THE PLAN — IF WE MAKE IT THAT FAR
The coronavirus may yet unravel everything, but for now, MLB has a new 2020 schedule
It will be a Major League Baseball season like no other. Then again, with the pandemic showing no signs of easing up, and with early glitches affecting the coronavirus testing process, there might be a better chance of someone pitching a nohitter on Opening Day than of us actually having Opening Day.
The Nationals and Astros canceled their workouts Monday when their test results from Friday never arrived. The Blue Jays took a chartered flight to Toronto on Sunday night but had to leave 12 players behind at their spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida, when one of their players tested positive and the others had been in direct contact with him. And the Athletics still hadn’t had their first full-squad workout by Monday afternoon.
Also Monday, veteran outfielder Nick Markakis of the Braves was the latest player to opt out of the season, slugger Joey Gallo of the Rangers was the latest star to test positive, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was the latest executive to express his frustration with the testing process.
Yet, with MLB acknowledging there have been “unforeseen difficulties,” a season still awaits. So, ready or not, here we come. The updated 2020 schedule was released Monday night, and the season will begin July 23 with the defending World Series champion Nationals hosting the Yankees at 6:08 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
It will be the first time the Nats hoist the World Series flag at Nationals Park, albeit with their fans having to cheer from in front of their TV sets because they won’t be permitted in the stadium.
The storied rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants wastes no time, with the first meeting at 9:08 p.m. as the second game of the nationally televised doubleheader.
The most unique game of the season will be Aug. 8 between the Cardinals and White Sox; they’ll play in Dyersville, Iowa, where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. The 8,000-seat stadium is finished, but it’s unknown whether tickets will be sold.
The Yankees originally were supposed to play against the White Sox, but the 60-game schedule has teams playing 40 games in their own division and 20 interleague games against teams in the corresponding geographic division from the other league. The schedule is designed to greatly reduce travel, but the consequence is that it creates disparity.
Teams will play 10 games against each division opponent, but with only three series against each, the home-road split will not be equal. Some teams will play three home games against an opponent and seven on the road. The Giants will play seven games against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium and only three against them in San Francisco. The Cubs, who had the third-worst road record a year ago at 33-48, play seven times against the Reds in Cincinnati but only three times at Wrigley Field. Gentlemen, start your complaints. The interleague games will create more fairness. Teams will play 10 games at home and 10 on the road in interleague play. Each
team plays six games against their natural interleague rival and four apiece against the other teams in the opposite league.
The revised schedule provides six days off for all but the four teams who play July 23. They’ll have seven days off. On the final day of the season, Sept. 27, all 30 teams will start their games at the same time, 2 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Day, which traditionally has been held on April 15, now will be Aug. 28, the anniversary of the March on Washington, as well as the date Robinson first met with Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey to discuss playing in the big leagues.
MLB also will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Negro
Leagues on Aug. 16. Roberto Clemente Day will be Sept. 9.
The first nationally televised games on Fox will be July 25, with Brewers-Cubs, GiantsDodgers and Yankees-Nationals. The first edition of “Sunday Night Baseball” on ESPN will be a doubleheader July 26 with the Braves and Yankees at 6:08 p.m. and the Giants and Dodgers at 9:08 p.m.
That’s the plan, anyway, with the wild-card games starting Sept. 29 and the World Series beginning Oct. 20.
We’ll see if a season is even possible in a year in which all 30 teams, no matter what division or league, will play one common opponent every single day on the schedule: COVID-19.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve takes five during practice Sunday in Houston. On Monday, the Astros and Nationals canceled their workouts because of problems getting players’ coronavirus test results from days earlier. DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP
The Braves’ Nick Markakis (right, at camp Sunday) opted out of the season Monday. Teammate Freddie Freeman (not pictured) is battling COVID-19.
The Rangers’ Joey Gallo became one of the latest MLB stars to test positive.