Major League Baseball joined the NBA, NHL, MLS and other professional sports leagues last month in indefinitely suspending operations due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Opening Day, originally scheduled for March 26, was initially pushed back by two weeks. While the hope was to start the regular season in short order, it was delayed a second time after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended against gatherings of 50 or more people through May 10.
While there is still no timeline on when play may resume, MLB has discussed multiple scenarios in recent days that would allow baseball to return under certain limitations.
One idea being floated around involves all 30 teams beginning the 2020 season in Arizona. Another involves the league shifting to a Cactus and Grapefruit League format, with divisions being realigned.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred believes the creative proposals under consideration would make for an easier path to begin and carry forward with the regular season, via the Fox Business Network:
“We have a variety of contingency plans that we have talked about and worked on. Plans may be too strong of word. Ideas may be a better word. But all of them are designed to address limitations that may exist when business restart. Travel limitations on mass gatherings that may still exist. We’ve thought about ways to try and make baseball available to all the fans across the United States in the face of those restrictions. So from our perspective we don’t have a plan. We have lots of ideas.
“What ideas come to fruition will depend on what the restrictions are and what the public health situation is. But we are intent on the idea of trying to make baseball part of the economic recovery and sort of a milestone on the return to normalcy.”
Manfred believes the return of baseball would breathe new life into the economy and bring back some semblance of normalcy. For those reasons, it’s no surprise that he has been so open to the different proposals being presented to him.
However, Manfred cautioned that MLB won’t return until the public health situation has improved. Regardless of when the season may start, fans likely won’t be permitted to attend games right away.
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