Baseball is back. Mookie Betts will play meaningful games in Dodger Blue.
Late Tuesday afternoon, after many failed attempts and halted negotiations, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball reached an agreement to start the 2020 season. Play for the year had been halted in mid-March due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 around the country and the world.
The when and where has been decided. Players will report on July 1 for the second spring training, or ‘Summer Training.’ In the case of the Dodgers, their pre-season workouts will be at Dodger Stadium. Most teams will be doing their spring training 2.0 at their home venues, with the exception of the Toronto Blue Jays, who are not allowed to travel into Canada. They may share a stadium with the Tampa Bay Rays.
There will be 60 games over the span of 66 days. The season will start on July 24 and end on September 27. Teams will play 40 games against division rivals and 20 games against their geographic counterparts. For the Dodgers, that breaks down to 10 games against the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. Then there would be four games each against the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s, and Los Angeles Angels.
The exact details of the health and safety protocols are not yet known, but here is what we do know surrounding that issue: Players who are high risk, or who live with people who are high risk, such as a pregnant spouse, can opt out of the season and still be paid with service time. The inclusion of the cohabitation clause was something that was added in the last few days.
There are some new items in the over 100-page MLB operations manual for the pandemic-shortened season. Among them, there will be no bat boy or bat girls, as those duties will be taken care of by existing team staff. Fighting and instigation of fights will be strictly prohibited, as well as buffet style food service. Players will not be allowed to arrive at the field before five hours prior to game time, nor may they stay more than 90 minutes afterwards.
Extra innings will start with a man on second base. The designated hitter will also be used in both leagues throughout the season. And, as we all know, there will be no fans in attendance at the games.
Details of exactly how everything will be handled will be announced in the next few days, and we will cover them as they become available. After months of waiting, it appears we have some concrete plans and baseball will return.