SportsPulse: This baseball season will be a downright sprint and certifiably crazy. Mackenzie Salmon breaks down everything you need to know about the 2020 season with numbers. USA TODAY
You think you were the only one trying to keep your sanity awaiting Major League Baseball to return?
Meet Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation.
He happens to be responsible for scheduling the entire 2020 season, with the schedule being officially announced in the next 10 to 14 days.
“Oh my God, it’s been a long road,’’ Marinak told USA TODAY Sports. “The struggle, the challenge was just not knowing. We all wanted to play as soon as possible, but the virus was going to dictate that. We had to wait, but wanted to be ready to go when we got the word.
“Now, here we are; a pretty good schedule given how much time is left.’’
Never before has a complete MLB schedule been formulated this close to Opening Day, with less than a month to go. Then again, never has there ever been a season like this, operating at the will of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet MLB, with an exhaustive 100+ page health and safety operations manual, will attempt to become the first major sport to return on July 23 with two nationally televised games, and the rest of the teams scheduled to start July 24.
It will be the shortest season since 1878, playing just 60 of their normal 162 games (37%), with each team playing 40 games in its own division and 20 interleague games against their corresponding geographical division.
MLB toyed with the idea of realignment, but wanted to keep the traditional divisions, while still playing interleague games and keeping their natural interleague rivals.
So, we will still have the New York Yankees and Mets playing each other six times. The same with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels; the Chicago Cubs and White Sox; the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
Marinak and Chuck Torres, MLB senior director of broadcast operations and administration, spent perhaps as many as 400 hours working on the thousands of permutations of the schedule, keeping in constant contact with every team.
It was exasperating never knowing when the season would start, or how many games would be played.
“You just didn’t know the start date, the end date,’’ Marinak says, “and we were coming up with anything plausible based on the nightly news.’’
The historic schedule, in some ways, was easier to formulate with @Bnightengale