Major League Baseball this afternoon decided to follow in the footsteps of the NBA & NHL by suspending the season and operations due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Here is what we know so far:
First NBA & NHL, Now MLB Suspends Season
The powers that be in MLB made the call Thursday afternoon to suspend the season, which includes spring training, and push opening day back two weeks. With the season originally set to kick off on March 26th, we are now looking at an April 9th start date. And that is at the absolute earliest. MLB was a little late to the party, announcing their intentions after the NBA, NHL, MLS and NCAA.
Baseball’s 30 owners had a conference call Thursday to discuss plans for the future. Their decision officially halted all activities at 4 PM ET, with the day’s spring training games being the final events to take place.
Unsurprisingly, this move also affects that the start of the Minor League Baseball season would be delayed as well as World Baseball Classic qualifying.
What Will MLB Teams Do Next?
With spring training on hiatus, it is now up to teams to decide how they want to move forward with players and staff. Some teams, like the Brewers, announced they would hold voluntary workouts at their camp in Phoenix. These workouts will not be open to the public. The Yankees announced that players will be ask to stay in Tampa and pitchers will continue to throw simulated games to keep stretched out for the season. Other teams, such as the Cardinals, are holding meetings Friday to determine what the best course of action is to keep their staff safe over the next few weeks.
For the most part, teams will most likely allow players to decide for themselves if they want to stay at camp or would rather be at home with their families during the outbreak. It is a touchy situation, with teams not wanting to lose all the work they put in the first month of training which is a very regimented process to ramp players into the season.
This not only affects the players and coaches directly, but also the vast web of other employees nationwide. They Yankees were one of many teams that immediately called home all scouts and cross-checkers. While scouts will be able to continue their work at home, there may not be any games to scout for quite some time.
At this point, the two-week delay seems like a long shot. Even if the league does decide to roll in early April, many teams could still be affected by restrictions on public events by their respective local governments. Many states have already set restrictions on indoor events which exceed 100 people. Some are even calling for a nationwide cancellation of all major events until May 1st. Sources have reported that a number of owners and managers agree.
This is not the first time a Major League baseball schedule has seen a wrench dropped in its gears. Labor issues saw the 1972 season get off to a late start, disrupt the 1981 season and outright end the 1994 season in mid-August. After the attacks on September 11 2001, the league took a week off as the national team recovered from tragedy.
The League has been busy at work putting together models on how they could still play a full 162 game season. Despite the delays listed above, the MLB has played a full schedule for each season since 1995 when a strike pushed opening day to late April. Teams only played 144 games that season and one has to expect a similar outcome in 2020.
Only time will tell when we will be able to again enjoy some MLB action. Or any sports action for that matter. But we will keep you posted on any major news breaking so keep an eye on our blog updates.