1. Two letters: DH
Finally, logic will prevail this season as the universal designated hitter becomes a reality. The long overdue concept should soon make people forget any misplaced smidgen of joy they derived from watching pitchers (try to) hit.
2. King of New York
The greatest (local) sub-plot of 2020 will be the every-fifth-day comparisons of Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole. The Mets’ ace is working on his third straight Cy Young. Cole is being paid $324 million to bring a title to the Bronx.
3. Remember the Astros
Perhaps as ballparks experiment with manufactured crowd noise for these spectator-less games, it only makes sense to pump in loud booing for any visit by the trash-can-thumping, sign-stealing ‘Stros.
4. Staying (non) positive
The best thing anyone can hope for during this pandemic-era season is zero new COVID-19 cases. It’s unrealistic, of course, so we’ll shoot for the next best thing: very few, and extremely mild.
5. The .400 club
It’s been 79 years since Ted Williams hit .406, the last do it over a full regular season. But this 60-game sprint could allow for a select handful of players to flirt with the legendary mark. It would come with an asterisk, of course, but fun nonetheless.
6. On second thought
And while we’re on the subject of rule changes, let’s get excited about quicker resolutions to extra-inning games by starting the 10th with a runner at second. Not as wild as a home-run derby OT, but better than status quo.
7. Masked swingers
Mike Trout tried to be a trend-setter early in summer camp by wearing a mask on the field, and Clint Frazier went a step further by saying he’d go with one during games. We can use those role models right now.
8. Sho time in Anaheim
The modern Babe Ruth is back as Shohei Ohtani returns to the Angels’ rotation after Tommy John surgery that limited him to DH duties last season. Ohtani hit 18 homers with an .848 OPS in what still was considered a rehab year for his elbow.
9. Almost forgot
One-third of MLB’s teams made a managerial change during the offseason (the Mets made two) and it will be interesting to see who chose wisely. I’ll put Joe Girardi (Phillies) as No. 1 on that list, with Luis Rojas (Mets) a good bet for best first-time skipper.
10. Finish the job
As difficult as it was to get this season started, it will be something close to miraculous if MLB is able to make it all the way through the World Series given the myriad pandemic-related challenges. A premature ending would be a huge disappointment for the sport and its fans.