MLB All-Star Game At Dodger Stadium Appears In Jeopardy
The earliest MLB could begin its season due to the CDC's recommendations is May 9, which means the first All-Star Game scheduled for Dodger Stadium in 40 years could be "delayed this year, or rescheduled for another year," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. MLB yesterday said that it "remains hopeful" of playing the game in L.A. this year (L.A. TIMES, 3/17). In Chicago, Vinnie Duber wrote due to the MLB season being pushed back, the All-Star Game "needs to go." MLB's midsummer showcase will "need to be sacrificed for an extra week’s worth of games." There are "probably TV contracts and an awful lot of advertising revenue and the collective bargaining agreement and a ton of other legally binding documents that might allow that show to go on." But if MLB's "biggest concern is cramming in as many regular-season games as possible before snow covers half the stadiums in the game, this would be a good way to buy another week" (NBCSPORTSCHICAGO.com, 3/16).
FOLLOWING GUIDELINES: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday said that Opening Day would be delayed indefinitely and that it "could be at least eight weeks before teams are cleared to gather in groups larger than 50." He added, "We’re not going to announce an alternate opening day at this point. We’re going to have to see how things develop. I think the commitment of the clubs is to play as many baseball games in 2020 as we can, consistent with the safety of our players and our fans." Manfred stressed that a goal is "still to play a complete 162-game schedule." However, when asked if there was a date that was no longer possible, he said that he "didn’t know." In St. Louis, Derrick Goold notes Manfred's office and the MLBPA "remain engaged in negotiations about more urgent matters before sketching out what various regular-season schedules and pay structures look like." In addition to spring stipends and pay for players on the 40-man roster and those remaining in major league camps, Manfred said that the union and his office "must agree if rosters are frozen during his stoppage of operations" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/17).
WOULDN'T COUNT ON IT: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner reports MLB officials have privately acknowledged that 162 games will "almost certainly not happen" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/17). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes teams will have "missed approximately 42 games if the season starts May 11." That would "seemingly leave little chance of a 162-game season, but a revised schedule of 120 games could work." Different ways of "formatting the schedule and playoffs are being considered" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/17). In N.Y., Kristie Ackert cites several MLB execs as saying that June 1 is the "earliest they can see baseball being played at this point, with at least a two-week ramp up" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/17). In Detroit, Tony Paul writes, "You're probably looking at June 1, at the earliest, with baseball optimistically getting in maybe a 100-game season" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/17).
LONG WAIT AHEAD: On Long Island, David Lennon writes just doing the math "suggests the entire first half of the regular season now could be in jeopardy." Under the "best-case scenario, and if the eight-week ban indeed is lifted on schedule, MLB could get the green light to proceed on roughly May 16." But from that point, players "still would need a minimum of two weeks to prepare" (NEWSDAY, 3/17). In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer notes various reports cited execs as "speculating that the season might not start until July." The status of the Cubs-Cardinals series in London in June is "at least doubtful at this point" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/17). In Boston, Steve Hewitt writes, "It sure doesn’t seem like baseball will be played for a long time" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/17).
ANY PREDICTIONS? ESPN.com's Jeff Passan wrote, "My over-under on when the MLB season will begin has been the All-Star Game, based on both the sentiment of people high up in baseball and at the union and simply looking at the trajectory of Italy." But even then, that "feels somewhat optimistic." ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote, "There are folks at the team level who think that a return in June might be possible," but in the end, that "may be an optimistic projection" (ESPN.com, 3/16). In DC, Dave Sheinin notes MLB's calendar is "hemmed in by the winter weather in the northern half of the country, which would make it impossible to extend the postseason schedule deep into November or beyond -- barring an unprecedented move to a neutral-site stadium with a dome or in a warmer climate" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote there "can be no real plan" for MLB. There will be as "many games played as there is time for them, when the time does come" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/16).