If someone said to you, you're going to play 60 games of a sport, you're first thought would probably be: That's a lot of games!
And if you did say that, well, you wouldn't be a professional baseball player.
Tomorrow, Major League Baseball returns from quarantine to finally start its delayed season. As with everything else this year, MLB 2020 won't be business as usual. But it will also come with a few twists unique to this sport.
Starting with the number of games they'll play.
The 60 game sprint
A normal pro baseball season features 162 games. That's a lot. For perspective, NFL teams play just 16, or less than one tenth that number.
But baseball is a much less physical sport than American football, meaning they can play more often. And they really power through their schedule. MLB teams essentially play a game a day from April to September—sometimes two.
All of this means that despite starting on July 23 (nearly four months behind schedule), the MLB 2020 season is scheduled to end on September 27th—which is basically the same time it would have if COVID had never happened. That's kind of cool.
But the teams themselves had better watch out. In a normal season, a team going cold for six or seven games is expected. This year? That's a tenth of your season down the tubes!
On the move
Another thing about this year that is rather unusual? (As in unusual for this year, which means it's actually kind of normal? Wait, we're confused ...)
The teams are going to travel from stadium to stadium, much like they do every year.
This is very different to what MLS, NBA, and NHL are doing for their restarts, where all or half of the league's teams are staying in one location—known as a hub or bubble—to lessen unnecessary contact with the virus.
That said, the teams will not travel as far as they usually do—for example, the Boston Red Sox won't be playing the Anaheim Angels. Instead teams will stay within their region to reduce extended travel. The only other exception to this?
No way. Blue Jays. No. Base. Ball.
The Toronto Blue Jays. As Canada's only team, they would have to travel in and out of the country repeatedly to play games. And American-based teams would likewise need to do the same to come and play in Toronto. Due to COVID, the Canadian government does not like this idea, and has refused to give the Jays permission to host any games this season.
So where will the Jays play? Sources say that the team will be playing home games in Pittsburgh and sharing the Pirates stadium. Obviously they'll need to make that decision soon, because shiver me timbers, the season is starting! Oh well, Toronto. At least you're still getting hockey!
UPDATE: The state of Pennsylvania has rejected this plan, so as of Wednesday July 22, the Jays are still searching for a place to play their home games!
More weird rules
Outside of all of this stuff, the league has tweaked certain rules to try to shorten games given the weirdness of the season. Depending on how much you already love baseball, you may or not notice these.
For example, there are no ties in baseball, and if the game is tied after nine innings, teams play additional, or extra, innings until someone wins. This season, they'll still have extra innings, but each team will start these innings with a runner on second base to increase their chances of scoring.
In the end, this is all a big experiment. And much like the other sports trying to get up and running under the virus, it might take a little while to figure out. But if you're one of those people who thinks that summer isn't summer without the sound of a bat hitting a ball, get ready to be a lot happier!