MONTREAL – The 2020 Major Baseball season began with the election of Larry Walker to the Hall of Fame and ended with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series. Between the two, the actors and supporters felt like they were on a roller coaster.
Exposed fans first sighed in relief when Walker was inducted, along with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year in the league. qualification in January.
With the Yankees scheduled to face the Blue Jays at the Olympic Stadium in the final two season games in March, the baseball year was about to become festive for fans of La Belle Province.
It was not knowing the plans for 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit North America in early March. Major Baseball had no choice but to end the training camps, forcing the cancellation of the Montreal Games, which had been presented continuously since 2014.
Walker and Jeter must also wait at least until next July to finally enter Cooperstown: all ceremonies have been canceled. The museum was even closed for a good part of the year.
MLB, for their part, hoped to start the entire season in May. Only at the end of July, exactly the 23rd, could the players finally jump on the diamonds, for a season shortened by 60 games.
Unlike the NHL and NBA, MLB did not go for a bubble system for the season, and it paid the price. Several teams have struggled with outbreaks of the virus, especially the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, whose players failed to comply with established protocols.
Baseball did very well, though: only a handful of clubs failed to play 60 games.
But it was not all bad times in 2020. Major League Baseball has, after all, managed to do against bad luck, good heart by breaking new ground in the rules. The designated hitter was first adopted in both leagues, overtime began with a runner in the other bag to speed up the outcome of games, while relief pitchers had to be used for at least three strokes or complete the game. handle.
Baseball has also gone from a modernized playoff system, with eight teams in each league advancing to the playoffs, a formula that could become the norm if commissioner Rob Manfred’s wishes are met.
Jays raises his head
This formula allowed the young and dynamic team of the Toronto Blue Jays to access the playoffs, thus accelerating the development process introduced by the management. After some difficult years, it seems that the Jays have finally found the way to go. Young Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Dante Bichette continued their ascent.
To support them, the management of the Jays, who had sparingly spent since the start of this reconstruction, finally pulled into the pockets to add experience, especially with the arrival of starter and free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has ended up in the top 3 in Cy -Young Trophy poll for the second year in a row.
In the American, the Tampa Bay Rays confirmed their status as favorites with the best record in the league and number two in the Majors, behind the Dodgers. Despite the fact that clubs were added to the play-offs, the logic was rarely respected, and the best route in each league ended up in the World Series. However, Dave Roberts and his gang gained the upper hand, giving for the first time since 1988 a championship to the city of Los Angeles.
If MLB managed to save the furniture by presenting part of the season and the playoffs, it has not been smooth. In an interview with Sportico in October, the commissioner estimated MLB’s losses at around $ 3 billion. Manfred added that the 20 clubs are said to have incurred debts in the area of almost 8 billion dollars.
Negotiations are also difficult with the Players Association with a view to 2021. MLB has still not confirmed the return of the designated hitter in National for next season, while several financial disputes undermine the discussions. With the renewal of the collective agreement to be negotiated at the end of the 2021 season – and the threat of a labor dispute such as this – baseball cannot afford not to play a full season in 2021.
Will owners and players find common ground?
Frédéric Daigle, The Canadian Press