It was always pie in the sky that baseball would be able to get back up and running with Opening Day delayed a mere two weeks, which was their original postponement due to the spread of COVID-19. With the CDC saying Sunday it was recommending eight weeks of a ban on events with more than 50 people, it seemed even more farcical. And now MLB looks like they’re giving into that, announcing Monday that the season will start no earlier than mid-May.
Perhaps the hope is that MLB will be able to at least start a reconvened spring training in the week or two leading up to that eight-week mark, though it’s hard to see how that would be possible. That would mean the seasons getting going before June or even the middle of June is going to be a real trick.
If by some miracle teams are able to restart spring training in the middle of May, that’s still over two months that players would have not been formally working out. One would think they would need at least two weeks to get ready for a season of any length, and probably three to four. They’ll basically be starting from scratch.
Even a June 1 start makes for a murky schedule, and that would include scrapping the All-Star Game which seems like a necessity at this point (the NBA and NHL have done this in the past during work lockouts). That leaves some 16 weeks to work with, or 112 days or so, and any more would push the conclusion of whatever playoff system used deeper into November. At some point, there’s only so far you can go before guys are trying to hit fastballs through a blizzard (which would make up for the Twins’ inexplicable greatest ever slugging season last year, still proof that there is no God)..
If the season were to start around June 1, and MLB went to an intra-league schedule, where teams only played every other team in their league six times (one three-game series both home and away), that would be 84 games. Throw in 16 off-days or so (2/3rds of the 25 teams get now) and that’s 100 days. So that would end at the beginning of September, which probably wouldn’t satisfy the powers that be. This will probably be the schedule if the season couldn’t start until the end of June or July 1.
A June 1 start would allow MLB for a more weighted schedule based on divisions, with say 12 games against a divisional opponent, and six against teams in the other two divisions. That makes for a 108-game schedule, and, with off-days, they’ll still need some 120-130 days to complete. A start then would take the regular season to the end of September as normal.
But that’s only if they can start at the beginning of June, which is looking less and less likely.