After a thrilling 2019 season from the Washington Nationals and Washington Mystics and months of delay, the two defending champions are getting ready to kick off the start of their 2020 seasons later this month. Here is everything you need to know.
After what seemed like never-ending back and forth between MLB owners and the players association, there will indeed be baseball this summer. This season will include 60 games played in just over two months, with Opening Day set for Thursday, July 23 at 7:08 p.m., when the Nationals take on the New York Yankees on ESPN.
Fans can expect to see plenty of changes both on and off the field this season due to COVID-19. The first big change being that no fans will be in attendance this season. The Nationals’ website states, “Since the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still unknown, playing games in an empty ballpark is currently the best course of action to ensure the continued health and safety of our players, staff, employees, fans and community.”
Fans will also see some new faces on the diamond as the MLB modified schedules by location as a way to limit travel. That means this year that Nats will only be playing their usual NL East foes (the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies) and the teams of the AL East (the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays).
There will also be a few familiar faces missing from the daily lineup this season. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross announced last month that they are opting out of the shortened season due to personal health and safety reasons. Catcher Welington Castillo announced a few days later that he would also sit out this season due to his young children. At the moment, pitcher Max Scherzer, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, outfielder Juan Soto and the rest of the starting lineup are expected at the park for Opening Day.
On July 13 the WNBA revealed its 22-game schedule for the shortened 2020 season. The Mystics will start off the season against the Indiana Fever on Saturday, July 25 at 5 p.m., with all games being played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
During the opening weekend, fans will see, “all aspects of the game and player outfitting will be designed to affirm Black Lives Matter and honor victims of police brutality and racial violence,” according to the press release from the WNBA. This will include uniforms to seek justice for female victims, including Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen, and “Black Lives Matter” will also be displayed on the court during the games.
With the start of the season less than two weeks away, the Mystics’ roster is still up in the air with veterans Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles entering the medical evaluation protocol last week. While players have the option to opt out of the season, Delle Donne had her request to play denied by a panel of physicians, according to ESPN. The reigning MVP was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease back in 2008.
“I’m thinking things over, talking to my doctor and my wife, and look forward to sharing what I ultimately plan to do very soon,” Delle Donne said in a statement released to ESPN.
If Delle Donne and Charles were to miss the 2020 season, they would join teammates Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders, who both opted out last month due to personal and health reasons.
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