MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes the league can “get ready again” at some point in May, after a coronavirus outbreak forced him to be postponed.
Opening Day is scheduled for Thursday, but earlier this month MLB decided to postpone the season with the US amidst the 19th COVID pandemic. As is the case with the NBA, NHL and MLS, the league said it would follow guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention two weeks ago, which suggested events that attract more than 50 people should be canceled or postponed to mid-Maybe at least.
While the timeline is not set, Manfred is optimistic that the league’s wheels can start turning again in about two months.
“One thing I know for sure is baseball will return,” he said Wednesday night in an extensive interview on ESPN SportsPNenter.
“Every time we play it safe, we will return. Our fans will return. Our players will return. And we will be part of recovery, healing in this country, from this special pandemic.
“Look, my optimistic view is that at some point in May, we will get ready. We have to make a decision, depending on the exact date, how long the preparation period we need.”
Significantly, however, Manfred stopped suggesting he hoped the season would resume in May. More likely, “getting ready in May” means continuing operations, which will most likely include a shortened training period for players.
The additional commissioner of the MLB team “might not be able to” play all 162 matches, but suggested the league could “get creative” with the schedule and that it was considering contingency plans.
“I think the goal is to get as many regular season matches as possible, and think creatively about how we can achieve that goal,” he added.
“We might not be able to do (the entire 162-match season)”, he admitted, suggesting the league could “experiment” a little to “make sure we provide as many games as possible and entertain the product as possible.”
Like other major sports leagues around the world, forced locking is expected to burden billions of dollars in MLB revenue, which explains why players and teams are looking to resume operations as quickly as possible.
While Manfred did not shy away from the financial implications of the lockdown, he suggested that players and teams remain open minded and work together to find the best way out of an unprecedented crisis.
“There’s nothing wrong with us now,” he said. “I think we are open, and we have had some very positive conversations with our players’ association about relaxing some of the rules that govern our schedule.
“They are very focused on returning to playing and playing as many matches as possible. And when you have that kind of positive dialogue, it creates opportunities to do things a little differently.”
The coronavirus outbreak brought ground sports to a halt worldwide, forcing the suspension of the NBA and NHL seasons, with major European soccer leagues suffering the same fate.
The European soccer championship which was originally scheduled for this summer has been postponed until 2021 and earlier this week the International Olympic Committee made an unprecedented decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics in 12 months.
As of Thursday morning, more than 69,000 cases had been reported in the U.S., with 1,050 deaths and 619 recovering, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the plague using a combined data source.
More than 21,300 people have died since the corona virus outbreak began in Wuhan, a city located in central Hubei province of China, late last year. There are more than 472,000 cases globally, with almost 115,000 cases recovered.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke during the 2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meeting on December 10, 2019 in San Diego, California.
Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox / Getty
Suggestions of the World Health Organization to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Clean hands as often as possible with soap and water, or rub alcohol-based hands.
- Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing; when treating sick people; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands look dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from anyone who coughs or sneezes.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose, and mouth. Don’t spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or elbows that bend when you cough or sneeze. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical attention early and contact your local health authority first.
- Stay abreast of developments in COVID-19 issued by health authorities and follow their guidelines.
The use of masks
- Healthy people only need to wear a mask if they care for sick people.
- Wear a mask if you cough or sneeze.
- The mask is effective when used in combination with frequent hand washing.
- Don’t touch the mask when wearing it. Clean your hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to wear, remove and properly dispose of a mask. Clean hands after removing the mask.
- Do not reuse disposable masks.