Yankees and the rest of Major League Baseball are facing a lot of uncertainty
By Scott Roche
The world is facing a coronavirus outbreak that is bigger than sports. It’s a pandemic that is most likely going to worse before it gets better. The Yankees know that. Major League Baseball knows that.
It could be a while before we see Yankees baseball. When Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, the NBA acted quickly and shut down operations almost immediately. After the NBA announced that they were suspending their season until further notice, MLB had to do the right thing and do the same.
On Thursday, commissioner Rob Manfred announced that they would be canceling the rest of Spring Training games. MLB also announced that they would be pushing the start of the season back two weeks. Will we see baseball mid-April? Most likely not, but considering what we are dealing with a health crisis and outbreak, that’s OK.
Friday, the MLB and players union began to permit players to leave their Spring Training cities to return home to their teams’ city or their offseason home city. They also have the choice to hunker down in their teams’ current Spring Training city.
The Yankees voted as a whole to stay in Tampa and workout at Steinbrenner Field. Zach Britton told the New York Post the MLB and Players Association are working together to “set guidelines” under which club and players will work.
Whether it’s hitting in the indoor cages or pitchers throwing off mounds, the Yankees have shown that they still have goals to win their first World Series championship since 2009 by staying in Tampa together. Instead of going their separate ways for who knows how long, they are sending the message that not even the real threat of the coronavirus will stop them.
In a realistic world, don’t expect to see Major League Baseball games until May at the earliest. The country has to get a hold on the COVID-19 outbreak to make sure that it’s a safe place. Players, their families, and fans need to be able to be in the same place without the threat of the virus spreading making an extreme situation worse.
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MLB has discussed moving the games from the first two weeks of the season to the backend of the schedule in September and October. Instead of that, MLB should start the season when the time is right. Don’t worry about making up games. Shorten the schedule and play 144 or 132 games. This virus outbreak is bigger than sports right now. It’s about health and safety.
When the country is ready to return to normal everyday living, then MLB will make the appropriate decisions when to resume team and league activities. With some players on other teams going home, an extended Spring Training for a couple of weeks might be needed for player safety.
The realistic expectation for the Opening Day of MLB should be at the beginning of May. That gives time for the Yankees injured players more time to heal and possibly be ready for the start of the season. But as always, the health of everybody is the top priority in the next few weeks moving forward.