Possible answers to what a 2020 season might look like - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Possible answers to what a 2020 season might look like

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

As the coronavirus pandemic puts everything on hold, Major League Baseball and the Players Association continue to discuss the format of a possible season. We’ll keep you updated as things change, but let’s surmise that we will have some sort of a season, and what it might mean for the Orioles.

Question: When could the season begin?

Answer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has banned gatherings of at least 50 people through early-to-mid May, and if MLB got an all-clear signal on say, May 10, the season could start in early June.

That seems to be the best-case scenario.

Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged that a 162-game season is impossible in an interview this week on ESPN, but the players and MLB want to play as many games as possible.

Q: How many games would make for a credible season?

A: In the strike-shortened season of 1994, which ended on August 11, teams played between 112 and 117 games. No postseason was played.

In 1981, when nearly two months were lost to a strike, teams played between 103 and 111 games. Division championships were awarded to teams that had the best record before and after the strike, and an extra round of playoffs was added.

It would seem that as long as at least 100 games were played, there could be a credible season.

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Q: Will games lost be made up?

A: If the Orioles didn’t play until June, they’d have 102 games on their schedule. Some of the 60 games lost, perhaps against division opponents, could be made up on off days or as part of doubleheaders.

This is apparently being discussed between the players and MLB, as is extending the regular season, which was supposed to end September 27.

Q: Would there be an All-Star Game?

A: One of the ideas apparently being floated is to begin the season with the All-Star Game, currently scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium.

Starting the season this way would eliminate the four-day break in July and create a built-in event for baseball.

In 1981, the strike wiped out the scheduled All-Star Game in Cleveland. It was rescheduled for the day before the season resumed, and it was a big hit.

Some veteran players eschew the All-Star Game because they’d prefer to have four days off instead. Pitchers who start games on the Sunday before the game are ineligible to pitch and replaced.

Beginning the season with the All-Star Game would have more big-name players participating and no excuse other than a severe injury.

Q: Would there be a second spring training in Florida?

A: There are two advantages to having a second spring training in Florida, and some disadvantages, too.

The squads are still large. Even though the Orioles and other teams have trimmed their roster, many cuts still must be made. The Orioles have 50 players on their spring training roster, and the number of players teams will carry this year is an unknown.

Holding spring training in Sarasota enables the Orioles and other teams to use multiple fields for drills, throwing programs and batting practice for large squads.

If there’s a multi-week schedule of exhibition games, there are nine teams — Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minnesota, New York Yankees, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Toronto — located within a 90-minute drive.

If spring training was held at teams’ ballparks, only the Nationals and Phillies are within 90 minutes.

But there could be a split second spring training, too, where initial workouts are held in Florida and games would be played in Florida and up north.

Florida games would likely be sparsely attended, and if there are workouts in ballparks, they could be opened to fans, generating needed interest.

Q: What about the draft?

A: According to reports, MLB and the players have an agreement to delay the June draft, which was to be held in Omaha at the site of the now-canceled College World Series, into July.

The draft would be cut from 40 rounds to five or 10. Bonuses would be deferred until 2022.

The Orioles are slated to have the second overall pick in the draft and four picks among the first 75.

Players undrafted could sign for reduced bonuses, return to college for their senior seasons if they’re juniors, or go to college if they’re high school players.

The international signing period, which was set to begin on July 2, could be moved back to January 2021.

Q: Could a full postseason be played?

A: Sure, but there would probably be some gimmicks. The first three-round playoffs were in 1981, and a shortened season could mean more postseason rounds.

If the regular season is extended into October, that would mean the postseason could reach well into November, and the possibility of playing them in domes or warm sites.

That could harm attendance because fans who have lost wages or time wouldn’t be able to travel to watch their teams play on short notice.

Q: Would there still be free agency?

A: Yes, as part of the agreement, players will receive a full year of service time even if there’s no season.

According to The Athletic, salaries will be prorated, but players will receive a $170,000 advance spread over two months. If there’s no season, the $170,000 would be their full 2020 earnings.

Because of the shortened season and a likely drop in attendance, the free-agent market might not be robust for Trevor Bauer, Mookie Betts, Marcus Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka, who are the possible big names in an otherwise lackluster class.

Q: The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in December 2021. Could there be ramifications?

A: After two unexciting offseasons, the best of last year’s free agents were snapped up quickly in a robust market. Players who had complained about the previous two years wanted to make sure that this year wasn’t an aberration.

With this shortened season, it could make for another unexciting offseason, but because the players and MLB seemed to have amicable negotiations, fans should feel more confident that a new CBA can be agreed upon next year with a minimum of rancor.

Q: What about the World Baseball Classic?

A: The WBC qualifying rounds, scheduled for earlier this month in Tucson, Arizona, were scrubbed, and since the Olympics have been put off until sometime in 2021, it’s possible the WBC could move from March 2021 to 2022.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Orial

    March 27, 2020 at 8:51 am

    When and if this season gets going I can see a drastic drop in attendence thrughout not only baseball,but all of sports,concerts,restaurants,theaters for at least the rest of the year. Despite getting the go ahead people are gonna be and should be very leery. Draft,playoffs,number of games,All Star game seem irrelevant. Just start up on 6/15 and take it from there but don’t be surprised if the crowds are miniscule.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 27, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Not only will people be wary, Orial, but lost jobs and wages means a drop in discretionary spending for the activities you name.

    • BirdsCaps

      March 30, 2020 at 3:43 am

      That is an interesting question. I am assuming that young (under 35) people are going to party it up if they are financially able to. However, older people, families, and those that lost their jobs may be absent.

  2. BARay

    March 27, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Wondering what the O’s are thinking of refunds for people who have paid the season tickets. I have a full season plan. Of course, nothing can be known until we know what the season will be, but how are the O’s thinking about this?

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 27, 2020 at 9:26 am

      When I know, you’ll know.

  3. WorldlyView

    March 27, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I find that reading Rich’s articles and the comments to be a very pleasant diversion from the stresses we are all under. Still, I see little reason to believe that a “normal” season could start in June or even early July. By mid-May, the rate of increase in new virus cases may well decline (the so-called flattening of the curve), but many new cases are likely to continue. If this is the case, social distancing/no crowds almost certainly will be necessary at least through June and probably into July. Maybe no-fan-attendance games could resume in July–better than nothing. Stay well.

    • CalsPals

      March 27, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      Televise all games, we can be virtual fans…lol…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 27, 2020 at 10:39 pm

      Professor Cohen, I’m an optimist, and always hope for the best. I’m not an epidemiologist, so won’t offer predictions on the pandemic. I’ll stick to baseball.

    • CalsPals

      March 28, 2020 at 6:27 am

      No crystal ball eh…too bad…thought maybe you might have one…lol…go O’s…

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 27, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    If you build it, they may not come.

    .

    Perfect picture leading off this article Rich. Perfect.

  5. musicmanjr

    March 28, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Once play resumes, I wonder what The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will say regarding the constant spitting in baseball? Definitely not a selling point after the Coronavirus pandemic.

  6. John in Cincy

    March 28, 2020 at 11:43 am

    If the players want to have as many games as possible, owners ought to schedule some double-headers, and maybe make it to where if a fan wants to attend both games, it could be full price for the first game, and half price for the second.

  7. cedar

    March 28, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    I like the idea of stating the season with the double header and how about pairing the amateur draft with it?

    As for regular season play. I would enjoy one double header a week with teams getting the next day off. To entice fans to come back the double headers should be the old 2 games for 1 ticket with a small break between games.

  8. WorldlyView

    March 28, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    If you are in the mood for nostalgia, I stumbled upon a wonderful article by Jon Miller, written in 2014 in connection with the O’s 60th anniversary. Wonderful photos going back to 1954.

    http://www.baltimoremagazine.com/2014/3/27/60-years-of-the-baltimore-orioles.

    • cedar

      March 28, 2020 at 6:20 pm

      Nice article and loved the accompanying photos! I remember some those times well. Thanks bff or sharing the link.

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