No one has any idea when the MLB season will finally get to begin, but the push for baseball is clearly on.
Over the past two weeks, as states have begun to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum — league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives — has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year.
Passan added that this is the tentative timeline, though “tentative” should probably be bolded, italicized, underlined, and repeated three times:
Finalize a plan in May. Hash out an agreement with the players by the end of the month or early June. Give players a week to arrive at designated spring training locations. Prepare for three weeks. Start the season in July. Play around an 80- to 100-game season in July, August, September and October. Hold an expanded playoff at warm-weather, neutral sites in November.
It’s too soon to know whether all of the games will need to be played in a neutral location. The Players Union has made it clear that players aren’t interested in being quarantined away from their families for four months, so there will either need to be home games, or families will have to be included in the quarantined space.
The latter doesn’t seem very likely.
As a result, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale has reported that the league is considering realignment, to group teams regionally and reduce travel:
And not only would baseball be played, but it would be played in their own major-league ballparks, albeit with no fans.
MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.
There are certainly still a lot of obstacles, not the least of which is the need for states to partially reopen first.
On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom laid out a four-stage plan to re-open the state.
San Francisco Giants baseball, as it’s proposed above (without fans) is the third stage. Baseball with fans is the fourth and final stage.
CA is flattening the curve, but the reality is #COVID19 is not going away soon.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 28, 2020
Our re-opening must be gradual, guided by public health and science, and will be done in the following STAGES:
STAGE 1: Safety and Preparedness.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 28, 2020
This is where we are now.
Staying home and flattening the curve.
Building out our testing, PPE, and hospital capacity.
Making our essential workplaces as safe as possible.
And preparing sector-by-sector guidelines for a safe re-opening.
STAGE 2: Lower Risk Workplaces— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 28, 2020
Gradually re-opening some lower risk workplaces with adaptations.
This will include:
- Retail (e.g. curbside pickup)
- Offices (when telework not possible)
- More public spaces
STAGE 3: Higher Risk Workplaces— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 28, 2020
Gradually re-opening some higher risk environments with adaptations and limits on size of gatherings.
This will include:
-Personal care (hair salons, nail salons, gyms)
-Sports without live audiences
-In-person religious services
STAGE 4: End of Stay-At-Home Order— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 28, 2020
Re-opening the highest risk parts of our economy -- once therapeutics have been developed.
This will include mass gatherings such as:
- Convention Centers
- Live audience sports
For now, we wait. But there seems to be an increased sense of optimism that we’ll not only have baseball this summer, but that it will be responsible when it returns.
I’ll take that glimmer of hope.