San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader are among the participants in the league, which begins Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern time with a showdown between Cincinnati Reds reliever Amir Garrett and Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell. Garrett, donning a full uniform, defeated Snell in the championship game of a four-player tournament last month.
The 29-game regular season will feature a round-robin format, with each player playing every team once. Games will last only three innings, allowing players to play multiple games each day. ESPN reports that the designated hitter will be turned off for all games and umpire accuracy will be set to perfect. The top eight teams will advance to the postseason, which will begin April 30. The division and championship series will follow a best-of-three format, and the World Series will be best-of-five.
The World Series champion will receive $25,000 to donate to the Boys & Girls Club in his community. That’s in addition to the $5,000 donation that MLB, the players’ association and Sony Interactive Entertainment will make to 30 Boys & Girls Club affiliates across the country on behalf of every player.
Games will be streamed on the various social media accounts of MLB, MLB Network and MLB The Show, including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch, with Robert Flores and Heidi Watney providing commentary for select games. All of the Nationals’ games will be streamed on the Nationals’ social media accounts and on MLB.com. The full list of participating players, stats, standings and the schedule are available here. Soto’s first four games are Monday, starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Trea Turner might be the Nationals’ biggest gamer, and he has experience playing MLB The Show, but it should be entertaining to watch Soto on the sticks. After all, the “Soto Shuffle,” Soto’s routine in the batter’s box after taking a close pitch for a ball, is featured in the game, as are the Nationals’ post-home run dugout dance parties.
Without live competition, several organizations have turned to esports to help fill the void. NASCAR launched an iRacing series in March, and the NBA is in the midst of a 16-team, players-only NBA 2K20 tournament. Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura defeated Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell in the first round before losing to Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
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