Athletics

60-game 2020 MLB season attaches asterisk to all stats, World Series

60-game 2020 MLB season attaches asterisk to all stats, World Series

Matt Williams had 43 home runs through 115 games in 1994. We’ll never know if the Giants third baseman could’ve made a serious run at Roger Maris.

Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 through 117, completely convinced he was going to be the first since Ted Williams to hit above .400.

We’ll never know if they would’ve exceeded some of baseball’s mystical milestones. A strike robbed us of those moments and all the drama leading up to them.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic prevents anyone from doing something historic in 2020. While prolonged bickering between Major League Baseball and its players union cut this season down, we were never getting 162 in after a public health crisis forced the sport to hit pause.

It seems we’re down to 60 games now, putting an asterisk on every statistical leader in 2020. We’ll have a batting champion and a home run king and an ERA leader. Final averages will look similar to normal seasons, but they’ll ultimately be hollow. And, in what’s bad news for a game that values its history, these achievements won’t fit in a greater context.

They will be outliers as the ’94 numbers were, unable to contribute to baseball’s grand history of individual achievement. Nobody’s chasing Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs or Hack Wilson’s 191 RBI or Ichiro’s 262 hits or Nolan Ryan’s 383 strikeouts. None of the averages will matter one bit.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Breaking Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is technically possible, but a hitter better get hot during the opening series and never cool off.

Miguel Cabrera is 23 home runs from 500 and 185 hits from 3,000, but he surely won’t hit either milestone this year with the shorter season and his recent production dips.

This should be a 60-game sprint where it’s less certain the best teams make the postseason, especially if the bracket’s regular sized. Given the stats don’t mean much, this becomes a “Just Win, Baby” type of season.

It’s tough to make sense of how much can be gleaned from a 60-game sample size, though those on expiring contracts will want inflated totals heading into free agency. A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, closer Liam Hendriks, outfielder Mark Canha, and Giants pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Tony Watson will want to leave a positive impression on evaluators as they head toward an open market they may be depressed some due to a lack of typical revenue streams during the 2020 campaign.

[RELATED: Four big questions facing A's]

Achievements will be stymied at every turn, with even the World Series winner left to wonder if they would’ve finished in the same spot after 162 games in the regular season. We’ll never know and are worse off for that.

This country needs unifying shared experiences that sports can provide. Hopefully player safety and health remain during this experiment, with some good baseball to be watched in a true outlier season, maybe as much as any in the modern era.

MLB rumors: Astros coach insulted Ramon Laureano's mom to spark brawl

MLB rumors: Astros coach insulted Ramon Laureano's mom to spark brawl

Don't you dare talk about someone's mom.

Apparently, that was the spark that set off the fiery benches-clearing brawl between the A's and Houston Astros on Sunday at the Coliseum.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, A's center fielder Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch from Astros reliever Humberto Castellanos. It was the third time in the series, and second time in the game, that Laureano had been plunked, so he wasn't thrilled.

When Laureano reached first base, he could be seen screaming in the direction of the Astros dugout along the first base line. His ire was directed mainly at Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Something was said that caused Laureano to charge the Astros dugout and set off a brawl that surely will have severe consequences.

According to former Astros beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz, we now have an idea of what set Laureano off.

Sounds like this is a little more serious than a "Yo Mama" joke.

A's manager Bob Melvin was convinced someone said something offensive, and claimed Laureano wouldn't have charged the Astros dugout if nothing bad was said.

Astros manager Dusty Baker was asked after the game if Cintron made a remark to Laureano about his mother, and Baker said he wasn't sure. But he also said he understands why Latino players get upset when someone references their mother.

[RELATED: Why Laureano was tackled by Astros catcher Garneau]

With no fans in attendance at the Coliseum and TV microphones picking up just about every word uttered on the field, MLB likely will be able to find out exactly what was said between Cintron and Laureano.

Regardless of what was said, expect the league to hand down a hefty suspension for Laureano. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended eight games for throwing at Astros stars Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, which led to benches clearing between the two teams.

Dustin Garneau explains tackling Ramón Laureano during A's-Astros brawl

Dustin Garneau explains tackling Ramón Laureano during A's-Astros brawl

The A’s won 7-2 against the Houston Astros on Sunday to sweep the three-game series, but not without some drama.

The teams cleared the benches after Ramón Laureano charged at Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón for saying something to him. Laureano had just been hit by a pitch for the second time of the day and was walking toward first base.

This was the result:

Former A’s catcher Dustin Garneau could be seen on the NBC Sports California broadcast appearing to grab Laureano and tackle him down to the ground, jumping in between the A's outfielder and several Astros players and coaches including Cintron.

Garneau later told reporters it was a preventative move.

“I was trying to stop the situation before punches were thrown and things got out of hand. That's really my whole goal for that incident,” Garneau said after Sunday’s game.

Garneau, who was standing to the side of Cintrón while the verbal exchange began, said he wasn’t sure what was said between the two.

“My whole point was, he charged our dugout and I was trying to tackle him so nothing would happen and then I held him down there for whenever it was over for the same reason,” Garneau added.

[RELATED: Projection has A's nearly playoff locks]

A’s manager Bob Melvin was asked after the game what was said by Cintrón and was directed toward Laureano.

“I can't tell you that,” he said. 

Both Laureano and A’s catcher Austin Allen were ejected immediately following the scuffle. Nobody from the Astros' dugout was. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]