It is Opening Day for the 2021 MLB season, and hope springs eternal at the start of a campaign–an attitude shared by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who hopes for full-capacity ballparks by midseason.
Though the numbers aren’t all that great right now–in the last seven days positive cases across the United States are up some 12 percent, and experts warn of yet another surge after mask and social-distancing mandates were loosened in states like Texas and Arizona–the feeling in. many circles is that vaccine rollouts will lead to a dramatic diminishment in positive rates and deaths.
At least, that the position taken by Manfred, making his annual remarks on the eve of the season.
“I hope by midsummer that we have ballparks that are unrestricted and we have full fan access,” Manfred told AP.
“I see this season as a huge opportunity for baseball,” he added. “We’re an outdoor sport. I think it’s safe or safer to go to outdoor activities. Everybody seems to agree on that. And I think that there’s pent-up demand for entertainment products, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to take the best opportunity to take advantage of that.”
Teams are hosting games in April working under a variety of capacity limits set by local authorities under mostly uniform operating procedures, though there are some variations: the Houston Astros will operate at only 50 percent capacity, and the New York Yankees and Mets are requiring negative test for fans–and employees and media, incidentally–before allowing entry to the ballpark.
Image of Globe Life Field courtesy Texas Rangers.
RELATED STORIES: 2021 Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field