Over at The Athletic, we have our most recent look at what Major League Baseball is doing to dance around the COVID-19 pandemic, in which Ken Rosenthal states that the league’s upper executives are increasingly optimistic that the 2020 season will be good to go. Why, you ask? We don’t know, exactly.
Those involved at the sport’s highest levels are increasingly confident games will be played in 2020. But league officials, trying to remain flexible amid the ever-shifting landscape of the pandemic, have yet to determine how, when and where that would happen.
Mostly, it seems, the optimism seems to stem more so from the fact that many states are taking an I don’t give a fuck approach to the whole thing and loosening restrictions in the coming weeks.
If more states are opening themselves up for business and trying to return to normal, there won’t be any restrictions on MLB hosting games, which are ultimately just large gatherings even if there aren’t any fans. Further, more states being opens allows for MLB to pick from more actual stadiums, which would be ideal compared to the original Death Dome in Arizona idea that was floated out there three weeks ago.
Rosenthal goes on to add that MLB is looking at some time between mid-June and July 4th for Opening Day, which would allow for an 80- to 100-game schedule that runs through the end of October and an expanded post-season that goes into November.
It goes without saying, it’s a wildly ambitious plan and a lot can go wrong, but with the amount of money at stake for Major League Baseball, it’s really no surprise that they’re gearing up to just dive headfirst into plowing through this whole thing.
I do not anticipate any minor league baseball at all in 2020. And without an unrealistically quick vaccine, 2021 is in question. I don't see how MiLB survives in anything close to the former format under these conditions. Of course, that can also be said for much of our economy.
— John Sickels (@MinorLeagueBall) April 27, 2020
In a completely different vein, John Sickles, a well-known baseball prospects writer, offered this depressing thought about the short- and possibly long-term future of minor league baseball.
While MLB could scramble to get its top product rolling in a makeshift way this year, whether it be TV-only spectacles without fans at a handful of stadiums, there’s certainly no way that there would be that kind of effort to prop up the minors. There’s a lot of money in bringing MLB to life this year because we’ll all sit ay home and watch it on TV. There isn’t a lot of money in jump-starting the dying corpse of MiLB because it’s entirely gate-driven revenue and nobody can go to games.
I know it’s a fairly different animal, but there’s plenty of talk around Canada about Junior hockey teams temporarily folding for the 2020-21 season in order to get their business together before trying to start up again afterwards. There’s a legitimate concern that many of these Junior hockey teams will simply fold. That might be the case for MiLB teams, too.
With MLB actively pushing for fewer affiliated teams and the economic armageddon sports (along with many other industries, really) is facing in the wake of COVID-19, it might be the perfect storm that wipes a lot of teams off the minor league map.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 28, 2020
Finally, we have ourselves a mock draft, courtesy of MLB Pipeline. In this mock, the Blue Jays use the No. 5 overall pick to select Nick Gonzales, a middle infielder from New Mexico State with a pretty impressive bat. He had a 1.765 OPS in 16 games this year in NCAA ball before the season got paused. That’s pretty good, right?!