By Dennis Young, NY Daily News
Major League Baseball announced a complete shutdown of games Thursday.
“MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic,” league commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Opening Day was scheduled for March 26, two weeks away. The at least two-week delay means Opening Day will be no earlier than April 9.
“MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days. As of 4:00 p.m. [Thursday], forthcoming Spring Training games have been canceled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.”
The coronavirus outbreak shut down the NBA, NHL, Champions League, professional tennis, and for now, college basketball. But teams were still playing spring training games in Florida and Arizona in front of fans with minimal modifications through Thursday afternoon.
Like the NBA and other leagues that have shut down, there are plenty of open questions about the logistics of shutting down or suspending the league. Will players be paid? NBA reporters have said it’s likely in that league. Will low-wage hourly stadium staffers get some kind of safety net from the league? Mark Cuban said he was planning one for Mavericks employees, but there are dozens of other teams where it’s unclear. What about tickets?
Players’ understanding of the virus has varied. Bryce Harper bragged about being young and healthy — which wouldn’t prevent him from transmitting the disease to older or more vulnerable people — while David Price told ESPN that “it’s gotta happen.”
That seemed obvious, but baseball and golf were determined to carry on as normal as long as possible.