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FanPulse: When will we get some games?

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Find out if the voters were optimistic or pessimistic about 2020.

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MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Angels Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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A poet could find the poetry in my final FanPost post being about whether or not fans thought there would be any baseball games played this year, but I am just a sports blogger without any sports and soon without a blog.

This week, four questions were posed to the voters:

  • How many games will be played in the 2020 season?
  • Will fans be allowed in stadiums for any games in 2020?
  • In which month does regular season MLB return?
  • Will there be a 2020 season?

Oof. That last one hits hard.

Pandemically speaking, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to think about this stuff, but the direct effect of living pandemically gives us plenty of time to sit with these gnawing questions, all of which really fall under an obvious umbrella: Will our lives return to normal?

That I can’t answer, and because I never actually signed up to be a voter, I couldn’t answer any of the questions posed this week. But plenty of fans across the MLB site network did.

How many games will be played in the 2020 season?

52% think the league will get in 90 or fewer games. 38% think 91-120. 8% see 121-150. Just 1% think there will be close to a full season.

Let’s call that 1% The Scott Boras Ratio. And let’s use Grant Brisbee’s Scott Boras Metaphor Generator to see what he’d say about that 1% as though they were his client:

Ah. Yes. That voting bloc makes sense now.

As late a week ago I was planning to write an article about a 90-game schedule, so in this case I feel very strongly that the voters got it right. As for my plan to write that article: eh. Maybe. We’ll see.

Will fans be allowed in stadiums for any games in 2020?

I couldn’t imagine a scenario where the players and league reach an agreement that doesn’t involving opening the stadiums to fans. Maybe there will be some provisions as we approach the fall about possibly reducing capacity to encourage social distancing, but professional sports — even with the massive media deals paying most of the bills — need crowds, not just for the bottom line, but for legitimacy.

In which month does regular season MLB return?

June just beats July 38%-35% which feels heartening. As sobering as it is, this seems like at least the FanPulse voters understand the scope of this pandemic and what needs to be done in order to manage it. Possibly they also see that players will need time to ramp back up baseball activities before jumping right back in, and with warmer weather not really being a key defense against this coronavirus, that restart point is still a couple of months away. Just 11% envision a May first pitch. Meanwhile . . . 16% don’t foresee a season at all.

Will there be a 2020 season?

On the other hand, when directly asked the question, more people felt there wouldn’t be a season at all. I’m sure the discrepancy is the result of people answering questions at face value, and “In which month” would naturally lead a reader into having the mindset that we’re talking about there actually being a 2020 season. Meanwhile, the binary “Will there be a 2020 season?” Is more direct.

I’m not sure myself. There would be plenty of terrible consequences and possibly even worse unintended consequences in the aborted season scenario. A canceled season would at least have some interesting consequences to think about in the abstract. Mookie Betts would never play an inning for the Dodgers. Buster Posey would be a year older and closer to being done with his contract, but also an extra year removed from hip surgery without having endured the wear and tear of another season. Of course Brandon Belt’s hoped-for breakout season would be stalled by a global pandemic. That’s his luck.

But brain-tickling thought experiments are ephemeral. The very real fallout would be catastrophic for all the shareholders, stakeholders, cupholders, and youth molders (good grief, that’s some bad writing). At the same time, we can’t allow our fear to cause a bad health situation to grow worse. There might not be a win-win scenario, but there’s almost certainly a win-not lose as much one.

Whatever happens, FanPulse will be here tabulating feelings and judgments and relaying the results back to us with these really nice charts and graphs.