NEW YORK, NY – With COVID cases on the rise in the south and west of the country, the sports restart plans that have been unveiled over the last few weeks could now be in jeopardy. Major League Baseball has already moved to shift training camps from COVID hotspots Florida and Arizona to the teams’ home cities. Players will report on July 1st for “spring” training which will be followed by a 60-game season and an expanded playoffs.
There are a number of interesting rule changes that could spell a shift in baseball going forward. The DH will come to the National League this season. It’s slated to only be this season for now. But it could spell the beginning of the end of a century-old practice in baseball’s senior circuit.
Another interesting rule change will be the beer-league softball rule of starting with a runner on second base in extra innings. It will be interesting to see this short season with the rule changes and no fans in the stands. That last part won’t be a change for a lot of teams though.
The baseball playoffs will have a different feel this year. teams will be a lot fresher and healthier having played 100 fewer games than a normal season. It will be interesting to see how teams perform with fresher legs and without the wear and tear of going through a 162-game season.
And now here’s Lars with basketball…
The NBA is grappling with a growing list of players who will not return to finish the 2019-2020 season due to COVID concerns. The league is set to return over the next couple of weeks in Orlando where the regular season/ seeding rounds would be played followed by the playoffs. But with positive Coronavirus tests and hospitalizations on the rise in Florida, I think a lot more players will opt out over the next week. The Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic tested positive in Serbia and his return to the US will be delayed.
It will be interesting to see if the hoops season can go ahead as planned with Florida on the verge of being overwhelmed. If the state needs to shut down, will the League still be allowed to resume activities? Would they voluntarily put a halt to proceedings? If enough players decide not to return it may force the league’s hand.
On the ice, let’s go to Lorenzo at the rink…
The NHL is still working to hammer out a deal with the players on compensation and the share of the league’s profits. The Players’ Association will be voting on the deal over the coming days. And like with the other sports, many players and coaches have reservations about how safe any return would be at this point in the pandemic. There are a lot of unanswered questions and unaddressed concerns regarding a return to play for the NHL. It remains to be seen whether a deal can get done and enough players will believe it safe to return to finish the current season.
As always, time will tell. The picture will become more clear by next weekend when teams in several sports are set to return to training camps and resume activities.