In a time of great uncertainty, we finally have some clarity as to when baseball might start up again. Rather than setting a date, the players union and Major League Baseball have agreed on three things that have to happen before games can resume, as the world remains in a holding period with the coronavirus pandemic far from under control.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the season will begin when:
– There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans
– There are no travel restrictions
– Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans
That first stipulation has a caveat, however, as explained by Passan in another tweet:
The caveat agreed to by the players and league is that they will consider playing games at neutral sites instead of home ballparks — and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.
So it sounds like the prospect of games in front of no fans is still on the table, depending on specifics that have yet to be worked out. Here’s what the Associated Press said regarding the start of the season on Friday:
Opening day was to have been Thursday, but was pushed back to mid-May at the earliest because of the virus outbreak. The spring training schedule was cut short on March 12 because on the pandemic, and it remains unclear when and if baseball can resume.
Both sides agreed to make a “good faith effort” to schedule as many games as possible this year, subject to government rules, travel, player health and economic feasibility.
They also agreed to consider playing past the usual end of the postseason in late October and early November, even if it involves using neutral sites and domes. They would consider a large increase in doubleheaders to get as many games in as they can, to play without fans and to revise the postseason format.
Seven-inning games for doubleheaders have not been given much discussion but also have not been ruled out.