MLB Has Some Bright Ideas For 2020 Schedule, SI Staff Has Some Better Ones
Prompted by government officials and their desire to get back to business as usual, Major League Baseball has floated a plan to do just that. Included are some bright ideas, and some not-so-bright ideas.
All games to be played in a single, centralized location in Arizona? Makes some sense. In empty Spring Training facilities and Chase Field? Understandable. A return to baseball in May? No. That shouldn't even be under consideration.
The notion that players practice social distancing during games by sitting apart in the stands instead of in the dugout is just plain weird. And minus the rush to return in May instead of waiting until the country gets back to some degree of normalcy, well, I don't even know how to finish the sentence.
Actually, I do. Social distancing during games is beyond lame. What are you going to do, have the first baseman receive throws six feet to the left of first base? Or have a runner slide six feet short of second base? Or third? Or home? Phantom tags all around? Outlaw ground balls? The catcher positioned six feet back of the batter and the ump six feet behind him? C'mon.
The SI MLB staff has some brighter ideas, with a dash of creativity thrown in for flavor. The best of which follows directly.
From SI's Stephanie Apstein:
"I like the idea of long series. There's nothing sacred about three games, and it would cut down on travel (and on carbon emissions) if teams played one another for a full week. They would also be unable to set up their rotation in a way that hid pitchers from their opponents, and there would be a lot of possibilities for drama as teams got tired of each other."
Brilliant. Giants at Dodgers for six to begin the season, Dodgers at Giants for six to end it. Long series for 2020, worth considering moving forward.
Emma Baccellieri: "I'd love to see a different postseason structure, [with] some version of the system used by KBO in Korea, where the top-ranked team in each league could get a bye until the LCS, and lower-ranked teams would play each other in series of varying length to climb the ladder ... [which] would guarantee that the regular season, even if it has to be shorter than usual, would still be crucially important."
Thoughtful, baseball savvy and loads of fun.
Connor Grossman: "Time to crank up the dial. If the regular season is anything less than 100 games, let's scrap the World Series. Instead we'll play for the 2020 Championship, with MLB donating a lump sum to the winning team's charity that can benefit coronavirus relief.
"The 2020 postseason should resemble the NCAA tournament, comprised of do-or-die games and be more inclusive than exclusive. Get all 30 teams involved. Give an advantage to the better teams, but not too much. After all, a year from now we'll be talking about the 2020 Champion Miami Marlins."
Uh, in a word, no. Per earth's wishes, I'll smack Grossman in the arm the next time I see him, ala Hyde and Kelso in "That 70s Show."
Matt Martell: "On the more extreme side of experimentation, we could have a 56-game regular season. That would allow every team to play a four-game series against the other 14 teams in their specific league."
Good, sure; if baseball is delayed until August.
More Martell: "Regular season standings would then be used for seeding ... top four seeds get byes ... worst four teams have to win two do-or-die games to advance ... winners of each best-of-three series would advance to the first best-of-five round, with the first seed playing the worst remaining seed ... [then] the second best-of-five round, with the winners of each series moving on to the championship series, normal CS format, followed by the World Series."
Compelling. Much better than Grossman.
Michael Shapiro: "...seven-inning game is perhaps the most appealing. Not as the new standard, but once or twice a week could be a welcome break from the season's monotony."
No, it wouldn't be. Next.
Cole: Scrap any plan that has the word "May" in it. Be prepared for a June, July and August start, with contingencies for empty stadiums and full ones and plans that involve more sites than just Arizona. The later the opener the likelier the possibility that all 30 ballparks (and more importantly, all 30 fan bases) can be considered.
The 50-man rosters idea is folly. Whoever suggested one that gets a noogie. Thirty-man rosters are fine. Scrap the moronic three-batter minimum for relief pitchers. And no matter how much Rob Manfred wants a rover, just say no.
Use Stephanie's long series idea. Keep CBA-mandated off days in place. Forget pre-scheduled doubleheaders. You're going to have rainout-caused doubleheaders as it is.
A season's end no later than mid-October, followed by a traditional LDS, LCS, World Series format, with every intention of using the actual venues of the participants. If you must go to warm weather cities, Los Angeles works just fine, thank you very much. You're all invited to join me in the Loge level. Dodger Dogs on me-- grilled, not steamed -- and some of them cooked all the way through.
Marlin Man banned. Same goes for those goofy Chevy executives, who with a year to prepare still can't get their one-sentence World Series trophy presentation right. Instead of those guys, a digital Homer Simpson will suffice.
SI MLB women rule the world, with me as their sidekick in the L.A. office (i.e. my living room). I will work for major league minimum while continuing my responsibilities at Inside the Dodgers. Lucky you.
There. Baseball's fixed. And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.