As a young pitcher, I learned a valuable lesson early on in my baseball career. When you gain the upper hand, never let your opponent back in the game.
That happens when your team jumps out to what appears to be an early insurmountable lead. Often when that occurs, players think the game is in the bag, so they ease up, failing to bear down as their opponent slowly chips away at the score. Then comes the unexpected big inning, and all of a sudden your insurmountable lead is gone and you find yourself in the fight of your life.
However, not everyone has learned this lesson. Right now across the United States, we continue the fight of our lives.
Last week at this time, slightly over 120,000 Americans had lost their lives to the coronavirus. As of Sunday evening, that figure surged to more than 126,000. As a nation, according to various news sources, we have the highest death rate from the virus in the world, more than twice that of any other country. What the experts feared has come to pass. We opened up for business too soon. We eased up restrictions, thinking the battle had been won, and in the process we let the virus back in the game. And so, the fight of our lives rages on.
In the midst of the resurgence of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have finally come to terms for the 2020 season after a nasty fight of their own over, what else, money. Whether the time is right or not, professional baseball is back.
According to the terms of the agreement, the regular season will consist of 60 games over the course of 66 days, with opening day slated for July 23. In order to minimize possible exposure to the coronavirus, travel will be limited with geography dictating play. For example, in the National League Central Division, the Milwaukee Brewers will meet the St Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates 10 times each for a total of 40 games. The remaining 20 games will be divided between the American League Central Division teams (Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers).
Western division teams from both leagues will follow the same format as will eastern division clubs.
As for the postseason, the format remains unchanged. There will be three division winners and two wild card teams from each league competing for their respective championship, with the two finalists meeting in the World Series. As usual, wild card games will be a single winner-take-all contest with the division series a best-of-five event. Both the league championship series and World Series will be a best-of-seven affair.
As for new rules resulting from the shortened season, if games should enter extra innings, they will start with a runner on second base for each club. Also, as a protective measure for pitchers, each league will use a designated hitter. These and other new rules will be discussed in depth in the future. For now, it’s enough to say that baseball’s back. Time will tell if the time is right.
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