Professional sports leagues in the United States continue to try to find ways to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic, and almost all leagues are looking for a safe way to return to action. All leagues have brainstormed many ideas, and some leagues have postponed events until later in the fall.
Major League Baseball was just a few weeks away from beginning their 2020 season when the pandemic hit, and they have been trying to find a way to begin their season. According to league sources, it appears that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association is considering starting games at some point in May.
According to sources, Major League Baseball has been working closely with public health officials, and everyone is in agreement that baseball can begin in May. All of the games would be played without fans in attendance, and all games would take place in the state of Arizona.
Arizona is home to the Cactus League, which is the spring training site for several teams. President Donald Trump recently spoke to all leaders of professional sports leagues, and it appears that he is on board with this solution as well. There are still some things to be worked out, but it appears that Major League Baseball is working behind the scenes to set up a return next month.
If Major League Baseball decides to go with this plan, then all 30 teams would play games in the Phoenix area in Arizona. Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, would be one of the main locations, but the league would also utilize spring training facilities and college stadiums to host professional games.
The first and most important step would be to gather all of their teams, and team personnel in the Phoenix area to begin a period of self-quarantine. Players and game day personnel would have to be quarantined in a secure location for at least 14 days, and they would have to return to these locations when they are not at the ballpark.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health are in support of this plan and are looking at Major League Baseball as the first sport to return to action.
Major League Baseball issued a statement on Tuesday that stated that this plan has been discussed, but nothing is set in stone at this point. Sources have indicated that the league has been in contact with the MLBPA, and both sides agree that this is the best course of action.
Other plans that MLB has considered is a June 1 start date, but no fans will be allowed in the stands until health officials agree that it is safe. The Major League Baseball regular season is 162 games long, but it appears that the league and players are hoping for at least 100 games in 2020.
Sources have indicated several ideas that have been presented by Major League Baseball, with the most notable being the length of games. The league is looking into seven-inning doubleheader games whenever the start date happens to get close to the 162-game season. All games would be available through MLB.TV or local channels to allow fans to watch the games.
Electronic strike zones have also been explored by the league, to keep umpires a safe distance from the players. The league is looking into doing away with dugouts and placing players at least six feet away from one another in the stands to practice social distancing.