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The Yankees and Nationals will open the 2020 MLB season... or maybe they won’t

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One report says yes, but there are still a lot of details not ironed out.

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No full schedule for the 60-game 2020 MLB season has yet been released, but the New York Post reported Saturday that one matchup has been set:

If it all goes well, then Opening Day for Major League Baseball this year will feature Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole in the nation’s capital.

The union signed off Thursday on the details within a 60-game schedule. However, MLB has not finalized the product yet as teams review the variables and the league continues to navigate what it perceives are its best alternatives to play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ah, yes. The inevitable “however.” Joel Sherman, who co-wrote that article, sent out a series of tweets expanding on what was written in the article and you can read that Twitter thread here.

Salient points regarding scheduling and in particular, this year’s weird circumstances, from the thread (I’ve merged portions of tweets together here):

A sked is usually done as much in advance as possible, 1 large reason is so fans have plenty of time to decided which games to buy tickets to. Without fans, that pressure vanishes.

This is correct. In normal years, MLB announces a schedule for the following season in mid-August. This gives fans lots of time to plan. I did this myself in August 2018, when it was announced the Cubs would play the Mariners in Seattle. Having never been to a game there, I thought this was a good chance to do it and booked an airfare eight months in advance of the game. Got a real good deal, too. Had tickets in hand through a presale in November. This is exactly what MLB wants in normal times, money in hand early.

But that doesn’t matter now, so, in case there are circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic that might force games to be moved:

For example, MLB avoided having teams play 2 5-game series to cover the 10 games against division foes in the current iteration because that would force off-days on weekends and make TV scheduling more problematic. But more info might make less travel even more preferable to teams, moving MLB to make 5-game series, which it has historically not done.

Oh. So you might see the Cubs play the Cardinals five days in a row at Wrigley, or five in St. Louis. And then there’s this:

In fact, MLB is not even solid that it will hold to the format of 40 games v. division foes, 20 v. interleague. It all can change with new info and if it changes the union will have to give its blessing yet again.

Oh, really. So... if the pandemic forces some teams to have to move venues, the entire thing might be scrapped and they’d have to start over.

I had expected a schedule to be finalized and announced early this week, but now it seems like it could take quite a bit longer. The Cubs hope to open their season at Wrigley either July 23 or 24, but whether that happens and who the opponent will be is anyone’s guess.

They’ve got three weeks and this is a moving target. Given the large increases in COVID-19 cases in Florida, Texas and Arizona — home to five MLB teams — at this point I’d give only 50/50 odds that we have a season at all. Even California is now seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, and there’s another five MLB teams, making a third of the 30 MLB teams in just four states looking at spikes in the pandemic.

If we don’t, MLB likely holds a news conference jointly with the MLBPA and says, “Well, we tried,” hoping to cover for the rancor that delayed any season announcement until last week.

As always, we await developments.