The San Francisco Giants are set to begin an abbreviated, 60-game season next month, with a second iteration of "spring" training happening right here in the city at Oracle Park starting July 3. And the "splash-hit" zone in McCovey Cove is expected to get moderately filled with the only fans permitted at live games — albeit needing to follow along by radio, from their kayaks.
As of Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced the official plan for the season, which had been outlined back in early May. Most teams will be returning to their home stadiums for a summer training sesh, and the 2020 season will then commence on July 23 or 24. There will be a lot more inter-league play in order to limit travel, with teams either competing primarily within their own divisions, or with their geographical counterparts in the other league. So bring on the Subway Series!
Giants manager Gabe Kapler explained to the Chronicle this week that Oracle Park will be getting reconfigured to give the players space to work out — with cardio and weight training to be set up between the bullpens and the player parking lot. And players will also be using the field boxes and other parts of the arena in order maintain some distance while getting back in the swing of things.
And when game play resumes, the Giants are going to be putting the faces of season-ticket holders on cardboard cutouts to stick in the empty stands. I guess this is to make them feel less empty? They're also, potentially lucratively, giving non-season-ticket holders the chance to see their two-dimensional likeness in the stands for $99.
$99 to put your face on cardboard, sounds a little steep even for downtown SF prices: https://t.co/jDLaXsNkb8— Phillip Young (@MrCoachYoung) June 26, 2020
When San Francisco Giants players walk up to the plate at Oracle Park for their COVID-19 shortened season, they will be cascaded by the faces of smiling fans. Unlike past seasons when those fans were live in the park, under the new COVID-19 crowd... https://t.co/xkxn3T5g9X— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) June 26, 2020
The die-hards who spend much of baseball season in kayaks in McCovey Cove say they plan to be back, possibly as soon as next Friday when training begins.
They may go weeks without seeing a splash-hit home run, or they may go seasons without ever nabbing a ball of their own, but they keep coming back, as the Chronicle reports.
64-year-old Mark Busch tells the paper, "I don’t see any reason to shut [the cove] down," though he admits that the place can get pretty packed with kayaks on weekends in a normal season. "I’m Jonesing to get back out there," Busch says. "That excitement of the ball coming out of the lights over the wall and landing in the water is what I live for."
The season schedule has not yet been finalized, but we know that the Giants are set to play 30 total home games, and 30 away games. There will be 10 games each against National League rivals the LA Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and San Diego Padres. And then there will be four games each against each of the American League West teams, the Oakland A's, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers.
And while most seasons with 162 regular-season games allow teams to take their time getting into the groove, this is setting up to be a brisk and more exciting baseball season for fans, even if they have to do all their game-watching on TV.