ESPN’s MLB Insider Jeff Passan broke the news today that the MLB is working with the MLBPA to possibly start the MLB season as early as May with games initially being played in Arizona. According to Passan, the tentative plan “has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
NEWS: Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are focusing on a plan backed by federal health officials that could have players in training camps by May and games soon thereafter.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 7, 2020
Details at ESPN on how MLB may return -- and the difficulty in doing so: https://t.co/zDoNa3k4pm
According to sources, the plan would include all 30 teams playing games at various stadiums and spring training facilities (including the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field), without fans, throughout the Phoenix area. All members of every team would also be sequestered at local hotels, continuing to stay in isolation between practices and games, with travel being limited to going back-and-forth from the stadium.
“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the MLB statement said. “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan. While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association.”
With the current plan unsurprisingly chalk-full of potential obstacles, some officials believe a more realistic date for Opening Day could be sometime in June. Having the start date later would allow quick turnaround testing for the coronavirus to become more widely available so the MLB wouldn’t have to impact the availability for regular citizens as they prepare for a return to play.
One of the biggest obstacles the league will have to face is getting the majority of players to buy-in to the plan since it could mean extended periods of time away from their families. If the the pandemic were continue to halt teams from playing in their home stadiums, it could up to four and a half months that some would be away from their loved ones.
At the end of the day, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many vote in favor the plan in order to gain some normalcy while also receiving their regular income once again.