Now that MLB has officially reached an agreement to restart the 2020 season, information is coming in faster and more furious than sequels to a surprisingly robust car caper franchise. From positive COVID tests across all sports, which should be expected given their increased availability and necessity, to basic logistical concerns, there’s no shortage of news.
I, on the other hand, find myself short on both breath and time after an unfortunate incident with my bike that left me with a bruised sternum. That’s why I’m going to breeze through this evening Rundown to push out a few things that have come up recently or that I’ve not mentioned previously.
The first of those is that the While Sox are planning to allow fans at Guaranteed Rate Field in accordance with Phase 4 of Restore Illinois. It had been assumed that would be the case since the guidelines came out earlier in the week, but confirmation of the Sox’ plans came via Danny Parkins of 670 The Score.
Mini-scoop: I'm told the White Sox are planning to play with a limited number of fans in the stands this year. I haven't gotten a confirmation on the Cubs. Exact capacity isn't known and obviously subject to change but thought is around 20%.
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) June 24, 2020
The Chicago Dogs are already moving forward with plans to operate at limited capacity and began selling tickets Wednesday. The Cubs are almost certainly going to do the same, particularly since Tom Ricketts claims that 70% of their annual revenue comes from gameday activities. While it’ll be impossible to make up more than a fraction of those biblical losses, they’ll absolutely want to do everything they can within the bounds of state and local guidelines.
Cubs Insider has reached out to the team for comment, but there has been no official response as of post time.
The Blue Jays aren’t worrying about fans just yet because they first want to be able to get their own players to Toronto. They’ve petitioned the Canadian government to be able to play their regular season games at Rogers Centre and will seek approval to conduct spring training there as well. Remember, their spring facility is in Dunedin, FL, which could complicate matters.
The PA advised agents today that #BlueJays are asking Canadian gov’t for permission to play season in TOR and expect to hear in next day or two. If they get that approval, they will make request to conduct spring training in TOR, which might take additional 3 to 5 days to secure.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 24, 2020
Speaking of complications, New York has imposed travel restrictions on people coming into the area from states with high COVID infection rates. Four states from among the nine on the initial list — Arizona, Florida, Washington, and Texas — house MLB teams, though only one of those would actually have to deal with it. That’s because the schedule will be limited to only divisional play and interleague matchups with the corresponding division.
As you may have seen by now, each team will face it’s divisional opponents 10 times apiece (40 games) while facing teams in their interleague counterpart four times apiece (20 games). Though schedules have not been released yet, it’s been reported that the intradivisional series will not be limited to two five-gamers in order to limit travel. Thus it appears as though teams will play two- and three-game series home and away.
Ed. note: I oversimplified this at the time of writing and should have better clarified the interleague stuff. There will apparently be an emphasis on rivalries, so the Cubs could actually play the White Sox six times. They’d face two other AL Central opponents four times apiece and the other two just three times. I personally think that’s dumb, but what do I know?
Does that mean the Mets and Yankees will have to travel to Florida for all their games against the Marlins and Rays? Will they have to play at neutral sites? Or will MLB manage to skirt the travel restrictions? I’d say the latter is most likely.
Interestingly enough, the limited competition will mean that each team will have 10 opponents from within in own league that it will not have faced during the season. Could make for some very interesting matchups, putting major emphasis on advanced scouting.
One final note about the new rules being used in the truncated season is that it’s possible we could see Cubs draft pick Burl Carraway on the 60-man roster once it’s set this Sunday. The college closer already has an MLB-ready two-pitch mix the Cubs believe is once-in-a-decade type stuff, so there was already talk about him being fast-tracked with 2021 as the target.
Teams have a little extra leeway with their rosters and may need to go for broke during the sprint of a season, so we’ll see them get more aggressive with some of their prospects. Of course, we could very well see some service-time manipulation as well. The compressed season affords teams the ability to leave guys down on the taxi squad for an even shorter period of time than usual in order to preserve that extra year of control.
While this wasn’t part of the financial haggling that took place between the union and league, it’s an example of why the players opted to force the league’s hand in the end. No amount of good faith on the part of the union would have been repaid during upcoming CBA negotiations, so they tried to save a mile by refusing to budge an inch.
You can say the stuff with service time is allowed by the letter of the CBA’s law and you’d be right. But if you’re of that mind, you should also understand that one side has and will continue to leverage the ever-loving hell out of every single available loophole. Some of the blame for that also falls to the players and union executive Tony Clark, who left far too many loopholes in the last agreement, but I think you know my overall view by now.
Wow, that’s more than I had expected to write. Be well and let’s hope things work out with the game.