MLB Could Feasibly Start in as Little as Three Weeks

Tommy Gilligan | USA Sports

It would take some rather draconian measures, but MLB could feasibly start in as little as three weeks. It would be a logistical nightmare, but using the full resources of MLB, the MLBPA and the teams, it could be accomplished.

Will they attempt this? Probably not, but it would offer a solution.

Coronavirus Testing

To begin with, every player, coach, manager, and other necessary support people would have to be tested for COVID-19. Until now, you had to meet the requirements to be tested. Just last night, the news reported that private companies are now testing anyone who desires a test (symptomatic or not) for $250. The tests are legitimate, so results would be valid.

Required to be tested:

  • Each teams’ 40-man roster (1200 total)
  • Each manager (30 total)
  • Six coaches per team (180 total)
  • Four medical staff/trainers from each team (160 total)
  • The MLB umpiring staff (68 total)
  • Miscellaneous facility staff (150)

That totals 1788 tests, equating to $447,000. Not counting umpire testing, two-thirds of the total cost for testing could be absorbed by the teams ($9,556 each). MLB could then pick up the remaining balance (umpires included), which would cost the league $160,333.00.

Quarantine

Players and all of the other staff would then have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The players would have to be quarantined at a facility where they could be monitored. With most motels now shut down, MLB could secure contractual agreements to have the players housed. This would require some additional testing and quarantine to ensure that the motel staff is virus-free.

Players would most likely have to say goodbye to their loved ones for a while, as every additional person involved increases the chances of the virus spreading. Players could feasibly pay for their spouses and children to be tested and subsequently quarantined. Until everyone has passed the procedural safeguards, they’d have to remain separated for player/team safety. Once the players and additional personnel are released from quarantine, family members could be tested and then begin their quarantine period.

Test results come back within about seven days, so with coordinated testing and a quarantine period, baseball activities could feasibly start within about three weeks.

Spring Training Part-2

After players emerge with clean bills of health, they’d then undergo an abbreviated, second spring training. Rather than having teams playing each other, it may be advisable to have all split-squad games, where teams play against themselves. This would further aid in social distancing for the maximum amount of time before regular season play begins.

If MLB, the MLBPA and the teams were in agreement, the modified spring training would last about two weeks before the season starts. During this period, players would still have to be quarantined, but they could be isolated as a team, rather than individually.

Let The Games Begin

Because everyone would be out of sync after the hiatus, MLB could allow for expanded rosters of up to 32 men per team. This would allow for an extra starter, four extra relievers and an additional bench player.

It goes without saying that the games would have to be played in Spring Training facilities in Arizona. Florida has far too many cases of the virus and the Tampa area is much too populated to risk infection and setbacks.

Keeping fans away seems to be the antithesis of what baseball is about, but it’s a necessary evil. The facilities would have to provide security to ensure that fans stayed away from the stadiums, as you know someone would be stupid enough to barge their way in.

The 15 teams that play in the Cactus League utilize a total of 10 stadiums in Arizona. There are 2,430 games played during an entire MLB season.

If each stadium were to host just one game a day, MLB would get 70 games per week played. At that rate, it’d take almost 35 weeks to play the season. Each stadium could easily host two games per day (either a double-header or two games played between four teams). At that rate, the season could play itself out in just a little over 17 weeks; with some stadiums hosting three games a day at times, the season could be squeezed into about 3-1/2 months..

The Timetable

With an organized agenda, MLB could begin this entire process (beginning with testing for the virus) by May 1st. If so, games could begin as soon as May 24th, allowing the season to be completed on time.

Even in a worst-case scenario, MLB could easily get the ball rolling (and flying) within three-and-a-half weeks.

Let’s do this. With people confined to their homes, having baseball back would be at least one small step back toward normality.


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