An Opening Day and Season Like No other
BY ANDREW GAURINO
INDIANS BEAT WRITER
The Cleveland Indians kicked off the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season tonight vs. the Kansas City Royals. It will be an opening day and season like no other for a variety of reasons, so let’s take a look.
First off, one of the most noticeable things was no fans in attendance. Going back to the 2019 season home opener, it was the 27th straight time the Indians sold out opening day in a row. So, no fans in general was different, but especially for the home opener. Another element of the fans is the noise they bring to the ballpark, to the game itself, and for those watching on TV. Depending on what team you root for, they are doing a variety of things to make up for the lack of fans in attendance. The Indians pumped in crowd noise to make up for fans not being there, which was interesting. In their inter-squad games and when they had scrimmages against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indians had sound playing through every at bat, which is noticeable because the only time the noise is ever that loud is when a team is in the playoffs, the trend continued tonight into the home opener.
There will be a number of things that will be different from a player perspective as well. First off, everyone in the dugout will have to wear masks. Second, some of the players will be sitting in the first couple of rows behind home plate and will be spaced several seats apart so they can practice social distancing. As for Progressive Filed, instead of the visitors getting dressed in their locker rooms, the corner bar is where their locker room will be and where they have to get dressed. This will be quite different from the homey vibes of the visiting locker room. Another thing that both fans and players will have to get accustomed to is no celebrating with handshakes, hugs, etc. In their scrimmages with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indians did shoe touches when they won. Players and coaches are also not allowed to chew gum or sunflower seeds nor spit during the games.
Some new rules come along this season as well, the most noticeable non-COVID one being that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters. The biggest new COVID rule, in my opinion, is the fact that if a game goes into extra innings, a runner will be placed on second base to start in extra innings. Also notable is that the trade deadline has been pushed back to August 31st. Universal designated hitter is a new addition to Major League Baseball this year. It has always been widely talked about and this day has been long in the making. However, COVID sped this process up. The final thing is how the schedule is laid out. Instead of the marathon 162 game season, which is the norm, this year will have only 60 games, which will be played in 66 days. There is no time for slip ups or bad weeks this season – these just cannot happen. Teams will play teams in their division ten times each and then will play the other twenty games against inter-division rivals.
It was an opening day and will be a season that has never been seen before in Major League Baseball, but it is still great that we will get to watch America’s favorite pastime this year.
POSTED 07/24/2020 22:01