The COVID-19 pandemic has brought Major League Baseball to a stop for nearly two months now. While MLB remains without a firm plan for a potential return, there is good news regarding the possible return of baseball this year.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, MLB’s top executives are feeling increasingly confident that baseball will be played this season and the league will avoid a disaster scenario of a year without baseball.
MLB originally suspended the start of the 2020 season on March 12, hoping that it could just delay Opening Day by a few weeks. As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, though, league officials quickly started pushing back the timetable for a return and sent players home.
League executives continue to discuss potential plans that would bring baseball back in 2020. Among the options discussed, a tentative plan to host all 30 teams in Arizona and quarantine players and staff for the season.
However, MLB received significant pushback on the initial plan from players. Among those expressing concerns of being separated from families for months, MLB stars Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout publicly came out against the early discussions.
MLB is not rushing into anything and will only move forward when it can find a system that medical experts, team owners and players will agree on. As of now, MLB officials believe a return in July is the most realistic scenario.
As states across the country begin to lift stay-at-home orders and allow people to return to work in a limited fashion, the actions are providing hope for MLB. Games could be televised and a 2020 season could be played.
MLB’s original plan to have everything held in Arizona is the least desirable option, per The Athletic. Among the possibilities now being discussed by league officials, with talks still in the earliest stages, is taking advantage of states that could be opened up in the coming months. Under that scenario, MLB could start in 10-12 states, with the possibility of even 20 states being considered.
There is even hope among some team officials that parks could be opened up to some fans by August or September. While teams would need to dramatically reduce the number of fans allowed and still follow some safety guidelines, there is hope that parks could slowly open up.
We are still likely months away from MLB returning. Even if the league can create a firm plan with consensus agreement by June, players will need at least three weeks to prepare for an actual season and roster sizes would need to be expanded dramatically to account for more doubleheaders and fewer off days.
While we’re still unlikely to see Minor League Baseball played this year, a situation, which could alter it for years, it seems increasingly likely that MLB will be played in 2020.