The coronavirus postponed the start of the baseball season and shut down nearly everything else, but now Major League Baseball is back for a 60-game sprint of a season to be followed by newly expanded playoffs. The initial three-game series of the new season get wrapped up today with numerous games around the league.
Many questions remain about how MLB will navigate the season amid the pandemic, including how teams will keep players and staff safe as they travel from city to city. Nationals star Juan Soto will miss time after testing positive for COVID-19 and other players, including the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman and the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey, have announced they're sitting out the season.
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For now, however, baseball is back. You can't head to the ballpark and attend a game in person, but there are plenty of ways to watch on TV. Here's how you can watch the shortened 2020 season without cable.
What's the MLB 2020 schedule?
A packed slate of games is scheduled for Sunday, July 26 as teams wrap up their first three-game series of the year. The New York Yankees and Washington Nationals finish up in DC starting at 1:05 p.m. ET (10:05 a.m. PT) on TBS. The Los Angeles Angels play the Oakland A's on MLB Network at 4:10 p.m. ET (1:10 p.m. PT), the same time ESPN Plus carries the Arizona Diamondbacks at the San Diego Padres. This evening the Atlanta Braves visit the New York Mets at 7 p.m. (4 p.m. PT) followed by a nightcap featuring the San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles against the Dodgers at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT). ESPN will carry both of those games.
Other teams around the league play on regional sports networks. CBS Sports has a breakdown of some of the highlights and dates to look forward to this season.
How can I watch the 2020 MLB season on TV without cable?
The 2020 season may be drastically different than the usual six-month, 162-game campaign of past years, but the ways to watch regular-season baseball has not changed. The national networks that carry MLB games in normal seasons — Fox, Fox Sports 1, TBS, MLB Network and ESPN — are going to be broadcasting games in 2020.
You'll be able to watch on your local regional sports networks such as local Fox Sports channels, the YES Network (New York Yankees), NESN (Boston Red Sox) or SportsNet LA (Los Angeles Dodgers).
For cable TV cord cutters, many of the national channels are offered on five of the major live TV streaming services. You'll want to check with each service to see if your regional sports network is offered.
Carries Fox, ESPN, MLB Network and TBS
To get all the national baseball channels you'll need Sling's Blue/Orange package that runs $45 a month, plus the Sports Extra add-on for an additional $10 per month to get MLB Network. Read our Sling TV review.
See at Sling TV
Carries Fox, ESPN, MLB Network and TBS
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major national baseball channels. Depending on your team and area, you may also have your regional sports network. Read our YouTube TV review.
See at YouTube TV
AT&T TV Now
Carries Fox, ESPN, MLB Network and TBS
AT&T TV Now's basic $55-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS, but you'll need to step up to the $80-per-month Max package for regional sports channels and potentially the $110-per-month Choice package if you also want MLB Network. Read our AT&T TV Now review.
See at AT&T TV Now
Hulu with Live TV
Carries Fox, ESPN and TBS
Hulu with Live TV costs $55 a month and includes most major national baseball channels, including ESPN, Fox and TBS. While some areas may be able to also get regional sports networks, the service does not have MLB Network. Read our Hulu with Live TV review.
See at Hulu with Live TV
Carries Fox, MLB Network and TBS
FuboTV includes Fox, ESPN, FS1 and TBS in its $55-per-month Standard plan (which goes up to $60 on Aug. 1) as well as some local regional sports networks, though those looking for MLB Network will need to look elsewhere. Note: ESPN is not currently offered but will be available at some point this summer, FuboTV says. Read our FuboTV review.
See at FuboTV
In addition to the services above there's MLB.TV, the MLB's paid streaming service. It will be available to stream out-of-market games with the league charging $60 for the entire, shortened season.
T-Mobile and Sprint users will be able to get a free, season-long subscription to MLB.TV beginning on July 21 as part of the T-Mobile Tuesdays perks program. Those looking to take advantage of the offer have until Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 1:59 a.m. PT (4:59 a.m. ET) to sign up.
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Where will games be played?
Regular season games are set to take place in each of the 30 teams' respective home cities, with the exception being the Toronto Blue Jays, the only MLB team based outside of the US.
On July 18 the Blue Jays announced they would not be playing home games in Canada as planned. After days of uncertainty the team is heading to Buffalo, New York where the team has its Triple-A club.
All baseball games, regardless of city, are set to be played without fans.
How is the schedule different this year?
To keep travel to a minimum, teams will play those in their nearest geographical areas, so expect mainly in-division play with interleague limited to just those in the opposite league's division (AL East versus NL East, AL Central versus NL Central, AL West versus NL West).
So the Nationals, as CBS Sports notes in its example, will only play against rival NL East teams with interleague games coming against AL East teams. This means we won't see the beleaguered Houston Astros visiting the Yankees until the postseason, potentially, but those looking for the garbage-can-beating 'Stros to get some comeuppance can look forward to their games against the Dodgers in a rematch of the 2017 World Series. The first matchup between the two teams will be in Houston on July 28 and 29.
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Are there changes to extra innings?
In a bid to ensure games don't go on for too long, extra-inning play will start with a runner on second for the batting team, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. This would continue every half-inning until there is a winner.
Is there a DH in the NL?
The pitcher's spot in the batting order will become a designated hitter, with MLB adopting a universal DH for the 2020 season.
What about expanded playoffs?
While there was talk of expansion, playoffs for the 2020 season will remain at 10 teams.
Who's not playing?
A number of players have already said they won't play in the shortened season. Here are some of the current players who have announced that they will be sitting out:
- Mike Leake (Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Joe Ross (Washington Nationals)
- Ian Desmond (Colorado Rockies)
- Ryan Zimmerman (Washington Nationals)
- David Price (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Welington Castillo (Washington Nationals)
- Felix Hernandez (Atlanta Braves)
- Nick Markakis (Atlanta Braves)
- Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
- Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox)
- Héctor Noesí (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Jordan Hicks (St. Louis Cardinals)
Other players, such as Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout, have indicated they may take time to be with their families. Trout and his wife Jessica are expecting their first child in August, but he has been playing so far.
21-year-old Nationals star Juan Soto missed opening night after testing positive for COVID-19, but it is unclear how much longer he will miss.
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