The MLB: News, Opening Day and Coronavirus
Usually, Major League Baseball and the NBA do not have much of an impact on each other, if they have one at all. They don’t share arenas, so scheduling isn’t an issue. Yes, fans may have to choose between watching a baseball game or a basketball game.
But in today’s world, DVRs make that a non-issue. So, when the NBA suspended its season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, it was only a matter of time before MLB, and every other major sport followed suit.
Coronavirus Hits the MLB
With thousands of fans in attendance at spring training games and even more expected to attend games on Opening Day, the MLB did the right thing. The league canceled the rest of spring training and pushed the start of the regular season at least two weeks from the original start date, March 26.
Will it be pushed further? Who knows. The CDC has recommended that no gatherings of 50+ people be held for the next two months.
If that is the case, then Opening Day may get pushed even further back. Should that happen, it wouldn’t be surprising if the season were to be truncated with current talks putting the new MLB Opening Day in mid-May.
Otherwise, the season could stretch too far into the year. It already begins to get cold during the World Series in October. But what if the Series was in New York in December? Does baseball want to put the playoffs up against college football conference schedules or the meat of the NFL schedule?
Of course not!
Regardless of how long the start of the season gets delayed, the schedule will likely have to be reshuffled if not shortened. Ideal? No, but it is better than no baseball at all.
MLB Team News
The delay to the start of the season is going to mean something different to every team. For Los Angeles Dodgers fans, it means waiting a little bit longer to see their prized offseason acquisitions, Mookie Betts and David Price, take the field.
It means the Houston Astros might get a break from the hate they have been on the receiving end of. Yes, there will probably still be some players and fans that will continue to thrash the Astros for the cheating scandal every chance they get. But most will probably choose to focus on more important things.
- Read more about the Houston Astros scandal here
When MLB does start up again, most will likely be glad the game is back and be too happy to worry about Houston’s past indiscretions.
Of course, for everyone, it means a chance for guys to get healthy so teams can start the season at full strength. For a team with World Series aspirations like the New York Yankees, that could mean the difference between getting off to a fast or slow start.
Should the season get shortened, that could be important.
The Yankees were going to be starting the season without the services of their two power hitters, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Depending on when the season starts, they stand to get at least one if not both of them back.
As a club, the Yankees are striving for business as usual. The team voted to stay at their spring training facility once spring training was shut down and the season delayed. Many players are still going through informal workouts in hopes of being ready to go once the season starts up.
The Yankees did have a minor league player test positive for the coronavirus. So, the minor league facility has been shut down, and the team quarantined for the time being.
Philadelphia had a few pitchers looking to be ready by Opening Day or early April, along with catcher Andrew Knapp. Thanks to the delay, the chances of them being available for Opening Day look a lot better. There is more of an opportunity Andrew McCutchen could be ready to go as well.
Who to Watch on Opening Day—Whenever It Happens To Be
Assuming the schedule for Opening Day doesn’t change, the league’s best teams are not expected to face a serious challenge. Clayton Kershaw was slated to open for the Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants. If he still does, it will likely be the first of many wins this season for him.
Houston had yet to announce a starter for their opener against the Angels. Perhaps, with the delay, Justin Verlander will be healthy enough to start the Astros off with a win this season. The Yankees had yet to announce an Opening Day starter either. But you have to think the team is going to put Gerrit Cole on the mound every chance they get.
The Phillies will look to rebound from a disappointing campaign last season with a win over the Miami Marlins to start the year off. While no game is ever a lock for one team to win, the Phillies roster is without a doubt better than that of the Marlins.
But the best game of the day will likely be one of the first, the Washington Nationals vs. the New York Mets. Will it be a pitcher’s duel between Stephen Strasburg and Jacob de Grom? Will Pete Alonso pick up where he left off?
As defending champions, expectations are going to be high for the Nationals this year despite their free agency losses. However, the Mets had a nice second-half surge last season (40-50 in the first half; 46-26 in the second). Should they pick up where they left off, it could get interesting.
Of course, the beauty of baseball is that any team can win on any given day. It is just a matter of who happens to run faster, hit harder, and throw better than their opponents. If all goes well, hopefully, we will get to see our heroes do just that sooner rather than later.