New COVID-19 flare-ups and workarounds may keep Atlanta Braves fans guessing.
The Atlanta Braves 2020 Opening Day game is still unknown. So far, the only "known" is that MLB wants the Nationals to open up against the Yankees on July 23.
But it turns out even that is still written in pencil right now.
New York Post columnist Joel Sherman took to Twitter to explain the problems that are causing consternation among those charged to come up with a schedule for this Summer.
Among the immediate issues:
- 60 games taking place in 66 days is a bit challenging right off the top.
- Arizona, Florida, and Texas are currently among the nation's "hot spots" for new cases, with a huge spike in Florida this week.
- Georgia, by the way, has a similar trend line, though with notably fewer cases than these states
- California isn't that far behind that 'big 3'
- Reducing travel is still a key preference for MLB
The schedule -- as conceived today -- is said to consist of 40 games vs. traditional divisional opponents (so 10 games apiece between the Atlanta Braves and the Marlins/Phils/Nats/Mets) and 20 games against the AL East opponents (4 each).
That "10" is a tough nut to crack: do you go with sets of 3/3/2/2 so that home-and-home games are balanced? That requires more travel.
Do you attempt multiple five-game series (5 at home and 5 on the road for each NL East foe)? That solves the travel, though it's quite awkward with the calendar.
- You can't play 5 games and then take 2 off to match up with a full week: that hoses up the 60 games/66 days scheme.
- Maybe a double-header? That would allow a normal 3-game series for the rest of the week, though it also gives you 8 games in a single week... and then you have to figure out how to work the following week's games, which could require the same 8-in-7 solution again.
- Further, if you go with a five-game set, then a single day off, you can make that work in general... but you would occasionally end up having teams idle on a weekend day, and that's when viewership should be expected to be highest.
So with all that in consideration, it's quite likely that we'll be well into Spring Training 2.0 before schedules are announced, and changes -- even in that 40/20 split -- could be in play.
There are some tasks within MLB's purview that are simply not enviable. Right now, the job of Master Scheduler is most definitely in that category.
At least nobody is waiting around to buy tickets.