Overnight, Jeff Passan (ESPN) reported that the MLB is working to begin the season as early as May in Arizona. The league and the players union have been in contact, and the plan would have all 30 teams based in the greater Phoenix area, perhaps for the entirety of the season. If the coronavirus shows strong improvement, the league could consider shifting back to normal operations.
The league has also been in contact with highly ranked health officials, and they are in support of the plan.
Included in the plan are an electric strike zone to distance umpires from players, elimination of mound visits of any type, and seven-inning doubleheaders. Players would have to sit in the stands six feet apart during games, to continue to maintain social distancing.
Why This Seems Unrealistic
As much as I would love to see baseball, this seems wildly unrealistic. We’ve gone from the season possibly starting in July or August or even not at all, to the season starting in a month. There are a ton of logistics that need to be figured out by then.
All the games would be played at a dozen or so fields, including spring training parks and Chase Field, the home of the Diamondbacks. That’s a scheduling nightmare and tough on TV crews.
The league also needs to realize that the social distancing during the games would likely mean nothing. Players would just go back to the hotel and hang out with each other since there will be nothing else to do. The plan states that players would only leave hotels to go to and from fields, and nowhere else. I also have a hard time seeing players jumping on board for living in a hotel from May until at least October, with the possibility of not seeing their family for months.
What’s going to happen to minor leaguers? Are they just not going to have a season, or will they do something similar in Arizona on smaller fields such as high school fields?
Also, did the league forget that the average temperature is well over 100 degrees in Phoenix in the summer? They could do night games, but ratings will plummet on the East Coast. Arizona is two hours behind the East Coast, meaning a lot of 9:00pm starts for Yankee and Met fans.
A lot can change in a month, but I don’t see how the season can start in early May. The virus is still too dangerous, and there are so many logistics to figure out about the season in an extremely short period of time. Are the players even on board with this?
We’ll see what happens, but if this plan was to happen, maybe it takes place in June or July. May just seems too soon.