The 2021 Major League Baseball season is set to officially begin on April 1st. Last year, due to COVID-19, the MLB had to delay their opening day games to late July. The MLB did not play a traditional season as it started in July and ended in late October. The 2020 season also consisted of about ⅓ less games than usual. Normally each MLB team plays 162 games and in 2020, each team only played 60 games. Even though the season was an unusual format, the season was pretty successful as it ended on time and the playoffs ended up being very entertaining. The Los Angeles Dodgers ended up coming on top last season. This was viewed as an impressive win as the games last year were packed together making schedules harder on the playoffs. After a weird season, MLB players, fans and team executives are very glad that the upcoming season will be more normal
Although this season will be more normal, the COVID-19 pandemic is still an ongoing issue around the U.S. and the world. Even though vaccinations are providing hope, there is still no exact timeline on when MLB players and other professional athletes will be receiving their vaccines. COVID-19 will continue to greatly affect MLB players and MLB fans. In February, prior to the start of spring training, the MLB released their health and safety protocols for the season.
Most of the safety protocols in place for this season are the same as they were last year, so players and coaches are already used to them. Probably the most annoying protocol, but also one of the most important protocols, is testing. MLB players will have to undergo Frequent PCR testing administered by the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory on saliva samples collected. It is very important that all players get tested often as they will be traveling on planes weekly and if someone were to test positive for the virus, that player would need to isolate immediately. Individuals who test positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days. A player who tested positive must be cleared by the individual team’s physician, following a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that the individual no longer presents a risk of infecting others. Another safety protocol that also has not changed is mask wearing. Face coverings must be worn when in club facilities and in the dugout. It is essential that players follow all of the safety protocols that the MLB put into place so that no players get sick and the season is not delayed at all.
One thing that has changed this year, despite the pandemic still occurring, is the amount of players who have opted out of the season. Last year, there were tons of players who decided they were going to sit out the MLB season as they did not want to risk getting the virus. Many of those players had fears of bringing it back to their families or getting really sick themselves. The first player to opt out last year was Mike Leake on the Diamondbacks. Several other notable players like Ryan Zimmerman, Felix Hernandez, Ian Desmond and David Price also decided it would be best to just take a year off. Very few players have opted out for the 2021 season though most likely because we are now a year into the pandemic and the MLB plans on playing a full season. Many players were all right with missing a 60 game season as opposed to missing a 162 game season.
Players and fans are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2021 MLB season as the structure will be a lot more normal than last season. New York baseball fans are even more excited because it looks like the Yankees and the Mets are going to have good seasons.
The Yankees are #3 in the preseason power ranking and the Mets are just below them at #8. If both teams live up to their potential, it will make for a very exciting playoff season for NY baseball fans. The 2021 MLB season looks like it will be very entertaining and everyone is hoping there will be very little compilations with COVID-19.