With the coronavirus pandemic halting sports in its tracks, the 2020 MLB start date remains a complete mystery.
On March 12, the MLB decided to cancel the rest of spring training and push the season back by at least two weeks.
MLB has announced that further Spring Training games have been cancelled and that Opening Day will be delayed by at least 2 weeks. pic.twitter.com/twmHWOsM2p
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) March 12, 2020
Since that unprecedented decision, the encouraging updates have been few and far between. Obviously, a postponement of two weeks was never going to be enough time.
More leagues are shutting down around the globe and although MLB has yet to go as far as canceling the season, it has to be viewed as a legitimate possibility at this point.
For baseball fans, that’s a gut punch, but the health and safety of everyone involved in the sport should supersede all else.
Hopefully, the 2020 MLB start date is not as far off as it may seem. Until then, we’re all playing the waiting game.
May 31 Update:
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the MLBPA’s proposal to MLB has a season start date of June 30. The month of May has been dominated by tense negotiations between the two organizations with little progress made.
However, Passan’s latest update includes concessions on MLBPA’s part in the form of salary deferrals. That’s a tiny bit of progress, and to be honest, any little modicum of progress is encouraging at this point.
April 30 Update:
Baseball fans who are desperate for a season might be in some luck. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, there is growing optimism around MLB that baseball will be back sooner rather than later.
“Major League Baseball officials have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2, playing at least 100 regular-season games, according to three executives with knowledge of the talks. They requested anonymity because the plan is still under consideration,” Nightengale wrote.
This plan would involve heavy realignment as well. According to Nightengale, MLB would move to three divisions of 10 teams each, based on geography. That would mean the Mets and Yankees would be playing in the same division for a year. Sign me up for that
April 21 Update:
Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t giving up hope on the 2020 MLB season just yet. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Manfred is telling staffers that baseball will be back sometime this year.
“On the day Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told a wide swath of the sport’s staffers that ‘I fully anticipate baseball will return this season,’ more than half the teams in the league pledged to pay baseball operations staffs through at least the end of May, sources familiar with teams’ dealings told ESPN.”
April 15 Update:
Most of the updates on MLB’s potential start date has come from league sources. This time around, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes that there is a way to play the 2020 season.
“There’s a way of doing that” Fauci told Good Luck America. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels wherever you want to play. Keep them very well surveilled … have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out.
“People say, ‘you can’t play without spectators.’ Well, I think you probably can get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game — particularly me, living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.”
April 10 Update:
MLB continues its creative thinking with another scheme that would allow baseball to resume sooner rather than later. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, MLB is considering eliminating the American and National Leagues and creating new divisions based on spring training homes.
The teams in the Grapefruit League would play all their games in Florida while the Cactus League would take place exclusively in Arizona.
The New York Yankees would be in the Grapefruit North division with the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the Grapefruit East division, the New York Mets would be joined by the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Houston Astros.
April 7 Update:
“Major League Baseball and its players are increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.”
This is consistent with earlier reporting that MLB and MLBPA are considering putting all 30 teams in Arizona to begin the season.
April 6 Update:
According to the AP, MLB and the MLBPA are considering the idea of consolidating games in Phoenix and playing at the spring training ballparks in the area, as well as Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While this creative solution could work, in theory, putting this idea into motion is easier said than done. Games would have to be played back-to-back at most ballparks, sometimes even turning into triple-headers.
Whether or not this solution is viable, it shows the lengths to which MLB and the MLBPA will go to salvage something from the 2020 season.
April 1 Update:
According to Matt Spiegel of 670 AM Chicago, the idea of playing a 100-game season beginning on April 1 is starting to gain some traction with MLB executives.
From a well informed source that does business with multiple MLB execs: The 100 game season being discussed would include eliminating the All Star game in Los Angeles, but would deliver a neutral field warm-weather World Series at Dodger Stadium as compensation. (1/2)
This report shows that MLB is willing to go to creative lengths to preserve the 2020 season. By pushing the season back, there’s guaranteed to be November baseball. The World Series would need to take place somewhere warm and Los Angeles makes perfect sense for the Fall Classic.
Additionally, from a business perspective, the Los Angeles Dodgers would be able to recoup some losses from the cancelation of the 2020 All-Star Game.