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2020 MLB Season Recap

Despite the best efforts of COVID-19, Major League Baseball was able
to complete its highly irregular 2020 season with an exciting World Series
victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Back in March when Major League Baseball cancelled spring training and closed team facilities because of the virus, it did not seem likely that there would be a World Series in 2020.  Then MLB offered a revised 60 game schedule, with regional games to limit travel, and with no fans allowed in the ballparks.  Players, coaches, umpires, and other team members would be sequestered from the public, and from their own families, to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Early in July, teams gathered in their home stadiums for a three week "summer camp" to get themselves ready and on July 23rd the games began.  Within the first week, players and team staff began to test positive for COVID-19 and games were being cancelled, and there was concern about whether they really could finish the season.  But things got better, most of the missed games were rescheduled and made up, and the expanded playoffs began as scheduled on September 29th.

Not only was the season shortened and played without fans, but rule changes were made to ensure that the games could be played.  The National League was forced to accept the designated hitter, and many who previously opposed the idea grew to like it.  Rosters were expanded and rules for injured lists were changed to help teams keep their roster filled with healthy and available players.  Double-headers were played as seven inning games instead of nine innings, and runners were put on base in extra-inning games to create scoring opportunities and bring those games to a quicker end.  

Early season play was sloppy and looked more like spring training games, and many players never got into proper form after the shortened training time.  A few players chose to opt-out and not play at all in 2020.  There were a lot more minor injuries leading to the disabled list, and most teams had at least a few players on the COVID restricted list.  But the more games they played, the better the quality of play became.  The playoff races were very competitive, and from the halfway point through end of playoffs, it looked very much like a typical Major League Baseball Season.

It is too early to tell whether things go back to normal in 2021, or whether they can ever go back to the normal we've come to know.  While the major leagues played 60 games, the minor leagues were shut down for the year, and the development of prospects ready for majors was interrupted.  Even if the league can stay clear of the virus, they are going to face a lot of sore arms and pulled muscles and other injuries, and 162 games might be too much to ask.  Maybe baseball learned something out of necessity, and shorter seasons, regional play and expanded playoffs, and expanded rosters with more flexibility to replace players will become the new standard.  

Once again, we'd like to thank all of the players and coaches and everyone else involved in making the 2020 season happen, in spite of the odds against it.  It might have been easier and safer for all of them if they had cancelled the entire season and all stayed home, but it was much better for all of us that the games were played.  We look forward to an exciting 2021 MLB Season.