Soak in today’s Blue Jays games, friends. They’re probably going to be the last ones we’ll be able to watch or listen to for a while.
Spring training games in Florida and Arizona are expected to be suspended.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 12, 2020
As Jon Heyman reports, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend Grapefruit and Cactus League games in Florida and Arizona. With the NBA and NHL suspending their respective leagues, for the time being, the focus for MLB now shifts to Opening Day, which is scheduled for two weeks from now. Camps will remain open for players to stick around and work out, but what happens after that is up in the air.
Honestly, at this point, how can you really guess what’s going to happen? I mean, look at how much can change in two weeks. Two weeks ago the idea of shutting down March Madness or postponing and talking about cancelling the NBA and NHL playoffs wasn’t even a discussion. But here we are. Two weeks from now, when first pitches are scheduled to be thrown on Opening Day, is going to be a completely different world than today.
When asked about what’s next, a Major League Baseball executive basically said that this is something that’s impossible to predict right now.
“But then you’re talking about what’s next, and in a couple of weeks nobody knows what the circumstances will be like at that time,” the executive said, referring to how quickly events are changing and decisions are being made in response to the global pandemic.
And this is really just the beginning. The United States and Canada are apparently just a few weeks behind where Italy is at right now and the entire country is currently under lockdown. Earlier in the week, Congress’ in-house doctor suggested that he suspects 70-150 million people in the U.S. to contract the virus.
At the end of the day, sports are just sports. A lot of people make their livelihoods from this business, but the single most important thing right now is safety.
All of these leagues are doing the right thing by postponing events because we can’t have tens of thousands of fans roll into jam-packed stadiums together and we can’t have players travelling around to different airports all over the place and coming into close contact with each other in play. The players, in many cases, have families with young children at home.
Obviously, everybody involved wants baseball to start as planned. The players want to play, the owners want to make money, and the fans want to watch their favourite sport. But assuming that things are going to be good to go in just a couple of weeks is naive.
Even expecting MLB to play games without fans or in mutual locations doesn’t seem realistic. What happens if a player on the team picks up the disease while travelling? Does he stop playing and go into quarantine? Does the whole team go into quarantine? There are so many possible issues at hand here beyond just the awkwardness of playing in front of empty seats that make it impossible to imagine baseball during the middle of a global pandemic.
So, for now, all we can do is wait. And, of course, wash your hands. Be safe out there.
Major League Baseball has announced that Spring Training is suspended as of 4:00 p.m. ET today.
The start of the 2020 Regular Season will be delayed by "at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic."
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 12, 2020
And there it is. Spring training has officially been cancelled and Opening Day will be pushed back for AT LEAST two weeks. That would mean, at best, baseball would begin on April 9th. Unfortunately, I have a sinking feeling that date would be optimistic.