A recent report creates optimism the Los Angeles Angels season could start as early as May.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association are working on a plan, in conjunction with public health officials, that would allow the 2020 season to start in Arizona as early as May, and if not by June, according to ESPN. Under the plan all thirty teams, including the Angels, would play in Arizona, with team personnel sequestered at nearby hotels and restricted from traveling anywhere except to and from local ballparks.
While ESPN’s report indicates the plan has received input from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the National Institutes of Health, MLB released a statement in response, making the point clear that while they are considering a variety of options, they still have not “sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association.”
Before Halos fans get too excited, as anyone reading the daily headlines probably knows, there are several “stumbling blocks” that could get in the way of executing such a plan, if it did receive approval to advance in planning stages.
Players and team personnel would be required to live in isolation, away from their families; coronavirus tests would need to be made widely available; and the logistics of 30 teams playing within a small radius of ballparks would require creative organization. Most importantly, it would have to be abundantly clear to Major League Baseball and public health officials that the plan can be executed without impacting the safety of those involved or the people in the communities in which they would play.
Games would be played without fans at Spring Training facilities throughout the greater Phoenix area, as well as at Chase Field, where the Arizona Diamondbacks play their home games. There are ten stadiums that support Cactus League play. According to the report, other nearby fields would also be considered, but no detail was given beyond that. (Of course, I’m picturing a Field of Dreams scenario where the Angels are playing the Yankees in a Little League park, but that’s my imagination having fun with the idea).
While the novel coronavirus appears to be reaching its peak in some cities, there are other areas where the virus is still climbing toward its apex, and there is still no indication of when everyday life will return for millions of Americans who have been asked (in some cases, ordered) to stay in their homes.
It is clear a baseball season that requires teams to travel between cities that are hot spots within the pandemic is untenable anytime soon. However, if a 2020 season is canceled, the owners and players would each lose millions of dollars of revenue, creating an incentive for them to work together on a creative plan that allows for at least some semblance of a season to be played.
This is a breaking story. Please check back for more information as it becomes available.