America’s Pastime is finally back! Hard to believe the long-term effects that COVID has brought upon everyday life, including the world of sports. While most are glad baseball is about to be underway, there are issues still with the decision. Let’s take a look and see what some of the larger pros and cons are for the 2020 MLB season.
Pro + Much-needed entertainment
If you ask anyone who’s a fan of sports why they are important, someone is bound to mention the following. Sports provide an opportunity for people to escape their lives for a few hours and invest some time, or money, into their favorite team. It’s ever apparent how much of an economic toll COVID has had on families and individuals alike. These last few months have been extremely stressful on millions of people and many more will likely join that growing list. Baseball allows families to come together and take their minds off those stresses, even for a little bit, and invest themselves in America’s Pastime. The players are just as eager to get out there and play, not only for their own benefit but because people rely on sports. Professional athletes realize how important their job is during these strenuous times, especially being the first major sport back in action.
Con – No Fans
This is a minor con at best, but some people are bound to think, what’s the point if fans can’t be there? In these last few days leading up to Opening Day, there’ve been several exhibition games. During these games, fan noise has been played over the speakers, but it’s more awkward than being a solution. I can relate to some degree in saying that athletes prefer to have fans present, if possible. It’s almost eerie to play in front of empty stadiums, or ones scattered with cardboard cutouts. There’s no emotion from the fanbase, no true home-field advantage. Players can’t feed off the energy that fans give in high-pressure situations. There’s also major economic loss in every city without fans. There are food and beverage costs, ticket costs, hotel/lodging costs, transportation costs, and other profits that won’t be a factor this season. It doesn’t seem like much, but those things add up.
Pro + Wild Race
Yes, there will be some teams who’ll likely fall back quickly and can’t recover, but this season is truly up for grabs. I’m not saying the Orioles will win it all, or even make the playoffs, but there’s a better chance now than before. Most teams will be minimizing travel with their schedules. For instance, the Chicago Cubs are playing the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians, in addition to their NL Central foes. In their case, every game truly matters with more of the schedule emphasizing the Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, and Pirates. For that matter, every game counts even more with such a short schedule. If you fall behind by double-digit games, the chances of coming back are quite slim. It’s going to be wild, and for that reason alone, there should be good TV ratings throughout.
Con – Health
You can look at this from a multitude of ways. There’s a larger concern dealing with COVID and what might happen if players get infected. Another equally large question mark will revolve around players staying healthy in general. It happens all too often that star players end up getting hurt throughout the season, some injuries ending their season right then and there. Because this season has been shortened, any player who suffers anything more than a minor injury will likely be out for the season. Normally, if a player suffers a serious injury near the beginning part of the season, they have substantial time to recover. That won’t be the case this season. It’ll be interesting to see how teams address those instances. I’d expect a lot of names would be moved around, and there’s plenty of guys in the talent in the pool to bring up considering the minor leagues canceled their seasons.
Pro + Players get paid
This was a massive issue that almost derailed this season altogether. Players were in a dispute with Robert Manfred (MLB Commissioner) in getting their rightful money for games to be played this season. They also wanted to play more games than what was eventually agreed upon, but at least there’s a season. Say what you might about players getting absurd contracts, I’m in agreement with you on some of that, but this is their job. With everything that’s been happening, their job is even more important to them, especially the players who aren’t making bank.
Con – Fans can’t boo the Astros
Remember when the verdict came out about the Astros and their sign-stealing? That seems like it was years ago, but it’s only been a few months since. That story alone ran the sports world for some time, but then it got buried by COVID. If there’s any team who might benefit most from playing with no fans, it would likely be the Astros. You know fans would be heckling them whenever they got the chance, maybe even their home crowd too. Nevertheless, there’s still a chance of some brawls or intentionally hit batters when the Astros are playing. Tensions will be high, especially within the division.
Pro + Franchise could end a title drought
While it’s unlikely, there’s still a chance we could see a franchise win their first World Series this season. There are six teams who’ve never won it including the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers. The Mariners started out strong last season, and if they have a similar start, who knows what could happen. Of course, last year they finished out crashing and burning, but this season is another chance.
The Padres are young but have begun to build a formidable franchise that’ll do damage in the future. Colorado has hitters but their pitching is a weakness, while the Rangers are fairly mediocre. Tampa Bay could benefit quite a bit from this shortened season, they’ve been climbing the ranks but haven’t been able to topple the Yankees yet. Milwaukee has established itself as a strong contender recently, but they lost some key pieces in the off-season while making Christian Yelich a Brewer for years to come. It’s not out of the question for one of these teams to break through and hoist their first World Series trophy like the Washington Nationals last season.
While these are only some of the pros and cons of this season, we should be glad baseball is back. Due to several factors, TV ratings should be high most of the season, or at least until the NBA returns. Get ready for a wild ride, it’s a great time to be a baseball fan!
Follow the Author: @MR_B93
(photo credit to Sporting News)