MLB Extends Season Delay Until At Least Mid-May
Bob Toth | On 16, Mar 2020
Last week, the sports world was turned upside down as teams reacted swiftly following the news that NBA player Rudy Gobert had contracted the coronavirus. Leagues responded within days with the postponement or cancellation of their regular seasons, postseasons, tournaments, and other events.
On Monday, the news worsened for baseball fans as Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. followed up last week’s cancellation of the league’s Spring Training and the first two weeks of the 2020 regular season schedule by extending baseball’s absence for another four weeks, following the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to limit activities that gather more than 50 people together while the world attempts to “flatten the curve” regarding the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide.
MLB noted in the short release that fans will be updated in the days and weeks ahead about potential changes in the situation and how the schedule will shake out when play is able to resume.
With the drastic layoff, players will be able to leave their respective spring training sites and can return home to either their residence or their home team’s city or can stay at their respective team training facilities in Arizona or Florida. Rules have been implemented to prevent large group workouts. Minor league players and non-roster players were encouraged to leave early given the delay to help get their affairs, particularly financial, in order. Many minor leaguers have posted on social media that they have had to pick up side jobs around training for the season to help make ends meet while not getting their meager minor league paychecks.
MLB shared that all 30 Clubs “remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins”, but it is tough to envision a full 162-game schedule at this point given the number of days over the seven to eight week span currently lost. Attempts to extend the season into October, decreasing the number of off days further, and even playing doubleheaders may not be enough to make the full 162-game slate possible.
The efforts to “flatten the curve” have already led to reductions in travel, the elimination of sporting events with fan spectators, the closing of public schools and some college institutions, cancellations of concerts and parades and other large public gatherings, reduced hours at stores, the closing of restaurants, bars, rec centers, and movie theaters, and more people working from home than ever. The phrase “flatten the curve”, as well as another new one to emerge from the pandemic, “social distancing”, are both being used hand in hand to try to limit the spread of the virulent strain. If history and research proves correct, the outbreak may extend longer given the steps being taken, but it would create far fewer sick people at once, allowing doctors, nurses, and hospitals in general to treat the infected without being overwhelmed by a lack of beds, equipment, medications, and time to do so in an appropriate manner.
Baseball as a whole suffered its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on Sunday, when a minor leaguer in the New York Yankees farm system tested positive. He had not been at the team’s Major League camp and is already reportedly feeling better, while those who had been with him on the minor league side of camp (including players, coaches, and other staff) have been quarantined until March 25.
For most, the coronavirus is believed to cause mild/moderate symptoms, including a fever, cough, and fatigue. Children, older adults, and those with pre-existing health problems or compromised immune systems are more at risk for a more serious and severe response. The vast majority of people to be afflicted with coronavirus, however, recover from the illness.
Photo: Joe Sargent/MLB via Getty Images