While we daily get deeper into a schedule that has no baseball, the owners and the players have come to some agreement on what it will look like should we get to hear “Play ball!” ring out this year. Unfortunately, there are also triggers that bring the idea of a completely lost season into play.
On the one hand, it really sounds like people are going to do all they can to get as many baseball games in as possible. There’s a report on Twitter that the players are willing to play until Thanksgiving if they can, though I do wonder about attendance as the weather grows colder and football starts to reign over the landscape. Baseball already accommodates football games a lot, whether by choice or by force, and seeing the playoff schedule even more disjointed because of avoiding the other sport wouldn’t be much fun.
There’s a report that, should the season start before July 1, the clubs will just pick up their schedule from that point and add in other games when they can. Which, as we’ve said before, is really interesting because except for a swing through Arizona and San Francisco in September, the Cardinals are done with their West Coast visits before the season would start. How you fit in those games is a real challenge. If you basically replace October with May, that gets you somewhere, I guess. Still, it feels like a very tough logistical knot to untie.
There’s also talk of expanding the postseason to 14 teams. I hope that would be just for 2020, though there are things that are going to happen here that probably get the hooks into the fabric and don’t let go. I’m not big on expanding it even for this crazy season, but at least you could make the argument that you are more likely to get the teams that should be there with that. Going forward, though? No, not at all. Fourteen out of 30 teams making the playoffs was one of the things we slammed when that modified playoff proposal came out back in January or February (which feels like EONS ago now) and a global pandemic doesn’t make it any more appealing.
It looks like the plan is to go with 29 players for the first month, which probably means teams are going to take 14 hitters and 15 pitchers. (Which might make some of the moves the Cardinals made Thursday a little odd, but we’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.) So if you have a June 1 start, you have 29 players for June, 26 for July and August, then 28 for September–assuming added weeks and schedule changes don’t modify the call up date. Of course, we still don’t know what the MINOR league season will look like. Could be they are still playing in September and that means expansion of rosters is delayed. Then again, it’s only two players this year instead of 15.
(Honestly, thinking about maybe going to see some minor league games in September, when the nights are cooler, seems like a fun thing.)
However, and I can’t find it now, but there is a part of this agreement that says that if games don’t happen by July 1 (I believe), they don’t happen, and part of that was whether mass gatherings are allowed, if they are given the OK by the CDC, and things like that. There is a chance that, if mass gatherings are still iffy, they could do the “play games in empty stadiums” tack that they thought they might do a week or so ago.
That’s what worries me most about this. There’s a lot we still don’t know about this coronavirus. I was reading a poll of experts that believe the peak will be in May but that it could be as late as August. Even if it peaks in May, will it be cleared up enough to go by the end of June? That’s a real good question. There is starting to be some concern about the college football and NFL seasons. If that’s a legitimate concern and not just doom-and-gloom, there’s no way that we’ll get baseball in 2020.
There’s a lot that is out of the hands of the baseball powers-that-be. Which isn’t anything new, I guess, but I’ve felt pretty good about a season happening at least sometime this season. Now….a little doubt has crept in. And I don’t like it one bit.