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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Embrace the Weirdness: Five Ways to Make a 2020 Season Compelling

The 2020 season will be unlike any other we’ve seen before. Indeed, there may not even be a season. The COVID-19 pandemic has already altered baseball to an even greater degree than the World Wars did. While finding a way to resume play has become a rare point of common interest for MLB and the MLBPA, a contagious illness that spreads easily and is more dangerous than the seasonal flu presents a whole host of problems that need to be solved before a new Opening Day can be announced. Do you quarantine players? How long do you play without fans? What happens if a player tests positive in mid-August?

But let’s assume for a moment that the IHME model is on target. The model predicts that if we can keep up our current social distancing efforts (and the straggler states join in), the worst effects of the virus will be behind us by early-to-mid June. The return of baseball would be a welcome symbol of normalcy, and a baseball season that starts in July could largely be played without too many compromises other than the number of games. But I think it would be a mistake for baseball to just go back to the regular structure. The game will be returning against the backdrop of an international tragedy. In this dark time, baseball should focus on the enjoyable parts of the sport, even if things get a little…weird. 2021 can return to normal business, but let’s make 2020 fun.

United we stand, divided we Fall…Classic
Divisions have been a part of baseball for a half-century — even longer if you consider leagues to be de facto divisions. They’re a convenient way to group teams engaged in competition for playoff spots and to create additional meaningful races beyond simple seeding. But one of the problems with divisions is they just don’t make all that much sense in a severely shortened season. Whether the season is 80 or 100 or 120 games, it will provide less of an opportunity for teams to prove themselves superior to their division rivals. And the shorter the season, the less likely it is that a team will run away with a one-division league and make things boring.

So, for 2020, let’s axe the divisions. 15 teams per league, a balanced schedule, and the top X teams in each league advancing to the playoffs. Since seeding isn’t as much of an advantage in baseball as it is in other sports, and teams are closer to each other in quality, we can maintain some kind of bye situation for the first team or two in each league to make winning the league matter.

A series of proposals by a longtime figure here.

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 01:22 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2020 season, 40 man rosters, all-star game, divisions, mlb.tv, players weekend, szymborski

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 08, 2020 at 09:31 PM (#5937740)
If there is a 2020 season, I don't thnk it will be challenging to make it "compelling." We'll all be so happy to have something fun back in our lives. If anything I will quickly get tired of the announcers, press, etc. reminding us how compelling it is and how America's pastime is leading us out of the doldrums, etc. And granted, if they drudge through a 140-game schedule in Arizona, I may find myself less compelled.

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