We are only two weeks away from major league baseball. The baseball world has waited months for America’s pastime to return and it’s almost here.
We know it will be unique, the 60-game regular season and all. We do not know how exciting it will be or if the quality of play will suffer due to COVID and everything else that is troubling our country.
It is a given that every game will mean even more this season with teams under greater pressure to perform quickly thanks to the 60-game schedule. In a season where talent and depth will be more crucial than ever, the possibilities for how things will play out in MLB are endless. I happen to think that will lend itself to exciting baseball.
Here are some of my questions and thoughts.
Will the old New York Yankees/Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry renew itself? They seem to be the early favorites.
The Yankees got their man in free agent signee Gerrit Cole. He is currently the best pitcher in baseball. It has been quite some time since the Yanks had someone of Cole’s talent. And they still have the best offensive lineup in the game. This current group of Yankees has fallen short of late but We’ve seen this team fall short of late but they have all the ingredients for a deep postseason run.
The Dodgers got much better with the acquisition of Mookie Betts. Like the Yankees, Los Angeles has been coming up short lately after making the playoffs annually it seems. The Dodgers would have already been a World Series contender without trading for Betts, one of the top outfielders in the game. The moment they acquired them, this became the team to beat in the National League. Betts and Cody Bellinger will compete for the NL MVP award this season. On the mount, Los Angeles will count heavily on its rotation trio of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and David Price with tremendous pitching depth behind them. If Betts can provide the final push this team needs, the Dodgers could finally bring home a World Series title for the first time since 1988.
I happen to think there will be a surprise team or two that will benefit from the shortened season. All it takes is a hot few weeks and a team will likely secure a playoff berth. And we know anything can happen in the playoffs.
Playing 60 games in 66 days will require depth to go along with talent. At the same time, players should be fresher since they are not playing 162 games.
One thing to think about is that teams with young players will not have time to adjust to the big leagues. These factors lead me to think that the surprise teams could be the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Both have talent and feature veteran rosters.
The wildcard may just be the continual COVID testing. We will now see a COVID list to go along with the disabled list. Who will be the first star to test positive during the season or playoffs? What will the ramifications be?
Of course, numerous positive tests could lead to the worst-case scenario for baseball. Several franchises reside in cities that are experiencing rising positive cases numbers. One gets the feeling the entire season could unravel quickly. Kind of like the NCAA Basketball Tournament did back in March.
Still, for now, baseball is just about here. And that is a good thing.