Big news for MLB fans and sports fans in general. The early report tonight is that baseball may be coming back much sooner than anticipated if the MLB and Player’s Union can come to an agreement or solution.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan is reporting that the league and the MLB Player’s union are working on a deal to get teams back to playing as early as May. A quote from Passan’s article clarifies it a little.
The plan, sources said, would dictate all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the greater Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation, and travel only to the stadium and back, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.
The deal with MLB would reportedly look for teams to get going as early as May, and all games would be played in Arizona. There are ten Spring Training facilities in Arizona, as well as the Diamondback’s home park. There are plenty of factors that still play into the exact start date, including the spread of the COVID-19 virus and testing availability. But the fact that there is a month as early as May being thrown out is a good sign.
Officials from both sides recognize that baseball is going to have to make some changes to the play in order to get going. It’s unclear what those changes would be as of now, but there have been several ideas floated over the last couple of weeks. An electronic strike zone, no mound visits, seven-inning doubleheaders, and sitting six feet apart in the stand rather than the dugout are all ideas that have been discussed in meetings.
The specifics behind the report will still trickle out over the next couple of days, but this is a HUGE step towards having a baseball season in 2020. Sure, fans likely will not be able to attend MLB games for quite some time, but it’s certainly preferred over no baseball at all. More details to come.