It quickly became clear when the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night that we were entering a new normal. How could any other pro sports league maintain the status quo with coronavirus spreading and countless cities advising against public gatherings of thousands of people?
A flood of leagues shut down Thursday morning and MLB followed suit. Spring training has been suspended and the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks, MLB announced. Same goes for Minor League Baseball.
Statement from Major League Baseball: pic.twitter.com/0bWS5VTRPu— MLB (@MLB) March 12, 2020
It created an incredibly strange scene Thursday afternoon as word spread of MLB planning to suspend spring training while the Phillies were taking the field. They began their game in Port Charlotte against the Tampa Bay Rays as usual.
First pitch. Last pitch? pic.twitter.com/DeNkNDyT3m— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) March 12, 2020
The regular season being delayed invites a new set of questions. If it is a meaningful length of time, a full 162-game schedule would seem to be off the table. You can’t keep playing into December or January with half the league playing in cold-weather cities.
MLB had little choice. Think of what the reaction would be if MLB, MLS or any of the NCAA conference tournaments continued operations after seeing what went down in OKC with Rudy Gobert and the virus did spread among teams in those leagues? Preventative measures were necessary and we’re seeing them put in place all over the country.
Coronavirus in sports: Full, updated list of cancellations, suspensions
It may seem trivial to focus on what happens to your favorite sports team during this global pandemic but these teams can be our escapes. What we’re experiencing is unprecedented and all of us — the athletes, the fans, the execs, the coaches, the reporters — are in this together pushing through and hoping the new normal doesn’t last too long.