Major League Baseball and the Players Association have finally agreed on a plan to commence the 2020 baseball season. The season had been on indefinite hold since the Coronavirus outbreak interrupted Spring Training back in March.
Recent weeks had been filled with meetings between MLB, team owners and the players' union as they tried to agree on the format of the season, the rules, postseason, player pay structures and, most importantly, the date the season would commence. It has now been agreed that 2020 will be a 60-game season, beginning either July 23rd or 24th and comprising of 40 games against divisional rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic region, ie NL East v AL East. The postseason format will remain the same as it has since 2012, with three division winners and two Wild Cards from each league.
Perhaps the biggest change, besides the absence of fans will be that both the American and National Leagues will use a Designated Hitter (DH) in 2020. This is to avoid overtaxing pitchers, given the truncated pre-season. Additionally, extra-inning games will start each half inning with a runner on second base (should he score, the run will be unearned), although this rule does not apply to the postseason.
Rosters will begin the season with 30 players, reducing to 28 after two weeks and 26 after four weeks.
Teams will begin camps immediately in their home cities and to limit the risk of transmitting Covid-19, players, coaching staff and support staff will be tested every other day, be checked for symptoms twice a day, adhere to social distancing wherever possible and wear masks in the dugout and bullpen. Spitting will be strictly prohibited, as will "celebratory contact" and fighting.
The season will have a strange feeling to it, but at least baseball is returning.
1 July 2020