Major League Baseball has been on hold since suspending spring training in March, but Ken Rosenthal is reporting, “[t]hose involved at the sport’s highest levels are increasingly confident games will be played in 2020.”
League officials are telling Rosenthal the most realistic time range for Opening Day would be “somewhere between mid-June and July 4.” The thought is that would allow for an 80- to 100-game regular season that runs through October. Rosenthal explained that an “expanded postseason at neutral sites” could follow and the World Series would end in late November or early December.
Although league officials claim to be optimistic, the second half of the article points out many of the flaws in their ideas. Potential temperature checks at stadiums are dependent on flawed technology and people who are asymptomatic but positive for Covid-19 might not trigger testing equipment. Additionally, the league’s discussions of playing in empty stadiums all season is getting push-back from some executives due to the importance of game-day revenue for team operations.
The unpredictable nature of the pandemic means optimism over a starting date is likely premature for the time being. At the same time, leagues need to have plans in place for when they can eventually return. For MLB, that includes restarting spring training and getting players to whatever location that will be in. Even that raises questions as to whether you ship players back to the original spring training sites or just have them prepare in the home park.
In the meantime, the league has been relatively radio silent in this process. Planning continues, but it will remain start-and-stop to some degree as states re-open and deal with any fallout that comes with that. Restart modeling will continue in the meantime.