- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2020

It’s so close, you can taste it: North America’s major sports leagues are on the verge of coming back.

Major League Baseball will be first, when the Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees on July 23. Seven days later, the NBA’s first meaningful games since the pandemic-enforced break will tip off July 30. Shortly after that, the pucks drop in Canada when the NHL launches its return to play on Aug. 1.

To make it easier to track, below we’ve compiled important information about each of the three leagues’ upcoming schedules through July, August and beyond. We’ve also added Major League Soccer and will include the WNBA schedule when it’s released.

MLB

Season dates: July 23-late October



Format: An abridged, 60-game version of the usual MLB season, followed by a traditional postseason of 10 teams played in its usual month of October. With the regular season ending Sept. 27, the plan is to begin the playoffs Sept. 29. The World Series will start Oct. 20.

Washington Nationals‘ schedule: You can view the Nationals’ full 60-game schedule here. They begin with a three-game series against the Yankees on July 23, 25 and 26 in Washington. They finish up with a four-game set against the New York Mets Sept. 24-27, also at home.

NBA

Season dates: July 30-Oct. 13

Format: Twenty-two teams have set up shop in the league’s bubble in Orlando, Florida, and will play eight “seeding” games. For the top teams, which have already locked up a postseason berth, the games are about getting back into game shape and determining playoff seeds. But for those outside the playoff picture, it’s a chance to qualify.

The NBA playoffs will begin Aug. 17 and follow a traditional format. The NBA Finals will being Sept. 30, with the last possible date for a Game 7 being Oct. 13.

Washington Wizards’ schedule: Here are the eight games the Wizards are guaranteed to play (they’ll need to get within four games of the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed to trigger a play-in series for the playoffs):

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Phoenix, 4 p.m. 
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Brooklyn, 2 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Indiana, 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. Philadelphia, 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 7 vs. New Orleans, 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Oklahoma City, 12:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Milwaukee, 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Boston, time TBD

NHL

Season dates: Aug. 1-Oct. 4

Format: The 12 top Eastern Conference teams will play in a bubble in Toronto, while the top 12 Western teams will do the same in Edmonton. Each conference’s No. 5 through No. 12 seeds will play each other in best-of-five series to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The top four seeds will play a round robin to determine their seeding and otherwise get warmed up for the playoffs.

After that, it will be a traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs with 16 teams and best-of-seven series. The first round will begin Aug. 11; the Stanley Cup Final is tentatively set to start Sept. 22, with Oct. 4 being the latest possible date for a Game 7.

Washington Capitals’ schedule: Here are the three round-robin games the Capitals will play before the first round begins (all time TBD):

  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Tampa Bay
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Philadelphia
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. Boston

MLS

Season dates: July 8-Aug. 11 for the “MLS is Back Tournament”

Format: Teams are playing a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando, first with a group stage, followed by a knockout round. It’s unknown what the league’s schedule will be after the tournament ends. Two teams, FC Dallas and Nashville SC, already have had to withdraw from the tournament because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

D.C. United’s schedule: D.C. United was supposed to play its first match Sunday against Toronto FC, but it was postponed after a United player had a COVID-19 test come back positive and a Toronto player’s test was inconclusive. Here are the group stage matches United is supposed to play:

  • TBD vs. Toronto, postponed
  • Thursday, July 16 vs. New England, 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jul 21 vs. Montreal, 10:30 p.m.

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