1:20 PM MT: Major League Baseball announced Thursday that spring training will be suspended and the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks. This means the earliest possible start date for the regular season will be April 9.
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Late Wednesday night the California Department of Public Health made an announcement that has implications for a Major League Baseball game two weeks from now.
Now, let’s state the obvious now: this is frivolous news in light of a global pandemic. But this is a sports website so we will stick to sports and sticking to sports still means that the coronavirus and the resulting disease COVID-19 makes it on here. That’s because, due to recommendations made by the CDPH, the start of the 2020 MLB regular season is unlikely to occur on-time in California.
The state of California has officially limited gatherings for the remainder of March to 250 people, per to the California Dept. of Public Health: https://t.co/QDwj7UtDNX— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
The Dodgers, Padres and A's all will have their home openers either moved to alternate sites or postponed.
This is relevant to the Rockies because they were scheduled to open their season at Petco Park on Thursday, March 26 against the Padres. As of now, it’s possible the games still end up being played in Arizona, perhaps with empty stands. No similar plans have been announced in Colorado as of Wednesday night.
But with the diagnosis of COVID-19 of Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert, the NBA has suspended the season indefinitely. At this point, it seems all it would take for MLB to follow suit would be one of their own on-field personnel coming down with the virus.
Fortunately for MLB, they have time to slow play making a decision on what to do with the start of the regular season. But, according to Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic ($) and Jeff Passan at ESPN, at least some league and team officials expect local governments to take the decision out of their hands before that date. Passan also tweeted that there is a league-wide conference call scheduled for Friday, but considering how quickly things escalated on Wednesday, that could change fast. For now, all we know is that the season is unlikely to open in San Diego. In the coming days and hours, we might find out it won’t begin on time at all.
In the meantime, please, take precautions. They are not necessarily for you, young healthy American, but for those with underlying medical concerns and especially the nations healthcare workers who will be tasked with caring for these people. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Stay home if you feel remotely unwell.
And be kind to one another. It’s likely we’re going to face challenges in the coming days and weeks. We’ll need all the help and encouragement we can get.