Perhaps a 60-game season is what baseball needed all along.
That foreshortened season will begin in late July, after baseball players capitulated to an order by Commissioner Rob Manfred. Why Manfred didn't take such action weeks before was not reported.
Baseball never got interesting until August or September anyway. Good clubs often coasted for the first half of the season, with mediocre teams pretending to have a shot before fading. After the excitement of opening day, baseball sunk into a tedious schedule. Many casual fans didn't follow the season until late summer.
The 60-game run promises to generate interest among fans desperate for sports during the coronavirus pandemic. The top clubs will have to play in earnest from the get-go. Bad teams will have more of a chance to make the playoffs. With more clubs in contention, there will be fewer of those dreadful, meaningless dog-day series between teams without hope.
Teams will play in empty stadiums, with more interleague regional games to reduce travel as the pandemic surges. League structures will remain intact, with the same playoff schedule as before. All teams will use the designated hitter. Farewell, National League baseball.
In another innovation despised by baseball traditionalists, a runner will start on second base in extra inning games. How that will be scored remains unclear. Designated runner?
Players will report for "summer training" July 1, with opening day July 23 or 24. The abbreviated training likely will have an effect, with starting pitchers going even fewer innings.
The resurgent pandemic can still derail baseball's plans. Several teams have closed training facilities after covid-19 breakouts. A few players in quarantine could cause teams to cancel their seasons.
As the owners-players dispute threatened to scrap the pandemic-disrupted season, I was among disgusted fans who no longer cared if the game ever came back.
But, hey, that Braves-Rays rivalry could be something.
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