With the COVID-19 outbreak leading to the delay of the 2020 MLB season, us baseball fans must adapt and overcome.
We look at the situation and the fact that COVID-19 has essentially shut sports down for at least a significant time period. The world of sports, as much as we use it to distract ourselves from rough times, is secondary at this point. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic is here for the time being.
And for the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, which was supposed to begin Thursday, a waiting game has arrived. Most of the players are home with families and the few New York Yankees remaining at their Tampa Bay complex will be forced to go home.
So where do we go from here? The nation waits and hopes. The sports world is dark and a lot of revisions will be made if and when things return to normal.
Thing is, we don’t know when the norm will resume. Talking to a few major league players these past few days, and, like many, they are in the dark. Normally this would be the final few days of spring training.
Instead, they are home and trying to keep up with a routine. No live pitching and hitting. They scramble to find the sanctuary of a baseball field that hasn’t been closed yet.
They work out at home in well-equipped areas without the coaches that are at spring training facilities. It’s an adjustment as we are beginning to understand our daily lives.
There is also the thought that a 2020 MLB season could be in jeopardy. An insider said the earliest we can see baseball at this point — and this is based on the projected peak of the coronavirus — could be mid-June.
Again, that is just an estimate. We’ve gone and will continue to go day-by-day with this crisis.
And for some that are nursing injuries, the long layoff will help their cause, though they’re thinking about the well-being of all. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton all fall in that category.
Also on that list is Michael Conforto of the New York Mets. Sidelined with a strained right oblique muscle, Conforto was projected to be a cog in the lineup. Along with Conforto, you wonder about Yoenis Cespedes and his progress.
Those vying for roster spots, the veteran players, are in the dark. Many don’t know what the future holds.
Gio Gonzalez, nursing a sore left shoulder, is on the 40-man roster of the Chicago White Sox. He was competing for a spot in the pitching rotation after signing a one-year contract and was scheduled to throw his first spring game in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The rain came and the start didn’t occur. Then, the coronavirus sent him and the White Sox home when baseball suspended operations.
Gonzalez, 34 years of age, knows the game is getting younger. This could be the last opportunity for the two-time All-Star.
“If anything, this gives me more time to get the shoulder back to normal,” he said from his home in Hialeah, Florida. “It will take two or three weeks for the guys to tune up again for the season if and when.”
And that Opening Day start date, initially pushed back with an optimistic two-week period, is projected to be much later than expected.
We will leave that in the hands of Major League Baseball officials in regard to any anticipated start date. They are in constant contact with World Health Organization officials and in touch with their medical personnel.
On Sunday, Ian Harrison of the Associated Press quoted Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, who believes Major League Baseball would need a month of workouts and exhibition games before the regular season could even begin.
“Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks,” Shapiro stated.
He added that training camps are not going to resume anytime soon.
All the particulars of an abbreviated season — make up games with double-headers, the scrapping of the All-Star Game, the alteration of the postseason — are concerns for MLB officials.
But this goes beyond Major League Baseball. The NCAA baseball season has been canceled and that also leaves many of its scholar-athletes in the dark.
June’s MLB amateur draft has many eligible individuals questioning their futures. It’s also been a burden for the underclassmen who were hoping to have breakout seasons.
Around the nation, all of the colleges and universities with baseball programs were shut down as schedules and plans were disrupted. The College World Series was canceled without a Division I champion.
This does indeed leave a void with that “safety first” reality.
Josh Cruz has moved to off-campus housing with a friend down in Lakeland, Florida. A sophomore with Southeastern University from the Bronx is now on the sidelines.
He, like teammates and others, are concerned about another year of eligibility with a four-year scholarship.
“A setback, but nothing too hard to overcome,” he said. “Staying active, not being on the field, and classes online, that’s a big adjustment. Something we will all get through.”
But will Major League Baseball adjust if and when this coronavirus crisis abates?
“Hope we all get through this okay and all get back to normal,” Gonzalez said.
Everyone else in and around the sport truly hopes the same.
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