Last Thursday, MLB announced that COVID-19 had forced them to suspend Spring Training and push the Opening Day – which had been scheduled for March 26 – back by at least two weeks.
As the number of cases of Coronavirus in the United States tick up like the stock market on a good day – something that’s been few and far between recently – it increasingly appears the start of the regular season will be pushed back by a lot more than two weeks.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote Sunday that two anonymous MLB executives told him that they believe that the regular season may not get underway until “Memorial Day weekend – or even longer.” RADIO.COM‘s Jon Heyman added that the regular season starting before June “would be viewed as welcome” in league circles.
It’s, of course, impossible to project how COVID-19 will play out in the United States and around the world. If the start of the season had been pushed back by just two weeks, perhaps MLB could have come up with a way to play 162 regular season games. If it starts on May 1 or June 1, there simply wouldn’t be time for play a full slate of games during the regular season. If Coronavirus isn’t under control enough for players to begin to prepare for a season starting in late May or early June, you begin to wonder if there will be a 2020 season at all.
The issue with starting the season in late May or early June is that you would have to leave time to essentially ramp up, meaning there would have to be some sort of part two for Spring Training in the weeks leading up to then.
If there wasn’t an MLB season, it would mean that the Phillies would lose a prime year from Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Aaron Nola, among others. Players like Didi Gregorius, who were only signed for the 2020 season, would have the chance to become free agents before ever playing in a regular season game for the Phillies.
Even if the season does start in early June, it would become much more of a sprint than the typical 162-game season is. That would force managers to get aggressive – specifically in how they use their pitchers – because every regular season game really would matter.
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