To say that 2020 has been the weirdest year of my existence is an understatement. A few words come to mind when describing it but I promised my dear mother that I would be PG when writing. Baseball is the first of the four major sports to resume play and it won’t be without some weirdness to it.
Let’s start with the fans themselves. Globe Life Field, like every other ballpark, will open with no fans in attendance. Sure there will be crowd noise pumped in thanks to Sony who supplied the sound from their MLB the Show baseball games. Yet it still must feel weird for teams to play in empty parks. Well, except for the Tampa Bay Rays who are used to it by now.
Then there are the rule changes that we have to endure. Let’s start with the roster. Teams will begin with a 30-man roster. After two weeks it will go down to 28. Two weeks after that it goes to the standard 26. It’s like American Idol with baseball players. Will we get to save them? Imagine Emily Jones McCoy, in her best Ryan Seacrest impersonation, saying to the camera “If you want to save Rougned Odor dial 1-800-Rangers and press 1”. That would be cool.
The National League will implement the designated hitter for the first time. NL owners have always balked at the idea stating that it ruins the “purity” of the game but we know better. It’s about money. A DH is one more player that they will have to pay for. We’ll see if it lasts beyond this season.
Then there is the goofy extra inning rule. The batter who makes the last out in the ninth inning of a tie game will automatically start the tenth inning at second base. It will be scored as an error yet won’t be charged to anyone. Is it scored an “E-Zero”? Now if that runner scores it will be unearned as to not affect the pitcher’s ERA. My head already hurts. Phantom errors. Unearned runs. Okay.
The season itself will be a shootout. 60 games. The Rangers will play 40 games within the AL West and 20 against the NL West. This benefits Texas in my opinion. The starting rotation has some work horses in Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and Cory Kluber. Combine them with Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles at the back end and you’re looking at, statistically, the best starting rotation in team history. If the offense can stay consistent then I conceivably think that we have a legitimate shot at the division title. If not then at least a second place finish. Either way I see us in the playoffs this season. And those playoffs should be fun when you consider that everybody is only playing teams in their division. You could see postseason matchups with teams who never faced each in the regular season.
Fans will also have to deal with players who may end up testing positive for COVID -19 and being placed on the IL for at least two weeks. Some players have already opted out of the season with Buster Posey being the biggest name. I don’t believe any of those players have to worry about a Wally Pipp situation but you never know.
Regardless of all the madness it’s great to have America’s past time back again and I will embrace it no matter how strange. There is joy in Arlington tonight because mighty Joey Gallo and his team finally return to action.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats…six feet away of course!
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