Earlier today, Major League Baseball announced that the 2020 regular season wouldn’t begin until “at least” April 9.
It might wind up later than that, given this news from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker:
NEWS: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants all public events with more than 250 people canceled. He also wants all major sporting events canceled (or played without fans) through May 1, and sports teams have agreed, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) March 12, 2020
Presuming the Cubs and White Sox are among the teams who have agreed to this request from the governor, MLB probably couldn’t start its season before May 1. It seems likely other cities and states might follow this.
“As always, we await developments.”
One development from this afternoon comes from Mesa:
The Cubs are closing their spring facility tomorrow for a ‘deep clean’ according to Theo Epstein. Just for tomorrow. Unclear what happens after that— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) March 12, 2020
Theo made it clear that the deep clean of the Cubs' facility on Friday is not in reaction to anything -- just a precautionary measure.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 12, 2020
Cubs will await direction from MLB/MLBPA before detailing plans for the weekend and beyond during the shutdown.
It’s just the workout facility that’s being cleaned:
Theo Epstein said the Nike Performance center where the Cubs reside will be shutdown on Friday for intense cleaning. Weekend and Monday schedule unsure . Monday was an original planned off day.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 12, 2020
Also important news regarding Cubs staff members:
Cubs in works for work-from-home policy for staffers here, scouts— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 12, 2020
Given all this, I suspect it’s going to be quite a while before baseball resumes in major-league cities. MLB was, I believe, being quite optimistic about delaying the season only two weeks, and thinking that a 162-game season might still be possible.
At this point, they should be looking at truncating the season to perhaps 140 games, maybe even fewer, and ramping up around the last week of April. Players might be able to gather at spring facilities for a week or two before that in order to get back in playing shape.
UPDATE: Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts issued a statement late Thursday afternoon:
“The health and wellness of our fans, players and associates is our team’s top priority. In light of rapidly changing developments resulting from the coronavirus, we believe Major League Baseball’s decision is in the best interests of the safety and well-being of the public and the game of baseball. While our hope is to play baseball at Wrigley Field soon, we will continue to work in close coordination with Major League Baseball, as well as with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and their administrations to ensure that we make the best decisions to protect public health and safety.
“In the meantime, Major League Baseball is preparing a variety of contingency plans in concert with clubs regarding the 2020 regular season schedule and will be offering updates as soon as possible.”