McDaniel: Un-Opening Day

From Rachael McDaniel at The Hardball Times on March 13, 2020:

As I write this on the afternoon of March 12, the scoreboard still hasn’t changed. Navigating to the page takes you directly to March 26, 2020, where there is a full slate of games scheduled for all 30 big-league teams: first, the Tigers/Indians and Nationals/Mets contests, with their first pitches at 1:10 Eastern, followed by Royals/White Sox and Cubs/Brewers, and so on and so forth. They’re all there, the comfortingly predictable mix of divisional battles, divisional non-battles, and interleague oddities; you can click the links to see a preview of each game, some of which have Opening Day starters and hitting matchups listed. At least on this one page, at this one point in time, Opening Day is suspended in a moment where it still might happen like normal.

Of course, by now we know it won’t — that is, it’ll probably happen eventually, but not on March 26, not on a date we can predict right now, not the way that’s been prepared for and intended by so many people for the last six months. This morning — yesterday morning, by the time you read this — MLB announced the cancellation of all remaining spring training games and the postponement of Opening Day for at least two weeks in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. This followed similar announcements for baseball in Japan and Korea. That, only a few days ago, MLB asserted its intention “to play spring training and regular season games as scheduled” shows how quickly the situation in the United States has changed, and how quickly pressure mounted for MLB to respond to the pandemic.

For weeks, as new cases have continued to be confirmed and fear around the pandemic has spread, questions have been raised about how MLB should respond, if at all — if spring training should have been played to empty stadiums, if the rapid approach of Opening Day and its attendant crowds should be addressed, if baseball could continue as normal in the face of global panic. Today, we have an answer.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: March 19, 2020. Last Updated: March 19, 2020.