Most of you know I consider Opening Day to be a real, significant, national holiday. I take the day off work and everything.
Alas, the world is not going to give us that luxury quite so soon. Due to social distancing measures around the covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, MLB has joined the growing list of sports organizations to suspend their season until further notice.
After a conference call among owners this afternoon, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend spring training. The league likely will delay the beginning of the regular season as well. At this point, it's a formality that ownership-level sources expect to happen.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
In the case of baseball, the season will likely have a delayed start, and spring training games will not be happening, but it does appear that players and essential personnel will be expected to remain in their spring training facilities.
If MLB suspends spring training, as expected, speculation among sources is players/essential personnel would stay in Fla. and Ariz. That said, if shutdown extends beyond scheduled end of spring training, logistical problems (expiration of leasing on housing, etc.) will arise.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) March 12, 2020
If the teams take the route it appears they are taking, it may be a good compromise between public health and playing as soon as possible. By suspending spring games indefinitely, they provide the aforementioned social distance as much as possible, but are able to keep working on getting ready for the season, whenever that does happen. Meanwhile, if things change, the league can remain nimble, and ready to make the next move. Not that I trust the commissioner to actually get something right.
UPDATE 3/12 2:30PM central
The league has now issued a formal statement. Spring training games are officially suspended as of 3pm central today, and opening day will be pushed back by at least two weeks. No details yet on if games will be made up or not, if players will be paid, or other questions. Here is the full statement.
Anyway, we’ll bring you a lot more information, reactions, and coverage of this thing as it unfolds.