HomeThe Shuffle2020 MLB Season: Will It Happen?

2020 MLB Season: Will It Happen?

With the shutdown of most pro sports, what’s the likelihood that Major League Baseball will have any kind of season? Let’s look at the odds, and at one country where baseball is on for real—within limits.

It’s May, almost two months since the Covid-19 lockdown began. Instead of being a month into the Major League Baseball season, we’re still waiting for the first pitch, and pundits are speculating about the return of America’s pastime.

A couple of possible scenarios have been suggested:

  • Spring training could be used as a basis for a shortened MLB season. In this scenario, the league would use the Cactus and Grapefruit League setup designated for March, and roll it out into the season. Divisions would change accordingly, and teams would strictly play in their Florida or Arizona stadiums.
  • Another scenario is like that of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which marked Opening Day Tuesday, May 5, with 10 teams kicking off a 144-game season. All KBO games will be played in five cities within 150 miles so players can travel by bus. There will be no fans, at least not to start.The KBO hasn’t changed its regular season format—each team will play against each other 16 times—but it has eliminated its All-Star Game and shortened the playoffs. As this is the first baseball action since the lockdown, the MLB will definitely look to Korea to track the season’s early progress.
  • The last idea is the most elaborate by far and could be the likeliest. The target date for the season to begin would apparently be in late June, when teams would report for a three-week conclusion of spring training. They’d report to their normal MLB stadium, instead of their Cactus or Grapefruit League facility, to avoid travel and hotels.

Then, the league would be restructured into three 10-team divisions sorted by region (East, Central and West). Teams would only play within their own divisions during the regular season in hopes of cutting down travel and exposure. There would be universal rules for the entire league; the National and American leagues would cease to exist for this truncated season. Every team would observe the Designated Hitter rule, so pitchers could just worry about pitching.

Safe but Social: The Dolphins’ Plan

With the recent release of the Miami Dolphins’ gameday attendance plan for this NFL season, the MLB may look to do something similar. Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday to discuss his franchise’s plans for fans this season. It includes creating additional entrances to stick to social distancing guidelines. Here’s the plan:

  • Fans would enter and exit stadiums on a staggered schedule, so no crowds would flood the gates at once.
  • Attendance would be cut to about a quarter of its normal size.
  • All fans would obviously be required to wear masks at all times.
  • Attendees who order food would do so from a mobile app and pick it up when it’s ready to eliminate concession lines.

More stadiums are sure to follow Hard Rock Stadium’s lead on this one.

Whatever plan the league goes with, it isn’t going to happen unless each host state has opened back up for nonessential business. So remember to keep your distance and practice prevention. You could help bring sports back a whole lot sooner.

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Korean Baseball Kicks Off

Seeing’s believing. In a true sign of the times, on Tuesday the Korea Baseball Organization’s KT Wiz launched their season with a socially distant first pitch. Check it out on Twitter.

According to WilliamHill.com, the Doosan Bears (2019 record: 88-55-1) are the reigning KBO champs. Last year they claimed their third Korean Series title in the past five years.

Other teams include:

  • SK Wyverns (88-55-1)
  • Kiwoom Heroes (86-57-1)
  • LG Twins (79-64-1)
  • NC Dinos (73-69-2)
  • KT Wiz (71-71-2)
  • Kia Tigers (62-80-2)
  • Samsung Lions (60-83-1)
  • Hanwha Eagles (58-86-0)
  • Lotte Giants (48-93-3)

The Kia Tigers have racked up the most KBO championships (11), followed by the Samsung Lions (8) and Doosan Bears (6).

While these teams may be unknown to most U.S. sports fans, you may see a few familiar faces. Former MLB players Dan Straily (Oakland A’s), Aaron Altherr (Philadelphia Phillies) and Adrian Sampson (Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers) signed with KBO teams this past offseason, joining fellow ex-big leaguers such as Preston Tucker (Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves) and Casey Kelly (Boston Red Sox).

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Justin Epifanio is a sports journalist who studied TV and digital media at Montclair State University, and majored in sports broadcasting and journalism. Justin is a sportsbook writer at Rivers Casino Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse). In addition to iGamingPlayer, Justin has contributed to online publications including WiredJersey.com, SportsArePhilly.com and Great.com.

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