D-backs face challenges of unique, shortened season that creates chaos
Even once you get past health and safety protocols for the 2020 MLB season, it is still going to offer plenty of unique elements.
While rule changes are the first things that come to mind, a 60-game schedule out of necessity has all teams charting into the great unknown.
Each team will play 40 games against their respective division, with the last 20 taking place against the other league’s geographical division equivalent, so the American League West for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is an effort from the league to mitigate travel as much as possible for everyone’s safety.
On a video call with the media on Wednesday, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen was honest about how that new dynamic will be.
“I have no idea,” he said. “One group of teams that we’re going to play, it won’t be that much different, so in that way the season is going to look very similar. Playing the AL West is going to present itself a little bit differently than it would in a normal year. Not facing the other divisions is going to be a lot different.
“I don’t know what it’s going to feel like or look like.”
What became clear for everyone is that with 102 less games, the 60 individually mean a whole lot more.
“I’m imagining with the heightened sensitivity to every situation mattering that much more (that) there’s gonna be a lot of urgency surrounding every single game,” Hazen said.
“Those Sunday getaway days at 1 o’clock after you’ve taken the first two games of a [series] … baseball tends to roll into a two out of three. That probably is going to change. That mindset is going to change because that game is going to become that much more critical.”
That makes for a more entertaining product.
“I think in any run of baseball in a short season, good chaos can ensue,” Hazen said. “You look back over 60-game runs into any baseball season and I’m excited for it. I think it’s gonna be fantastic. Would it be better if we played 162? Yeah, that sailed a long time ago.
“I think it’s gonna be high intensity for 60 games. I think there’s going to be a lot at stake. That translates into, to me, (being) great for competitiveness.”
So, how exactly do they adapt to get the best out of the situation? Well, they’re in the process of figuring that out.
Hazen said they aren’t sure how travel will work yet for the schedule, a schedule they don’t have anything firm on beyond some broader points, like who the opposition is.
The general manager noted that obviously roster construction will be key, as well as trying to keep everyone healthy due to the circumstances bringing everyone back from an extended break.
In a good example of the unexplored position the sport finds itself in for this one-of-a-kind season, a simple thought to marinate on is what teams do if a guy gets off to a slow start.
Well, they probably act quicker than they normally would to lessen that player’s role, but that’s just something the D-backs and other teams are going to have to figure out the right feel for on the fly.
“I have no idea what the answer is to that question yet,” Hazen said. “I haven’t put myself in that position. I would imagine if I were speculating on that question that there would be a heightened urgency around performance.
“We would have to be more mindful when typically (in the) middle of April to the middle of May, we’re letting things play out. We may not have that time. The multiple game swings could severely impact your ability to make the playoffs so we’re probably going to have to have a different level of urgency around decision-making.”