The White Sox could win the World Series and still play a number of games not too dissimilar from the number played by the Bulls, whose season is over after missing the NBA playoffs, during the 2020 calendar year.
That’s how small the 2020 baseball season could shrink.
The likelihood of Major League Baseball’s regular season being as brief as 48 games is increasing after the league made a new proposal to the union in the ongoing negotiations over how to start a shortened campaign. Despite a firm stance from the players to accept nothing less than the prorated salaries they agreed to back in March, the league’s new proposal that guaranteed just half of those salaries was met harshly. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the players saw it as a “step backwards,” while some players let their feelings be known on Twitter.
Lol— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) June 8, 2020
Do they even want to play??? We are ready! 🤷🏼♂️🤦🏼♂️🤦🏼♂️🤦🏼♂️— Roberto Perez (@robperez2015) June 8, 2020
And so it looks increasingly possible that the league could sidestep further negotiations and mandate a season in which the players receive those full prorated salaries over a small number of games. The number being reported is around 50, perhaps as low as 48.
That would obviously be a drastic change for a sport that annually plays 162 regular-season games and wants to add another round of postseason play.
With a 48-game regular season and the existing playoff format, which national reporters have suggested would remain in place if there is no agreement between the league and the union, a team could win the World Series in as few as 59 games. The highest number of games two pennant-winning clubs could play in 2020 is 68.
For comparison, the Bulls, who in a normal season would have played 82 regular-season games, played just 31 since the calendar turned to 2020. They won’t be part of the NBA’s restart and won’t play again until the 2020-21 campaign begins, which has reportedly been eyed for early December. That’s hardly set in stone, but let’s say they’re able to play a regular amount of NBA games in December. That’s another 10 or 15, putting the Bulls’ 2020 total between 40 and 45 games.
Even if the White Sox reached the end of the postseason, it’s possible they would play fewer than 15 more games than their NBA neighbors.
Obviously that’s because of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and when in the calendar the virus began spreading rapidly in the United States. The NBA season was suspended. The Major League Baseball season has yet to begin.
But it’s a stark example of just how short the major league campaign could be in 2020 and points to what’s expected to be a negative reaction from at least a segment of the fan base. While most fans crave baseball of any kind, it can be argued that a season this short is an illegitimate way to crown a champion. Of course, there’s a counter to be made that it would make for a fascinating change of pace from baseball’s typical, and sometimes sluggish, marathon.
We’ll see how it plays out. Obviously, this was going to be a shorter season than normal. But it could end up being really, really short.