Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has a roster ready to continue contending for MLB titles. If he gets the chance to use it this year, he knows there'll be plenty of fans willing to give clubs across the league a free pass.
Make no mistake. If there is baseball in 2020, whichever team is crowned champion won't have to defend its season, according to the 47-year-old.
"There will be no asterisk,"’ Roberts told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "When you look at all of the hurdles, keeping your team together emotionally, and what your players have to do differently to prepare for this season, you can argue it would mean more than going through the duration and grind of an eight-month season."
The World Series seems far away at this point.
Major League Baseball has yet to give a timeline for a return to play, and there's no telling what the league would look like should players take the field this year. There has been no shortage of plans floated, from the initial idea of housing all teams in Arizona and playing under quarantine to the recent report of realigning the league geographically into three total divisions, merging American League and National League teams.
Still, Roberts has no trouble envisioning what it would be like to win a title at the end of such a tumultuous summer.
"To get to the finish line, and be the last team standing holding that trophy, and knowing what you had to go through to get there, would be as satisfying as any World Series championship," Roberts said.
Nightengale found plenty of rival managers who agreed.
"It will be a different year obviously,'" Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But regardless of how many games we play, and what you did to get there, I think it will be special."
Added San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler:
"I definitely don't think it would mean any less. I think there could be something really powerful about winning a championship in any sport at a time where everyone is really coming together, appreciating the healing role sports play in society.
"What we're facing is something larger than any of us, and experiencing that moment of unity as a team under the circumstances, could be even more emotional."
First, MLB must clear a path to beginning play. Once it does so, there will hardly be a lack of motivation in a season as unusual as they come.