The MLB is halfway through its shortened season due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when the season was put on hold and later continued.
As an avid baseball connoisseur, I was excited that the MLB decided to hold a season this year. I have always watched baseball games since I was young. In recent years I have enjoyed listening to games on the AM stations in my 2006 Pontiac Vibe as I drive to school and the sound of the game has not changed as John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, commentators for the New York Yankees, have kept the game alive for fans on the radio.
There have been a number of rule changes, some temporary, some permanent, regarding the game play. There are new rules and protocols that have been placed in order to keep teams, their clubhouses, and staff healthy to keep this season running.
Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, sent out new mitigation protocol rules that were put into place at the start of the season that began in July. All members of the personnel that are essential to games have to wear face masks. This includes players wearing them at all times when they are not playing, though some players make the decision to wear face coverings on the field.
There have also been rule changes and restrictions about how teams will travel. Teams will require four, at minimum, coach buses for ground travel and will only travel with essential team members outside the active roster.
Players will have to sit with an empty row in-between each other while wearing surgical masks or N95/KN95 respirators during travel.
The MLB administers tests every week and if any positive tests come back, games will be postponed until new test results come back. So far, 35 games had to postponed due to positive tests and many teams have had to play double-headers. Following of the shooting of Jacob Blake, 11 games have been postponed in Wisconsin due to player protests. This is same with postponements of other major league games in the NBA and WNBA. In July, “Black Lives Matter” emblems were added to all players jerseys for opening day.
The one exception is the Toronto Blue Jays, who are using the Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York due to the closed international border. Each team will have twenty home games during this new season and there will be 20 interleague games. The Texas Rangers moved their team to their new field at Globe Life Field after playing 26 seasons at Globe Life Park.
There are no plans to allow crowds in any of the stadiums during the 2020 season including the postseason. Many teams have placed cardboard cutouts of fans or teddy bears in the seats. Others have chosen to leave the seats completely empty. Depending on the team, many opt to play prerecorded cheers from previous seasons to have a normal feel to the game on television.
The Tampa Bay Rays are currently leading the American League East 25-11. The New York Yankees are close behind with 19-14.
The Chicago White Sox are tied with Cleveland Indians in the American League Central both with 23-13. In the American League West, the Oakland Athletics are leading with a 22-12 record. In the National League East, the Atlanta Braves are first with a 19-14 record while the 2019 World Champions, the Washington Nationals, are in last with 12-20. The Chicago Cubs are first with a 20-14 record in the National League Central division and Los Angeles Dodgers lead with 26-10 record.
As a New York Yankees fan, I am biased to say that I am not surprised that they are doing well this season.
Since Aaron Boone became the manager for the team in 2018, the Yankees have created a dynasty under his wing. Old records have been smashed each season with the current lineup, despite of some injuries along the way.
Boone made the right decision bringing Clint Frazier back to active roster after sending him to the AAA level to bring in hotshot DJ LeMahieu.
Outfielder Aaron Judge has had a phenomenal season despite being placed on the injured list. Judge became the first player in the MLB to hit five home runs in the first eight games of the season.
While the annoying postponements build up into many double-headers, this has been one of the more entertaining seasons in years.
While there is still one more month in the regular season, it will be interesting to see which teams make into the postseason now that eight teams will be fighting for the final spots.