It’s likely safe to say you haven’t been thinking too much about the start of MLB spring training over the past week, as a political storm brews and a pandemic continues to sweep the country. But other major sports have carried on, and it seems that Major League Baseball is poised to do the same.
Following the 60-game season of 2020 it was clear that teams would do just about anything to not only play a full 162-game season in 2021, but also find a way to (safely) get fans back out to the park to enjoy live games once again. This goal isn’t entirely about brining fans joy, of course, but rather an attempt to re-line pockets that team owners have implied the coffers are now empty after a fanless 2020.
In a recent conference call with USA Today, anonymous internal sources indicated that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has informed clubs to be ready for spring training to start on time in February, and to also prepare for a full 162-game season. This runs in opposition to previous theories that MLB would delay the start of the season to give a bit more opportunity for players (and fans) to potentially receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Further to the USA Today report, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times was able to actually read a memo sent out to teams regarding fan attendance at games, which still remains uncertain, but is obviously the ultimate goal for the season.
Part of this memo makes it clear that should fans be allowed into stadiums, there is not currently a league-wide mandate that would require teams to see proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entering.
The league explained the reason for this, beyond potential legal ramifications, “Mass testing of this kind is not practical with the existing rapid testing options, and testing is of limited utility when done days in advance of an event.”
What is clear is that stadiums would be required to sell their tickets in groups or “pods” with at least a minimum of six feet in between each pod, and that masks would be mandatory for all fans, at all times, unless eating or drinking.
It still remains to be seen if fans will actually be allowed to attend games — local regulations would take precedence over MLB’s rules — and currently no teams are selling spring training tickets, but it does seem clear MLB is trying to find a way to safely open back up to the live fan experience.
Would you attend live games in 2021?
This poll is closed
Not a chance
Depends on local regulations
Depends on status of the pandemic
For many, this news may come as a welcome distraction, though there is always the lingering concern that any of these ideal scenarios could change at any moment, so we must prepare ourselves for another uncertain year of being baseball fans.