The A’s 2020 schedule got released on Monday and manager Bob Melvin was asked for his opinion of it during a Tuesday video conference with the media.
His main takeaway: Well, it’s short.
Melvin seemed to care less about when the A's play certain teams and the disparity between home and away games with specific opponents. His A’s have been notoriously slow starters, but Melvin believes that might not be the case during a 60-game season compacted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s not a lot of room for error, but I bet teams will just go out there and play like it’s August. That will be the feeling,” Melvin said. “There will be a little bit more intensity knowing that there’s a finish line not too far away. I’ve said often that teams play differently when they see the finish line, so it’s going to be that from the very beginning.
“There [will be] experiences that you just haven’t had before. Whether it’s seeing nobody in the stands or it's hearing the other dugout more, I’m sure you’ll hear more bench jockeying like we did … in college. There are a lot of unknowns still, but it’s a baseball game against guys you see a lot. There’s going to be a lot of intensity.”
That will certainly be the case on the field, with each game played without fans in the stands. That will mitigate the home-field advantage typically afforded to the hosts. That’s especially true with a vocal contingent as loyal A’s supporters.
Opponents still have to deal with Oakland Coliseum’s quirks, including vast expanses of foul territory. It won’t be the same at home, however, without fans filling the house.
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“It will be different,” Melvin said. ”I don’t think home-field advantage is as big of a deal anymore based on the fact that your fans aren’t there. Our fans are impactful for us, big time. Teams don’t really like playing here for the most part. Our fans can be pretty loud, especially if you get a big crowd. I don’t know that it factors in as much as it has in the past.”