No one knows for certain when baseball will return, but it’s pretty clear at this point that the original hope for an April 9 Opening Day will be well in the rear view by the time the season actually gets started. While nothing can be shared publicly at this point, some within the game are setting Memorial Day weekend as an optimistic target. That’s going to mean making some pretty drastic changes to the schedule, even if some in the game are maintaining the wholly unrealistic notion of playing 162 games.
Officials from MLB and the players union met in Arizona last week to discuss several matters related to the 2020 season, since there will have to be agreements to any significant changes. Trouble is, there’s no way to agree to anything until such time as everyone knows when they can get back to work. With that in mind, it only makes sense that they draw up a series of different alternatives depending on the course this whole thing takes.
Among those, according to WBBM’s George Ofman, is the possibility of going with a reduced schedule of 81 games. Even without direct knowledge of the conversations being had, that seems to be more of a worst-case scenario in the event that they can’t get started until July and have to very literally cut the season in half.
Told among the options baseball is looking at is a reduced schedule of 81 games.
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) March 15, 2020
The basic framework of such a drastically abbreviated schedule would fit within the bounds of the original September 29 postseason start, though little else beyond that is easy to predict. What happens to the trade deadline, service time, and performance incentives? How are vesting options handled? Do you scrap interleague play? That last one seems like a pretty simple affirmative.
From there, you go with maybe 10 games against three division opponents and 11 against the other, with two-game home-and-home sets against the remaining 10 teams from other divisions. Boom, done. Except for all the more delicate logistics, one of which is probably how the imbalanced calendar will favor the teams with 41 home games.
It’s reasonable to assume that several other options are on the table as well, with various iterations being tied to different start dates. Were I to hazard a guess, I’d say they’re weighing at least four other schedules — 154, 140, 120, 100 — and will cross them off as certain points of no return are reached on the calendar.
Where do you stand on this topic, dear reader? We’ve all got more time on our hands than we’d initially planned for, so feel free to let it rip below with your plan for the 2020 MLB season. When should it start, how many game should they play, and how should it be structured?