Major League Baseball took one step closer toward a potential return last week when team owners approved a plan for the 2020 regular season.
The proposal, which now must be agreed to by the union, calls for most teams beginning the year at their home ballparks instead of a centralized location. While this helps ease players’ concerns of self-quarantining away from their families, a potential 2020 campaign still figures to be unlike any other in recent memory.
For one, the prospect of fans being able to attend games this season is growing more improbable by the day. L.A. Mayer Eric Garcetti suggested last month that fans may not be able to fill stadiums again until a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is available.
That is especially unfortunate for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who boast one of the strongest fanbases in all of baseball. Just last year, the club set a franchise record in attendance at Dodger Stadium.
Justin Turner, who feeds off the energy Dodgers fans bring to the ballpark, believes his teammates must find other ways to motivate themselves should a 2020 season come to fruition. “I think we’re just as antsy as you are about getting back in and starting again,” he said on a Dodgers Zoom Party.
“It’s going to be weird playing without fans, especially in Dodger Stadium. Our fans bring it better than any other fans in baseball. There’s no place to play like Dodger Stadium. When you have 50,000-plus going nuts and screaming, that’s the energy we feed off of and we live for.
“So it’s going to be an adjustment, for sure. We’re going to have to find ways to motivate ourselves and find ways to create adrenaline without the fans.”
As Turner notes, the Dodgers certainly benefit from the home-field advantage fans provide on any given night. L.A. led the Majors with 12 walk-off wins last season, of which eight different players recorded a game-winning hit.
While it will be difficult to replicate their impact, Walker Buehler shared a similar sentiment and opined that his teammates must deal with the possibility of playing in fan-less environments this year.
Turner also was among the Dodgers to note creativity would be required in order to celebrate plays and interact with teammates if MLB’s proposed health and safety protocols are implemented.
“Maybe Kersh will just do a lot more dancing up and down the dugout,” Turner quipped.
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