2020 MLB Season: Gone, But Not Forgotten

The roar of the crowd was absent this year at major league stadiums as the ongoing pandemic nearly cost baseball its 2020 season. America’s pastime was in danger of going dark, but despite all odds, Major League Baseball (MLB) was able to offer a short, but sweet, 60-game season with an extended playoff schedule. Although this differed exponentially from the usual season, many fans were glad that it even happened at all.

As the season commenced on July 23, the many adjustments made to the games to subdue the virus vastly changed the experience of watching a game. There were fewer fans, more social distancing, and many more covid regulations.

Eighth grader Andrew L. pointed out that the social distancing rules, which required any players or personnel not participating in the game to sit in the stands at least six feet apart, didn’t seem to affect the gameplay much.

“The players do not have to change much of what they do (baseball is already a lot of standing around and not much contact),” he said. “But for MLB players, I think the hardest thing to overcome is no attendance at the games.”

Brennan L., an 8th grader and keen baseball fan, felt that the game and players were more subdued without their audience, making a less exciting game.

“Watching the game is definitely different without the fans, and it feels even weird at times,” said Brennan.

In the postseason, they pumped crowd noise into the stadium and placed cardboard cutouts of people in stands, but, as Andrew pointed out, that does not replace a real and energetic postseason crowd.

“In my opinion, the crowd in the MLB postseason is one of the coolest parts of the games. It is definitely different to watch when there are no fans. On a big play, when the crowd goes wild, I get a surge of energy too.”

A few other staples of the game were missing as well. According to the MLBs FAQ on the 2020 season, new rules included: no high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, or other celebratory contact; no spitting or chewing of tobacco and/or sunflower seeds; and strictly no fights, no matter how much you disagree with the ref’s call.

There are plenty of other downsides to the 2020 season, but the possible upsides shouldn’t be forgotten. An abbreviated season, for instance, may not be what people wanted, but possibly helped players avoid injury.

Additionally, the lack of noise while playing may have helped players improve their concentration. Detractors to this theory believe that players are used to the crowds, and the quiet could have negatively affected how they play.

Including 16 teams in the playoffs rather than 10 could be seen as a plus, allowing more teams and players to participate. Some fans feel this was unfair, however, as those extra teams would not have been in the mix during a normal season.

Ultimately, the limitation on the number of fans helped prevent the spread of the virus and allowed the season to finish without a lot of players and staff getting ill.

Although many weren’t happy, under the circumstances, most sectors of baseball fans can agree there was a successful and exciting 2020 season.