Football season is winding down and basketball in the early stages of the 2020-21 season. This means the 2021 baseball season is right around the corner, and fans have their share of questions. The 2020 season was something fans have never seen before as Opening Day was pushed back until July, and each team played only 60 games.
Obviously, the moves were made because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a few teams had their share of outbreaks. However, Major League Baseball was able to push through, and while there was no All-Star Game, there was a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first title since 1988.
With the shortened season, MLB had some rule changes which included an expanded playoff field and the National League adding the designated hitter. Most of the changes will likely not be implemented this year, but based on what has been announced over the last few months, baseball in 2021 will be a little more normal than the 2020 season. That said, there will be some things fans need to be aware of as they get ready to cheer on their favorite team. Here's a look at five things baseball fans need to know for the upcoming season.
Stadiums as Vaccination Sites
With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out across the country, baseball stadiums are being used as vaccination sites. The ballparks that are being used as places to distribute vaccines are Marlins Park (Miami Marlins), Citi Field (New York Mets), Petco Park (San Diego Padres), Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros).prevnext
There is a grassroots movement to force MLB to make the game safer. Foul Ball Safety Now! is a campaign looking to get more safety netting for each baseball stadium to prevent injuries from foul balls.prevnext
A Full Season
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said there will be a full 162-game season, unlike last year. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 MLB season was shortened to 60 regular-season games with no fans.prevnext
Fans in the Stands
And with the full season schedule, it's possible fans could attend games as early as Spring Training, according to USA Today. No fans attended games last season until the National League Championship Series and the World Series.prevnext
Once fans are allowed to attend games, they will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing. There is no plan for fans to get tested for COVID-19 or getting vaccinated.prevnext
Other Things to Note
With a full season scheduled, this means the All-Star Game will take place in Atlanta in July. There was no All-Star game in 2020 season due to the shortened schedule. Additionally, the MLB and the union are undergoing negotiations for health and safety protocols as well as there will be a universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs like last season, according to USA Today.prevnext
But when does the season start? Opening Day will be on April 1, and Spring Training will begin on Feb 27. There was talk of delaying the season a month so players and fans have more time to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. But the Major League Baseball Players Association fought against it.prev