The off-season grinds on, towards its eventual goal.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report next month. It seems very strange to write that sentence, considering how much has happened since they last did, in February 2020. But in roughly a month and a half there will be the early signs of baseball returning. However, wth pitchers and catchers expected to report in late February and spring training starting shortly thereafter, there are still plenty of questions about how and if the 2021 season will work as planned.
It hardly needs repeating that the game was put on pause last March as Covid-19 spread around the country, leading to a regular season of only 60 games, and without fans in attendance until the playoffs. Since then, multiple vaccines have given hope for 2021. But despite the country being in the early stages of their distribution, there is no plan yet as to getting players, coaches and umpires vaccinated. And, I’d say, there shouldn’t be, with priority given to the high risk (I guess maybe Joe West falls into that group).
On top of that, parts of the country are again being hit by a wave of the virus. Over the weekend, it was reported that Arizona had the highest infection rate in the world, though this seems to be as much to do with statistical reporting as anything. With all of that in mind, it’s fair to wonder if the season will actually start as owners and MLBPA planned. According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, fans are split on the topic. A little over 50 percent of MLB fans believe spring training will start as scheduled.
Personally, I would not be surprised to see it delayed, unless MLB wants to go ahead under much the same protocols which they used during the regular season. Because it seems increasingly unlikely that vaccines will be rolled out to everyone necessary by mid-February. When to start isn’t the only question that still needs an answer. Some of the argument over a potential delay to the season’s start involves fans’ ability to attend games and spring training events in person.
However, according to the survey, a similarly slight majority believe fans shouldn’t be allowed to attend spring training events.
Yeah, I am so NOT seeing that happening in 2021. Even if it was allowed, you would not catch me within the bounds of Salt River Fields this year. Over the past ten months, I have lost any tolerance for rubbing shoulders with strangers, whether that’s at concerts, the movies or sporting events. I think it’ll take a while before we regain a sufficient degree of comfort for that.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.