Less a reason for hype and more of a timeline-based threat: pitchers and catchers are to report to Spring Training in just one month from today.
For the Chicago Cubs, we’ve been over what that means: if they want to compete, even in a weak NL Central, they’re gonna need another starting pitcher or two, a quality infield bat that can play second base, and a starting-caliber outfielder. You know. Little things.
For the league as a whole, it means – incredibly – they’ll actually have to settle on some rules for the season ahead. To be sure, the current CBA governs the season, but no one expects it can be played safely without similar rules adjustments, and health and safety protocols, as we saw in the shortened 2020 season. Little rules bits and expectations are trickling out, but there’s just nothing in terms of hard and fast rules decisions. That’s crazy to me, with just a month to go before the official start of Spring Training.
What’s even crazier is that it’s possible some decisions – and definitely some roster construction – will not be completed by the time Spring Training begins. There’s a buffer there of a month and a half before the regular season begins, but it’s wild to me that there isn’t sufficient urgency to finalize a DH rule, a rule on roster size, and the makeup of the playoff field. Maybe the thinking at this point is, hey, teams have already operated through three months of offseason without that stuff, so what’s another month?
To that end, MLB has told teams to be prepared to begin their Spring Training in just a month, but hasn’t told them what that’ll actually look like. Teams are supposed to be making their plans for a season whose constitution could change at any moment.
I find myself in this headspace nearly every Sunday evening, hence why I’m writing this now. It’s like, surely the week ahead will provide enough clarity to feel like, OK, things are in place now, and we can just be hyped that there’s a season around the corner. For now, though, I look ahead at what is coming in a month and I think … what is actually coming?