There is still a cloud of coronavirus uncertainty hanging over MLB and the resumption of baseball is still to be determined.
Talking about baseball with other sports and a possible resumption is good, but there is so much more to overcome with the onslaught of this coronavirus pandemic. We have not reached the apex of this crisis and those in baseball are taking this day-by-day.
And after reaching out to numerous players and baseball personnel, there is a consensus: The game is on a timeline as to offering hope about a 2020 season.
June, July? It is all up in the air. How will a revised schedule go forward that will constitute a legitimate season and assure a fair postseason that would stretch into November?
Many involved with baseball operations are in isolation at home as we all are. They are in communication with MLB, staff, and the players. The worst possible scenario is a season that resumes with empty ballparks as fans are a major source of revenue with ticket sales, parking, and concessions.
Another concern is resuming operations and a possible second wave of coronavirus causes another pause to the schedule. There are the regional networks that also are a main source of revenue and they are taking a loss.
“The thing about baseball, it’s every single day and nobody knows,” said a high ranking National League executive.
He said, under discussion, another brief round of spring training would need to begin around June 1. There has also been discussion of safety concerns in New York, a hotspot, and a main epicenter of coronavirus.
There are also concerns about travel from city to city, the caution of one or two players testing positive for the virus and what you do at that point?
And this goes beyond the Major League schedule. There are issues with a minor league schedule, the amateur draft that is scheduled in June, and that all-important international pool of players that leads to building the structures of minor league affiliates.
All of this is in jeopardy and leads to more questions about where the game stands when this crisis is past us.
The consensus, from those contacted here, is a priority of safety first and the financial losses will come later. All who were contacted informed ESNY that the season of 2020 remains to be determined.
“Start thinking about the finances,” said another executive. “That’s the drop in the bucket. Major advertising, ESPN and Fox and all that kind of stuff. How are they going to pay the salaries? Is there going to be minor league baseball? What happens to all the prospects not playing?”
Baseball has those billion-dollar deals with the networks under their current contracts that are due to expire and up for renewal.
This hiatus is two-fold on every spectrum of the game. Finances are one aspect, and the other is an impact pertaining to the development of prospects and how it will affect their status in an eventual draft.
That same executive, one who monitors the prospects for his franchise, said, “They totally get screwed, high school and college kids and do they go back to their senior year?”
Baseball executives are looking at the economy and where we stand in another month. The airline and hotel industries, two key components as services for the game, have been hit hard.
Some sanity with the schedule, economics, and safety has to come back to the game before there is any talk about a resumption. The players are anxious to get the season started. We are aware at the same time, if and when, that baseball will be a great diversion.
And there is the second cycle of preparation. Spring training would need to resume prior to any start of a schedule.
A consensus is another spring training for a two- or three-week period. There would be expanded roster, more than the 26, that was changed this coming season under a new agreement with players and owners.
“Say we have spring training for two to three weeks they will have an expanded roster,” said the NL executive who was quoted earlier. “Say one or two players test positive for the virus? What do you do at that point? How are teams going to travel?
These things are all a part of it and the logistics are beyond the scope of anyone’s imagination.
A bulk of MLB players, in contact with their teams, want to play. They will play through Thanksgiving in November if that can be arranged in other venues such as domed stadiums or at spring training venues in Florida or Arizona.
These are the ideas that under discussion Until we know, we have to take this day by day. Until then, STAY SAFE.