'It feels like 162 right now': Why MLB's 60-game season has been a mental grind

USA TODAY Sports’ Steve Gardner breaks down the top storylines in MLB thus far.

USA TODAY

Through it all – disease and disaster, injuries and insolence – Major League Baseball is on the doorstep of completing its 60-game season.

Just 13 days remain in this sprint through a pandemic, and while not everyone will hit the desired 60-game mark, it’s nearly safe to say they pulled it off.

Just know that it was a bit more taxing than it may appear.

Sure, the statistics in a 60-game season look laughably skinny – just multiply by two or three and they may look normal – and aces’ arms may not be as extended after 13 or so starts than after 33 starts.

But the mere act of getting this campaign off the ground – from the long wait, to a second training camp, to the wholesale disruption to routine in a sport inextricably wedded to it – has made this appetizer of a season feel like more than a full meal.

(Pre-packaged, distributed at social distance and enjoyed in isolation, of course.)

“It feels like 162 right now,” says Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose club has been among baseball’s most fortunate – no coronavirus-related postponements, just three traditional rainouts.

“Actually, it doesn’t feel like a shortened season, for the mental grind everyone has had to go through and change. Being on lockdown for those 30 days on the road – it’s hard to get out, there’s nothing going on, the time at the ballpark is (limited).

“It’s been a grind. It doesn’t feel like we just started in July.”

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