When MLB suspended Spring Training last Thursday due to a growing number of cases of COVID-19, they acknowledged that the regular season would begin at least two weeks later than March 26, which had been slated to be Opening Day. Monday, the league acknowledged that April 9, two weeks after March 26, won’t serve as 2020 Opening Day either.
In a conference call Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who has had a rather eventful six months, told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the league will not be ready to start its regular season on April 9.
Frankly, it would have been shocking for him to say anything else when you consider that there will likely need to be some additional Spring Training time before the season begins so players are ready for the rigors of a season. There’s no indication currently that we’re anywhere near the league feeling comfortable enough to get players back together to prepare for a season. Sunday, the CDC recommended that groups of 50 or more don’t get together for the next eight weeks.
As for when the 2020 season will ultimately get going, Manfred was unwilling to estimate when the season will get going, but did say that owners still hope to have a 162-game regular season. If the season isn’t going to start until at least mid-April, it’s unclear how that will take place, though. And quite honestly, it would take a miracle for the season to begin in mid-April at this stage.
With each passing day, estimates on when the 2020 season will begin become later and later.
Saturday, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that those around the game thought that the 2020 season was unlikely to begin before May. Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jon Heyman of RADIO.COM both suggested that the belief around the league had shifted to Memorial Day weekend or early June being a more likely start date. Apparently, things have gotten even more pessimistic Monday, with Nightengale noting before the press conference that there are general managers around baseball that don’t believe the regular season will start before July.
If the season can’t start by July 1, at the latest, you begin to wonder whether there will be a 2020 season at all. Of course, if the United States and countries around the world are able to get the Coronavirus under control in the coming weeks – and/or if a vaccine is developed that quickly becomes available to the masses – then that could push up the possible start date. That doesn’t feel especially likely at this moment, though.
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