaotic, I do think taking one of the hurdles out would be a good thing. When spring training resumes, the managers are really going to have to focus on evaluating players. Having to work up extra strategy at this time seems to be unnecessarily complicated.
Those are the only real logistical issues I could see coming out of this stoppage that would affect the regular season (besides the scheduling we’ve already discussed, of course). If you have any others, let me know here or on Twitter!