The season has only now just gotten started, but there is growing concern that season might have to be called off.  According to a report on ESPN.com Friday afternoon, commissioner Rob Manfred has informed MLBPA President Tony Clark that the season will be forced to shut down if players do not make a greater effort to avoid infection, after a couple of Cardinals players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Cardinals Join COVID Roster

Players and staffers on many teams are testing positive for the coronavirus, and this has everyone worried.  There have already been a number of games that had to be postponed; most recently, the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers that would have taken place Friday.  Two Cardinals players have been found to be infected with COVID-19, and is now expected to be played as part of a double-header on Sunday – with the new seven-inning format in place.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of disruptive cases of the virus within the league, MLB has decided that doubleheaders will be played in seven-innings games this season.  It’s no wonder that such a drastic change was implemented; this was done in order to have a shorter season, then shorter games.  The coronavirus is a real threat for the whole league, especially after 16 players and staffers with the Miami Marlins tested positive for the virus – and that was just the beginning as the positive COVID-19 tests at the Cardinals attest to.

The MLB Season Gets Shorter And Shorter

The Cleveland Indians beat The Chicago White Sox in a match played earlier this week that was the first doubleheader of the season.  The new policy won’t go into effect until this coming Saturday for the entire season.  The game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies had been schedules that day, but, unfortunately, the game was canceled because much like the Cardinals two staffers from the Phillies tested positive for COVID-19.  Once again, the virus might be threatening the future of the league.

Knowing that the season was set with a 60-game schedule, including a few vacation days, it is possible that some climate-devised doubleheaders are needed.  Having shorter games will benefit teams to protect their players from unwanted injuries, as well.  This week, MLB players, team owners and general managers gathered to talk about the possibility of reducing doubleheaders, possibly playing nine innings in the opener and seven in the nightcap.  If MLB decided to adapt the current season to the needs that US sports are facing right now, it is very likely that such change can be considered.

Mixed Reactions From Players and Leaders

On the same matter, New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino stated his point of view and said, “I like nine and nine, personally.” He added, “I don’t want to be marginalized out of the game, once we go seven-inning games, slippery slope there.” These changes must agree with players’ needs.

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon also shared his opinion, saying, “If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.” He also said, “You just accelerate what you’re doing, just like we’re doing with the season. So I get it from the perspective of expediency, if it’s necessary… I’m in for anything right now. I’m not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season …” Everybody within the league must try to adapt to these new changes so games can run smoothly and avoid any unwanted conflicts.

Not The First Time For MLB

These drastic rules were necessary in order to keep safety protocols required by MLB.  ESPN was the first media outlet to announce the deal between MLB and the players union on Thursday.  The person who made the announcement remained anonymous because the deal hadn’t been made official yet, but that has since changed.

The league has dealt with challenges of this magnitude before.  If we go back more than 100 years, there were situations in which the games had to be reduced because of weather conditions, darkness and a team getting delayed on the trip.  Nevertheless, this seems to be the first time in history that the league will play games shorter than nine innings.  Adaptation is fundamental under these critical situations.  Due to the new rules and having shorter games, the question is if the official policies can be adapted to allow a starting pitcher who throws four innings in a doubleheader to have credit for a win.  This and other questions might come up along the way.