This will be a major league season like we’ve never seen. 60 games, changing roster sizes, and player pools with no minor leagues. Here are 5 positives and 5 negatives we can look forward to this season.
Negative: The public can’t hold the Astros accountable for cheating. One thing that’s been lost in the labor negotiations and talk of kneeling was that the Astros cheated and people were pissed. Remember the guy that was banging a trash can at a spring training game? I wanted to see what else people would come up with; I guarantee that there would have been some creative signs and chants.
Positive: The short season should make pennant races interesting. As the post season has expanded, so have the pennant races. You’ve seen fewer teams trading off players at the trade deadline because they still had a shot. With only 60 games, that race will be even more condensed this year. This will be doubly true if they expand playoffs, which is still rumored.
Negative: Lack of milestones and records. Last season, everyone was watching Pete Alonso approached the rookie home run record; this season, many of the counting records will not be touched. The only exception would be batting average, and there is a small possibility of a .400 hitter. You’ll also see this impact long term milestones; Albert Pujols is closing in on 700 homers and he probably won’t hit it now. Many of these impacts won’t be known for a while though.
Positive: Players have the ability to opt out of the season. One of the best thing to come out of the labor struggles leading up to the season was the ability for players to opt out of the season. If the Covid-19 numbers were to spike, players won’t feel pressure to continue playing. There is also the possibility that players could leave mid-season; both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have pregnant wives and they could want to limit the possibility of being away from their families in quarantine.
Negative: The DH in the National League. As a fan of baseball history, I always liked the idea that the American League and the National League were separate entities that would allow their champions to play against each other. That meant they could have different rules. I like the pitcher being a hitter; it gives the manager the ability to have more options for strategy in game. With the DH, NL Managers will have fewer options for double switches and pinch hitters.
Positive: Expanded rosters to start the season may allow some prospects to crack opening day rosters. The Royals have already announced that Brady Singer will be in the rotation to start the season; we’ll be seeing more announcements like this in the next 24 hours. It’s even possible that Cardinal fans could see Dylan Carlson (I have doubts that we do right away though; if one of the other outfielders falters, he’ll be coming).
Negative: With no minor league season, there will be a lack of player development for those not in the player pools. This really stinks. Many lower level players need to the instruction to continue their development, and they’ll be back a year. 2nd year minor leaguers will be close to the same level as those guys just drafted rather than having a little more experience. That development time could cost some players their chance at the Majors, especially if teams cut out some of the lower levels of the minors.
Positive: We don’t have to pay $10 for a beer. It’s no secret that prices at the ballpark are out of hand; you have to get a small loan to take a family these days. At least at home, you can get a 6 pack of beer for the price of 1 beer at the stadium. You can also get more quality food at home (unless you normally get all inclusive tickets). Plus there isn’t a way to get suckered into buying souvenirs for the kids.
Negative: Without fans in the stands, it might be tough to attract kids to the game. The MLB has had problems attracting the youth to baseball, especially African American youth. Without the ability for a kid to go to a game and experience it in person, there will be more issues getting kids interested. The in game experience is very different than watching it on TV. If it wasn’t for going to games and baseball cards, I might not be the baseball fan I am.
Positive: We have baseball again. With all due respect to the KBO, MLB games is the best baseball to watch. These players are the very best in the world and you can tell when comparing it to the lower leagues, like the KBO. We also get things like fantasy baseball (drafted last night), transactions, analysis articles from Fangraphs, and fans debating over the minutia of the game.
What are you excited about? What’s going to be missing this year? Let me know in the comments.