While the schematics of baseball’s return begins to take shape, a possible timeline is also emerging.
League activity was postponed on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak, which saw spring training canceled and Opening Day — originally scheduled for March 26 — pushed back indefinitely.
A spring training approximately five weeks from now allows players to properly ramp up for a truncated season expected to have over 100 regular-season games played. During a normally scheduled season, teams would have played roughly 85 games by July 1 with the annual All-Star Game just a week away.
While the plan of return has been similar in terms of potential dates, Plouffe and Hughes’ report continues to support the notion that the league is trying to get all 30 teams playing in their respective ballparks — albeit, without fans.
That will be an easier task for some cities more than others, which creates several roadblocks within it.
MLB requiring teams to travel to COVID-19 hotspots — particularly New York City — would be a big ask. Given the unpredictability of the subsidizing of the virus, it’s also unknown just how dangerous restarting the MLB season will be until the time is upon us.
Widespread, constant testing would have to be available for the players and one positive diagnosis could unravel the entire plan.
The hope is that the United States can stifle the number of daily cases much like South Korea did over the last two months. Originally one of the epicenters of the virus, proper precautions have seen positive cases plummet to where now, baseball has begun. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) celebrated its Opening Day without fans on Tuesday.
Stateside, the latest plan for MLB’s return includes teams being split up into three, 10-team divisions based on geography — disbanding the American and National Leagues — and having teams only play divisional opponents for the regular season.