On March 12, 2020, Major League Baseball announced that the rest of Spring Training for all 30 clubs would be cancelled and the season postponed indefinitely. During what turned out to be a four-month hiatus, the sport—both players and owners—had to navigate tense labor negotiations and what must have been a logistical nightmare (Summer Camp, travel, empty stadiums, 60 game schedule construction, etc.). For awhile, there was absolutely nothing certain about even a single game being played in 2020.
When the season finally did get underway on July 23, it did so with high trepidation over whether or not it was even the right thing to do. Baseball was the first major sport to return from pandemic lockdowns/quarantines, and thus leading the charge in both innovation and criticism.
In early August, the St. Louis Cardinals & Miami Marlins both had COVID-19 outbreaks that caused multiple postponements and seemingly put those teams behind an impossible 8-ball of scheduling hell. Things got so rocky that Commissioner Rob Manfred made a statement to the effect that the league was on the verge of shutting down again—presumably for good—unless the situation improved.
Yet, through all that adversity, on September 27th the 2020 regular season reached its finish line. With the exception of a few games having no bearing on the postseason, nearly every club achieved the “full” allotment—60—of games played. Improbably, the beleaguered and doubleheader-weary Cardinals and Marlins even secured two of those playoff berths!
While I would hesitate to call the 2020 season an outright success (the labor negotiations that precipitated such a truncated campaign pretty much sealed that), simply making it this far has indeed been an achievement of at least some stature.
Closer to home, the Twins of course captured their second consecutive AL Central crown (by one game over the White Sox & Indians) in what was a tight race all August/September long. This is the first time in ten years (‘09-’10) that back-to-back division titles were achieved. As far as I can remember, the Twins organization did not have a positive COVID-19 result after Summer Camp.
The Twins begin their playoff journey with a three-game series against the Houston Astros, of which a few other Twinkie Town writers have handicapped nicely. For me at the moment, though, I’m simply grateful to be watching October baseball of any kind, seeing as how improbable it seemed at many points from mid-March onward.
Of course, that will all change at 1:00 CST today. When Kenta Maeda goes into the wind-up and delivers his first pitch at Target Field, I’ll be thinking one thing: it’s time to take out the trash.