Coronavirus and its Impact on the MLB

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The MLB has decided to push back Opening Day by at least two weeks.

But what does this mean for baseball in 2020? Let’s start by looking at the facts we know now and then we can make some educated speculations as well.

SARS CoV-2Update: What You Need To Know

Now renamed SARS CoV-2, the acute respiratory virus has spread to every continent except for Antarctica. Fear and panic have started to set in. As you may well know, depending on the area you live in, big-box groceries and small stores alike are having trouble keeping ‘essentials’ like toilet paper, and non-perishable goods on their shelves.

Both Ohio and Illinois are now closing bars and restaurants to stem the spread of the virus. This is coming from the fact that there are now over 3,000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the US. The United States has now declared a national emergency. France is starting to shut down pretty much everything. Cafes, clubs, restaurants, even ski resorts are getting closed. Some models predict that 50% of the world will be exposed and infected by the new SARS CoVid-2 virus and German official report that they estimate a 70% infection rate in Germany.

Economically, the impact is already felt. Stocks are plummeting and the Goldman Sachs cut US Growth forecast. The Fed also made cuts, but they cut interest rates to nearly zero and are planning on buying up gobs of US debt to protect the economy. 

“The coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” the central bank said in a statement on Sunday. “The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses.” – NY TIMES

This makes sense. If most businesses where we gather socially are shut down, the impact is going to be drastic indeed. This leads us to the MLB.

Impact on MLB

Not only is the MLB delaying the start of the season, they just ended organized workouts which could make the season a bit more interesting when it finally starts. We can only imagine that the lack of team practices will make teams less prepared. This could be beneficial for some, and work against others at the start of the season. 

We just saw the NBA regular season get shut down, and some teams were clearly affected by the shutdown, such as the Trail Blazers, who were just a hair out of 8th place. And as SBR pointed out, certain NBA contenders benefited massively. 

So, could early sloppy play impact the MLB season when it finally starts?

How much so depends. The latest report by USA Today showed that a two-week delay is wishful thinking. A pair of MLB execs said it’s likely that the season stays shutdown until Memorial Day Weekend. If you don’t have a calendar handy, that’s Monday, May 25th. Opening day was scheduled for March 26th. So, this would mean a full two-month delay. 

If this happens, it’s now just a couple of weeks of missed team practices and no competitive play. It’s two months. So, yeah, it’s likely that the entire league will come into the season at the end of May extremely rusty, and then with a shortened season, the impact on who makes the playoffs could be astounding.

We should take a guess that the league will try to get things rolling as quickly as possible. After all, it is an 11 billion dollar industry and each home game is valued between one and five million dollars, depending on the team. 

The impact of this shutdown also stretches to player pay. Comish, Rob Manfred and Tony Clark – the player’s union chief– are working out whether or not the players will be paid. So far we know that medical coverage will be taken care of until the original opening day date, but the details of player pay haven’t been fully worked out. Neither has the schedule. It’s still up in the air as to whether regular-season games can be recouped in October. 

This is going to be a wild ride. Get your hand sanitizer and prepare for a few incredible boring weeks in sports. Hey, maybe finally time you started learning guitar, or a second language!