Changes to Baseball

By: Kennedy Maitland

I’ve been waiting for the 2020 baseball season since, well truthfully, since October 31st, the day after the 2019 season ended. So, just like many others, the news of a pushed back and potentially postponed season hit me hard. Due to what many sources are saying and how our country is slowly recovering, I am super optimistic about getting some sort of a baseball season this year. As happy as I want to be about the high probability surrounding the return of baseball, it’s still hard to fully digest how different the season may look. Some form of baseball is better than none, but honestly, I was looking forward to a normal-looking season where I could be there in person to root for my favorite team. So, what will the return of baseball in 2020 possibly look like? 

MLB sent the players a 67-page document regarding the safety protocol that will need to be taken during this unprecedented season. Let’s break it down… 

No high-fives, no fist bumps.

Basically, the player’s main way of encouragement towards their teammates is now prohibited. There’s no doubt that the whole atmosphere and camaraderie between the team will feel off due to this. Part of the excitement from a home run or batting a run in is to see the pure joy through the players when they run in and high five their teammates. 

No spitting. No sunflower seeds.

Now, this is just a baseball tradition. I never thought that I would say I don’t like a ‘no spitting rule’, but honestly this is part of baseball. I think people who don’t know anything about baseball at least know the classic sunflower seeds and baseball players’ connection. 

Players will be asked to shower at home or in their hotel room on the road.

If nothing else does, this will definitely bring players to their original roots. There is even talk about players having to show up to the field in their uniform. This makes me sad because gone are the days of seeing player fashion when they enter and exit the ballpark. (P.S. – Harrison Bader has to be one of the best-dressed players and I don’t think anyone could convince me otherwise). 

Baseballs that are put into play and handled by multiple players will be exchanged for a new ball.

I don’t know to what extent ‘multiple players’ means, but every pitch is at least touched by two players: the pitcher and catcher. Between all the ground outs, fly balls, and double plays, there’s going to be a lot of baseballs going through circulation. 

Testing players for COVID-19 multiple times a week up to every single day.

MLB is just trying to do whatever they can to safely bring baseball back and they deserve credit for navigating these waters with no precedent. But, if all players are being tested, is it necessary to have all the other precautions? USA Today Sports interviewed St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong about this specific proposed testing protocol. “I think it’s a great protocol with everyone getting tested every day […] But once we get past that, and into the season, I think things should get back to normal,” DeJong said, “I just feel like if we pass the exam and the daily testing, we should act freely in the clubhouse and on the field, and have fun.” Personally, I think DeJong hit the nail on the head regarding testing and safety guidelines. 

Overall, there’s a constant battle between trying to be safe and follow federal guidelines and the effort to bring the game back for the players and fans in some sort of normal sense. There are many, many guidelines in this 67-page proposal that was sent to the players’ union on Friday, May 15. These tight guidelines have not seemed to raise much discussion between players and those involved with the game; it’s obvious that the economic part of the proposal for the return of baseball trumps everything. After all, money is the driving force of so much and that’s what the players seem to be focused on. No matter how strict of precautions MLB and the players union aim to take, it is all worth it for the love of the game. 

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