The 2020 Major League Baseball season is underway, and of course we as fans have never seen anything like this. The first few weeks of the season are traditionally filled with optimism, freezing temperatures (in the Northern portion of the US and Canada at least), and a comforting feeling that winter is behind us, and we have 6 months of baseball and warmer weather to look forward to.
Well, in 2020 the baseball season began on July 23, there are only 60 games to be played, there will be no fans, and everyone knows that at any time we may get a bulletin on our phone saying the season is being shut down because of a flurry of positive COVID tests. Not exactly the stuff of folk songs.
But baseball games that count are still being played, and for those of us who love the sport (and for thousands of others who are starved for some entertainment), we can still be excited to see what happens. However, the expectations and excitement level varies WILDLY amongst different fan bases. How so? So glad you asked! Let’s look at a few, shall we?
New York Yankees/Los Angeles Dodgers
Cautiously optimistic. Both teams are STACKED and the most popular pick of the baseball intelligentsia is a repeat of the 1981 World Series. And 1978, 1977, 1963, 1956, 1955, 1953, 1952, 1949, 1947 and 1941 for that matter. Both teams have been close in recent years (the Dodgers especially, losing in the World Series in 2017 and 2018), both fan bases think they haven’t won in a long time (2009 for the Yankees, 1988 for the Dodgers…Cleveland hasn’t won since 1948 but who’s counting), and both fan bases think THIS is the year. Fans of these teams just want the season to chug along without incident, play the other team in the World Series, and hope that once they’re there, it will FEEL real enough to celebrate a victory and pretend the season wasn’t a total joke. Which either fan base should able to do. Both teams have won so many titles over the years, it’s not like they’re trying to beat back a curse or prove they can win the big one for the first time in history. Ring number 28 (Yankees) or 7 (Dodgers) will fit just fine.
Excellent timing. The Astros were going to set records in 2020 for the most boos received by a visiting team (which record was, I’m thinking, set by either the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons of the early 90’s or the 2007 New England Patriots) and quite possibly most times thrown at by opposing pitchers. Then COVID happened and the sign-stealing scandal has faded a bit, and of course the only boos they will be hearing are recordings piped in over the loudspeakers. They lost Gerrit Cole but are still loaded with talent, and have as good a shot as anyone to win the whole thing. The bizarreness of the circumstances of this season may actually help them win their 3rd pennant in 4 years.
Boston Red Sox
Kind of works, really. As a life-long Sox fan, I can tell you, we aren’t expecting to be very good this season anyway, since we traded superstar Mookie Betts away for the season and have almost no healthy pitching. We have enough hitting to fool ourselves into thinking we can slug our way through 60 games and make a run, and when it doesn’t happen.. oh well. Plus, we’ve won 4 titles in 15 years and those of us over the age of 30 (especially those of us WAY over the age of 30) remember what it was like to be willing to trade a finger for just ONE title. We’re fine. Carry on.
Tampa Bay Rays/Cincinnati Reds
Thoroughly annoyed. Both of these teams are really good, flying WAY under the radar (except with people who cover baseball for a living) and fully capable of winning the World Series this year. The Rays have never won a title despite having surprising success over the last few years, and the Reds have been mostly irrelevant for the last two decades. But both have sneaky-good lineups and solid pitching and a Rays/Reds series would be interesting and fun to see. MLB might cry itself to sleep with how low the ratings for such a Series might be, but that’s really not anybody’s problem but theirs. So what IS the problem? Well, both rosters are set up better for the traditional long-haul of a 162 game season than the 100-meter dash we’re about to see (young talent that will get better as the season wears on), and even if they navigate their way to glory this season, there will be a giant asterisk next to the title that might unfortunately temper the excitement of finally winning.
The Champs are here!! Washington pulled off an incredible upset last Fall, beating the heavily favored Astros in the 2019 World Series, winning their first title in franchise history. The next season is supposed to be a 162 game victory lap, so obviously they’re getting a little bit cheated there. Most fan bases float happily through the first couple months of the Year-After-Title season and then figure out around late June whether a repeat is a possibility. The Nats still have great pitching and maybe the best young player in baseball in Juan Soto, so they’re still very much relevant. They lost their best player (Anthony Rendon) to the Angels in free agency, but they still should make some noise in 2020.
Why would they care? There’s an old baseball saying that goes “every team’s going to win 54 games, every team’s going to lose and loses 54 games, it’s what you do with the other 54 that count.” They went 0-54 in those games in 2019. They went 0-54 in 2018 also (the Red Sox went 54-0), AND lost 7 of the games that everyone wins. Let’s just say the marketing department wasn’t preparing for October baseball in 2020.
Commercial Real Estate Broker/Sports Fan
Staff writer at Six Feet Apart, commercial real estate broker for CBRE, Inc., and most importantly, a father of two.