In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the last few days have been a whirlwind in a number of different ways. One of the more trivial consequences of the outbreak has been the shutdown of just about every sporting event in existence, including the upcoming MLB season. Turns out those consequences may be even more severe than we first thought. When Major League Baseball announced that they were suspending all activities on Thursday, they noted that Opening Day would be pushed back “by at least two weeks.”
Try two months.
On Sunday, the CDC issued a recommendation that all events of 50-plus people be canceled or postponed for at least the next eight weeks. Given that two baseball teams alone eclipse that 50-person plateau, there is almost no way the season will begin prior to that eight-week mark.
Additionally, the recommended eight-week period does not account for any time to ramp up to regular season intensity. Players will almost certainly want some sort of abbreviated spring training after two months off, which would further push back the start of the season. If teams are to return to action right at the eight-week mark (May 11), the absolute earliest the regular season would feasibly begin is June 1. Sources from other professional leagues are estimating that the best case scenario would be even later than that.
CDC recommendation of no events of 50-plus people for next two months comes as a number of NBA owners and executives increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play -- with no fans. League's scouting for possible arena dates all the way thru August.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2020
A 162-game schedule is almost certainly off the table at this point as well. The Tigers have 59 regular season games scheduled before June 1, and just 14 open dates (including the All-Star break) remaining for the rest of the season. Even if the postseason were pushed back, Major League Baseball would be hard-pressed to play a full schedule (with almost no off days) and make it through the postseason by the end of the calendar year.
An abbreviated schedule would be possible, though.
48 intra-division (four 3-game series per opponent)— Jeremy F. Koo ️ (@jfkooAN) March 16, 2020
40 intra-league (four games, 2 home 2 road per opponent)
16 inter-league (3gms*4tms + 4gms*1tm)
4 rivalry inter-league
14 off days
4 days for the All-Star Break
As of right now, we have no idea how the 2020 season is going to unfold. The entire schedule is in flux, with even 100 games seeming like a tall order. The college baseball season is already over, which will have huge implications on the 2020 MLB draft. Minor league seasons, development camps, and all of the other on-goings of the regular baseball year are shut down as well, and it’s anyone’s guess when things will get back to normal.