The 2020 MLB Landscape: A Possibly New and Different Season

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CBS Sports

Many potential plans are currently in the works amongst top league officials to attempt to get the 2020 season started soon.

Eight months.

  It’s been eight months since the Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in game seven of the 2019 World Series. That was the last time a Major League Baseball (MLB) game was played.

  Sure, Spring Training was played this year, but Spring Training isn’t the real deal. Do you think that thousands of people across the United States get comfy on their sofas and tune in to watch preseason baseball? No, it’s the regular season that makes baseball fans glued to their televisions.

  There’s many things that make me realize when regular season baseball is occurring: the crack of the bat when someone smacks a line drive down the right field line, the sound that the catcher’s glove makes when it snatches 100-mph lasers from the pitcher, and the peppy, yet catchy “Take me out to the ball game” jingle that is sung across the seventh inning.

  To me, that is regular season baseball, and I love it.

  Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, MLB, along with every other major sport, has been suspended. It’s now been over three months, and many MLB fans are starting to become uneasy about the future of the season.

  To the delight, and even disgust, of many, there have been rumors of a possible shortening and realignment of the 2020 MLB season.

  There are many changes that were proposed to the 2020 MLB Season. Here are some of the most prominent propositions. 

 

Lower Number of Games

Instead of playing a traditional 162-game season, which would mean playing baseball until December, many MLB pundits have thrown around the idea of playing an 82-game season. The season would supposedly begin on July 4th and play out like any other season. The last time 162 games weren’t played was in 1994, which was when the owners proposed a salary cap to their players. The players opposed the proposition and decided to hold a strike. The strike not only caused the MLB to cancel the rest of the regular season, but also the postseason.

 

Universal Designated Hitter

Every team would use a designated hitter. Normally, only teams in the American League use designated hitters to bat in place of the pitcher. In the National League, pitchers would bat, which usually resulted in an easy out for the opposing team. Universal designated hitters would be implemented to alleviate the pitchers’ workloads, so they could pitch as many games as possible. How bad were pitchers batting last year? Well, according to Baseball-Reference.com, in about 5,000 plate appearances, pitchers hit just .127 and they struck out 2,230 times. Yikes!

 

30 Teams, but only 3 Divisions

Each and every MLB team would come together and play in three divisions: the EAST, the CENTRAL, and the WEST. The team that plays in the corresponding part of the United States would play against teams from both the American League and the National League. While not official, here is the reported MLB division realignment plan.

EAST: Orioles, Red Sox, Marlins, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays, Nationals.

CENTRAL: Braves, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Indians, Tigers, Royals, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals.

WEST: Diamondbacks, Rockies, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rangers.

 

New Postseason Tournament

Normally, five teams from each league (Ten teams in total) qualify for the MLB Postseason. In each league, there are three division winners and two wild card teams. The division winners automatically advance to the League Division Series (NLDS or ALDS depending on the league) and the two wild card teams play in a one-game wild card round to decide who moves on to the League Division Series. When a victor emerges from the wild card game, two best-out-of-five rounds take place to decide who advances to the League Championship Series (NLCS or ALCS). After a best-of-seven round, the winner of the League Championship Series proceeds to the World Series. With all that being said, it is certain that the playoffs for the 2020 MLB season would be dramatically different. One of the propositions being thrown around is that only five teams would qualify for the tournament. Only three division winners and two wild card teams. The only thing that changes is that there isn’t a “World Series”. The “World Series” is instead the League Championship Series, so the postseason would be shorter than normal. It would be harder for teams to win, as only the top-tier teams really have a shot of winning the “World Series” with this format, rather than fringe-playoff teams.

 

  Overall, I’m very intrigued to see what the MLB will do regarding the 2020 season. The implementation of a universal designated hitter is striking to me, as teams wouldn’t have to worry about wasting a plate appearance with a pitcher. The realignment of teams into only three divisions means that winning the division is all the more impressive and important. As for the postseason, as long as the playoffs aren’t “cheap” or “monotonous”, I couldn’t care what the result is. There’s even a question of there being no baseball season, which admittedly frightens me. As much as I understand what the MLB would have to do with baseball and COVID-19, cancelling the season is the last thing I want. Trust me, we don’t need another season like 1994.