- Major League Baseball (MLB) started its condensed regular season with two games on July 23, 2020.
- Teams will operate on a 60-game schedule plus playoffs, with games taking place in empty stadiums.
- The 2020 MLB season will be broadcast across ESPN+, ESPN, Fox, TBS, MLB TV, and regional sports affiliate networks.
- To get access to MLB coverage, we suggest using ESPN+, along with a live TV streaming service with support for ESPN, Fox, and TBS, like Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV.
One month ago, as the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) finalized their plans for season restarts — making them the first two United States sports leagues to begin play during the coronavirus pandemic — Major League Baseball's future was not solidified. The MLB was set to begin its season on March 26 but cancelled these plans in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Following this delay, regular discussions took place between the MLB Players Association and the MLB over the logistics of beginning the season. On June 23, the two parties struck a deal that would see their sport return to play on July 23.
Unlike the NWSL, MLS, and NBA, the 2020 MLB Season will not take place inside of a "bubble." Teams will play 60 games, 30 at home and 30 on the road. Each team will play its divisional opponents 10 times, totaling 40 games, and 20 games against interleague opponents from the same geographical division. For example, the AL East's teams will play games against their NL East counterparts.
The level of uncertainty surrounding the longevity of the 2020 MLB season is significantly higher than that of the NWSL, MLS, and NBA. This uncertainty primarily stems from the travel necessary to execute this season. Transportation, hotel stays, and entering and exiting stadiums all present the possibility of virus exposure.
Apart from modifying the season schedule, Major League Baseball is implementing further changes to this shortened season. Things like a universal designated hitter, extra innings beginning with a runner on second base, and a minimum three batter rule for pitchers entering a game, will all impact game plan execution. There are also changes to roster composition — making it easier for teams to manage their squads should coronavirus infections become an issue.
The story of this MLB season, as was the case in March, begins with the Los Angeles Dodgers. With seven straight NL West Division Titles, including five NLCS appearances and two World Series runs over that period, the Dodgers have been tantalizingly close to a World Series championship. They strengthened their already stellar squad this offseason with the addition of former AL MVP Mookie Betts. With Betts in the outfield, the Dodgers are the odds-on favorite to be this year's champions.
The Dodgers face a formidable field as they eye their first title since 1988. Namely, the American League's two best teams in 2019, the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, look capable of repeating, or exceeding, last year's successes.
The Astros took the eventual champion Washington Nationals to seven games in the last World Series. Their only major departure during the offseason was starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, who joined the aforementioned New York Yankees.
In signing Cole, the Yankees addressed an area of urgent need. With Cole on the books to boost their starting rotation, as well as Aaron Judge returning from injury, the Yankees are their typical, competitive selves.
There are plenty of other teams capable of competing to be this year's World Series Champions. Squads like the Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, and St. Louis Cardinals are all legitimate contenders. With that being said, the condensed nature of this season, paired with a prolonged offseason, means there is even more volatility than in a typical MLB season. Other contenders will certainly emerge.
How to watch MLB games
The first weekend of baseball offers fans 13 nationally broadcasted games across ESPN, Fox, Fox Sports, MLB Network, and TBS. You can find the full list of the year's nationally televised games here. For viewing of nationally broadcasted MLB games on these channels, you will need a cable or satellite package with access to those channels, or a subscription to a live TV streaming service with support for those networks.
Of all these options, the most affordable way to gain live streaming access to ESPN, Fox, Fox Sports, TBS, and MLB Network is via a Sling TV Orange + Blue membership with the Sports Extras add-on. This package costs $60 a month.
In addition to the regular ESPN cable channel, the ESPN+ streaming service will show seven MLB games during the month of July and select games throughout the rest of the season. It is one of our favorite deals in streaming because of the massive selection of sports content available for just $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year.
Non-nationally broadcasted games are exclusively carried by regional sports networks, such as NESN (Boston Red Sox), Marquee Sports Network (Chicago Cubs), Fox Sports Regional networks, NBC Sports Regional networks, and others.
Finally, to view all out-of-market MLB games, fans can subscribe to MLB.TV for $24.99 a month.
The MLB 2020 season began with two games on Thursday, July 23. First, the New York Yankees faced the Washington Nationals at 7:00 p.m. ET. Then, the Los Angeles Dodgers squared off with the San Francisco Giants at 10:00 p.m. ET.