680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – On Tuesday, 103 days after Spring Training came to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Major League Baseball Players Association have agreed to report to “Spring Training 2.0” by July 1st with the regular season set to start on July 24th. Following three months of contentious negotiations between the players and owners, the 30 owners voted unanimously on Monday to implement a 60 game season. And the final hurdle was cleared on Tuesday evening, as the Players Association agreed to the health and safety protocols submitted by the League.
One thing is clear, nothing about baseball in 2020 will resemble anything we’ve ever seen before. One of the most unique parts of a Major League season is the fact that the season is a marathon and not a sprint. But this season, each game will mean something. Teams that get off to slow starts will be in trouble. Meanwhile, teams that start hot will put themselves in a good position to make the Postseason. To put it in perspective, last season the Nationals started out 19-31 through their first 50 games. As we all know, they went on to win the World Series. Conversely, the Giants were 31-19 through the first fifty in 2019 and ended up eight games under .500, third in the National League West.
Closer to home, the Braves are in great shape. We know they have a solid bullpen with three former All-Star closers at the back end, a rotation featuring young horses like Mike Soroka and Max Fried and an offense that took off in early May of last season when Ronald Acuna was moved to the top of the order. In addition, Freddie Freeman, who dealt with some wrist soreness in Spring Training has had an extra three months to get healthy and Cole Hamels could be a big addition to the starting rotation.
While some fans may not like the fact the season is just 60 games, it’s better than the alternative. And while ballparks will likely remain empty for this season, our National Pastime is finally back!
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.