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It’s Official: Don’t Look for MLB Until Memorial Day

Major League BaseballWith the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advising no gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks as the nation battles the novel coronavirus pandemic, 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.

Here’s the full statement from Manfred and MLB:

Today Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. conducted a conference call with the 30 Clubs of Major League Baseball. Following last night’s newly updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, the opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance.

MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead. The Clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins. We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit. MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus.

Not a lot of details, to be sure, but we live in times when details about what is to happen in the next six months are hard to come by. We reported Saturday that the postponement of the 2020 season to late May was inevitable, with the MiLB season likely to launch in June. The announcement by Manfred today confirms that delay.

There are still plenty of issues to be addressed by MLB in coming days over the rest of the season. One issue emerging: the June draft. With college and high-school baseball programs shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, scouting has ground to a halt, and many teams have officially pulled scouts from the road. In addition, the June draft was slated to be held June 10-12 in Omaha, but with the cancelation of the College World Series, there’s really no need for a big blow-out event. Some are suggesting a slimmer draft to 30 rounds, while agent Scott Boras is floating the idea of two drafts: one for college students and one for high-school players. (Not an unprecedented concept: at one time MLB held three drafts throughout the year.) As more than one MLB executive has pointed out, you could basically hold the draft at any time throughout the year, as Division I players have been scouted for years. The Boras suggestion would cover those high schoolers who fall through the cracks, who aren’t scouted on travel teams and who play in colder-weather climes.

Meanwhile, MLB and Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced a joint donation of $1 million to help fight hunger as a result of school closures and quarantines stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’re launching a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge. Sign up here.

RELATED STORIES: MLB Teams Order Non-Roster Players Home, Shut Down Workouts; More MLB Teams Announce Plans to Aid Game-Day Employees; Telecommuting in Baseball’s Front Offices the New Reality; MLB, MiLB Season Openers Could Be Delayed to May; Surprise! Spring Training’s Canceled. What’s Next?MLB Season Delayed For Two Weeks, MiLB Season Indefinitely

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