As the NBA postponed its season and the NHL discusses the future of its own campaign, Major League Baseball is staying the course — at least for now.
Spring training games will go on as is with fans in attendance despite the coronavirus pandemic that has swept through the United States.
Arizona, which hosts the Cactus League, has reported nine cases of the virus while Florida — home of the Grapefruit League that includes the Mets and Yankees — has 26 cases on file including two deaths.
Hillsborough County, which is where the Yankees’ facilities at George M. Steinbrenner Field are located, has one case of the virus confirmed.
As it stands, it only seems like a matter of time before the MLB regular season is affected by the outbreak.
The Seattle Mariners — who are in one of the country’s most affected areas — are looking to move their opening regular-season games away from T-Mobile Park after Washington Governor Jay Inslee banned public gatherings of 250 people or more.
Washington has nearly 400 cases of coronavirus reported.
That same public-gathering ban was handed down late Wednesday night by California, thus calling into question the home games of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres.
Rather than deal with the headache of shifting multiple teams around the country, it might be best for Major League Baseball to follow the lead of the NBA and postpone the start of the season.
That doesn’t mean push the season schedule back until, say, May. That means abandoning the first few weeks of the season and picking up where the schedule coincides with the hypothetical all-clear to resume games.
Instead of a 162-game season, baseball would have something along the lines of the 144-game slate seen in 1995 following the resolution of the players’ strike.
It would avoid the issue of trying to play a full season starting mid-spring, which would only push the postseason back deeper toward winter. Playing World Series games near December is not ideal for anyone involved.
But a few less regular-season games at the expense of the health and safety of Major League Baseball’s players and fans is a compromise most rational people should take in an instant.