Be ready when MLB officials say ‘Play Ball!’

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When I look at one of my favorite baseball seasons ever, it was the strike year of 1981 when we lost the summer schedule so MLB cut the season into halves.

For the 2020 season to happen, MLB is going to have to be creative again and rumors are swirling over some of the changes discussed.

Just a quick flashback to 1981 when about 56 regular-season games were lost. MLB doubled the postseason participants from four to eight teams with first-half division winners battling against second-half winners in the first round. The only downfall was that the Reds had the best overall record (64-42) and didn’t make the playoffs because they didn’t win the NL West in either half.

MLB players worry about staying healthy in new season

Rumors have been floating around about how MLB will handle the 2020 situation before and after the scheduled Opening Day date passed last week. Do they start in June, July, or August and could we possibly see baseball played in December? Will they play in empty stadiums and will the teams be playing in their home city where states like New York and California have been major hot spots for the coronavirus?

There have also been talks about multiple scheduled doubleheaders for each team as well as increasing the number of teams in the playoffs similar to 1981. The 2020 rumored proposal would increase playoff participants to 14 teams as a means to create additional lost revenue with the No. 1 seeds in each league getting a first-round bye and the other six teams playing a best-of-three series, which is far better than the one-game playoff now. And rather than seedings setting the playoff grid, the No. 1 seed would get to pick their opponent as an additional reward for being the best over the regular season, whether that amounts from as little as 100 games to a full 162-game schedule.

I think I like everything that I’m hearing about the rumors and what was supposed to be unveiled in 2022 might have to be rushed in out of necessity to create fan interest and, of course, additional revenue.

MLB and players donate to COVID-19 relief efforts

More teams making the playoffs means the sportsbooks will have to do some adjusting to Pennant and World Series future odds, many of which have been posted since October with belief that the same 2019 postseason format would be applied.

“If more teams get into the playoffs we’ll certainly have to do some adjusting with teams expected to be around .500,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook executive manager Randy Blum, who created hundreds of baseball props for the 2020 season.

“Teams like the Orioles are horrible, and the favorites won’t be adjusted much, but we’ll have to factor in all the new rules, home field, and everything else if changes are made,” he said. “We have a most home runs prop that stipulates at least 150 games must be played for action, so when we know for sure we’ll post it as a refund and set up new numbers.”

The possibility of scheduled doubleheaders in 2020 already has me wanting to get to a ballpark and stay the whole day for two games. And if I can’t go because no fans are allowed, it will make the build-up to attending intensify even more.

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Even if fans aren’t in the stands, there are still concerns about the safety of the players, umpires, and network staff broadcasting the games which is why playing in one location like Arizona could help avoid traveling. The Arizona sunshine filled with vitamin D could also help limit the coronavirus exposure.

The season may run into November and December, but so what? Play until the New Year, and play anywhere. I’m ready for a mass transfusion of baseball into my bloodstream now and the more I get, the better.

Baseball has been intertwined for most of America’s history as being a soothing distraction from realities of unrest and hysteria surrounding us throughout time. I firmly believe its relief can happen again in 2020, whether played in empty stadiums, daily doubleheaders for each team or all teams playing in Arizona’s heat which have multiple MLB-ready fields used during spring training.

The reality may have set in for owners that revenues this year will not be coming from selling overpriced booze, food, or gear at the stadiums, but television and streaming on-line can salvage something. Fans are hungry for just about anything right now, and baseball will once again play a role in the healing process as it always has.

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