Best Case Scenario Not Too Great

This is about when I normally would begin posting my outlook for the year ahead and predictions for standings. Normally. What a pleasantly quaint and welcoming word these days when we are left to wonder what the new “normal” is going to be… or when.

Of course, two things are obvious to the baseball fan. One is that the cancellation of half of Spring Training and the postponement of the regular season sucks. Like Mark Shapiro of the Blue Jays front office said, upon hearing of the delay of Opening Day, “I had a moment where selfishly I was pretty sad and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding! There’s great things happening. I want to continue to watch these guys playing.”

Great things indeed. Toronto was sitting at 12-6 with two ties, behind only Philadelphia for the best spring record (Washington, last year’s champions were sitting at a dismal 6-11 for what its worth) and leading the Grapefruit League with 120 runs scored, or 6 per game. Their run differential was +25, behind only the Dodgers and Phillies. Last year’s Gold Glove candidate catcher who couldn’t hit, Danny Jansen, was hitting over .500 (!) and Matt Shoemaker, who was looking like an ace last year til he broke his knee in April, was looking like an ace once again. And on an on.

But Shapiro continued, “I caught myself after about 30 seconds” and that “our immediate concern should be the health and safety of our fans, players and staff.” And that’s the second thing that is obvious to us now.  Something we’re all coming to realize in a time when suddenly lineups at grocery stores full of empty shelves, empty restaurants and no public entertainment events of any sort are becoming routine.

By now, it seems sadly appaent there is no way we can get in a regular 162 game season in this season. Here’s my Best Case Scenario Suggestion, based on the concept that we’ll be able to get this new virus more or less corralled and under control within weeks here, rather than months.

The CDC suggested on the weekend that all events with more than 50 people be canceled for 8 weeks. That would take us to about May 9. Theoretically, MLB could then kick off the 2020 season, if things have cleared up by then.

However, with the restrictions in place, transportation becoming iffy and spring training camps mostly been shuttered, that would mean more than that – about 9 weeks- since players last played. It would be like mid-February all over. Players would need to get in a bit of training, and then need to play a handful of games still to get back up to speed and for the GMs to assess final roster moves.

So let’s say things are fine by May 9. My suggestion of a realistic, but accelerated schedule could look like this.

May 10-11: players return to Spring training camps (Florida and Arizona locations would be best, to facilitate easy transit for training games).

May 12-16 : players work out vigorously

May 17-23: spring training games, 7 per team.

May 23: teams finalize rosters

May 24: travel day

May 25 – Memorial Day. 2020 season begins, with all teams beginning to play.

July 14 – All Star Game in LA, as scheduled, but with only 13th, 14th off (ie games begin again on 15th, not 17th).

October 15 – 128 game schedule finishes, on a Friday night.

October 16-17 – wildcard games played this weekend

October 18-23 – division series

October 25 – November 2 – championship series

November 4 – 12 – World Series. Game 7, if necessary on Thursday night.

The 128 game schedule would consist of 12 interleague games per team, 6 games against each team in their own league but not division and 14 games each against divisional rival. In addition, to accelerate the schedule, each team would host one double-header during the season, (meaning 63 home dates instead of 64) perhaps on two league-wide Fan Appreciation Days. Also, road trips/homestands would be longer… generally 9-12 games at a time, to reduce numbers of travel days off.

Is that ideal? No, far from it. A normal 162 game schedule would be close to ideal. It would be odd to have an All Star game take place when teams have only played around 40 or so games a piece. Players won’t like a number of 10-12 game road trips (though they will be balanced with home stands of the same duration); owners won’t like having even one less home gate in an already abbreviated season. Questions will need to be debated and argued no doubt, over things like players’ service time (we would hope that if the schedule is 128, players on roster would get credit for full-season after 128 games), pay and so on. a shortened playoff timeframe would mean up to World Series, most days more than one game would be going on. And even with this sched, we’re potentially seeing mid-November baseball. By mid-November, overnight lows average below freezing in Minneapolis and snow can be flying in Denver so there’s a good chance that some games in places like those, or Chicago, or Cleveland, will be played in crappy un-baseball-like weather.

Is it ideal? No. But it might be the very best we can hope for now, for 2020.

16 comments

  1. badfinger20

    Just like a short series…anybody can win it to a point. You have seen so so teams lead in July only to fade away. This year they will get a chance. I’ve heard some players say…wow it’s going to be a lot of doubleheaders. Would they be willing to do more doubleheaders? Could the pitching staffs handle more than just a few?

    It sucks but I guess we have to take what we can get. Lets only hope this stuff is done by May. I kinda think it will be gone when flu season usually goes. I hope so anyway.

    Of all seasons I was looking forward to this one more than any in recent time…but that is the way it goes.

    • Dave

      More double headers could help, of course, but I figured that even getting everyone to agree to two might be a stretch… they probably could do say, one a month, so five or six, which would help extend the schedule without going to the end of November, but I don’t know that owners or the union would agree. Likewise, if they cut back on off days a bit more (I think I was calculating about 2 per month plus two for All Star), it would be grueling for players but might offer a roadmap to getting towards 140 games.
      YEah, I feel for ya – Dodgers should be good , when or if they take the field this year. Blue Jays are generally pegged at around a .500 club by most pundits but that would be a big improvement over last year and there’s a glimmer of hope… if Jansen keeps hitting (not .500 obviously), the sophomores all improve even a little, Shoemaker stays healthy and ryu adapts well to the AL, they MIGHT have a shot at post-season.
      I forsee this all causing a lot of trouble down the road when it’s back to business when owners start talking to their lawyers and seeing if they can stall free agencies and arbitration because of the shortened season. On the positive note, this MAY get people’s attention from being entirely on the Astros and the 2017 season once the season begins.

  2. badfinger20

    The Astros are not obviously happy because of the virus but they don’t mind missing the crowds right now. The players union maybe a little more giving since what has happened and hell they have had plenty of days off…not stress-free mind you….but off the same.
    I don’t like asking this question but I wonder what would happen if the season wasn’t played at all? Yes, that is when all hell would break loose as with free agents. If that happens though we have more to worry about than baseball.
    In a short season almost anyone can win. The Bluejays younger players will have more experience but hopefully, they don’t experience a sophomore slump. Ryu adapted pretty well except in Fenway park…he could not pitch well there in interleague games or World Series. I think he will be fine. He is a smart guy.

    • Dave

      I think Ryu will do fine too; probably not a 2.32 ERA because it’s a tough division but could be in top 5 or 6 in league .
      It would be chaos indeed if they have to cancel the season, like you say, who would be a free agent, who’s elgible for arbitration next winter etc. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!

      • badfinger20

        I just read where China is seeing less and less cases now. Some towns are reporting no new cases…so maybe that will begin to happen over here soon.
        Yea I think Ryu will be fine. He seems to succeed no matter what is thrown at him.

      • Dave

        Chris Sale getting Tommy John surgery…no surprise there. Good time to be injured I guess.
        Yep, China’ s going back to work…maybe a month & things will get back to normal here too. Fingers crossed. My dad says Ontario the same with closures, empty roads , empty shelves etc.

      • badfinger20

        The numbers for new cases are going to keep climbing for a while but it will finally ease down

      • Dave

        We hope!! Talk on Twitter is getting increasingly pessimistic about their being any season but I stay optimistic that this pandemic will begin to diminish soon with warmer weather and the “stay home” measures across the country, and that one small benefit of many will be getting in at least 2/3 of a “regular” season.

      • badfinger20

        I think the Yankees were going to stay in spring training last I heard…that probably isn’t happening now.

      • Dave

        They voted to do that, which I thought was admirable, but I don’t think they’re allowed now…they could stay in Tampa and try to work out on their own but I think the facilities are shut tight.
        Someone on Twitter was asking how it is that Sale could have TJ surgery right now… a good question really, as it turned out I was reading that tweet at exact time Dr Fauci (I guess he’s the surgeon general?) was on TV saying clearly all elective surgery had to be canceled because the hospitals had to keep beds and resources for the influx of corona patients they expect and that you shouldn’t even go to a doctor or hospital right now for anything short of an emergency.

      • badfinger20

        My cousin, who is a Dodger fan really wanted Chris Sale instead of Price. I told him no no no…too much money and his recent performances scared me.

        I knew it was coming… Yea I know that isn’t right. It was probably in a private office is what I would guess and not in a hospital…that still doesn’t make it right.

      • Dave

        I would think Sale wasn’t on the table, Sox clearly wanted to rid themselves of Betts and Price, or at least their contracts. I’m getting an impression – quite possibly wrong I admit – that Sale might not be too inclined to come on back and play out his contract, could be one of those who’ll not rehabilitate fully and live off his past earnings and insurance. Again, simply a concept in my mind, no hard evidence .
        Well, with the latest directives – unless things change dramatically for best in next few weeks – that July 4 start I “joked” about now would be a best-case scenario *sigh* 3-month “no crowds” law for NY, IL and CA means no possibility of games there til about last week of June.

      • badfinger20

        You would think they would have wanted to get rid of Sale…or at least be worried about him. It was very obvious that something was wrong. Anyway…I’m happy with the one they got.

        Yea I think July 4 might be the more probable start date.

      • Dave

        really up in the air now with the latest agreement of sorts. I read Boras pitched an idea of the full 162 game sched, running through end of November, with playoffs until Christmas week, played in domes or SoCal. I thought it sounded like bad idea but then again, right now there are no GOOD solutions . No one wants to see the whole year scrapped (particularly not LAD I expect!)

      • badfinger20

        Yea I don’t see THAT happnening. I think they are more than willing to do a couple of double headers a week which would help…162 games will not happen though.
        If it is scrapped…well the Dodgers have Mookie next year? Will every team stay the same? I think they will get to play this year. I may be dreaming but when it turns warm…hopefully it will help this.

      • Dave

        Yeah, that’ s the 1 thing that seems certain from all I’ ve read…free agents will be free agents even if there is no season, ergo Mookie could walk away w/o ever playing for LA in that scenario.

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