If the 2020 season ends up happening, it will start no sooner than July. With the country struggling through the current pandemic, a sport returning could provide a huge emotional boost to baseball fans everywhere. Even those who aren’t baseball fans might appreciate it as a symbol of returning to normalcy. Of course, whether or not it will be safe to bring back baseball in July is highly debatable (I’m pessimistic, but I’m also not an epidemiologist), and I strongly believe that the players’ safety comes first.
The possible return of baseball in July made me realize something. MLB now has a chance to implement an idea I suggested a few years ago. The season should start with the All-Star Game!
A few years ago, I wrote an article describing why I have lost interest in the All-Star Game. One of my suggestions to improve the All-Star Game experience was to have the game kick off the season instead of sticking it in the middle.
I think this would be a better use of showcasing the game’s best talent, because it can get fans more excited for the regular season, both by seeing the best players in action and by all the extra publicity and content that the league can enjoy leading up to Opening Day. It would also eliminate the problem of fans reflexively voting based on one to three-month sample sizes, as they would likely be voting based on the entire previous season. I don’t know for a fact if a reigning MVP or Cy Young winners has ever missed the All-Star game, but I know it has come close, which is absurd, and this is one way my idea could help prevent that.
This system would still give the players a four-day break in July, and now the best players could enjoy it too instead of having to work more just for being really good. The Futures Game should still be held during this break, because it could benefit from fans who usually don’t pay attention to prospects but are starving for some baseball to watch.
Obviously this idea can only fully apply to a complete regular season. In what will certainly be a truncated season, there probably will not be an All-Star break halfway through, as the league will need to fit as many games as possible in a short time frame. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have the game right before the regular season.
The nice thing about trying out my idea this year is that the All-Star Game was/is scheduled for July 14th. Better yet, the game will be in historic Dodgers Stadium, which happens to be the home stadium of NL MVP Cody Bellinger, and is in the same area as AL MVP Mike Trout. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awesome way to bring back baseball. The season can start on July 17th or a bit later if the league would like to give the All-Star pitchers more time to rest for Opening Day.
The idea could still work if MLB decides to have all teams in one location for the season, but not so much if all teams will be split between two or three locations. In this instance it would be best to keep rosters small to prevent talent dilution.
To be clear, all of this is predicated on whether or not it would be safe to execute. No baseball should be played at all if it jeopardizes the players’ safety. If it is safe to do so, I think it would be a great way to celebrate baseball’s return.
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Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.