With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic leading to Spring Training being cancelled and delaying the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season more than a month ago, plenty of uncertainty still hovers over the sport.
Opening Day is not expected to be held at least until the middle of May — in a best-case scenario — and where and how games would be played is still unclear. Over recent weeks it has been reported MLB is considering several scenarios.
The first to become public was unofficially named the Arizona plan, which called for all 30 teams to quarantine and play games at Spring Training facilities and Chase Field, but without fans in attendance.
There also were reported talks to use Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues for division realignment; and using Arizona, Florida and Texas as hubs. According to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal, the league additionally has discussed using upwards of 12 states to begin the season, via Fox Sports:
“It’s uncertain and it’s fluid. And there are a lot of ideas out there. We talked last week about the ‘Arizona plan,’ and now it seems with the possibility of states opening up, baseball is considering maybe expanding upon what was discussed earlier.
“So, you’ve seen talk of playing in three states: Arizona, Florida and Texas. My understanding is they’ve also talked about going to five states, maybe to 12 states. Depending, again, upon what the experts and government advises.”
It’s unclear which additional states MLB would possibly expand to, but as Rosenthal noted, that discussion and evaluation is to be driven by safety.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark have both
emphasized the 2020 regular season will not begin until public health officials have deemed it safe to do so.
Clark went so far as to say play hinges on two requirements: substantial testing and ease of access, and a coronavirus vaccine.
Despite the various challenges facing the sport, every indication is MLB, owners and players are aligned in carrying forward with some semblance of a season.
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