We may not get an MLB season — What does it mean for the league and the Braves?

The Atlanta Braves, like the rest of the MLB, are suffering amid the unexpected pause on all major league sports due to the coronavirus. Not only is the MLB season at risk due to the pandemic, but tensions between the MLB and the MLB Players Association are reaching new heights. 

Continuing the quarantine increases uncertainty for both the Braves and the MLB as a whole. The league is contemplating a 76-game season as the best-case scenario. The worst? No season at all.

The young Braves have the fourth-best odds to win the 2020 World Series. These expectations come after a season that saw Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies prove they are distinguished leaders in a polished and much-improved organization.   

The possible cancelation of the season has some fans worried about the Braves’ window. Atlanta-based sports journalist Phil Hudson is not worried about it. Rather, he believes that time off would give players extra time to work on their mechanics.

“In light of the pandemic, it’s fair to say with a young team of players that the new Baby Braves will be able to develop and focus since they’re not distracted by all that comes with being on the road,” Hudson said.

Unlike the Los Angeles Dodgers who are in a “win-now” mode, Atlanta, who has not won a playoff series since 2001, is set up for success beyond 2020. Their young and gifted roster complements an exceptional front office well-suited to work through a canceled season. 

A major concern comes with 36-year-old Nick Markakis. The outfielder is one of many veterans who could be negatively affected by the time off.  All the time off could hurt their chances for another contract.

“A player past his age prime would be hurt more because it’s another season down the drain,”. Hudson said.

Players who are on rookie contracts would also be financially impacted without a 2020 season.

“A player past his athletic-age prime will suffer more because they’re one more year removed from that prime if the season goes down the drain,” Hudson said. 

One underrated thing about the delayed start that doesn’t have to do with money: players gain more time to sharpen their skills. Braves players who ended their 2019 season on a low note now have more time to practice and get their mind right for the upcoming season. Players such as first baseman Freddie Freeman and right-handed Mike Foltynewiczs are both using their time off to recover from disappointing ends to the 2019 season.

“Seeing Freddie working on his swing during the off-season means he is focused on working on coming back strong from while he’s been sheltering in place,”  Hudson said.

The loss of the 2020 season would hurt many veterans looking for their last big contract before their career is over.  Like other sports, baseball continues trying to formulate a way to open back up in the coming months. The most recent proposal between the league and its players association features a 50-60 game season starting sometime in July. A decrease to 50 games would be a hard pill to swallow and could devalue the regular season. 

The proposal would create the shortest season in the league’s 117 years, eclipsing the 1981 season where only 81 games were played. The games will also be played without fans in attendance to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. The possible 50-game season has some questioning whether a season would be worth it at that point. 

“At the end of the day this is a business and the players will quit acting like babies and get back to work,” Hudson said. “The players are acting like spoiled brats and they will get over it when  they realize no one feels sorry for them.”

But, when baseball returns, the Braves will come back with the same sense of urgency from last season. Even in these trying times, it is important to realize that the players can and will persevere. 

For Hudson the choice is clear and baseball should undoubtedly be played. Hudson believes despite the owners and players being in constant deadlock, the season will eventually be played.

“I’d rather watch baseball games from home than the grave,” Hudson said. “But, I’m hopeful either way because I like to think the Braves win a World Series every season in heaven.”