The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our normal lives into a frenzy, and that includes the sports calendar.
After much debate between the players and the owners, Major League Baseball is ready to get back into the swing of things with its 60-game season.
A new, abbreviated season means a new schedule that fans may not be familiar with, so we are here to help you out.
Spring Training 2.0: July 1
All players are expected to report to camp by July 1 and “spring training” will officially begin on July 3, which includes teams submitting an official list of 60 players who will be eligible to appear this season. Teams will not be reporting to Florida and Arizona, though, but rather their home stadiums. It will be divided into three phases: the first starting with individual and small group workouts, then larger or full-team workouts and will conclude with a limited number of spring training games against other teams.
Opening Day: July 23
No official schedule has been released yet, but we do know that Opening Day will be on Thursday, July 23 between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals, likely in primetime, to open the 60-game season. The rest of the league will commence on July 24. Of course, there will not be any fans in attendance for Opening Day this year.
Trade Deadline: Aug. 31
One of the more intriguing questions preceding the 60-game agreement was whether or not there will be a trade deadline this year. Indeed there will be, on Aug. 31 teams will need to know whether or not they will be buyers or sellers. A little over half the season’s games should be played by then, which is quite different from the typical trade deadline, which occurs during July 31 during a 162-game season, or about two-thirds of the way through.
Playoff Eligibility Deadline: Sept. 15
This deadline applies to any free agent who is eligible to sign throughout the season. With COVID-19 positive tests expected to occur, teams will not only turn to their taxi squad of eligible players, but could also see if there are any unsigned veterans looking for a chance. For these players to be eligible for the postseason, they must sign with a team by Sept. 15. The playoff eligibility deadline has no bearing on minor leaguers who have not been called up.
End of Season: Sept. 27
One of the key sticking points for MLB owners was finishing the regular season by Sept. 27 in order to play the postseason before a potential second wave of coronavirus as well as being able to continue with the dates they already have set with TV partners for the playoffs.
There is not yet an official start date for the 2020 MLB postseason, however, it should be pretty similar to last year as playoff expansion was not part of the agreement. The format will remain 10 teams – six division winners and two wild cards – and could begin as early as Sept. 29 with one of the two wild-card games.
Hall of Fame Ballot Announcement: Nov. 16
One of the dates that remains unchanged from the regular season is when the Hall of Fame ballot for 2021 will be announced. Of course, there will be no Hall of Fame induction this summer, as the enshrinement of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will be pushed back to July 25, 2021 along with the next class.