Major League Baseball, in the face of mounting logistical challenges due to COVID-19, released its official 60-game season schedule Monday.
The long-delayed campaign, with teams playing barely one-third of their customary 162 regular-season games, will kick off July 23 with two marquee matchups televised by ESPN. The New York Yankees will play the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals in the first game, with the nightcap featuring the classic rivalry between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
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Fox will begin its season on July 25 with its first quadruple-header, a daylong marathon starting at 12:20 PM ET. Games that day will include another set of Yankees-Nationals and Dodgers-Giants contests as well as matchups between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs as well as the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Padres-Diamondbacks game will air on FS1.
Fox is entering its 25th season of MLB broadcasts and, if the season progresses through the fall without any changes, will carry its 23rd World Series (see Fox’s full MLB regular-season schedule here). WarnerMedia-owned TBS is also in on playoff game coverage. The end of the regular season will be September 27, but MLB has not confirmed dates as yet for the playoffs. An agreement struck between owners and players to cement the 60-game season restart calls for the usual 10 teams to make the postseason.
The chance of significant change or interruption to the season has been increasing of late, however. Players and teams have reported to their home stadiums for workouts in recent days, but multiple positive COVID-19 tests, questions about testing protocols and players’ questioning the season’s return have clouded the air.
The welcome sight of the horsehide sphere flying through stadiums and players returning to the field for the first time since March has been accompanied by an unprecedented spectacle. Several players, including standout Mike Trout of the LA Angels, have worn masks and expressed doubt about the idea of following through with plans to play. The Angels and several other teams have had to shut down their facilities and cancel workouts after not receiving timely test results.
The other complication, which is different from more “bubble”-oriented, centralized restart plans by the NBA, NHL and other leagues, is that individual teams will play in a wide range of home cities. Players, coaches and staffs will travel between cities. While no fans will attend games, the state of the coronavirus infection varies widely, with very low rates in New York and Boston contrasted by surging infection patterns in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida.
In a statement Monday, Major League Baseball chalked up the testing delays to the July Fourth period being a holiday. “We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence,” the statement said. “We commend the affected clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.”
Here is the full slate of opening games:
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