Every thought and plan, not just in baseball but in life, is accompanied by an asterisk these days. How baseball can make up games comes with the assumption baseball will begin at all. There are very few guarantees in a world that has been shut down by the cononavirus.
Still, it’s better to speak optimistically about the game’s return than debate its livelihood this season, right?
Because Major League Baseball is following the CDC protocols for social distancing that have advised against congregating in groups for eight weeks, the earliest possible time for teams to get back together is May 11. Because of the lack of access to gyms and places to work out, Farhan Zaidi anticipated players would likely be in worse shape than they were when they reported to camp in February. Even in the rosiest views of a return to normalcy, it is hard to envision the season starting before June 1.
Beginning June 1 would mean the Giants would have missed 59 scheduled games. It is possible the entire season gets shifted back and they play regular-season ball into October, but as Buster Posey said recently: “How long can you push it back? So we’re playing games at Christmas?”
A 162-game season is highly unlikely, and yet the league will try to squeeze as many games — and revenue opportunities — in as possible. Could they find time for 144, as many as were played in the 1995 strike-shortened season? How about 120? One hundred?
One possibility being thrown around is adding doubleheaders (likely split for two different gates) while expanding rosters so individual players aren’t overtaxed.
“In theory, yeah, I think all of us would be up for some sort of doubleheader situation,” Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “The thing that’s going to be in front of all of us is it’s going to be the same for everybody. It’s got to make sense for the clubs and the players.”
Zaidi did not want to get into specifics but acknowledged the league would have to get “creative” in cramming in as many matchups as possible.
“Hopefully once we’re able to safely play, we’re going to have to think of creative ways to get in as many games as possible given all the time that’s going to be lost,” the Giants’ president of baseball operations said on a conference call.
Everything is preliminary and theoretical, and the possibility baseball does not play at all in 2020 is real. If MLB does decide it will go all-out to jam in games, it would have to coax the Players Union into waiving a CBA rule that states: “No Club shall be scheduled, or rescheduled if practicable, to play more than twenty consecutive dates without an open day.”
Of course, it was just nine days ago the Giants announced Johnny Cueto would be their March 26 — Opening Day — starter. As quickly as plans and possibilities are being discussed, plans and possibilities are being tossed aside.