When the Covid-19 pandemic hit early last year, the MLB spring preseason was haltered and there were serious doubts as to whether or not any season would be played. Finally, a 60-game schedule was put into action, albeit without fans, but a season was played and completed with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series.
During much of the offseason, questions arose as to when the 2021 season would start due to leaguewide financial issues and the ongoing pandemic. A major concern was the fact that teams are unable to sell tickets to capacity and, as a result, a delay in the season appeared inevitable. Not so far, says commissioner Rob Manfried, who sent a memo to every team indicating he plans to move forward with a full season starting on time.
The MLB Players Association will be elated by the news since they already said they won’t accept anything less than a full season. The owners, on the flip side, have been calling for a shorter season. What won’t change, at least at the beginning of the season, is fans in attendance. A lower-capacity crowd is likely to be allowed at some points, as long as social distancing is practiced. With the uncertainty of Covid-19 vaccine distribution rate across the country is causing difficulty in the league making predictions about when fans will be allowed back into stadiums. Modifications will be made as circumstances change, and really could be done on the fly. As it stands now, the league is sincere in their plan to start on time. However, nothing is etched in stone with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to camp next month.
One must wonder, regardless of good intentions, as to whether or not the league call pull off a full schedule. Taking a look at the NBA playing outside a bubble, there have already been games cancelled and other games played with far less than full rosters. One thing MLB team can fall back on is large pool of potential players per team that they can go to should some players need to quarantine. I believe it will be a monumental accomplishment if MLB can play a full 162-game schedule.