Baseball is just one part of American life currently shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the Coronavirus – Illinois and Ohio just announced that bars and restaurants will be carry-out only for a period of time, so the shut-downs just keep coming. It seems that, by the hour, more and more aggressive efforts are being undertaken to “flatten the curve.”
For that reason, what’s clear about the coming baseball schedule is that nothing is clear. We know that the season is delayed to April 9, but nobody actually expects baseball’s regular season to get underway anywhere close to that. Too much is moving too quickly.
To that end, USA Today reports, via two anonymous MLB executives, that “There’s a real possibility the Major League Baseball season could be delayed until Memorial Day weekend – or even longer.”
Memorial Day is May 25, so the possibility here is that we might not see regular season baseball until June. I mean, the league has to have confidence, in advance of starting Spring Training Part Two, that the season can definitely open three or four weeks later. That’s going to require picking a date pretty far down the road, in my view. A shocking, painful reality is sinking in about this season.
A similar report from Jon Heyman:
The hoped-for April 9 MLB start date was always seen as a best-case scenario, and with developments over the past few days, based on talks with several execs today anytime before June would be viewed as welcome.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 15, 2020
What a season that starts in June would even look like remains to be seen. How do you deal with the length of the season? Rosters? Compensation? The All-Star break? The Trade Deadline? The postseason?
We’ll find out eventually. The league is having a conference call tomorrow to discuss these issues, though I doubt we’ll hear any kind of hard-and-fast update. The future of the COVID-19 outbreak is still just too unknown.
In the meantime, you start to wonder whether it’s going to be possible for the Cubs and Cardinals to play their London Series in mid-June.
UPDATE: More on this soon, but this just announced CDC guidance all but assures there will be no regular season baseball until June:
— Shira Stein (@shiramstein) March 15, 2020
It’s conceivable MLB could conduct Spring Training activities within that 8-week window (see the third and fourth paragraphs in the guidance), but it would definitely be without fans. And even in that case, getting to the regular season before June after the ramp-up period seems extraordinarily unlikely. Buckle in, folks. Sigh.