The MLB 2020 season rests in the hands of players who will be routinely tested in more ways than one. Somewhere in between, games will be played.
The MLB 2020 season now has an official schedule of sixty games for each of its thirty teams. Checking player stats, team standings, and box scores will once again become parts of our daily morning rituals. If only it were that easy.
By their very athletic and competitive nature, major league ballplayers are conditioned to block out all surrounding distractions, so a pitcher can deliver that perfect pitch on the outside corner to record a critical out in a baseball contest.
Typically, the execution of those baseball skills consistently guarantees them a long and lucrative career in the big leagues, with the added benefit of providing their families with financial security.
MLB 2020, however, adds another dimension to that ability to perform and win games on the field.
Already, there are hiccups in the testing procedures MLB worked so hard on.
Delays in testing results have forced the suspension of the Oakland A’s summer camp. In contrast, Yankees DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa, along with as many as forty players, have tested positive for COVID-19, told to return home until further notice.
Meanwhile, players still in their team’s camp move from one day to the next, breathing a sigh of relief in knowing they’ve punched the clock and can, hopefully, return home to their families in good health and conscience that all are safe – for at least one more day.
MLB 2020: When Skill Takes Second Place To Will
Playing games in the MLB 2020 season is fast becoming a secondary challenge to reaching the game itself on the calendar with a roster cleared to play.
Everyone, from players, coaches, and team owners, is trying their best to make it work. But it’s the “it” part of the equation that is eerily unusual this year.
“It” generally has meant a team coming together throughout a six-month 162-game marathon to the finish – and on to the season-ending ESPN clips of champagne-soaked players hoisting a trophy into the clubhouse air.
In this season, though, that trophy may indeed become merely the “piece of metal” Commission Rob Manfred used as a metaphor to combat players like Aaron Judge. He publicly went on the attack, saying the Yankees were “cheated” by the Astros last year. (video here)
MLB 2020: “Uh, What’s The Protocol In This Situation?”
Memorizing the pitch most likely coming from the opposing pitcher on a 2-1 count in this particular game situation is the job of a major league hitter.
In and of itself, that is a difficult enough skill to master – let alone having the expertise for the ball to meet the sweet spot on their bat when the pitch is delivered.
But just as likely this season is another level of knowledge and skill the same player must master to succeed and thrive.
Is it my turn to take a shower? Should I only take telephone interviews from the media? What if my girlfriend invites me over to meet her parents – should I go? Are the hotel bar and restaurant off-limits? Is it okay to walk the Inner Harbor in Baltimore?
MLB 2020: Something Has To Give
These are abnormal but relevant questions a player is likely to need answers to as the season moves forward. The easy answer says it’s all there in the MLB and MLBPA Operations Manual issued to all players. Just read it.
Ah, excuse me, says, Gerrit Cole. I’ve been a little busy here trying to get in shape to earn my keep with the Yankees to help bring that elusive ring they’re trusting me to provide.
Regardless of the extraordinary feats we see performed on the field, players are not super-human. Some have already said it’s not worth the risk, and others like Mike Trout and Zack Wheeler with babies due in August are pondering the same.
The full test of the MLB 2020 season rests, not only with the resolve of the players to make it happen, but clearly, Major League Baseball also needs to do more.
Three teams canceling workouts (Nationals, Cardinals, and Astros) canceling drills solely due to a delay in the delivery of testing results is inexcusable, and likely an omen for what lies ahead when real games are scheduled to be played.
MLB 2020: Is There Still “A Play” Going On?
Adversity is an integral part of any sport, regardless of the level, it is played.
But there is only so much an athlete or a sport can endure until it reaches a breaking point. Already, the entire minor league season has been canceled. The college draft has been watered down to four rounds, and the All-Star game has been set aside.
We thought the season was impossible when greed and ignorance prevailed during the talks between owners and players over the past three months.
Come to find out; it was all merely “show business,” as Rob Manfred indicated the other day when he admitted a sixty-game schedule was the only card in the deck he ever intended on playing.
Are those shenanigans behind us? Or, is there still “a play” going on – intended or not – to mask, or at least delay, the results of testing.
Manfred, in his statement, revealed his most authentic intentions to delay, delay, delay, and then delay some more until the only feasible schedule remaining is the one we have now.
It would be sad to learn down the road or sooner, while players are trying in their earnest to make the season work one day at a time, MLB is still not committed to going “all-in” on the 2020 season.