In a 2020 without a coronavirus pandemic, this Thursday, March 26 would have been baseball's Opening Day. There would have been a triple- or quadruple-header on ESPN and games all day and into the night on MLB.TV. The Nationals would have started their World Series title defense against the Mets in New York. The Astros would have needed to find ways to get on base against the Angels without the aid of banging on a trashcan. Gerrit Cole would have taken the mound for the first time as a Yankee against the Orioles, and Mookie Betts would have made his debut in Dodger blue against the Giants. All 30 clubs were scheduled to play on Opening Day, the day baseball fans like me wait all winter to arrive.
Instead, Major League Baseball is one of the many sports leagues to suspend play in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus. After announcing an initial two-week delay, MLB has now pushed the start of the 2020 season to the middle of May, and even that timeline now seems optimistic.
To help fans begin a spring without the start of a baseball season, MLB has opened up the archives to MLB.TV, the league's official streaming service. Now you can watch every game from the 2018 and 2019 seasons for free. And yes, that includes games from your team's home market as well as every postseason game.
This access to free baseball is on offer only for a limited time, but we can all hope that the delay to the start of the season lasts only for a limited time, too. Under normal circumstances MLB.TV costs $122 for the season and delivers a livestream of every not-nationally televised, out-of-market, regular-season game.
For most games on MLB.TV, you can choose to watch the home or away broadcast so you can listen to your team's announcers call the game. You can also listen to the home or away radio broadcasts of games.
If the idea of watching or listening to an entire baseball game that stretches past the three-hour mark doesn't appeal to you, MLB.TV also has condensed versions of games, which are more than just highlight packages but require way less of a time commitment than a full game. A condensed game runs only five to 10 minutes in length.
Any self-quarantining baseball fan will appreciate the ability to watch a bit of baseball this week, especially Red Sox and Nationals fans. Boston fans can relive the team's 2018 championship, and Washington fans can rewatch the franchise's first championship from last year. My Cincinnati Reds haven't made the postseason in nearly a decade, but I still plan to fire up a few Reds games from the past two, largely forgettable seasons in Cincinnati. I just want to hear baseball sounds this week: the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, the roar of the crowd, with Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley on the call.