As Major League Soccer (MLS), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) all make their season and playoff comebacks, there is bound to be some surprises. Surprises in performance, expectations, along with heartbreak and excitement. Surprises are where an athlete and sports team can make history. Here are four things that may happen during a rescheduled and shortened season.
1. Unexpected division winners
As much as talent, expectations, and experience help win championships, teams are bound to go on hot and cold streaks. Where a team prepares to play a full season there can be ups and downs, while a team can recover in time is story written by many teams. Comebacks can still happen in a shortened season, but with less games to play there are also fewer opportunities and chances. The result is teams that might not normally have won a division, will win a division. Imagine a championship team in a full season that starts under .500 and yet turns things around later in the season. In a full season of baseball, the comeback may occur after the trade deadline or the All-Star Game. Well there is no trade deadline or All-Star game this year in baseball and of course 60-man rosters will provide depth without the normal transaction consequences. The various circumstances may provide for some surprise winners.
2. Very high and low level performances
Imagine a team that has ups and downs during the course of a season. Well, players comprise teams, so those individuals will have days and weeks where struggles are prevalent. This means statistics will be all over the historical map. It also means individual contributions will matter that much more in the collective. Performance will indeed be amplified.
With the various professional sports seasons being delayed because of COVID-19, there is bound to be delays for the same reason. The hope is that the bubbles, quarantine, and safety precautions will prevent delays, but there is likely to be players who will become infected and must be quarantined for 14 days. For baseball, the importance of the 60-man roster becomes even more important from a talent and wins perspective. Stoppages have the potential to add drama, but also threaten the season itself.
4. Everything means a little more
The return of sports is a welcome reprieve and renewal. Production has and will also continue to see some renovations and improvements that may seem a model for the times, but are likely to help improve entertainment, media, and sports production for the future as well. The time between live sports and no live sports will make the seasons mean that much more to fans, players, teams, and all interested parties alike.
Overall, a shortened season full of wild cards is ahead.