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Without fans, home-field advantage will only exist thanks to park dimensions in 2020

Without fans, home-field advantage will only exist thanks to park dimensions in 2020

It levels almost everything. Rarely-populated Safeco Field is now Yankees Stadium. Empty seats are empty seats.

There’s no vibe. No roll call in the Bronx. No bullpen badgering in Philadelphia. No, “Nats, Nats, Nats” when they score on South Capitol Street.

The extraction of fans may be the biggest change for Major League Baseball in 2020. Even more so than the near-limitless health requirements.

RELATED: HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MLB’S HEALTH-AND-SAFETY MANUAL

Back in early April, when the idea was being floated and the coronavirus pandemic was trying to be better understood, Ryan Zimmerman addressed the possibility with disdain.

“Am I OK with it? I mean, I think it would be brutal,” Zimmerman said. “I can’t imagine, I mean, I tell Heather [Zimmerman] this all the time: sometimes on a Wednesday in July it’s really hard to get really pumped up to play a Major League Baseball game, as sad as that sounds. So when I run out on the field, I need the fans. The fans almost make me get up and be like, yeah, this is why I play. This is why I enjoy coming out on a Wednesday in June because it’s fun to play and hear the fans and hear the roars and things like.

“So, I think it would be challenging for a lot of guys. It’d be an interesting environment. But like I said at the beginning of the call, I think a lot of us are kind of willing to do whatever it takes to get sports back and I think realistically, if we want to get it back sooner than later it’s going to have to be without fans in the stands. So, we’ll see what happens. The short answer is it would be really tough. But, I think a lot of us would be willing to sacrifice and do it.”

That was more than two months ago.

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Thursday, the San Francisco Giants told season-ticket holders there would be no fans at the park this year. But, they will have a “Fan Cutout Program,” allowing them to submit an image to be placed in the stands during home games.

Which means stadium dimensions become the lone home-field advantage without fans. Especially if a team is filled with young players.

For instance, Victor Robles had not played in Wrigley Field prior to last year. The Nationals were concerned in the days before the series. Robles’ break-neck style is both admired and disconcerting. In the case of Wrigley, they began telling him the outfield wall is made of brick, and even he would lose a battle with it. That was the first concern. The second was properly playing caroms. Deep fly balls rocket off the back wall. Any outfielder there has to be prepared for the situation.

So, configuration is now the prime concern since fans are out.

And the change costs the league’s powerhouse organizations. Three teams -- Los Angeles, New York (AL) and St. Louis -- averaged more than 40,000 fans per game last season. Three teams -- Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Miami -- averaged less than 18,000 fans per game last season. Those places are now the same thanks to the biggest twist of 2020.

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Report: St. Louis Cardinals season postponed until Friday after more positive coronavirus tests

Report: St. Louis Cardinals season postponed until Friday after more positive coronavirus tests

The St. Louis Cardinals have not played in a regular season game since Wednesday, July 29, after multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Well, the outbreak has spread to multiple members within the organization. After additional testing was done, seven players have tested positive along with six staff members, bringing the total number of positive tests in St. Louis' traveling party to 13, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Mark Saxon.

As a result, the Cardinals will not travel to Detroit for their four-game series with the Tigers that was scheduled to begin Monday, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. The tentative plan for St. Louis is to return to action on Friday for a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

The positive tests among the Cardinals players occurred after a few players allegedly went to the casino, according to Jerry Hairston Jr. and confirmed by Jon Heyman.

The Cardinals are the second team to have multiple games canceled due to positive tests. The Miami Marlins have not played since Sunday, July 26, after an outbreak ripped through the organization with a total of 18 positive tests among players. The Marlins are set to resume their season Tuesday against the Orioles.

Last Friday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league could shut down if players don't do a better job of following coronavirus protocols. However, a day later, Manfred said the MLB will continue playing despite more positive tests, saying "there is no reason to quit now."

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Former National Michael Morse says 60 games isn't enough to crown World Series champ

Former National Michael Morse says 60 games isn't enough to crown World Series champ

Add former National Michael Morse to the list of people that want an asterisk on the 2020 World Series champion

One of the biggest topics of conversation surrounding Major League Baseball's shortened season is whether or not this year's champion will have really "earned it" the way past winners have.

Playing almost 100 fewer regular season games clearly doesn't work for Morse.

RELATED: ROB MANFRED SAYS BASEBALL IS STILL BEING PLAYED AFTER REPORTS OF POSSIBLE SHUTDOWN

What's made baseball's situation more difficult than the NBA and NHL is the fact the regular season hadn't yet started when sports were first shut down. A 60 game schedule is even tougher for so many to accept because of the fact that the sport takes pride in its longevity. Baseball is supposed to be a marathon, and 60 games versus 162 and expanded playoffs are clearly very different. 

That being said, with so many other factors surrounding the sport like the mental toll this pandemic and MLB restrictions can have on players, it's fair to say this is still an incredibly difficult landscape to win in, 60 games or not. 

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