Baseball's comeback fact sheet: What the pandemic-shortened season will look like
For weeks, which actually felt like years, major-league baseball was stuck in place.
Owners submitted a financial proposal to launch an abbreviated season. Players rejected it.
Players countered with a financial plan. Owners rejected it.
Back and forth, and on and on. It was a painful process for all involved, with baseball fans at the front of the line.
On Tuesday night, commissioner Rob Manfred used his authority to implement a season at prorated pay for players, so there will be baseball this summer.
That's a good thing -- great is also acceptable -- for the game, for the fans and for all the regional TV sports networks that have been airing games from season's past.
Baseball is going to look different when "Opening Day" arrives later in July, and that's OK.
It will be familiar enough to provide some needed normalcy in challenging times.
What's it going to look like?
The official guidebook is still being finalized, but here are some key things to keep an eye on:
• When is Spring Training, Pt. 2, going to start?
It looks like July 1 is the day, with all major-league clubs getting ramped back up at their home stadiums.
• Is there enough room at Wrigley Field for the Cubs to get ready? Enough room at Guaranteed Rate Field for the White Sox?
No. The Associated Press reports teams are going to carry 60 players on the major-league roster for the shortened season, so the Cubs and Sox are going to need another training facility.
Both teams should stay pretty close to home. The Cubs could split their camp between Wrigley and Northwestern and the White Sox could spill over to another college campus, nearby Illinois-Chicago.
• How are 60 players going to fit in the dugout when the season starts?
Teams are going to open the season with 30 players on the major-league roster. The other 30 will be on a taxi squad.
• How many games, and when do they start?
There will be 60 games in the regular season and, according to USA Today, four teams will play on July 23 in a pair of nationally-televised games. The other 26 teams will open on July 24.
• What's the schedule going to look like?
The Cubs will play 10 games each against the NL Central (Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Pirates) and four games each vs. the AL Central (White Sox, Twins, Indians, Royals, Tigers).
The Sox play 10 games each against AL Central teams and four each vs. the NL Central.
• Will fans be allowed at Wrigley and Sox Park?
To start, no. Cubs chairman Todd Ricketts is hoping that changes as the summer progresses.
"Almost all of our revenue comes from hosting games at the ballpark, tickets, concessions, everything that goes with that," Ricketts said last week. "So it makes for a complicated financial situation for us. We're going to work as hard as we can with the city and move as quickly as we can within the realms of good practices to try to get people back in the park."
On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot kept the door open for some fans to return to ballparks.
"My expectation in the short-term is that they will reopen without fans in the stands," Lightfoot said. "My hope is that we can get to a place where we can see some fans in the seats in stadiums and other venues. Because of where we are in the arc of the virus, industries that require very large gatherings, such as spectator sports and conventions, will remain closed at this time."
• What about the playoffs?
Barring a change, the postseason will stay at 10 teams.
• What about designated hitter?
It looks like a go for both leagues.
The White Sox are set with newcomer Edwin Encarnacion and the Cubs have a long list of options, headed by Kyle Schwarber.
• What about the coronavirus?
Might be burying the lead here -- health is a huge concern and it could put the brakes on baseball again at a moment's notice.
Rockies all-star outfielder Charlie Blackmon reportedly became the latest player to test positive for COVID-19 and the numbers could continue rising as teams report for camp.
Hopefully, that is not a story for another day.