Baseball will be back, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. How baseball’s regular season will play out and when it might return, though, remains unclear.
When the league sits down to map out its plan moving forward, Manfred says that “nothing’s off the table.” What is clear is that a 162-game season is off the table.
“We’re probably not gonna be able to do that this year.” Manfred said in an interview Wednesday with ESPN’S Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter. “I think that’s clear, and it does give us an opportunity to do some different things, to experiment and to make sure that we provide as many games as possible and as entertaining a product as possible.
Amid the uncertainty, the MLB and MLB Player’s Association is negotiating through the nuts and bolts of a delayed season. Service time and salary are among the issues that must be combed through between the two parties. But, how and where games might be played remains an issue, too.
All 30 teams were slated to kick off MLB’s regular season on Thursday, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s directive against organized events hosting groups of 50-plus people for eight weeks, pushing the start of the season until at least mid-May. Though, that date is far from set in stone. A canceled season is still a possibility given the unpredictability of the virus.
“We’re not in control of that worst case scenario,” Manfred said. “I think that, if in fact the situation with respect to the virus is such that it’s not safe to resume play whether it’s in alternate sites, empty stadiums, whatever it is. We have to accept that as a reality.”
A truncated season poses a hardship for fans and players. It poses a huge economic hardship for the team’s owners, Manfred said.
“The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back,” Manfred said. “Whenever it’s safe to play, we’ll be back. Our fans will be back, our players will be back and we will be part of the recovery, healing in this country from this particular pandemic.”