Who knows when sports return. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred admits he has no idea.
Manfred, who spoke with Fox Business on Tuesday, wants his sport to be “a milestone on the return to normalcy.” But he also said MLB won’t have a first pitch until the public health situation improves.
“The only real decision that we have made, the only real plan that we have is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation has improved to the point that we’re comfortable, that we can play games in a manner that’s safe for our players, our employees, our fans, and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely,” Manfred said on Fox Business. “So, right now, it’s largely a waiting game. During that period, as you might expect, any business will be engaged in contingency planning. We thought about how we might be able to return in various scenarios, but again, the key is the improvement in the public health situation.”
Various ideas have been broached, including starting the season entirely in Arizona in May or June. Manfred, though, said the league has made no decisions.
Everything, it seems, is on the table for MLB.
It would take Arizona allowing for gatherings of up to 100 people, even without fans in the stands, for baseball to move forward with a one-site plan.
Florida has classified pro sports as essential services during the pandemic. The spring training sites there, though, are more spread out.
“We have a variety of contingency plans that we have talked about and worked on,” Manfred said. “Plans may be too strong of a word. Ideas may be a better word. All of them are designed to address limitations that may exist when businesses restart. Traveling limitations. Limitations on mass gatherings that may still exist. We thought about ways to try to make baseball available to all the fans across the United States in the face of those restrictions. From our perspective, we don’t have a plan; we have lots of ideas. What ideas come to fruition depends on what the restrictions are, what the public health situation is, but we are intent on the idea of making baseball a part of the economic recovery and sort of a milestone on the return to normalcy.”
The NFL, if it hasn’t already, will have to start coming up with contingency ideas, too. The start of the regular season still is almost five months away, but it is appearing less likely by the day that we are close to a return of “business as usual.”