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Baseball in the Time of Coronavirus

Clover Park

How quickly things change. Four days ago, we were ready to jump on an airplane and attend spring-training games in Arizona; today we’re confronting a suspended season and the very real possibility we won’t see live baseball until Memorial Day.

It is shocking how quickly things have changed and will continue to change in coming days and weeks. When MLB and MiLB first announced a suspension to spring training, the hope was that the regular season would be delayed by a short amount of time, perhaps just a few weeks. Today, the realization of an extended closure is setting in: last night the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says his sport will follow that guideline–which means we could see the 2020 season launch around Memorial Day at the earliest.

That is assuming experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are correct in their predictions that it will take eight weeks or so for the worst of the novel coronavirus pandemic to run its course. Right now, that’s the best available data.

The temptation, of course, is to immediately scale back until more reassuring information emerges. That’s not what we are doing. We have some cool book projects ready to be announced in the coming weeks, and we plan on bringing back our video podcast on schedule. We’ll continue with our coverage of the baseball industry. We’ll continue our Best of the Ballparks voting for spring-training facilities: despite some snarky notes from online commentators, interest in this vote remains strong, and more people have voted in this year’s competition than in any previous Best of the Ballparks vote for spring facilities. (When the regular season returns, so will the Best of the Ballparks voting for MLB, MiLB, indy and summer-collegiate facilities.) Last Friday we posted a preview of Riverfront Stadium, the new home of the Wichita Wind Surge (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and we’ll continue with new-ballpark previews over the coming weeks. We’ll spend a little more time on ballpark history as well.

These are indeed serious times. And things will get worse before they get better. But we all need to remember there will likely be a 2020 baseball season—and remember that baseball has always been a prime player when America heals after a traumatic national event.

This article first appeared in the Ballpark Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Ballpark Digest newsletter.

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