The MLB season is happening. The only thing that can stop it now is COVID-19, which is admittedly a significant threat. On Monday, the owners agreed to mandate a 60-game season based on their original agreement with the players on March 26th. On Tuesday, the two sides agreed, setting an Opening Day date for July 23rd-24th, with the season ending on September 27th.
While the schedule is not official, the number of games versus each opponent is known. Every team will play 40 games inside their division (10 against each team) and 20 games against their “geographic counterpart,” meaning the AL East for the Braves.
Plan is for teams to play 40 games in division and 20 games interleague with their geographic counterpart (East vs. East, etc.) #MLB
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 24, 2020
That’s a pretty challenging draw for the Braves, considering the NL East is already one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and the AL East is loaded as well. Inside their division, the Braves play the World Series champions (Nationals), and two rosters littered with talent in the Phillies and Mets. Hell, even the Marlins could make some noise with such a short schedule. Everybody has a chance, which is going to make this absolute chaos from start to finish, something all baseball fans should thoroughly enjoy.
The AL East consists of the Yankees, who were already one of the best teams in baseball and only improved following the addition of Gerrit Cole. The Red Sox have talent, but they are rebuilding after winning the World Series in 2018. The other serious competitor is actually the Rays, who gave the Astros all they could handle in the ALDS last year and are a scrappy bunch with homegrown stars. The Blue Jays should also be much improved with a talented young ball club. However, the Orioles are an opportunity the Braves will need to take advantage of.
While it may not be the full 162-game slate, or anything close to it, this should be a thrill for baseball fans. Every game from July 23rd on will be treated like a playoff game, and all organizations should feel like they have a chance. Because of their depth, the Braves are built for a shortened season, but nobody — no matter how talented — can afford a sluggish start. This will be must-see television from beginning to end, and it all starts on July 1st when players report to camp.