MLB baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that Major League Baseball would be making its return.
According to the official press release, players can start reporting to camp on July 1st, with games to begin on either July 23rd or 24th.
With much of the season already lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will play a modified 60-game season.
What will that season look like?
Let's first take a look at some other sports leagues like the NWSL, MLS, and NBA, all of which drastically altered their respective seasons to return to play.
Both MLS and the NWSL will skip traditional "regular season" play, instead choosing to play World Cup style tournaments. Due to having more games in a shorter time frame, MLS has expanded roster size and increased the number of substitutions allowed in-game. Both leagues will have all their teams report on one central location, with all MLS games being played in Orlando, and all NWSL games being played in Utah.
The NBA will return next month, and like MLS it will be doing so with all its teams meeting in Orlando. The league will return with an eight-game regular season to decide playoff seeding. Teams not currently in the top eight have a small chance to catch up and make the playoffs. Once the "regular season" is done, if the ninth place team is less than four games behind the team in eighth place, than there will be a sudden-death style game to decide who gets the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the playoffs start, it's business as usual for the NBA, with the NBA Finals scheduled for late October.
As for the MLB, it will look drastically different as well, including some very interesting rules changes.
Here is what the season will look like:
- The season will be 60 games in length
- The proposed schedule will feature mostly divisional play, with remaining games to be interleague games played against the corresponding division. I.E., The AL West will play teams from the NL West
- Each team will play 10 games against their division rivals, and four games against their interleague opponents
- Teams will make just one trip to each city it visits. So, for instance, the Mariners could play 10 games against the Angels with a five-game series being played in each city
- 10 teams will make the playoff, the playoffs will be played as normal
So, for you Mariners fans, we may not know the exact schedule, but we do know who they will play. The Mariners will play 10 games each against the Rangers, Athletics, Angels, and Astros. They will also play four games each against the NL West's Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies.
When teams return to play, the schedule won't be the only difference. There will also be some rule changes and dates to watch:
- NL teams can now use a Designated Hitter
- If games go to extra innings, the innings will start with a runner on second base
- Active rosters will be at 30 for the first two weeks, 28 for the second two weeks, and reduced to 26 players in week five
- The trade deadline will be August 31st
- Players must be with an organization by September 15th to be playoff eligible
The shortest baseball season since 1878 looks to be a fun one.