Even though spring training abruptly ended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was long enough to realize the best two teams in baseball were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
A Dodgers/Yankees World Series after a normal 162-game season would have garnered the highest television ratings in years as Los Angeles and New York are America’s two biggest metropolitan population centers. The Dodgers and Yankees also have the two largest stadiums in terms of number of seats, which would have meant more tickets sold.
Now, though, everything is different. Normally, teams with the most pitching depth make the playoffs. The shortened 60-game season, though, makes it easier for teams who usually end up closer to the bottom of the standings to be closer to the top. All a less-talented team needs this year is a hot streak, the longer the better.
“This season is a sprint,” Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “In a sprint, anything happens. Players get hot and momentum gets going. Anything can happen this season.”
We’re going to see only a few pitchers this season winning more than seven games and only a few players hitting more than 15 home runs. But we could see a player batting over .400.
I like the three rule changes this season: designated hitters will be part of the roster of both American League and National League teams, every pitcher must now face a minimum of three batters, and every extra inning (i.e., any inning past the ninth) will start with a runner on second base. The runner will be the player who made the last out in the previous inning. The latter two rules are designed to shorten the length of games.
Several key players, such as David Price of the Dodgers and Buster Posey of the Giants, have opted not to play this season. Major League Baseball has given any player the right not to play if he fears bringing the virus home to his family. Players are tested regularly; those who test positive must be temporarily removed from the team roster.
The Washington Nationals, winners of last year’s World Series, lost super duper star third baseman Anthony Rendon via free agency to the Los Angeles Angels. Rendon batted .319 and hit 34 home runs besides being a defensive whiz. I don’t expect to see Washington in the 2020 World Series.
It will be interesting to follow Mets first baseman Peter Alonso, who batted .260 with 53 home runs in his rookie season last year. Will anybody hit 20 or more homers in this shortened season?
MLB made a major mistake in canceling this year’s All-Star Game. The star-studded mid-season classic was scheduled for Dodger Stadium on July 14. The game should have been played in November after the World Series. An All-Star Game after the season based on final averages would truly have showcased the most deserving players.
The 2021 All-Star Game is scheduled for Atlanta’s Truist Park, home of the Braves. Los Angeles would get the next available All-Star Game, which is in July 2022. L.A. has not hosted the mid-summer classic since1980.
When 2022 rolls around and the Dodgers realize it’s been 42 years since they hosted an All-Star game, they can do a big tribute to Jackie Robinson, who wore number 42 when he made his debut as a Dodger 75 years earlier in 1947.
So the numbers work out for selling merchandise. How about a 42 T-shirt – “42” on the back and “42 years since the last All-Star Game” on the sleeve? The front could have “75 years since Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues wearing number 42.”