The latest update: Despite what you might have seen on Twitter, there is still no update.
When baseball might return for a salvaged 2020 season remains unknown, according to reporting from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who clarified the status of the league’s discussions after a tweet pointed to a concrete date for Opening Day on Monday.
Baseball fans were briefly giddy after former Minnesota Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe tweeted that he heard a second round of spring training was set to begin June 10, with Opening Day following weeks later on July 1.
But that info was quickly debunked by reporters, with Heyman offering further clarity Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately for baseball-hungry fans, Heyman reported that July 1 might be an optimistic start date and not a very likely one.
The alleged July 1 start date for an MLB season would be wonderful; they’d love to begin then (or close to then), but while there’s hope, things aren’t as certain as that. MLB is still hearing conflicting info from politicians and doctors, and health concerns remain the priority.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 5, 2020
MLB execs have not apprised the union of any particular proposed starting to date fir a season, and at this point, the sense is July 1 could be on the optimistic side. It isn’t ruled out but it isn’t close to a likelihood — not yet, anyway.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 5, 2020
While the bad news has been hard to handle during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, baseball’s potential inability to get a season off the ground safely within the next two months matches up with the situation across the country.
The plans that have been reportedly discussed — whether quarantining the entire season in Arizona or allowing travel between home cities within three geographically realigned divisions — are contingent on frequent testing of players, coaches, training staff and front-office staff, as well as small armies of workers providing lodging, transportation, food service and television broadcasts. Widespread testing capacity in the United States is nowhere near where health experts say it needs to be to safely reopen many aspects of daily life in the country.
On top of the feasibility of the frequent testing of so many people, there are the optics of a wealthy organization like Major League Baseball gaining access to such testing while the general population does not have similar access.
Still, recent reports have pointed to increased optimism within the game that there will be a 2020 season. That has supposedly stemmed from the reopening of certain states. But just because baseball would be allowed to restart in certain states does not mean it would be advisable from a public-health standpoint.
Just Monday, The New York Times reported that models being used by the White House project a dramatic increase in the number of cases and deaths:
The projections, based on government modeling pulled together by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.
The numbers underscore a sobering reality: The United States has been hunkered down for the past seven weeks to try slowing the spread of the virus, but reopening the economy will make matters worse.
That reality obviously impacts Major League Baseball’s ability to start its season and is directly responsible for the uncertainty of when, where and how the season could be staged.