Last July when Major League Baseball (MLB) teams released their 2021 schedule, we wrote about if a 2021 MLB Season would happen due to COVID-19 still being around.
Fast forward to January 14th where we are now 32 days away from Spring Training and the 2021 MLB season. While the games will start on Feb. 27, players will report to their teams prior to that.
The 2021 MLB season would follow with games starting on April 1 and ending on October 3.
33 Days Away from Spring Training
Spring Training Online has a good outline of the fan guidelines as well for MLB Spring Training which will see some fan presence at games but with COVID restrictions in place.
Teams such as the Cleveland Indians have also had players reporting the first week of January too following COVID-19 testing. Spring Training officially opens for the Indians on Feb. 17.
National League owners said back in December that they want players coming to spring training with the COVID-19 vaccine already done. Whether that onus is solely on the players and the Major League Baseball Players Union is anyone’s guess but it does not bode well for spring training much less a season if that does not happen.
Contrast this with Rob Manfred’s statement today that there will be a full season and expect the spring training schedule to run on time and you have to stop and pause don’t you. Unless Rob knows something and many of us know he doesn’t know much, the MLB like the NFL before it will push ahead with its season and damn the consequences.
The National Football League’s 2020-21 season went ahead and playoffs are still happening now in January 2021 but there was significant schedule shifting throughout the season. A positive COVID-19 test caused the Cleveland Browns Coach to miss his teams’ playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Current State of the Cactus and Grapefruit States
The current states for Cactus and Grapefruit games, Florida and Arizona, still have a huge number of COVID cases with Florida close to 1.5 million totals cases and 11,640 new case reports for January 9th, 2021.
Arizona again ranked highest in the nation for its rate of new COVID-19 cases as the state reported nearly 9,000 new cases and record-high hospitalization numbers on Monday, January 11th.
Those numbers do not bode well for a potential spring training to take place for any of the Cactus League teams but if the MLB plans to allow fans, they’ll have to follow the local state and city health guidelines.
MLBPA Position and the 2021 MLB Season
For the players and their Union, any delay to the start of the season means one thing for them, less pay. It effects the owners gate revenues as well obviously if there are no fans in the stands. Players will lose about $25 million in salaries per day if the season does not go as planned.
When the 60-game season started July 23, they were paid 37% of their salaries. The union can’t sell a payout to its players and the players proved last year they can abide by the safety protocols largely.
Justin Turner’s positive COVID-19 Test could throw that reasoning of the players into serious doubt as he came onto the field to celebrate the World Series title with his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates after testing positive for COVID-19.
Players such as David Price of the Dodgers and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants also opted out of the 2020 season. This too may be a factor for the 2021 MLB Season because of COVID-19 especially if there is no clear path on how players are being vaccinated.
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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images