Esports are one of the few sporting leagues that are able to pivot and give live options to fans desperate for content of any kind. NASCAR has put on a series of successful (and very entertaining) iRacing broadcasts on Fox with Cup drivers taking on virtual tracks. The NBA, meanwhile, has had its players face off in an NBA 2K tournament that’s aired on ESPN. The NFL, meanwhile, has seen some of its players participate in a Madden tournament.
Baseball, meanwhile, is stuck in neutral before it even started. Opening Day has come and gone, but the season remains on pause while CDC guidelines and conventional medical wisdom make playing baseball impossible in America. While we wait for the pandemic’s impact to lesson and do our best to social distance, however, MLB has made its own eSports league featuring players from all 30 MLB teams.
ESPN reported Friday that an MLB The Show league will essentially play out an abridged baseball season while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps us all inside. With players from every team involved, the league will run a 29-game regular season that starts on Friday.
The regular season begins Friday and will last through April 28. Games will take place every one to two days with three to five three-inning matchups played each game day. The postseason is scheduled to begin April 30, with a World Series played on May 2. The postseason will feature the eight best teams, with a best-of-three format for the first two rounds and a best-of-five format for the World Series.
The tournament is for charity, with MLB, its players association, and Sony donating $5,000 to a Boys & Girls Club affiliate in each team’s community and an additional $25,000 going to the team that wins the World Series. The games will be broadcast on Twitch, but according to ESPN’s report there have been “conversations” about putting the games on TV with the league’s broadcast partners. The Show is consistently one of the most realistic sports sims on the market, so the product will presumably be pretty good watching.
Here are the players involved in the tournament:
• Arizona Diamondbacks: Jon Duplantier
• Atlanta Braves: Luke Jackson
• Baltimore Orioles: Dwight Smith Jr.
• Boston Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez
• Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ
• Chicago White Sox: Lucas Giolito
• Cincinnati Reds: Amir Garrett
• Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana
• Colorado Rockies: David Dahl
• Detroit Tigers: Niko Goodrum
• Houston Astros: Lance McCullers Jr.
• Kansas City Royals: Brett Phillips
• Los Angeles Angels: Ty Buttrey
• Los Angeles Dodgers: Gavin Lux
• Miami Marlins: Ryne Stanek
• Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader
• Minnesota Twins: Trevor May
• New York Mets: Jeff McNeil
• New York Yankees: Tommy Kahnle
• Oakland Athletics: Jesus Luzardo
• Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins
• Pittsburgh Pirates: Cole Tucker
• San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr.
• San Francisco Giants: Hunter Pence
• Seattle Mariners: Carl Edwards Jr.
• St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
• Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Snell
• Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo
• Toronto Blue Jays: Bo Bichette
• Washington Nationals: Juan Soto
Call of Duty League returns this week as well, meaning gaming-inclined folks have plenty of options to watch if you’ve got some time this weekend. It’s not a trip to the ballpark, but it’s certainly a start.