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MLB return: Players’ interest in 100 games or more further complicates what is already complicated

MLB return: Players’ interest in 100 games or more further complicates what is already complicated

A new wrinkle was presented Wednesday night when ESPN reported players want a longer -- not shorter -- Major League Baseball season in 2020.

At least 100 games was the number used. Maybe up to 120. This is a complication.

First, map it out. Be generous and say the season begins July 1. Typically, teams receive 2-3 off-days per month. So, reaching a half-season -- 81 or 82 games -- is feasible with a July 1 start and standard start time for the postseason. July, August and September will fill out a clean schedule with 27 games per month. That’s doable. It makes sense.

Adding 20 games becomes difficult. Adding 40 even more so.

Why would the players be interested in this?

Well, their finances are likely to have a direct tether to the amount of games played. Which means their thinking could work like this: we are already assuming risk, so why not maximize the revenue while assuming it? Also, there’s a chance of progress over time as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic. That could mean fans in ballparks -- even if spread out.

Here is Max Scherzer to NBC Sports Washington on March 31:

“All these challenges that are in front of us with trying to make a schedule is going to be extremely difficult and what our appetite is going to be for doubleheaders and all the other rule changes that could be about it,” Scherzer said. “I think everything’s absolutely on the table of what we want to be able to do to get the most amount of games in, and I think that includes playing through October. And just finding any which way we can to get in as many games as possible to have it be a reflective season, so that when we do have the playoffs, when we have a World Series champion, whoever wins the World Series this year is going to earn it.”

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This parlay by the players is part of a standard negotiation process. Side A is way over there, Side B is way over here, they bicker until their heads butt, everyone is exasperated and they capitulate.

But, an extended schedule only manufactures further risk and logistical challenges on top of the already present, and very long, list of issues.

If the season moves into the cold-weather months, as it would at 100 or 120 games, locations would become compromised. The postseason would likely have to be held in one stadium which can control the environment. Picture the Yankees versus the Dodgers in Miami.

“I think once you get into playoffs in November, those games have to be at neutral sites,” Scherzer said in late March. “Playoff series at the beginning of November have to be neutral sites because you have to be able to guarantee weather. The teams in the north, once you get into November, the weather can be too cruel for baseball. So, this isn’t a permanent thing. But this is just what we have to do to be able to play baseball and try to get as many games in.”

Circle back to now, two months after Scherzer made those statements. He’s on the MLBPA’s eight-member executive subcommittee. His voice is powerful in any negotiation. So, what was reported Wednesday is a concept clearly percolating long before. Once is an accident, twice is a trend.

And, perhaps the NHL’s “hub city” model is one Major League Baseball can use. Maybe it’s even a chance to expand the game by providing the postseason more of a March Madness feel.

But, to get there, so much more has to be worked out. An 82-game season is a clean slot on the calendar. It would end around the normal time, providing a sense of standard season and standard offseason, one without encroachment on spring training 2021.

The expanded regular season would push the calendar now and later, provide a risk of playing during a spike in coronavirus cases, add extra pressure to precisely follow health protocols for a longer period, and necessitate a new postseason plan. It’s complicated. Just like everything else going on now.

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Nationals' 2021 schedule again includes the AL East

Nationals' 2021 schedule again includes the AL East

WASHINGTON -- Despite the 2020 season wobbling toward a late start, Major League Baseball released the 2021 schedule on Thursday afternoon.

Without warning or fanfare -- MLB’s usual ineffective process of releasing the schedule -- the Nationals learned they will open 2021 at home on April 1 against the New York Mets.

All 30 teams are slated to play on Opening Day in 2021.

The Nationals will again face the American League East during interleague play. Oddly, Major League Baseball did not use the already existing full 2020 schedule, nor did it change the interleague matchups after alterations for this season. For instance, the Nationals could have played the American League West next season -- like they were originally scheduled to in 2020. Instead, they will be dealing with the AL East heavyweights for a second consecutive season.

RELATED: NATIONALS' 2020 SCHEDULE FILLED WITH ODDITIES

The Nationals first road trip will be to Los Angeles for a three-game weekend series against the Dodgers on April 9-11 and then on to St. Louis to face the Cardinals, April 12-14.

The Nationals will play the Yankees in New York on May 7-9. The Boston Red Sox visit Nationals Park Oct. 1-3 to close the regular season.

Per usual, most of September will be spent playing within the division. From Aug. 24 through Sept. 22, the Nationals will play 22 out of 28 games against National League East.

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Spelling error? Stephen Strasburg was nervous opening his World Series ring

Spelling error? Stephen Strasburg was nervous opening his World Series ring

It’s understandable that a player might feel an array of emotions when finally getting the chance to see their championship ring in person for the first time.

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg opened his Thursday and while he was feeling nervous, it wasn’t because of the long road Washington took to winning its first World Series.

“It was very special to see,” Strasburg said on a Zoom press conference Thursday. “I got a little nervous at first because on the outside of the box it came in, my last name was spelled wrong. Luckily, it was spelled correctly on the ring, so I was pretty happy about that.”

RELATED: WATCH AS NATIONALS PLAYERS FINALLY RECEIVE THEIR WORLD SERIES RINGS

The Nationals unveiled the design for their World Series rings May 24, one year to the day after they began climbing out of the depths of a 19-31 start. However, players decided against receiving them until they could all do it together.

“It’s cool to see in person but I think I’ll be with Davey [Martinez] when I can actually put that thing on,” Nationals starter Max Scherzer said after the design was unveiled. “I think all of us, when we’re all together, when we can have that moment together, that’s the final piece to our championship and that’ll be an emotional moment.”

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Strasburg was the only player made available to the media after the rings were distributed, but he emphasized that the moment lived up to expectations.

“It’s pretty special,” Strasburg said. “You just look at all the little things they put on the ring to commemorate some of the big moments of the season and it kind of takes you right back to that moment. And they did a great job on it...Can’t wait to get it home to show my kids.”

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