Wednesday, April 29, 2020
The Risk of Restarting the MLB Season
The MLB is looking at all options when it comes to starting the season, hoping to find a way all players can be tested for COVID-19 that is approved by government and state officials.
Many players, coaches and staff members around the league believe we will see a 2020 MLB season. With this being said, Major League Baseball does not have an exact idea on when.
For the most part, the league has been collecting information and will most likely wait as long as possible to present a proposal to the players association. The association would have to agree with possible new playing conditions, and the union would most likely oppose a suggestion in any more salary cuts.
In case you didn’t know, the players have agreed already to set aside some money in a shortened season. With this being said, the MLB might ask for further cuts in player’s salaries considering the beginning of the season is not supposed to have any fans in attendance.
The confidence of baseball is starting back up because a number of states have lifted or are considering lifting stay-at-home restrictions. These decisions, motivated partially politically, would more than likely make the MLB and its teams to resume playing.
Obviously, these teams first would need to feel comfortable to send their players back onto the diamond. The Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays acted swiftly from guidance from medical experts and proceeded to shut down March 15th, over two weeks before the state of Florida followed.
About a month ago, the Arizona Plan was looking like the most promising result. In the plan, all 30 teams would begin the season under quarantine in Arizona, obviously without fans. The Arizona Plan has probably become the least likely at this point, though some of the ideas from the plan may be incorporated into the final one.
Baseball has many different ideas on how they are going to try to start the season and is willing to do anything to get the season safely on track. So much is a mess right now. How would the league adjust the schedule if it has moved the games to different locations? Most importantly, how can baseball even seriously think about starting the season back up when the supply of COVID-19 tests is already a massive national concern.
At best, there would be enough tests that the MLB could help conduct testing on the public in states where games are being played, but clearly we are not doing enough testing right now.
Here is another plan that has been proposed from Bob Nightengale at USA today:
MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.
The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel.
Baseball will not be ready to begin until it is 100% safe to do so, but it is looking at every possible idea thrown at them. Ken Rosenthal at the Athletic also said,
The most realistic time range for Opening Day — somewhere between mid-June and July 4, in the view of most officials — would allow for an 80- to 100-game regular season, with the schedule running through October. An expanded postseason at neutral sites might follow, with the World Series ending in late November or early December.
Right now, the most realistic dates we will see Opening Day is somewhere between mid-June and July 4th, according to most officials— allowing an 80 to 100 game season with the schedule running through October. Then, postseason games would be played at neutral locations with the World Series ending around the end of November. The NFL plans to play in the fall, but if the football season gets canceled, I can’t see this plan realistically working.
Before baseball can think about letting fans into games, it must create a start date, schedule and plan for the postseason and decide where to hold the All-Star Game. Players would more than likely need to be notified 7-10 days before reporting, and spring training would most likely last three more weeks, half of the usual length. A 3-week spring training is probably not enough time for an MLB pitcher to prepare for live games.
There are a lot of questions, but baseball is determined to have a 2020 season.