Justin Verlander and Kate Upton are loving going on this Houston Astros ride together. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Alex Bregman will bring passion and another dangerous bat back to the Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Globe Life Field and its retractable roof give the Texas Rangers a modern ballpark marvel. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Globe Life Field could have fans in it this season after all — and an open roof.
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman shared a moment. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
New Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker knows how to command a room. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Minute Maid Park sat dark during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
No matter how spaced out you are, it's good to be a Houston Astros fan. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Yordan Alvarez's teammates are already looking forward to his second season. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Orbit is half the fun of an Astros game.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and his wife-to-be Daniella Rodriguez shared an on-field embrace in one of the many memorable Astros celebrations. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
It’s finally official. Despite their best efforts, the Major League Baseball owners and players did not manage to kill the game. Baseball is coming back after all.
No, really this time.
With the MLB players agreeing to the health and safety protocols Tuesday night after commissioner Rob Manfred implemented the clause that allows him to impose a 60-game season, the best baseball players in the world will start playing ball again on July 23 or 24. The traditionalists will hate this sprint-to-the-playoffs short season. But then again, baseball’s hardline traditionalists often seem to hate the very idea of fun.
And that’s what this 60-game season could be for rest of us — an unexpected jolt of fun.
Is a 60-game season perfect? No, but what is in these coronavirus times?
It’s still baseball, even if it’s the shortest MLB regular season ever. It will also make almost every game matter in a way it seldom has until October in baseball. No one’s saying this should be a model for future baseball seasons. But don’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the most memorable baseball seasons of all time.
This season will test forward-thinking organizations like never before. Which immediately puts Astros owner Jim Crane, new general manager James Click and old school manager Dusty Baker on the clock. One would think that the Astros — the rare organization that isn’t ever afraid to ever test convention and group thinking under Crane — will find a way to maximize their chances in this bizarre new 60-game world.
But we’ll see. Just like we’ll get to see the Texas Rangers’ new $1.2 billion wonder ballpark, Globe Life Field, in 2020 after all.
There might not be fans in the stands, but there may be some reduced percentage (50 percent capacity in Texas?) of fans at some point. (It sure seems like baseball will do its best to get some fans into these games at some point.) There are plenty of questions still to be decided.
But things are on track for baseball. The agreement’s in place after months of ugly bickering marred the game — and robbed baseball of a priceless chance to have the American sports spotlight to itself. Major League Baseball will be played. Alex Bregman will be swinging for another run at the MVP. Carlos Correa will be dropping his bat after epic home runs. And Rangers fans will get to see Joey Gallo try to hit balls to the moon.
The only thing that could stop us now is some new world shaking coronavirus reality. (OK, that could definitely still stop everything at anytime, but sometimes you just have to hope.)
This will be a MLB season to treasure like few others. Because there was legitimate doubt if it would ever happen. Because of the crazy short 60-game format.
There will be no dog days in the 2020 season. It simply isn’t long enough for any sense of drudgery or boredom to set in. Every start for an elite pitcher will truly be an event because there won’t be that many of them. Will Astros ace Justin Verlander even get 10 starts in a 60-game season? Will the Rangers’ big add, the oft-injured Corey Kluber, even get to eight starts? We’ll see.
People who actually enjoy baseball — and not just moaning about its old traditions — will be transfixed by this mad dash to the playoffs. The schedule for teams will largely center around division opponents — and “corresponding geographical division” from the opposite league. Which means that yes, the AL West Astros will get to play the NL West Dodgers in the MLB’s ultimate blood matches.
How is this not going to be fun?
You know what else baseball’s traditionalists — which largely include the haughty, out-of-touch Baseball Writers’ Association of America — absolutely hated? The World Baseball Classic, which has turned into one of the real joyous events in the game.
Yes, Major League Baseball probably doomed itself to labor strife after the 2021 season with the way these coronavirus season “negotiations” were handled. Yes, the Players Union will no doubt file a grievance over the imposed season. But these are worries for the future — worries for the men who managed to screw up the game.
If you’re someone who loves watching baseball, this season should be the ultimate super fast blast. Enjoy it while you can. This truly could be a once-in-a-lifetime baseball season. Coronavirus willing.