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MLB The Show 20 helps me survive Opening Day without real baseball

The game's refinements and realism are the closest I can get to real 2020 dingers right now.

For baseball fans, MLB The Show 20 provides a diamond fix during the quarantine rough. 

Baseball, like so many other sports and other public events, is postponed indefinitely as the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Just as it was for fans of March Madness last week, Thursday, March 26, marks a particularly terrible turn of what was supposed to be one of the highlights of the sporting calendar: baseball's opening day. 

Thanks to the pandemic, instead of 15 games around the country starting from 1 p.m. ET and going through the night, we are left, once again, with another big day without sports. 

MLB The Show 20 [digital] for PS4: See at PlayStation

MLB The Show 20 [disc] for PS4: See at Best Buy

Well, some of us. People like me who are looking for a baseball fix -- and own a PlayStation 4 can take some solace in MLB The Show 20, the latest in Sony's long-running baseball video game franchise that came out two weeks ago. I've been spending a fair amount of time with it while stuck at home in New Jersey with my family. While no substitute for real baseball, the game has done a nice job of holding me over thus far. 

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Improvements have been made to make hitting and defense more realistic. Better real-life outfielders, like the Milwaukee Brewers' Gold Glove winner Lorenzo Cain, get quicker jumps on balls and rarely misread plays. Mountains like Aaron Judge make stronger throws to cutoff men or to the infield compared to lesser-skilled players, thanks to a new throwing mechanic that rewards proper timing. 

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Emphasis on timing has also been extended to hitting. Perfect reads of pitch location and well-timed swings produce hard-hit balls, or with power hitters like Pete Alonso, towering home runs. The jumps aren't revolutionary, but I appreciate them compared to recent versions including last year's MLB The Show 19

The overhauls aren't necessarily as dramatic graphically, even when I played in 4K and HDR on a PS4 Pro connected to an LG OLED TV. With the the PlayStation 5 due later this year, it makes sense that any big leaps in graphics are being saved for a later version of The Show when it arrives on the PS5 and other next-gen consoles in the future. 

But graphics and gameplay has never been much of a problem for me with The Show. I'm a big sports video gamer and The Show has consistently stood out, especially in recent years, for being a well put together game. 

The game also is great for multiplayer. After my brothers and I decided to escape New York City for our parents' home in New Jersey, we've been running a round-robin tournament in the living room to entertain ourselves. Despite being the lone Yankees fan in a family of Mets fans, my go-to team has been Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s Toronto Blue Jays. Even I feel the Yankees, which in the game are all currently healthy and have Gerrit Cole, are just too good to play with in a video game.

For fans of other modes, there are now real AAA and AA minor league rosters and new challenges and rewards in the game's signature Road to the Show mode.  But as someone looking to just jump on the virtual diamond, the gameplay of The Show 20 does a nice job of filling in the void for me until the real thing returns.