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By Joe Kazmar
For The Record 



Last updated 7/21/2020 at 10:54am

There won’t be any peanuts or crackerjacks and nobody will care if they ever

come back because there will be major league baseball starting tomorrow but in a

shortened format.

The season was supposed to begin on March 26, but due the coronavirus

pandemic it was put on hold until further notice.

That notice came from MLB without the approval of the Players Association a

couple of weeks ago with all 30 teams seeing action either June 23 or 24.

It’s the shortest season since the 60-game slate since 1878, the second year of the

Rutherford B. Hayes administration, according to Sunday’s edition of the Houston


However, public health experts have mixed feelings about opening the season

tomorrow, although the nature of the sport produces less on-field risk than football,

basketball or hockey.

The biggest problem I see is for the baseball players staying safe away from the

ball park is teams traveling to and from hard-hit places like Texas, California and Florida,

according to the Associated Press article in Sunday’s editions.

MLB has provided each team with a 113-page operations manual detailing

protocols for its pandemic-shortened 60-game regular season.

Players will be tested every 48 hours with masks and social distancing a must at

all times except when on the field.

Some of the “normal” baseball habits such as high-fives, sunflower seeds, spitting

and licking the fingers are taboo. Even the team mascots won’t be allowed to get close.

There also are protocols for air travel, bus travel, private cars and hotels, along

with general guidance to avoid contact with people outside the baseball world, the article

points out.

Once the games begin tomorrow, MLB will pipe in crowd noise and teams will

have cutouts of fans behind home plate and other various parts of the ball park, The

Houston Astros plan to have cutouts in the outfield and Crawford boxes in left field to

compensate for a crowd-less game.

In extra-inning games each half-inning will begin with a runner on second base

and if the runner scored, it would be ruled an unearned run.

Pitchers coming out of the bullpen now must face a minimum of three batters

unless they retire the side earlier.

In a 60-game schedule, there will be less distance from the game’s top teams and

the cellar-dwellers. USA Sports Weekly has projected the three division winners of each


Our Houston Astros should win the AL West with a 35-25 record, one-game

ahead of Oakland (34-26), the Mighty New York Yankees are again favored in the AL

East while the Minnesota Twins are the pick in the AL Central.

If the Astros make it to October still in first place, new manager Dusty Baker will

become the first skipper in major league history to guide five franchises to the playoffs.

He has taken San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and the Washington

Nationals to the playoffs.

In a surprise, Atlanta is picked over World Champion Washington in the NL East,

the St. Louis Cardinals are the choice in the NL Central while the LA Dodgers are an

overwhelming favorite in the NL West.

The Astros open the season at home on Friday against the Seattle Mariners for a

four-game series with the LA Dodgers coming in for two games Tuesday and


The 2019 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander will pitch the opening game

for the eighth consecutive year and 12 th of his career. It will be his third straight opening

day with the Astros.

Verlander needs to pitch just 18 innings to become the only active player to log

3,000 innings and already leads active pitchers with 3,006 strikeouts.

KWICKIES…The Toronto Blue Jays won’t play their home games in Toronto

this year because Canada’s government doesn’t thing it’s safe for players to travel back

and forth from the United States, one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus


LeBron James’ rookie card was sold for a whopping $1.845 million.

Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is leaning toward no fans in the stands in the

NFL games this fall. “I don’t even know it’s safe to play,” he told ESPN on Monday.

Quarterback Donald Hammond III, who led Air Force to an 11-2 record last

season, could miss the 2020 season because he has fallen out of good standing at the


Alex Rodriguez, who is among four groups of bidders for a possible purchase of

the New York Mets, has called for baseball players to accept the type of revenue-sharing

system that is tied to a salary cap and sparked quick opposition from the player’s union.

Jon Rahm became the new No. 1 pro golfer in the world Sunday after winning the

PGA Tour Memorial Tournament last weekend at Dublin, Ohio by three strokes over

Texan Ryan Palmer last weekend. The tourney was founded by Jack Nicklaus and usually

attracts the world’s top golfers. Rahm became only the second Spaniard to attain No. 1

status since Seve Ballesteros several decades ago.

JUST BETWEEN US…Those of you who looked at me like I was some kind of

idiot for running my July 8 column again on July 15 must understand the real culprit can

be found at the office on Henrietta St.


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