What Now for MLB and the Dodgers?
Now that we all sports are in an indefinite limbo, baseball is put in a unique position. Being the only major sports that's been suspended without starting a season, Major League Baseball has the opportunity to control how it is affected by coronavirus. They are currently considering both a full and shortened season, so I'll share my thoughts on both.
Full 162 Game Season - As of now, MLB seems intent on carrying through with this option, as all reports indicate that they want to play a full 162-game season. To do so, obviously, they would have to extend the regular season into October and November, leaving the playoffs to be theoretically played in late November or December at a neutral site where it is warm or in a dome stadium. This may not impact the Dodgers much, because Los Angeles would likely be warm enough for them to play in all year, but it hardly seems likely that MLB would give them home field advantage but not be able to give it to another team that can't play at home, like the Mets or Yankees. Most likely, Baseball would have games played at such sites whose clubs are not in the playoffs, but this seems like a huge task to put on the sport and takes away the magic of playing a Postseason game in a team's home park. I like the idea of playing a full season, but the mess that would be the playoffs makes this an idea that I don't like.
Shortened Season - Rearranging the schedule would be a monumental task, due to the fact that nobody knows exactly when the season would be able to start because of the volatile nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many executives are hopeful for a start by Memorial Day, or at least to start a Spring Training or ramp-up period then, but there is no certainty there. I think that they might be able to start Spring Training then, but fans likely won't be present. The worst case scenario seems to be starting sometime in July, which means that the 2020 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium is in danger, but I don't think that it has to be. If coronavirus persists into July, I would start the season with the All-Star Game, kicking the season off in a fun way and just play from then until early October, or whenever every team can reach 81 games played. This would require minor tweaking of the schedule, and maybe some opponent-swapping to try to even the playing field for all the teams difficulty-wise, but it is, in my opinion, the easiest way to get Baseball up and running again if this pandemic continues for a while. A shortened season would certainly hurt the Dodgers, as it is much easier for worse teams to win more games over a shorter period of time, but they are so far above anybody else in the division and league that they should be fine in 81 games. The Diamondbacks might give them a little trouble, but then again, they always do.
Either way, hopefully, baseball will be back soon.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Gregory Bull