While many teams around the league were still waiting for COVID-19 test results last night, MLB released the 2020 schedule live on MLB Network. There are clearly some hurdles the league needs to get over before we make it to Opening Day, but for the next few minutes let's just take a look at the schedule and see what we're in store for this year if they do play baseball.
The season begins on Thursday, July 23 with two matchups. The first features last year's World Series champion Washington Nationals taking on this year's World Series favorite New York Yankees.
The first game of the season will presumably feature Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole in the nation's capital, a matchup every baseball fan should be pumped to watch.
After those two teams square off, we'll get a classic NL West rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers will look to win their eighth-straight division title while the Giants are just trying to be competitive again.
Both games should be fun to watch and a great way to welcome MLB back into our lives. I'm really excited for the Scherzer-Cole matchup as it pits two of the best pitchers in the league against each other to kick the season off. Plus, we'll get an early look at how the Nats will defend their World Series title. It's a shortened season, so every game matters.
Braves get five national games
The Atlanta Braves have had two great seasons in a row and are poised to compete for another NL East title. With success comes nationally-televised games, which the Braves will have plenty of in this shortened season.
Atlanta will be featured on three of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts, including the first one of the season on July 26 when they travel to the New York Mets. They'll also be on ESPN on August 23 and 30, hosting the Phillies and then playing at Philadelphia.
Fox will show two games featuring the Braves, one on August 29 at the Phillies and the other on September 19 at the Mets.
As a Braves fan who lives far out of their broadcast region and doesn't pay for MLB.tv, I'm a fan of them being on this many national broadcasts. Of course it's only five games, but that's a high percentage when you consider it's only a 60-game season.
Dates to look out for
Since MLB missed the first three months of the season, there were a lot of special days they had planned that didn't get to happen. Under the new revised schedule, the league is making sure some of them still take place.
Aug. 28 will be celebrated as Jackie Robinson Day, where every MLB player wears Robinson's number 42. The day is usually celebrated on April 15, which is the day Robinson made his MLB debut, but Aug. 28 has some significance as well according to MLB. It marks the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and is also the date that Robinson initially met with Branch Rickey to talk about signing with the Dodgers in 1945.
The Field of Dreams game will take place on Aug. 13, although with different teams than planned. Due to the regional travel schedule in MLB this season, the game will be between the White Sox and the Cardinals. The teams will play at a new field near the site where "Field of Dreams" was filmed, making it the first ever MLB game in the state of Iowa.
Additionally Roberto Clemente Day will be celebrated on Sept. 9 and MLB will honor the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues on Aug. 16.
I like that the league is still taking time to honor all of these days. Jackie Robinson Day is one of my favorite days on the MLB calendar, so I was sad when it passed by earlier this year and we didn't have any baseball. But the league is doing a good job of fitting everything into the short schedule, and they should be commended for that.
This season is going to be different in a lot of ways. Teams that might not have a shot at the playoffs in a 162-game season are looking like they can compete for 60 games. No fans at the ballparks will be a weird feeling on TV, although it's been done before. Everything will feel a little off, but that's what it's going to take if we want to have MLB baseball in 2020.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.