In an attempt to prioritize public safety in the middle of a pandemic, the Arizona Cactus League urged MLB to delay the start of spring training until at least mid-March. The reason behind the petition is Maricopa Countyâ€™s high COVID infection rate.
The petition is signed by Bridget Binsbacher, the executive director of the Cactus League; Mayors of several Arizona cities; and other authorities.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Cactus League “has no authority over spring training starting. But the health-and-safety issues remain an unanswered question for MLB and MLBPA. And this is something that is going to need resolution very soon, with spring training set to begin in mid-February.”
The Maricopa County has been hit hard by COVID-19 infections, and the location hosting 10 teams could result in some unwanted consequences that could include players and staffers getting infected.
What will MLB do?
Florida is in a similar scenario, although the Grapefruit League authorities haven’t made any petitions to MLB. There are COVID-19 concerns in several locations in Florida that could potential affect a normal spring training.
In the statement published by the Cactus League, they refer to projection numbers from the University of Washington that says cases should decline by mid-March, at least in theory.
If MLB decides to concede the Cactus League’s petitions, it will obviously mean that the start of the season will be pushed back once again. With pitchers and catchers set to report to spring training in about three weeks, any decisions by the league should come very soon.
As a reminder, COVID-19 and a dispute between MLB and the players’ association delayed the start of the 2020 campaign by months, with the show starting in late-July. Such a scenario is unlikely this time around, but the possibility of another late beginning exists. Stay tuned.