MLB shelved indefinitely; 81-game season possible

Major League Baseball delayed Opening Day indefinitely on Monday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The season was set to open March 26, with all 30 teams in action. But last Thursday, MLB canceled spring training and delayed Opening Day by at least two weeks.

It will be much longer than that.

Commissioner Rob Manfred held a conference call with all teams on Monday. Following that, MLB announced Opening Day would be pushed back in accordance with the recommendations made Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

“MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead,” the league said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “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.”

Clayton Kershaw
Aug 1, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws the ball in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The delay also impacts minor league baseball.

Minor league players haven’t received a paycheck since the end of last season (September 2019) and aren’t scheduled to be paid again until after the start of the 2020 season, which is now delayed.

Many of them are reliant on food and housing at the spring training sites of their teams. Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week baseball is in discussion about the best way to help minor leaguers.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association also announced they’ve teamed up to help ease that burden with a combined $1 million donation that will be split evenly between Feeding America (FeedingAmerica.org) and Meals on Wheels America (MealsonWheelsAmerica.org).

–Field Level Media