Olney: 10 teams with legacies at stake in 2020’s 60-game season

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”

No matter how this Major League Baseball season plays out, no matter if the playoffs and World Series are a special brand of thrilling, the year 2020 will be cast as a historic outlier. Not illegitimate, but different from any other season and any other circumstance.

In 1943, in the midst of World War II, the Yankees won their 10th championship after going 98-56 in the regular season, but that year is rarely mentioned among the franchise’s many championships, because so many players had enlisted in military services.

About one-third of the 1981 season was lost because of a work stoppage, and while that year’s Dodgers team had rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela and won a tough series against the Montreal Expos with one big swing from Rick Monday, no one would ever include that team in the conversation as an all-time great. The context was just too different, as it is in 2020, when the champion will have played no more than 82 games, when a lot of players have chosen not to participate — and the hard truth is there may be more erosion on the way — and when some teams just look flat.

But there players and teams — the Cubs and Yankees and Indians and Rays and Dodgers, among many others — who are taking this season very seriously, and the championship will mean something.

Here are 10 teams that could alter their legacy with success in 2020.

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