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Champs with an asterisk? Not this year's World Series champ

Champs with an asterisk? Not this year's World Series champ

Just because the eventual 2020 World Series champion will have played fewer games, don't expect the rest of Major League Baseball to look at them with a scoff. 

In fact, it's apparently viewed by players as an even taller task given the circumstances of this year. 

"I did a story, this was a couple weeks ago, I talked to managers, GMs, players, and they all swore, you know, up an down, that's it's gonna mean even more, just because of what you've been through," USA Today's Bob Nightengale said on the Nationals Talk podcast. "Starting Spring Training. Stopping Spring Training. Not knowing when you're going to pick up again. So emotionally, physically, it's a very challenging season. So, the managers will tell you this might even mean more than just a regular season."

There's no question baseball is in the middle of something they've never experienced before, and it would be a lazy argument to brush aside the accomplishments of any successful team in 2020, let alone the one that wins it all.

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The number of regular season games played is minuscule compared to the mental toll the last couple of months has taken on everyone involved in the sport.

The human element of sports is far too often overlooked, and anyone deciding to put an asterisk on this season would be doing just that. 

Unique circumstances tend to bring out the best in the best. How this year's best, whenever the season gets going, reacts to those circumstances, will truly be a remarkable achievement. 

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What's the worst-case scenario for Major League Baseball?

What's the worst-case scenario for Major League Baseball?

As Major League Baseball works towards a restart plan during the coronavirus pandemic, it's nearly impossible to account for all the variables that they could end up facing.

They're not just attempting to bring your game back with the closest resemblance of what fans are used to, they're also navigating some pretty extreme but necessary restrictions.  

Health and safety is certainly on the forefront, but let's be honest with ourselves, money is a major driving factor as well.  All of this, as the clock keeps ticking for both the players and owners to find an agreement they can all be comfortable with. 

Both sides are going back and forth over a list as long as an Egyptian scroll, but no doubt still want to find common ground so they can bring baseball back this summer. The question is, how much time do they have left to make this happen?

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"I don't think there's a real drop-dead deadline, in the sense that, you could still negotiate," USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale said on the Nationals Talk podcast. "Then you still rush guys to Spring Training. Worst comes to worst, you don't start July 4th weekend, maybe you start the weekend after." 

We hear the phrase "unprecedented times" it feels like every five minutes, but it's about as fitting of a statement as there can be right now. 

"The owners' biggest fear, is you play two months, second wave of the virus hits, then the postseason's shut down, and there goes a billion dollars," Nightengale continued. 

Now clearly, there's no controlling that part of this scenario. Every sports league, along with every business in this country, has to work with health officials when it comes to the actual virus. What both the players and owners can control though is keeping players safe, how you can make a season feasible, and making sure these negotiations don't turn so contentious publically that you turn fans away.

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With the NHL laying out a plan to resume play, there's even more pressure on MLB to figure out what comes next. 

What won't help is the fight growing increasingly contentious so that discussions over money dominate headlines in what are already trying times for many around the world. 

So while there's still time - as Nightengale points out - the sooner they get it right, the better.

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Guess how many times Juan Soto has watched his World Series homer

Guess how many times Juan Soto has watched his World Series homer

With Spring Training right around the corner, Nationals players are switching out of their offseason routines and getting back into the swing of things (pun intended). 

For Juan Soto, part of his offseason routine was watching film from the World Series... well, one pitch in particular. 

At the Washington Auto Show earlier this month, Soto spoke to NBC Sports Washington about the homer he hit against Gerrit Cole in Game 1 of the World Series. 

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How many times has he watched that home run back? "A lot of times," Soto emphasized. "A lot of times."

The 22-year-old had an amazing season but only Washington's hitting coach, Kevin Long, could have predicted him hitting the ball all the way to the train tracks of Minute Maid Park.

"When you hit the ball like that... against a pitcher like this it feels really good." Good news for Soto, he has a chance to recreate the magic and rewatch more home runs when the Nationals and Astros face off for the first time on Feb. 22 in West Palm Beach. 

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