Major League Baseball will not begin its 2020 season until at least mid-May, as the league is saying it will comply with the latest coronavirus guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to eliminate gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.
The league had already planned to delay its March 26 Opening Day by at least two weeks and had canceled the remainder of Spring Training due to the ongoing pandemic. But following the issuance of the latest CDC recommendation, a March 16 conference call between league commissioner Rob Manfred and the 30 clubs, and widespread speculation about when play might be resume, the league said publicly it will act in accordance.
It is not known if MLB will still get in a full schedule of games given the delay that has now been elongated further. The league last played an abbreviated schedule in 1995 due to a labor dispute with the MLB Players Association.
“The Clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins,” the league said. “We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit.”
Beyond the scheduling matters themselves, any resumption of play will require a series of labor matters to be resolved between the league and union, including player payments, service time accrual, and revenue sharing provisions. The two sides have been meeting regularly in recent days in an effort to work through virus-related logistics.
This year was slated to be the earliest-ever domestic start to the MLB season. Instead, it is becoming increasingly likely the league will extend its 2020 season into November, whenever it is able to resume play.
The league and MLBPA jointly have also committed to a $1m donation to help fight hunger as a result of coronavirus-related school closures and quarantines. The money will be split between the Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America charities.
“In these difficult times of navigating this pandemic, it is important that we come together as a society to help the most vulnerable members of our communities,” Manfred said.
Meanwhile, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, have canceled its Hall of Fame Classic in May. A game and home run hitting contest involving recently retired MLB stars, the event serves as something of a seasonal warmup for the Induction Weekend festivities slated for July. The Hall of Fame had already been closed indefinitely.