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MLB Season Starts Off with Rule Changes and Covid-19 Precautions

Baseball

Three cheers because America’s favorite pastime is back! A shortened 60-game MLB season opens up tonight with two Opening “Day” games, and we couldn’t be happier.

July 23, 2020
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Three cheers because America’s favorite pastime is back! A shortened 60-game MLB season opens up tonight with two Opening “Day” games, and we couldn’t be happier.

Remind me, how’s this season organized?: You got it. First, some basics. There are 30 teams in the MLB, and the league is divided into the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), which are further divided into three divisions: Central, East and West.

  • Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB chose to forgo the “bubble” option and opt for limited travel to still allow teams (well...most teams) to play in their home stadiums. Risky, we know.
     
  • So, of the 60 games played, 40 will be against divisional opponents (each division has five teams) and the other 20 will be against opponents from the other league’s geographic counterpart (AL East vs. NL East, etc.), to cut down on travel.

I heard there are some rule changes?: You heard right. In addition to plenty of COVID-19 precautions, the MLB also implemented a few rule changes just for the 2020 season, including adding a universal designated hitter (DH) — the National League usually plays without a DH and has pitchers hit instead — and starting each extra inning (basically overtime if a game is still tied after nine innings) with a runner on second base to help teams score faster. And people say baseball is boring!

So who’s going to win it all?: The Washington Nationals took home their first-ever World Series trophy last year, defeating the Houston Cheaters Astros in a thrilling seven-game series. The Nats certainly have a shot at defending their title (and they have America’s favorite doctor on their side) but the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers are this year’s top contenders.

  • Both teams stacked their rosters in the offseason, with the Yankees signing star pitcher (and new dad!) Gerrit Cole, and the Dodgers signing star right fielder Mookie Betts (who, just yesterday, agreed to a jaw-dropping $365 million, 12-season extension). Nothing like an East vs. West showdown.